Ariana Foods

Persian baked treats

At the market: Every Sunday in the Main Hall

Contact: Seyavash Babkhani

Call/text: 022 157 9001


Website: arianafoodnz

Instagram: @ariana food nz

Facebook: @ariana food NZ

Seyavash's Story

Seyavash Babakhani sells his delightful Persian treats at Grey Lynn Farmers Market on Sunday Mornings.

Where did you grow up?

I lived in Iran for the first half of my life and have since moved to Dubai, the Hague, and now New Zealand.

What are your memories of living in Iran?

Those are some of my best memories. That time was filled with family gatherings and lots of wonderful food. I particularly remember a cook-off competition at my aunt’s place which my mum won with a French dish of stuffed chicken and coffee fromage.

Tell me why you refer to your products as Persian rather than Iranian

Persia reminds us of thousands of years of history in the region – a time of prestige, glory, and mystique. Our food has a long history from that time.

What did you do when you arrived in New Zealand?

I studied culinary arts in Wellington, including at the Cordon Bleu school.

Why Wellington?

We were promised sunshine and summer, but that’s not quite what we got.  That’s why we moved to Auckland. And of course, Auckland missed out on a proper summer this year – I’m hoping we will get the summer we deserve this Christmas.

Why did you study culinary arts?

I always say that the shortest way to someone’s heart is through their stomach. I’ve made many friends since I arrived and I love to share food and stories with them. Food is the universal connector.


Tell me about some of those connections

We noticed that Peter Gordon runs some cultural exchange cooking sessions at Homeland, so we asked him if he was interested in doing an Iranian session and he agreed. It was great fun – he taught us some great skills and we taught him some of our traditional recipes.


How has that influenced your business?

It boosted my confidence to progress my business and he suggested adding Hazelnuts to one of our products. The Fandoqi Hazelnut biscuits are the chef’s choice from Peter Gordon.


What is the philosophy that drives your business

Quality – I believe that if we have high quality products customers will seek them out.


Is that working?

Yes. Our reputation is spreading through the community. We have sent large catering orders as far away as Christchurch and Wellington. The Wellington customer was so impressed that they joked that the products had been sent from Iran.


Why are you selling at markets

It is a powerful way to talk directly to our customers, answer questions, and tell them about products they might not have tried before.


Tell me about your range

We make about a dozen types of bite-sized Persian sweets but I don’t always bring them all to every market. We sell them in window boxes to protect these delicate items and they make a lovely gift. The traditional nargili biscuits are our top seller – they are French meringue style coconut macaroons.


What has surprised you at the market

Some other stallholders have noticed that I have boxes of fresh dates and they have been buying them from me. I have them because we sell dates stuffed with walnuts and dipped in chocolate. Fresh dates are a very delicate product that is hard to get in New Zealand.


Do you have any time for hobbies?

Since lockdown, I have taken up writing as a hobby. I started with writing translations of traditional Persian stories and I have progressed to creating some original works based on tales from the ancient Persian tales from “Epic of Kings”.

As published in Ponsonby News : November 2023