Baaz Bites: The Heart of Persian Food
Photo courtesy of @baazbites on Instagram
Jordan Elist, with deep Persian roots, has been surrounded by Persian cuisine and cooking ever since he was a young boy. After spending one year in Investment Banking, he realized that his true passion lay within entrepreneurship. He felt very strongly that other ethnic cuisines had done a great job of getting their fair share of shelf space and now it was the time for Persian food to take the spotlight. The Persian food prepared in Elist’s household growing up, whether it was his mother or grandmother who was spending hours in the kitchen, never truly left him.
Elist’s motivation can be attributed to his Persian foundations. Elist defined Persian food as food that has a “tremendous sense of familiarity and comfort.” Years and years of tradition go into making these dishes and Elist is very fortunate to be raised in a household in which his female role-models placed such an emphasis on Persian cuisine and cooking. Baaz Bites is on a mission to answer the question of if Persian food is universally loved, then why is it so unknown in the mainstream market?
After hours spent experimenting in the kitchen, 30-member focus groups, and four months sampling at the Brentwood Farmers Market, Elist and his mother launched their products in their first grocery store, Vicente Foods. After this, they then landed shelf space in Co-Opportunity Santa Monica and Culver City as well as the Beverly Hills Market. But, the work doesn’t stop there. They are now working on expanding this network to reach a greater audience.
One of Elist’s main goals is to introduce Persian cuisine to the mainstream market, which includes a focus on modernization. The three camps of Persian food that serve as the base to are kebabs, rice-based dishes, and stews. Baaz Bites is focused on tahdig and Persian stews at the moment. Elist informed us that it is impossible to mention Persian food without mentioning tahdig. Tahdig is commonly known as the crispy layer of basmati rice that forms at the bottom of the pot when making an entire pot of basmati rice.
Baaz Bites form of tahdig is crispy on the outside and soft on the inside because of the method they use to prepare our bites. The mother-son duo decided to leverage the universal love to tahdig and use it as the foundation of Baaz Bites. The brand set off to re-create this classic Persian dish and refined the art of this central element of crispy rice. This is a hard dish to perfect, but Baaz Bites has accomplished this feat.
In addition to their tahdig, Nancy, Elist’s mother, takes her thirty years of experience in these traditional Persian dishes and presents them in a more modern way. Elist’s favorite dish, Bean Baaz (Ghormeh sabzi) is another iconic Persian dish that includes an assortment of herbs paired with beans, mushrooms, and sun-dried lime. On the sweeter side, Baaz Bites offers Pom Baaz (Fesenjan), with pomegranate molasses, dates, and walnuts. Last, but certainly not least, they offer a vegetarian option, Shroom Baaz (Gheymeh), which is a tomato paste with split peas and diced mushrooms for a more hearty taste.
Each Baaz dish has its own unique flavor profile, so Elist and his mother wanted their customers to try all three during their experimentation period to get a sense of each individual’s taste buds and preferences. Some people love the traditional taste of the Bean Baaz whereas other people are drawn to the sweetness of the Pom Baaz. Elist told us that “when people did try Persian food, they fell in love with it.”
Jordan and Nancy’s love and dedication to both their customers and Persian culture is neverending. They value the Persian cuisine in a way that cannot be matched. By serving delicious food and continuing to introduce Persian cuisine to the mainstream market, they hope that one day, when someone says Persian food, the first words that come to mind are Baaz Bites. They want to ensure that people appreciate all that not only Baaz Bites has to offer, but all Persian cuisine has to offer.
Check out their website for more information: https://www.baazbites.com/
Don’t forget to hit them with a follow on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/baazbites/