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Recipes from My Persian Kitchen

Recipes from My Persian Kitchen

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Recipes from My Persian Kitchen

374 pagine
3 ore
May 5, 2015


Throughout the world, Persian cuisine has a reputation for being among the most colorful, flavorful, and healthy. In Recipes from My Persian Kitchen, author and cooking teacher Nasreen Z. Zereshki shares recipes gleaned from different regions of Iran, land of the thirteenth-century poet Rumi.

Filled with a creative blend of recipes, advice, and cultural treasures Recipes from My Persian Kitchen offers a diverse collection—from Grandmother’s Spinach to Wishing Soup. Zereshki, who learned to cook from her mother, grandmothers, and aunts, describes how to combine herbs, spices, and textures in artistic ways that appeal to the senses. Her stories of Wheatsprout Pudding—prepared in groups of women dancing, singing, and praying together through the night—provide insight into both the Persian culture and the food.

May 5, 2015

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Recipes from My Persian Kitchen - Nasreen Z. Zereshki


Copyright © 2015 Nasreen Z. Zereshki

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored, or transmitted by any means—whether auditory, graphic, mechanical, or electronic—without written permission of both publisher and author, except in the case of brief excerpts used in critical articles and reviews. Unauthorized reproduction of any part of this work is illegal and is punishable by law.

ISBN: 978-1-4834-2734-8 (sc)

ISBN: 978-1-4834-2733-1 (e)

Library of Congress Control Number: 2015903308

Because of the dynamic nature of the Internet, any web addresses or links contained in this book may have changed since publication and may no longer be valid. The views expressed in this work are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher, and the publisher hereby disclaims any responsibility for them.

Any people depicted in stock imagery provided by Thinkstock are models, and such images are being used for illustrative purposes only.

Certain stock imagery © Thinkstock.

Lulu Publishing Services rev. date: 5/13/2015




Introduction to Persian Culture



Salads and Soups

Omelets and Frittatas







Other Entrées

Pickles, Pastes, Preserves, and Miscellaneous


Health Benefits of Herbs

Health Benefits of Seasonings

Quick and Healthy Food Tips

Nature’s Drugstore


This book represents forty years of cooking experience, beginning with my first teachers in Persia: my mother, grandmothers, and aunts. From the age of five, living in Iran, I observed the family baking special cookies, pastries, and breads for our national holiday, Eid-e Nowruz (New Year). My mother, grandmother, aunts, and I—along with my dad’s relatives—would gather at my grandmother’s house. It is one of my fondest memories of childhood. I was eager to learn how to bake, but children were not allowed in the baking area. I was so persistent, however, that when I was eight, my grandmother finally let me in and allowed me to make animal cookies from dough that I baked with the help of my grandmother. From there, my love of cooking blossomed.

My grandmother had a tanoora clay oven similar to the Italian or Indian tandoor, but built into the middle of a large kitchen floor, elevated on a carpeted step. All the women in the family helped prepare the dough, and my grandmother was in charge of removing the finished cookies because they were very delicate and would easily crumble. My grandmother was the only one with the patience to put them carefully away.

By the time I was twenty, I was married and had moved from my family home. I had learned many recipes from different cities in Iran. Each city has its own unique dishes and special ways of cooking. At the age of twenty-five, I came to the United States as a student with my husband and my four-year-old daughter. I studied English at St. Louis University, and then I studied business at Glen College in Phoenix, Arizona while my husband worked on his graduate degree. When he finished, we returned to Iran for his job, and while I was pregnant with my second daughter, Mahasa, I completed my four-year degree at Alameh University in language translation. Still, the love of cooking was always on my mind.

When my first daughter, Atousa, was old enough, we started cooking together. Now she has become an accomplished young lady with good baking and cooking skills. She lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and has two daughters of her own—Ava and Darya.. and my younger daughter Mahasa and I cook and bake together also, creating new memories and preserving the family tradition.

For years, I studied the connection between food and health. In general, I believe that if you eat the right food, you stay healthy and happy. Good food can cure diseases and even delay or prevent cancer, and it can also help overcome depression and anxiety. With minimal effort, people can learn how to cook healthy meals for a healthier life.

People in the world develop different tastes because of where they grew up. This is why I want to introduce my cooking style to American families so they become familiar with the taste of Persian food. In my ancient country of Persia, now known as Iran, cooking shows the level of civilization, as in any country. Cooking is an art that brings families and loved ones together. It can be very creative and delicate and put a smile on everyone’s face, as art delights. My grandmother used to decorate food to make it more colorful because, she said, Fifty percent of your appetite comes from looking at the food. Maybe one would think the art of food is temporary; as soon as you eat, the work is gone. But the work of the cook is similar to a good song or dance or theatre performance; it may be gone to the eye, but the value has been absorbed by the body.

A cook does not need others’ admiration; the creation itself and the act of gathering hearts closer to each other is the cook’s reward, making him or her happy inside.

Nasreen Z. Zereshki

Nasreen Z. Zereshki, May 4, 2014


I would like to dedicate this book to …

… my late son, Ashkan, who loved and admired my cooking.

… my grandchildren, Darya and Ava, who were born in the United States. My wish is for them to learn about their heritage in Persian culture and cooking.

… my two precious daughters, Atousa and Mahasa, who I hope will use my recipes and think of me when I am gone.

… my mother and grandmothers, my first teachers.

… my aunts, especially my late Aunt Essmatt, who taught me how to bake.

I would like to thank …

… Cathie Holcombe, who helped in the typing and editing process.

… Lori Polena, owner of L’or Photography.

… Chuck Klupenger, who has supported me from the initial idea, through my cooking classes, to the finished product.

Introduction to Persian Culture

I. Characteristics of Iranian (Persian) Food

► Iranian cuisine, known as the Mother of Cooking, is one of the three oldest schools of cooking in the world.

► The delicate art of cooking in Iran is not developed today but has been passed on for centuries.

► What makes Persian food different from flavors of other nations is the moderate taste, rather than strong spiciness. All our foods contain advieh, a small amount of these main seasonings: pepper, turmeric, cinnamon, and saffron.

► Another common flavoring important to our culture is rosewater.

► Persian cooks offer two kinds of cooking: excellent (gourmet/haute cuisine) or regular (everyday). Regular cooking is less expensive but no less delicious.

► We believe in eating an excellent breakfast like a king; a good lunch like a queen; and dinner like a poor man.

► We believe cooking should take time. Our motto in food preparation is low and slow: cooking on low heat for hours. (This does not mean the cook must stay with the pot during all the cooking time.)

► Our rice must be steamed well-done.

► Our omelets and high-protein dishes should be cooked on low heat for a better flavor.

► It is also important to eat slowly, counting ten to sixteen chews for each bite, and to enjoy conversations with table partners between bites.

II. Persian Celebrations/ Festivals

► Jashneh Sade ("Hundred Days and Nights")Fire Festival: An ancient Persian festival, the Sade celebration is fifty days and nights before Eid-e Nowruz. It means one hundred days and nights past the end of summer. It takes place in midwinter to honor fire and defeat darkness and cold. According to the Zoroastrian religion, the fire of Jashneh Sade recreates the light of God. Ancient festivals were set near water, because fire means sun and ice means water. A fire was kept burning day and night in the temple for three days. At the end of three days, people would give charity to the needy. The next morning, the women of each household would retrieve coals from the temple fire to burn in their homes to bring in the holy spirit.

► Charahar-shambeh Soori: This celebration takes place on the last Wednesday of the year, just before Eid-e Nowruz. People set up seven bonfires on the preceding Tuesday night. Old and young gather to jump over the fire and sing songs like Zardi-man Az Tu; Sorkhi-e Tu Az Man (I will give you my yellow color [the sign of sickness], and you give me your fiery red color [the sign of health].) Afterward, families share food and nuts together.

► Eid-e Nowruz ("New Day")New Year Festival: Nowruz begins at the vernal equinox, which is around March 21. It is rooted in Zoroastrianism, but today all Iranian families around the world celebrate this holiday wherever they may be, gathering around a table called haftseen. The table is set with seven symbols representing health and well-being: seeb (apple) for beauty; seer (garlic) for good health; serkeh (vinegar) for patience; samanu (wheat-sprout pudding) for rebirth; sabzeh (sprouts) for new life; sekeh (coins) for wealth; sonbol (hyacinth) for spring; and senjed (lotus fruit) for love. Families sometimes add sumagh (sumac) for the sunrise. A mirror (eineh) and candles (sham) are added to reflect health into the future. Completing the table are live goldfish (mahi) representing life and painted eggs (tokhme morgh) for fertility. The menu is designed around prosperity, including bread, cheese, fresh herbs (nan panir sabzi khordan), noodle soup (ash-e reshteh), all kinds of sweets and fruits, fish, and herb rice (sabzi polow mahi).

Nowruz is also a time for spring cleaning, buying new clothes, visiting older family and friends, and renewing broken relationships. The celebration lasts thirteen days. On the final unlucky day, the entire family goes on a picnic, taking with them the sprouts (sabzeh) from the haftseen table. They throw the sprouts into flowing water to symbolize letting go of past misfortunes. At the picnic, everyone brings his or her own food to share, gathering in a park or private garden for games, jokes, and dancing. In 2010, the United Nations recognized Nowruz for the first time, encouraging the New Year celebration around the world and making it more widely known in the United States.

III. Contributions of the Persian Empire to the World

► Many North Americans or Westerners only know Iran as it is presented in the news today. Once known as Persia or the Persian Empire, Iran has impacted the world in many significant and lasting ways. Persian culture has given the world poets, thinkers, philosophers, and even cooks who valued peace and tolerance, beauty and sensuality, spirituality and love.

► Some Persians who made a mark on the world include Cyrus the Great, the author of the first Declaration of Human Rights; Ferdowsi, author of the Book of Kings; Abu Ali Sina, an early doctor and philosopher; Omar Khayyam, poet of The Rubiyat; Jalal ad-Din Rumi, Sufi mystical poet; Saadi, moral poet; and Shamsedin Hafez, author of many books for spiritual counsel. These early writers all used Farsi, the predominant language in Iran today.

► The culture of Iran has always valued peace, love, beauty, sensuality, and spirituality in its poetry, music, books, education, and cuisine. Cooks are still highly respected in Persia. Although the name was changed many years ago, most native-born Iranians use the terms Persia and Iran interchangeably in referring to our homeland.

► Rumi, one of Iran’s most treasured and well-known poets, once wrote a story about the relationship between a chickpea and a cook. Chickpea to Cook illustrates the way a cook can transform an ordinary chickpea with spices and food combinations, making it more lovely for its purpose of giving vitality to human beings. It is said that Rumi’s cook—who must have created dishes of exquisite sensuality to inspire his world-famous poetry—is interred in a special tomb in the same cemetery as Rumi himself. Here, people pay homage to both men.

Nush-e jan!

Eat it to your health!



Persian blessing



Cantaloupe Summer Drink (Talebi)

Serves 4

■ 1 cantaloupe, rinsed and dried

■ 2 tablespoons sugar, or to taste

■ 2 tablespoons rosewater (optional)


1. Halve the melon, remove the seeds, and cut it into eight pieces. To extract the meat, grate each piece into a bowl; discard the peelings. You may also peel the slices and use a blender to chop the meat.

2. Add the sugar and rosewater to the grated melon. Stir until the sugar dissolves.

3. Pour the mixture into tall serving glasses over four or five ice cubes. Nush-e jan!

Basil-Seed Syrup Drink (Tokhm Sharbaty)

This drink is especially good for heart health and is often given to women after childbirth. In addition, it is used for holy days (Muharam) and in times of grief or mourning. The syrup should not be stored for more than 12 hours.

Serves 4

■ 4 cups sugar

■ 2 tablespoons basil seeds (available in Mediterranean markets)

■ 1 cup rosewater


1. In a medium pot, bring the sugar and 2 cups water to a boil over medium high heat. Let simmer over low heat for 8 to 10 minutes or until thickened.

2. As the syrup cooks, place the basil seeds in a heatproof container. Pour 1 cup boiling water over the seeds and stir. Allow the seeds to absorb all the water.

3. Once the sugar syrup has thickened, remove the pot from the heat. Add the rosewater .and soaked basil seeds to the syrup and stir to combine.

4. Serve immediately by filling tall glasses ⅓ full of syrup,1 teaspoon of seeds. and ice cubes. Fill to the top with cold water, and stir. Nush-e jan!

Lime or Lemon Syrup (Sharbat-e Ablimu)

Sharbat-e Ablimu is an excellent drink for quenching thirst on a summer afternoon. Add an optional shot of vodka.

Serves 4

■ 4 cups sugar

■ 2 cups water

■ 1 cup fresh-squeezed lime or lemon juice

■ zest of one lime or lemon

■ fresh mint, for garnish

■ thin slices of lime or lemon, for garnish


1. In a medium pot, bring the sugar and 4 cups water to a boil over medium-high heat. Let simmer over low heat for 10 minutes or until thickened. Add the lime or lemon juice and zest. Simmer for another 5 minutes.

2. Allow the syrup to cool and then transfer it to a bottle for storage.

3. To serve, fill tall glasses ⅓ full with syrup. Add ice cubes, fill to the top with cold water, and stir. Garnish with 1 mint sprig and a thin slice of lime or lemon. Nush-e jan!

Mint Vinegar Syrup (Sharbat-e Sekanjebin)

Because it both quenches thirst and calms nerves, Sharbat-e Sekanjebin makes a nice summer drink to welcome guests into the home.

Serves 4

■ 4 cups sugar

■ ½ pound fresh whole mint, with leaves and stems

■ ¼ cup apple-cider vinegar

■ mint sprigs, for garnish

■ 1 Persian cucumber, chopped, for garnish


1. In a medium pot, bring the sugar and 2 cups water to a boil over medium-high heat. Let the syrup simmer over low heat for 10 minutes or until thickened.

2. As the syrup simmers, wash and rinse the mint.

3. When the syrup has thickened, stir in the mint and the vinegar. Simmer for 5 minutes and remove from the heat. Remove the mint sprigs from the syrup.

4. Allow the syrup to cool and then transfer it to a bottle for storage.

5. To serve, fill tall glasses ⅓ full with syrup. Add ice cubes, fill to the top with water, and stir. Garnish with 1 tablespoon chopped cucumber and 1 sprig mint. Nush-e jan!

Yogurt Drink (Dugh)

A healthy drink for summer, dugh has also been used for centuries to help with digestion. In Iran, it is served with rice and kebab (chelow kebab). It is also sold by street vendors.

Serves 4

■ 2 cups plain whole-milk yogurt

■ 1 tablespoon salt

■ 1 teaspoon dried mint, crushed and powdered

■ ½ teaspoon dried rose petals, crushed

■ 1 cup club soda

■ fresh mint sprigs or dry mint leaves, for garnish

■ powdered rose petals, for garnish


In a blender, combine the yogurt, salt, dried mint, and rose petals with 3 cups water. Pulse to blend. Add the club soda and pulse once. Serve in a pitcher with ice cubes. Garnish with mint sprigs and a pinch of powdered rose petals. Nush-e jan!



Grandmother’s Spinach (Nargesi-e Esfenaj)

This beautiful dish, prepared in the shape of an open flower, can be served as either an appetizer or a side dish, warm or cold. It is also delicious to mix with plain yogurt just before

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