If you like Ottolenghi’s books, you should learn about Persian food

Tadig 525

By spending a fair amount of time wandering the internet reading about food (I know, it’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it), I’ve become aware of some themes that may not make the “what’s trending” or “hot” lists, but still seem to be surprisingly persistent. And one of those themes is Persian foods. I’m not sure why – maybe because there has been some miniscule thawing in the political situation – but I think it has probably more to do with a growing awareness of the vibrant flavors from the MidEast, certainly strengthened by the huge success of Yotam Ottolenghi‘s books.

So I thought I’d give a helping hand to this trend in a couple of ways. First, here’s a fairly recent Thrillist Nation article, “What the hell is Persian food? Here Are the Dishes You Should Know” that is designed for true novices in the area. The five dishes they list are:

  • Fesenjoon: A stew made from a puree of pomegranates, ground walnuts, and chopped onions combined with chunks of poultry or balls of ground meat.
  • Ghormeh Sabzi: A stew made from parsley, spinach, leeks, coriander, kidney beans, dried lemons, dried fenugreek leaves, and  turmeric-seasoned lamb or beef.
  • Kabob: This actually pretty much means meat in general, but it is the origin of the kabob most Westerners know:  Long strips of lamb, chicken, or beef  (often minced) grilled and usually served alongside charred tomatoes, rice sprinkled with sumac, a parsley salad, and flatbread.
  • Doogh: A sour yogurt drink made from   yogurt, mint, and sometimes diced cucumbers.
  • Tadig (other spellings include tadeeg, tahdig): This isn’t really a dish made by itself, but it a result of properly prepared Persian rice (“polo”), which is made with saffron. Tadeeg isthe bottom crispy layer that’s slightly burnt and beautifully golden, having soaked up much of the saffron and butter/oil it’s made with (see photo).

And, second, for those who are really interested, here are 57 Persian cookbooks that our members have voted on by purchasing.



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  • boardingace  on  January 24, 2014

    Thanks for teaching me something new!

  • wester  on  January 24, 2014

    General Middle Eastern cookbooks, including some "meze" cookbooks, can be helpful too. And of course, use EYB to filter on "Persian" – you might find interesting recipes in places you didn't think of.

  • anightowl  on  January 26, 2014

    The book "Pomegranates", indexed here on EYB, has a number of westernized Persian recipes, with ingredients anyone can find locally. The "Walnut, date and pomegranate chicken" (a variation of Khoresh-e Fesenjam) is a favorite of mine.

  • boardingace  on  January 28, 2014

    @ anightowl: Mmm, that sounds delicious! I've been enjoying the walnut-date combination in a bread recipe from King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking, but wow – with Persian flavors and chicken, it sounds sooooooooooooo good!

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