I recently read an article in The Atlantic about people who eat the same meal every single day. These folks have stuck to this routine for years or in some cases, decades. Let’s be clear. I am not that person. My taste buds change wildly throughout the week. My plate reflects my very, very impressionable palate. What’s bubbling away on my stove is almost certainly a reflection of the latest book I read, podcast I listened to, or country I’ve developed a deep and inexplicable hankering to visit. And so, the combination of being captivated by The Splendid’s Table new episode, Four Persian Cooks, and taking Friday off meant a major cooking project was - essentially - unavoidable.
Over the past few years, Persian food has evolved to become one of my favorite cuisines. I don’t recall how that started. But, I’m sure it had something to do with the visibility it was being given by experts like Samin Nosrat, Naz Deravian, Najmieh Batmanglij and Andy Baraghani. Mayukh Sen has also been very an incredible champion of Persian food too, through his profile of the aforementioned Najmieh Batmanglij and pieces on Food52.
So, why Persian food? Let me count the ways. It’s unlike any other cuisine I’ve had before. It balances unlikely flavor combinations like tart, tangy pomegranate molasses and tannic walnuts. Recipes measure herbs in handfuls, not teaspoons or pinches. It feels opulent, drawing from a pantry filled with ingredients like rose water, cardamom and saffron. The only thing Persian cuisine celebrates more than its sweet, savory and sour stews (yes, all three are excellent at once) is its crunchy, crackly golden rice - tahdig.
With a dinner guest of one, Matt, we had the best night together feasting on a menu that filled me with leftovers for days. While we may not have nailed the tahdig “flip,” this made for such a fun cooking adventure. The recipes are not my own, but I’m including links (where available) because I’d make each of these recipes again. If you have a full day to dedicate to a cooking project or dinner party, I’d highly recommend this menu. It’s more than enough for a group of 4-5.
Over the next few posts, I’ll go deeper into each of these. They each merit their own post, so stay tuned!
Barbari, or as Bon Appetit notes, “the world’s thickest flatbread.” I made mine with Trader Joes “Everything Mix” and za’atar.
The sabzi in Sabzi Khordan translates to herbs, and my herbs of choice were mint, chives and dill.
The fesanjan topped with pomegranate seeds and tahdig, or the best bite on the plate!
We finished the savory meal with a bite of Persian Love Cake. A perfect evening!