Persianized Dolsot Bibimbap & Korean Tahdig! | Awesome Guest Post by @CaramelFlahn

Dolosot bibimbap Korean Persian -04  Dolosot bibimbap Korean Persian -01

Gentle readers, while some of you are currently home-bound due to a winter snow blizzard, some of you on the other side of the globe are fanning yourselves due to the excessive heat of summer; and meanwhile yours truly is here in Tehran, Iran, where the season is still winter but the weather is mild(ish), although the mountains surrounding the city are beautifully and lushly capped with snow.

Instead of a post of my own, what I have for you is a treat: an impeccable guest post (recipe and photographs) by Caramelflahn (Helen!) who is my culinary inspiration and obsession.

You may recall Helen’s foodgasmic interview (Lord have mercy! If you’re not averse to drooling over food, you shouldsprint over to that link and drool away!) and her stunningly exquisite (and am not throwing that adjective lightly) Saffron layer cake with white chocolate mousse & pistachio butter cream. (Just typing the title of the post sends shivers tingling down my spine! May the Lord be merciful again!) If you care even a tiny bit for food, you must follow Helen’s Instagram for pinch-me revelation and inspiration!  And you can always wipe away the pool of drool easily enough with a kitchen towelette! ;-)

This, Helen’s latest guest post for Fig & Quince, Persianized dolsot bibimbap, is the fusion of a classic Korean fare with Persian inspirations. As if that’s not intriguing enough, there’s a cameo star turn by nooroongji or Korean ta’dig! What marvel of nature is that! Helen reports that Koreans LOVE noorongji! Helen’s favorite part of dinner growing up was the noorongji at the bottom of the rice cooker, and she and her older sister would fight over the big pieces of Korean ta’dig. This story makes me chuckle because the fight over tadig is such a typical occurrence at any Persian dinner table as well! Helen says her mom used to actually take leftover rice and press it on a hot frying pan with some toasted sesame oil to make giant sheets of noorongji for Helen and her older sister to snack on. What a fabulous idea! I shall make a note of doing the same going forward!

As for going forward, enough of my narrative in italics. This awesome Korean dish looks delectable and the recipe is detailed and involved, so let’s proceed posthaste to our guest’s wonderful post.  Here’s Helen in her own words:

Helen’s Persianized Dolsot Bibimbap

Dolsot bibimbap (돌솥 비빔밥) is a popular traditional Korean dish, and one of my favorite meals to eat and make. It’s a hot stone bowl filled with rice mixed with various vegetables, beef, fried egg (or just a raw yolk), and a specially seasoned sweet and tangy red pepper hot sauce. Dolsot [돌솥] means “stone bowl,” bibim [비빔] means “mixed,” and bap [밥] means “rice”.  It’s super tasty, (reasonably) healthy, well-balanced, and can easily be made vegetarian or vegan.

The hot dolsot accomplishes two things: (1) It keeps the contents piping hot until the very last bite. Perfect for these chilly fall days and upcoming winter! (2) Arguably the best and most important reason, it makes the bottom layer of rice toasty, nutty, and crunchy.  This crunchy rice, or nooroongji (누룽지)  tastes amazing and is the prized product and sign of any good dolsot bibimbap.

Just regular ol’ bibimbap has the exact same ingredients but is served in a standard non-heated bowl, so it doesn’t have that delicious nooroongji crunchy rice.  It’s still good, but not as good as dolsot bibimbap in the opinion of most people; the hot stone bowl really makes a huge difference.  Oh, what’s that you say?  You don’t own a 5lb granite bowl and have no idea where to get one?  Well, lucky for you, a well-seasoned cast iron skillet works (nearly) just as well!  That tasty toasty nooroongji you’ll get from the dolsot (or cast iron skillet) is the Korean equivalent of Persian ta’dig.  Which is why I thought creating a Persian-inspired dolsot bibimbap made delicious sense.

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Yes, Persian and Korean cuisines have considerably disparate flavor profiles, but they have many key similarities. Both are heavily based on rice.  Both like some of that rice to be crunchy. Both use lots of fresh herbs and vegetables.  Both embrace bold spices and complex flavors that pack a big punch.  Dolsot bibimbap has all of those things, and I think this Persian-inspired version does, too.

The flavors and ingredients are Persian-influenced, but based on the original Korean dish. Instead of steamed plain medium-grain white rice, there’s buttery fragrant saffron basmati rice. Instead of garlic-sesame-soy beef bulgogi, there’s garlic-cumin-mint lamb “bulgogi”.  Instead of sweet vinegary pickled oijangaji cucumbers, there are shirazi salad-inspired pickled cucumbers.  Instead of sauteed garlic-soy spinach and toasted seaweed, there’s a sabzi-inspired quick sauteed spinach with herbs.  I found most of the components were naturally analogous, but one distinctively Korean ingredient I had to keep was the gochujang (fermented red pepper paste).  It’s the umami-packed key ingredient of the tangy sweet spicy sauce that’s mixed in the bibimbap, and I think it complemented the Persian influences surprisingly well.  The end result is a hearty, satisfying complete meal in one sizzling, steaming bowl loaded with deliciously intricate flavors.

One thing I especially like about this recipe and dolsot bibimbap in general is that you can make everything the day before, and leftovers reheat beautifully.  This recipe can be eaten over the course of several days, and it’s like you’re making and enjoying a fresh bowl each time; all you have to make each time is the fried egg.

This was a lot of fun to do, and I really enjoyed exploring Persian cuisine! The bibimbap is seriously delicious! I hope you enjoy this as much as I did!

Dolosot bibimbap Korean Persian -03

Let’s make Helen’s recipe and let’s dig in!

Click to read the awesome recipe!

Greetings (& food!) from the tops of the snowy mountains of Iran

 

Group selfie of Iranian friends in snowy Lavasan Tehran Iran mountains

Can you see the birthday cake? Can you see the dog? Can you see me with cake all the way in the back?

Hello hello hello and happy new year again!

So how did you spend your first day of 2016? I hope you celebrated and rejoiced in the clean slate of a whole new year in either a truly wholesome or a truly decadent (or an intriguing combo thereof) fashion.

As for me? I started the new year on the right foot (literally ha ha) by going mountain climbing and spent the first day of 2016 at 2500 feet above the sea level traipsing around in the breathtakingly glorious — lushly carpeted with plush pristine snow — mountains near Tehran. Lucky me!  It was a memorable day filled with exertion, elation, and many delightful surprises. To wit: Do you see the photo above? That’s a group selfie with a new friend and a group of even newer (made-on-the-impromptu-spot) friends and a birthday cake and a very well mannered (but shekamoo) Iranian German Shepherd dog named Cesar!

But let me start my tale from the beginning!

It so transpired then that on Friday January 1, 2016 yours truly awoke at the ungodly hour of crack ‘o dawn to hitch a ride with @pilesport, a new friend (an avid mountain climber who has a few Mount Damavand expeditions under his belt) and we drove for an hour in the eerily (also wonderfully) empty streets and highways of Tehran and then onward to the mountain-roads to Lavasan (which used to be a teeny tiny no-consequences dehkadeh and now is the site of villas and a playground for billionaires etc, think a “winter Hamptons” type of place, but that’s another story) parked the car and while going brrrr brrrr brrrr in the bristlingly cold air of a true frigid winter day, donned the accoutrements for the mountain-climbing venture for the day ahead.

Female mountain climber snow Lavasan Tehran Iran

 

I had on 2 tight leggings, 3 layers of skin tight tops, a hijab scarf that did double duty as a neck scarf, a softly plush and snug cat-burglar type of wintry skull cap, sunglasses, gloves, knee-length thick socks, pair of borrowed boots, and was further equipped with “gert” these things (mine are red) that you wrap around your calves and cover over and tie to your shoes to help avoid snow getting into your boots and I was also handed a pair of batons (without which there’s no way in heck I could have made my way either up or down.)

Destination? The delightfully-quirkily-named “carrot fields” (dashteh havij) of Lavasan. In this photo, after climbing atop the mountain for a couple of hours on a rather steep (requiring mild huffing and puffing but not a killer angle) have finally – oh joy! – arrived at the level “dasht” (“field”) part of the trail.

Gosh, the snow was so beautiful up there! Like a gorgeous untouched pristine carpet. And there was serene silence. It was like a dream.

 

eggs and walntus & cheese and bread - provisions ot make breakfast in the snowy "carrot field" mountain field of Lavasan Tehran Iran

Exertions require fuel. Yummy yummy fuel. So once we arrived at the Carrot Field, it was time to have breakfast.  Akh joon!

@PileSport set up camp near a big rock that served double duty as both table and bench.  Unveiling the provisions of: taftoon bread, walnuts, cheese & dates.

 

Cracking eggs to make omelette camping style in snowy mountain top "carrot field" of Lavasan Tehran Iran

And then set out to make sunny side up eggs as well! Using half a stick of butter! But I guess, one had earned it by that point.

If you want to see a short video and hear the wonderful “jez va vez” sound of eggs cooking in sizzling butter in a skillet atop a mountain, you can see it here on my Instagram account.

Cracking eggs to make omelette camping style in snowy mountain top "carrot field" of Lavasan Tehran Iran Eating sunny side up eggs while camping out atop a snowy mountain (after 2 hours of exertion getting up there) when you’re all full of dopamins and also hungry as a wolf  is … all that it’s cracked up to be! Sorry, couldn’t resist the pun.

What I’m trying to say is that it hit the spot. And it was fun.

So we had one round of eggs sandwiched in taftoon bread polished off with hot tea seasoned with a special advieh (cinnamon & ground ginger & something else!) and that was awesome too.

Mountain Climbing Iranian friends in snowy Lavasan Tehran Iran mountains

Meanwhile, while we were at the task of making and eating breakfast, these guys camping out on a rock above ours were having a jolly rowdy good time — and kept inviting us to join them. “Befarmayeed.” “Just bring a fork.” “Bring some tea as well.”

Once they mentioned a birthday cake, I sprinted up those rocks like a billy goat! Ha ha!

(In the photo above, the birthday boy is holding up his birthday cake!)

Group selfie of Iranian friends in snowy Lavasan Tehran Iran mountains

Just kidding! It wasn’t just the delicious bait of an awesome chocolate cake in the mountains that lured me up there. As a blogger, it is my duty and report these types of things. No?

Once up on the rocks with this wonderful bacheha, much jovial hilarity and passing up of slices of cakes and a bunch of group selfies ensued. (Can you spot me back there holding my plate of cake? I’m smiling while typing this at the awesome memory. Such fun!) Turned out they were a group of friends who live in Lavasan.

Now, do you want to know how someone manages to bring a cake up a mountain without destroying it? The answer to this riddle is that you freeze the cake so that it can survive its trip in a knapsack and hope to make it up the mountains before it’s thawed completely. That’s how! By the way, the leader of the group is @mountain_rizan on Instagram if you want to go and have a look-see.

Cesar the German Shepherd Iranian dog! in the snowy "carrot filed" of Lavasan Tehran Iran mountain top

At some point, Cesar, the Iranian German Shephard was unleashed and invited to the party as well. You can safely bet that Cesar did not decline the invitation. And at every opportune moment when heads and attentions were turned hither and tither, Cesar heartily helped himself to what edibles he could find. Meanwhile, his human mommy kept doting on him. “Pessareh m’an!” :-)

Anyway, it was then time to go down the rock and move on and we did.

Female mountain climber snow Lavasan Tehran Iran

But parting is such sweet sorrow!

So the lovely gang took a photo of us to postpone the moment of farewell!

Female mountain climber snow Lavasan Tehran Iran

And they also snapped me while snapping them back!

Iranian men women friends posing on top of rock in the snowy "carrot fields" of Lavasan Tehran Iran

And snap them back I did! Capturing them in making the “V for Victory” pose which is super popular with mountain climbers in Iran I’ve found! (I adopted it as well as you can tell from earlier pic!)  Thank you for the cake and the wonderful memories, @mountain_rizan and rest of the gang!

mountain-graffiti-Lavsan-Iran--2

mountain-graffiti-Lavsan-Iran

By then it was mid-morning and time to further climb atop the mountains. But before leaving “dasht ‘e havij” and right nearby where we’d partaken of dejeuner sur la neige, I detected this interesting rock calligraphy. Rock graffiti! It’s kind of cool, no? Thought it’d be fun to share its pic with you. The only word in there by the way that I can make out is “honar” which means “art” but can’t figure out any of the other words.

Iranian men women having a snow ball fight game in Lavasan Tehran Iran

And prior to leaving Carrot Field, was witness to another wonderful scene. A big group of climbers had divided efforts, and some of them were busy constructing a huge snowman, while the rest of them got into a spirited game of snow ball fight. (I have a couple of short videos of it that show off the majestically beautiful mountains as well and wish I could share it here but Internet access here in Iran won’t permit me posting it to WordPress, however I did post it one 12 second of video of the snowball fight here on Instagram.)

woman mountain climb snow Tehran Iran

And then what started off innocently as a pleasant return route on the trail, turned out into taking a serious climb route (in a rather heavy duty slope) up, up, and up the mountain. @Pilesport kept saying: “Just 5 more minutes, and we’ll get to the trees and we’re right there.” Meanwhile, the 5 minutes kept getting extended!

At some point I felt that no way would I be able to make it up there. But after a bout of weary complaining, I decided to embrace the journey and thought: “Let’s just put one foot above the other and anyhow it’s a good way to start a new year. Building resolve and determination.” And I just shut my mouth and climbed. And that, my friends, is how this shekamoo was able to make it up there.

Gorgeous and stark snowy mountain landscape in Lavasan Tehran Iran

The view kind of is worth it, don’t you think? It was … breathtaking! Literally, ha ha!

Gorgeous and stark snowy mountain landscape in Lavasan Tehran Iran

That little figure you see in the middle is yours truly, your faithful blogger and now a little mountain climber!

By the time this photo was taken, I could make out the trees (which turned out to be walnut trees) but it was still another further 20 minute ascent past the trees before we made it to the makeshift rest stop near the waterfall where climbers stop and rest.

And we stopped there. Had lunch! (Pasta. Plus pre-peeled nectarines and pre-cut apples. Plus lovely hot tea with dates.) It was freezing but it was also awesome. We also had some shireh va serkeh to drink as well. What’s that you say? Take some syrup (ideally grape syrup or such) and mix it with vinegar and you have yourself a sweet and sour drink that energizes and hydrates.

And then we went down the mountain which for me felt exhilirating because I pretty much swooshed down like I was skiing. I miss skiing!

And that’s kind of it! I’ll end here with this shot of tea being made on a makeshift fire by a bunch of salt-of-the-earth mountain climbers and heavy duty tea drinkers! Hopefully, I will have a follow up post at some point chronicling yet another awesome mountaintop adventure that I enjoyed the week following this one and at that point I will also talk more about the culture of mountain climbing in Iran.

Until then, your chatty blogger bids you a fond farewell.

tea mountain snow tehran Iran

 

Happy New Year! Happy 2016! | Belated Greetings from Iran!

Persian carpet with whimsical figurative design on display at the Carpet Museum in Tehran, Iran | @figandquince (Persian food culture blog)

Hi everyone!

Will you please forgive me for the irregular and intermittent posting? Further, will you also forgive me for the belated holiday & new year wishes?  I blame lack of time, a countdown to the last dwindling days of my visit here in Iran, and a rather super frustrating Internet access for the aforementioned laggings – for which I hope to avoid flaggings –  and beg you to remember the good times we’ve had together. We’ve had some fine times together, haven’t we? Therefor, do kindly overlook this shocking (albeit unintentional and at times unavoidable) neglect of my blogging duties. That said, let me actually say what I came here to say, and that is to wish you all a truly wonderful 2016!

My new year wish for you:

May your life be like a finely woven Persian carpet: artful; useful; pretty to behold; filled with myriad delightful touches; soft and cozy; and continuously better and more precious with age.

Happy New Year!

ps. This particular Persian carpet, filled with wonderful whimsical figurative depictions, is one that’s on display at the Carpet Museum of Tehran. I got to pay a visit to this museum along with a dear friend who was visiting from Los Angeles, and we had a good time traipsing around and checking out the masterpieces on display. The story of which is but one of a thousand and one such stories I hope to tell and the photo of which is but one of the gazillion photos that I am dying to share with you and my new year resolution is to get going and post more regularly. Hail, wind and Internet notwithstanding! As a show of good faith, be on the lookout — coming up in a jiffy — for a pictorial post about how I spent my first day of 2016 (Hint: it was beginning the year on the right foot. Literally! Ha!)

Look Who’s Talking! At TEDx Tehran!

Azita Houshiar TEDx Tehran Food social media speakerHi friends,

I’ve already hinted here on the blog and the cat’s been out of the bag (MEOW!) for quite awhile on my social media channels, but, I may as well officially announce that yours truly, your faithful if usually hungry and oft too talkative blogger, has the honor and privilege to be one of the speakers at the upcoming (imminently so) TEDxTehran.

Here are the facts:

Subject: This time, the theme of TEDx is “paradigm shift” and I will be speaking (in Farsi) about food (but of course!) and the paradigm shift of food. (Hint: it’s what’s allowing me to talk to you right now!)

In the process of putting together the talk, I got input from Mehrdad Aref Adib, Jenny Gustaffson, (editor and co-founder of Mashallah News), Layla Sabourian (founder of Chef Koochooloo) and Fred Parvaneh – so I wanted to give thanks and kudos to each of them beforehand as well.

Date: Friday December 4, 2015 (Jom’eh 9 Azar)

Can you watch it? YES! The event will be live-streamed. For video live stream: http://tedxtehran.com/live

For audio live stream: http://lahzenegar.com/channel/TEDxTehran

Time: 9:30 am till 5 pm (Iran time!) and specifically yours truly’s talk will be at 1 pm Iran time (or 4:30 a.m Eastern time, 1:30 am Pacific time, or “don’t really expect any of y’all in Northern America to stay up to see it as this is no royal wedding spectacle etc” let’s-get-real-time! … But, I am including the info JUST.In.Case.)

Fret not if you miss it, as in a matter of months, the subtitled video of it will be up and available as well, therefore, you won’t ultimately miss this-sure-to-be-historic event!

I’m going to write at length about TEDx Tehran; the story of how it came about that I got involved; what it all entailed; the awesome team behind it; and lots of interesting deets and tidbits and pix … but sometime after the event and after I’ve caught my breath. Promise! Meanwhile,  I’ll share a a few pix with you to whet your appetite!

TEDx Tehran core team group shot (hip and happening) Tehran, Iran

Here’s the delightful and multi-talented and truly exceptional (in every which way) core team of Tedx Tehran. Snaps taken on my first day of live rehearsal of the talk in an ever so hip and happening office space.

Some members of the team are camera shy, so in the interest of caution, I’ll avoid tagging any of them here.

 

Reza Ghiabi TEDx Tehran at a hip coffee shop in Tehran Iran

Any of them, that is, except for Reza Ghiabi, who is not only one of the pivotal members of the core team of TEDx Tehran but I also jokingly refer to him as “kalantareh Tehran” (Tehran’s sheriff) because verily, everyone I come across seems to know him or know of him! Belying his youth, he is a big deal!

Reza is gregarious, as sharp and bright as you might expect, and exceedingly polite.

 

espresso lavashak honey coffee at hipster cafe in Tehran Iran

Reza also likes to take his espresso with honey – German style! I found this out when I traipsed over to Jame Jam Cafe – a cool cafe in Tehran – to have a short and sweet and caffeinated meeting with him.

Side foodie note: that little yellow bowl contains snack strips of lavashak! (Persian fruit roll up.) Isn’t that something?

 

Azita Houshiar with Reza Ghiabi at hipster cafe in Tehran, Iran 2015

During our short and sweet and caffeinated pow wow (conducted under the quizzical gaze of John Lennon, no less) Reza answered some of my questions; quelled and some of my worries; and pat pat reassured some of my anxieties — and in general was the Tina Fey to my Jenna, ha ha, if you know what I mean! In return, I rewarded him by giving him horns as we took a souvenir photo snapshot.

And with that, it’s time for this chatterbox to go and tend to some urgent matters.

Wish me luck for Friday, my friends and send me positive vibes and smoke some esfand for me as well if you’d like, ha ha! And see you on the other side!  (If you do want to keep up with my escapades on a daily basis, don’t forget to give me a look/see on Instagram where I post daily.)

xoxo

azita (Still in Tehran! And loving it!)

 

Happy Thanksgiving! | Giving Thanks from Tehran, Iran

 

Persian shirini (cookies)

Persian shirini (cookies) | homemade

Hello friends!

This Thanksgiving marks the very first time ever since my family moved to the U.S that I won’t be observing this secular holiday haven of food and gratitude on American soil. I’m in Tehran (as you know) where I’m beginning to feel more and more at home, and yet, as is the peculiar and paradoxical wont of the hyphenated identity, I’m also away from home and miss family, friends, and biking across the Brooklyn bridge; and I’m homesick for that glorious je ne sais quoi of foliage and glitter and decadent cinnamon-laden frothy coffee concoctions that is the fall and the holiday season in New York.

I’m not making a turkey dinner to mark the occasion because frankly, I’m lazy, and instead I’m getting together with a dear old school chum. That will be a celebratory feast in and of itself.

Thanksgiving is of course as much about food and family as it is about gratitude. Personally, I am deeply grateful for myriad blessings big and small this year, taking none for granted, and yet, on a Debbie Downer note, I can’t help but be forlorn by the brutal and appalling turn of events in the world. Then again, I take a deep breath and recall sage words of wisdom of how each of us can be agents of change by the way we behave and react to the world; and remember a Persian poem that goes: “There’s much hope in hopelessness, and at the end of the darkest night is the light of the dawn.”

Here’s to hope and dawn and light and all that is good and delicious. I wish each and everyone of you celebrating this festive holiday to have a wonderful and warm gathering and bellies filled with turkey and cranberry and yummy stuffing (yum yum, miss it already) and for the rest of us, I wish hearts filled with kindness and gratitude. (If you want to listen to a great podcast on the subject of gratitude, Google TTBOOK’s “Gratitude Attitude” – it’s quite enlightening.)

In lieu of recipes and pictures of a feast, what I have for you are some photos that I hope will be akin to a visual feast of sorts.

 

sholeh zard (Persian rice pudding) | @figandquince (Persian food culture blog)

Here’s the story of this pic: one time we were at home minding our business when the doorbell rang and lo, we were offered these two bowls of “nazri” Persian saffron rice pudding aka sholeh zard (a good recipe here.)

“Nazri” is the food or alms that believers make and offer to the public-at-large (or feed to the needy) in the hopes of having their prayers answered.

These sholeh zards were really good by the way! Quality ingredients! Pistachio, cinnamon and almonds and the perfectly light touch of rose water. YUM!

 

frozen shahtoot & termeh (deocrative Iranian fabric) back ground | @figandquince (Persian food culture blog)

Ooh! This refreshment (back in Kermanshah) was such a treat: fresh shahtoot (red mulberries) picked from my cousin’s fruit garden, frozen, and served with a little silver spoon in a little bowl. Each bite was ice cold and sweet and tart and crunchy and so good I wanted to weep! Ha ha. I’m half joking. I do want to weep now though when I can only look at its photo and don’t have any to gobble up. (The pretty paisley fabric is called “termeh” by the way.)

 

luscious tart next to Persian book in cafe in Tehran, Iran | @figandquince (Persian food culture blog)

Just recently I went to my friend’s awesome cafe, called Golo Morgh Cafe in Lavassan (a mountainous and posh suburb of Tehran) where among other things, I enjoyed this luscious tart. The thick coffee table photo book next to the tart was a treat as well, but I only got to leaf through a very few pages of it! I very much hope to return to this cafe again and again.

dried sour cherries (albaloo khoshkeh) & termeh | @figandquince (Persian food culture blog)

These are called “albaloo khoshkeh” or dried sour cherries. Among the most favorite childhood snacks of my childhood. What can I say except that are: SO. GOOD! And addictive. Very very addictive.

 

tray of tea with limoo dates azgil in Tehran, Iran | @figandquince (Persian food culture blog)

On a particularly nice and bright and brisk day, one of my friends and her husband took me mountain hiking in Darakeh. What a day! We hiked the rocky trail with the roar of the river snaking around and underneath our path and practically each step of the way was filled with happy hikers and vendors offering everything from persimmon to  to walnuts and pomegranates. For lunch we stopped at a mom and pop popular cafe for the most exquisite fesenjan I’ve ever had the pleasure of tasting and before that, once we had spent nearly two hours hiking, we lounged on wooden beds lined with threadbare Persian carpets in a garden with tall walnut trees and the sound track of the stream flowing through it and ordered tea. Our tea tray came laden with lemons and dates and the windfall of the azgil (loquats) were the rewards of a chance encounter with another friend.

On that note, I’ll take my leave and go make myself a nice cup of tea.

Happy Thanksgiving, Friends!

xoxo

 

 

Bright Spots in an otherwise Gloomy November day in Tehran, Iran

Sunny yellow kamquats in a market in Tehran, Iran

Sunny yellow kamquats in a fruit market in Tehran, Iran

Friends! I’m still here!

But that, I mean I’m still writing here on the blog (hello hello) and also that I’m still here in Iran. One reason for my extended stay is that I’m going to be one of the speakers at the upcoming TEDxTehran 2015! Isn’t that exciting? The theme is paradigm shift and I will be talking about … what else? FOOD! But of course! I’m thrilled and terrified all at once. Wish me luck, please! OK? (I will post a couple of days before the blessed event with further details including how to watch a livestream, etc.)

Meanwhile, I’m in Tehran as I said, which: YAY, where I’m progressively feeling more and more like a local and yet also still observe and absorb everything with the big delighted eyes of a tourist. In some ways, this is the best of worlds, because it makes even ordinary things like a day spent running errands filled with bubbles of fun! I thought I’d share with you photos of one such November day, an overcast and rather gloomy day (doing boring every day things) but one that nevertheless was punctuated again and again with sightings that firmly planted a smile on my face.

Hope you’ll enjoy this little photo tour of a day in life in Tehran as well.

3 old Iranian gents bending down to skim the news paper headlines in Tehran, Iran |@figandQuince (Persian food culture blog)

Here we have 3 gents near Laleh Park bending down to skim the headlines at a newspaper kiosk. A common sight!

lavashak lollipops Tehran Iran | @figandquince (Persian food culture blog)

And here we have lavashak lollipops! Say WHAT? Wonders never cease. (Lavashak is the name for Persian fruit roll ups, usually made in thin flat sheets. This newfangled lollipop version is a rather genius interpretation of this traditional and very popular snack!)

Flamingos and flowers Laleh Hotel Tehran Iran | @figandquince (Persian food culture blog)

I frequently walk by the Laleh Hotel (formerly known as Intercontinental Hotel) and the flamingos and the flowers and Alice in the Wonderland mushrooms are rather cheerful sightings as I pass by.

Ashura art poster Tehran Iran |@figandquince (Persian food culture blog)

I dig this art poster depicting an Ashura scene (an important religious historical event) and I shamelessly begged the gallery manager for a copy. (Per Yvonne joon’s sage guidance!) But I then never did make it back there to pick it up. For shame!

The gallery itself is a small but well appointed one, situated inside the Laleh Park – a large and quite wonderful park (filled with many delights) – a subject that deserves its own post. One day soon, perhaps!

Motorcycle red fuzzy handle Tehran Iran | @FigandQuince (Persian food culture blog)

Motorcyclists in Tehran are a menace. A MENACE I tell you! And any and all sightings of them in action fill one (or at least moi) with appalled and fearful derision. However, this harmless stationary candy-red motorcycle with its clean and well groomed fuzzy red hand-warming handles did make me chuckle with appreciation.

Young Iranian couple with baby Tehran Iran | @figandquince (Persian food culture blog)

I happened to follow in the trail of this young Iranian family for half a block as we all headed down on Vessal Shirazi street in Tehran. I dug the cheerful orange accessories of the young mother, and I mean, look at that cute little baby with his red hat! Whose gloomy day wouldn’t be brightened by such an  quietly inquisitive adorable little face?

 

pomegranate-oranges-Tehran-Iran-fruit-vendor

I also got a kick out of passing by this fruit cart spilling with its cargo of pomegranates and oranges and appreciated the vendor’s time-honored Persian practice of sipping tea while conducting business.

Young Iranian couple with baby Tehran Iran | @figandquince (Persian food culture blog)

And here we have stuffed animals merrily posing for a group portrait in front of Tehran’s Contemporary Museum of Art!

This is the same museum by the way that very recently exhibited this! Incredible! I got to check out that exhibit twice and this Friday hope to go to the opening of another major exhibit. This museum is another subject that surely deserves its very own post. Sometime!

 

kooloocheh & noon panjareh shirini Iranian pastries still life | @figandquince (Persian food culture blog)

And finally, let’s conclude this post with these delicious treats – which is precisely how this shekamoo concluded and rewarded her long day of running errands.

Any day ending with kooloocheh (@MariaDernikos is a treasured friend and stellar fellow food blogger and her kooloocheh recipe guest post is stellar as well! Natch!) and noon ‘eh panjareh is indeed a bright day!

And that’s it folks, till we meet next, and till then, hugs and kisses from Tehran, Iran and its pastry-shop-filled streets and snowy dusted mountain peaks.

 

 

Eating a cold in Iran & Treating a cold in Iran

Persian tangerine (narengi) green on the outside, orange on the inside | @figandquince (Persian food culture blog)

What’s sabz green on the outside …

Persian tangerine (narengi) green on the outside, orange on the inside | @figandquince (Persian food culture blog)

and a beautiful narenji orange on the inside …

Why it's Persian green tangerine (narengi) yumm, juicy, | @figandquince (Persian food culture blog)

And filled with yummy vitamin C allover? Why, it’s Persian green tangerine (narengi)

Hi everyone! I’ve been traveling and frolicking in Iran as you may know. Before taking off, I’d written a bunch of blog posts to publish in my absence (so that you wouldn’t forget about me … you didn’t, I hope?) but still, it felt like taking a break and I have really missed talking to you all! I’m ridiculously excited to be back and gabbing with you again.

So what’s new, you ask? (more…)

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