THOSE WHO GO TO MOHAMMED SHOULD HAVE TIME BUT ARE REWARDED WITH MAMA’S CUISINE.
Call before you come.
Mohammed smiles and pats me on the back: “I know you.”
An elderly man is sitting at the only table in the small bistro, looking at the menu and waiting for a friend to join him. Besides Jan and me, they are the only guests during the time we spend at Café Safran. That is the way Mohammed likes it to be. Only a few guests every day, so he can take his time to prepare their meals, to sit down afterwards and perhaps have a little chat with them. It is the wrong place for people in a hurry. That’s what he tells those rushing in, hoping to find a quick 15-minute lunch break, with his soothing voice. A friend started the place in 2011 as a café and introduced Persian food some months later. In 2013 his friend unfortunately passed away. Mohammed stepped in and fulfilled his plans to run a little Persian food place in Bochum-Ehrenfeld. It is not his first business. He used to have an upmarket Italian restaurant in times when the German currency was Deutsche Mark. In those times Persian food was too exotic for the people, he says. Learning from his Italian chef back then, he picked up some knowledge and skills, but the restaurant business is in his blood. In Teheran everybody knows Tarighat, as his family has been running a successful and popular restaurant chain under the family name for more than 70 years. What his relatives serve in his home country differs from what you will find at Café Safran. Mohammed cooks the dishes Iranians eat at home and he knows from his mama’s kitchen, whereas Persian restaurants serve kebab, soused chicken or saddle of lamb. And while he does cook to cater for events up to 40 people, he wouldn’t do so in his establishment. Loving the relaxed and easy- going vibe he shares with his guests, he wouldn’t want to get back to the challenging customers he had in his Italian joint.
He avoids getting stressed out because he doesn’t want to lose his joy of cooking. Mohammed firmly believes that he represents his culture and people with Café Safran, so he sets high standards. He buys his core herbs and spices once a year on the bazaars in Teheran. Not only because of the better quality, but also because it is much cheaper. The imported saffron alone, used in almost every dish, allows him to keep the prices lower than they would be if bought in Germany. Good for his clientele, who love to come back, because they know that Mohammed loves to cook for them.