Author: Maideh Mazda
Paperback: 176 pages
Publisher: Tuttle Publishing; New edition (22 Dec 1997)
For my first post of 2012 (Happy New year by the way) I thought I would do a wee bit of a book review. My Christmas presents this year…actually I mean last year, revolved around the kitchen. I got a cool timer; a fantastic set of measuring cups that double as Russian dolls and this book on Persian cookery.
I’m not entirely sure why I asked for a book on food from Iran, but I am so glad I did. Mazda’s small but perfectly formed book would appear to be a bit of a classic on the subject. Originally published in 1960, it is a cookery book of the old school with plenty of references to what the housewife should do to prepare for this, that or the other and the odd eye-rolling comment about the propensity of husbands to bring guests home unannounced.
The recipes are first class, uncomplicated and for the past week I have been slowly going cover to cover identifying ingredients not heard of before, sourcing them from my local Turkish supermarket and then experimenting on my poor dear friends (thanks to Simon and also to JoJo and another Simon for their patience and acceptance to be guinea pigs).
While I am a bit of a fan of the glossy photos that accompany every oversized cookery tomes Amazon will care to sell you, this book does not suffer from a lack of them. In place of soft-focus, semi-pornographic shots of greased up food there are instead beautiful illustrations in a traditional style that give this book a gloriously highbrow feel.
Here’s a sample recipe for Abgusht (authentic Persian lamb stew) I tried out for our New Years Eve dinner party with JoJo and Simon. I embellished slightly by marinading my lamb in yoghurt infused with the spices for 2 hours before cooking and adding a big handful of coriander a the end…but you get the idea.
- 2-3 lean pieces of lamb breast or leg steaks cut into 2 cm cubes
- 1 large onion
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- ½ tsp turmeric
- ½ tsp oregano
- 1 tsp saffron crushed and soaked in 2 tbsp warm water
- 2 cups water
- ½ cup of canned chickpeas
- Put your meat in a large pot and add the onions, seasoning and water and let simmer for 1 – 1½ hours on a very low fire. 20 mins before serving add the chickpeas and more salt and pepper if necessary. Tomatoes or eggplant may be added when in season
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 2 hours
Number of servings (yield): 4
My wife and kids chose very well…and as I subsequently discovered you can pick up your very own copy on Amazon for less than 12 quid, great value for money, that is if it’s not your Christmas pressie!