Balang Moraba | Persian Citron Jam — A Guest Post!

balang moraba Jam Persian citron marmalade cetrade

Balang, the eccentric Citrus | As Photographed by The Unmanly Chef

What in the word is this odd looking creature? Well, in Farsi we know this eccentric species of citrus fruit by the name of bālang and in Iran, chiefly in the northern provinces of Gilan and Mazandaran, a delicious jam called morabbā-ye bālang is made from the ripe fruit. People also preserve and pickle this quirky citrus.

When I was traveling in Iran, I did have encounters of a tasty kind with the balang jam at the home of a friend, and it was also widely available in the markets — particularly in shomal (the Caspian sea northern provinces of Iran.)

young Iranian men laughing store shomal  food blog Iranian cooking jam moraba

Friendly dudes in a shomali store. Pix snapped by moi during awesome road trip w/friends.

I wanted to share the balang jam recipe, but alas, I’ve never made it myself and my own maman joon has never done so either. But as good luck would have it I recently made the delightful acquaintance of a fellow Iranian-American who has a wonderful food blog (you should totally check it out!) who offered to share his step-by-step recipe for making balang jam (plus a bonus recipe for making an easy and delicious balang citronade) by way of a guest post. What a gift! And with that, I will present to you:

The Unmanly Chef!

Unmanly Chef Persian food blogger

Click here to continue to read and meet The Unmanly Chef! You know you want to!

Pepper and Pancetta Toriglioni | From Italy to Iran: Con Amore! (Viva Italia!)

Tortiglioni Pancetta closeup of Pasta Pepper Italian food on beautiful floral pattern china

Check out the gorgeous china! I covet these, Francesca! I covet!

Hi all! This glorious pepper and pancetta toriglioni pasta concoction is a yummy guest post by my treasured Italian friends Francesca (who wrote the recipe and the story) and Stefano (who did the photography.)

Many of you fellow bloggers already know and are fans of this talented Italian power couple, but for those of you not in the know, borrow two feet in addition to your own two feet (rough translation of a Persian saying, ha ha) and run and check out their food (authentic Italian cuisine & riveting storytelling), wine (reviews and inspired pairings – Stefano is a certified sommelier) and photography (outstanding nature and wildlife shots) blogs. I was already entirely “in like” with Francesca and Stefano as bloggers (I just really dig their vibe, you know, Italians and Iranians do share many cultural sensibilities believe it or not) and then we met in person and since, I’m just smitten and kookoo crazy about them with admiration and affection and can not say enough good things about them.

How we met in real life is that one Polar Vortex winter night, they threw a dinner party in their beautiful home, which ended up being a blogger’s summit of sorts! Of the 8 of us present, 6 were bloggers: Francesca, Stefano, Suzanne, Anatoli, and Oliver and me. Shockingly, none of us blogged about our get-together! But I must break the silence! Here’s a blurry Gif of a few snapshots of the evening. The 1st pic is the chic table setting in the dining room & the last pic is the kitchen in the final aftermath of the festivities!


The statistical breakdown of the dinner party:

1 cheerfully elegant home. 2 hosts. 6 guests. 3 food bloggers. 3 wine bloggers. 2 blog-tolerating civilians. 4 lawyers (only 2 currently practicing.) 2 American-born Americans. 6 accented-Americans. 1 excited puppy. 1 adorable princess. Tons of lip-smacking appetizers and delicious food. 100 bottles of various types of wine (only slightly exaggerating.) Countless good memories. Immeasurably divine hospitality. One fabulous, fabulous evening!

And with that, I finally give you the divine Francesca! (The most tenderhearted and warmest introvert I ever did meet! And oh, one more thing, do go and check out this wonderful gem of a book that Francesca recommended. It is one of my favorite readings – intriguing, delightful, elegant and cool. Basically: just like Fransesca herself!) 

Tortiglioni Pancetta closeup of Pasta Pepper Italian food on beautiful floral pattern china

Pepper and pancetta tortiglioni

I have been lucky enough to get to meet Azita in person a few months ago. I don’t remember how we found each other on the blogosphere but I remember how I felt at the beginning of our “relationship”… cautious.

I have always been a big introvert and extremely good at keeping my distance from people - a huge disappointment due to a friendship that fell apart a couple of years ago didn’t help, and actually ended up making me even more skeptical, if possible, when it comes to meeting new people, either in person or over the internet.

However, when I started reading Azita’s posts, I couldn’t help but fall in love with the cheerfulness, the lightness and the language richness of her writing style.

There is no doubt that her country, culture and culinary traditions are fascinating in and of themselves, but she is astonishingly capable to write about them in such an articulate and eclectic way that every time I read one of her posts I have the impression of reading one chapter of “One Thousand and One Nights”, where flavors, aromas, perfumes and ancient customs all blend in together to give birth to something magical. (Editor’s note: Blushing! Stop! No, go on! Ha ha! Thank you!!!))

When I was about to meet her in person, I was nervous. I’m always nervous when I have to meet new people. It is simply not my thing! ;-) As soon as she stepped into my house, she came toward me and she hugged me and kissed me as if we had known each other for years. I will never forget that hug. Why? The warmth that her hug gave me as a human being was totally unexpected and yet so refreshing and fulfilling!

When I had to pick the dish to be published on Azita’s wonderful blog as a guest post, I immediately went for a pasta dish with peppers. Why? Well, I’m Italian and pasta is one of the emblems of my culinary tradition. So no doubt there! :-) The reason I picked peppers is because I think they represent Azita in her fullness. Their color is so vibrant that they bring cheerfulness and happiness in your life as soon as you look at them and their taste is so strongly flavorful and overwhelming that as soon as you eat them your taste buds are literally pervaded by their richness the same way I was by Azita’s hug that Sunday afternoon.

So from Italy to Iran – one way – with love! (Editor’s Note: Viva Italia! And the love runneth deep and runneth both ways!)

Tortiglioni Pancetta Pasta Pepper Italian food Italy to Iran Love

Click here for Francesca’s peppy and peppery pancetta pasta recipe!

Sharbat ‘eh Albaloo | Sour Cherry Syrup Drinks – for me and you and even for bears

Sharbat Albaloo sour cherry spritzer Persian drink with bear and flowers شربت آلبالو

There was a bear who hibernated in a cold dark cave all through winter, sleeping soundly and soundlessly, all the while dreaming of sunshine and delicious things. Deep in her slumber in the belly of the cave, she once dreamed of basking in the golden rays of summer light with wildflowers in her hair sipping delicious crimson-colored sour cherry sharbat. The dream felt so real and so deep was the desire that the bear woke with a start only to find her contemplation of the bold bright red color of sour cherries was merely a haunting chimera in the empty pitch black darkness of the cave that was her crib nestled in the stark white and gray palette of the winter howling outside. With a sigh she fell back to sleep — waiting and wishing for summer and spring.

It was spring when she stirred awake again. The bear stretched her limbs, left the cave, and twirled in the daylight — dazzled with life and light. The very hungry bear craved many things and so the bear ate and ate and ate. Oh, this bear meant to make up for the winter-past and the winter that was to come — not losing sight of the deprived pang of her frosty midnight yearning for the luscious tart redness of sour cherries and the sweet elixir of sour cherry sharbat.

Come early summer time, sour cherry trees in the orchards proudly bore their pretty fruit. The bear ate her fill! Munching fistfuls and spitting the stony pits with glee. And she made sour cherry syrup (as was her wont and custom as a Persian bear) so that all summer long, she could make ruby-hued sharbet ‘eh albaloo sour cherry drinks and spritzers to sip and sip. For herself. For her friends. To murmur with pleasure. To keep all thoughts of winter at bay.

Pitcher and glass with ice and sour cherry syrup (sharbat 'e albaloo - Persian beverage drink) on lace doily tablecloth still life with food

Pitcher and glass with ice and sour cherry syrup (sharbat 'e albaloo - Persian beverage drink) on lace doily tablecloth still life with food

Sharbat Albaloo sour cherry spritzer Persian drink with bear and flowers شربت آلبالو on doily lace table cloth with a stuffed animal bear still life with food Persian food blog

To bottle your own Persian sour cherry syrup and make pretty and delicious sharbat ‘e albaloo drinks to nurse and sip all summer long, click here for the bear’s recipe.

Kookoo ‘ye Sabzi| A tale worth telling thrice

kookoo sabzi Herb kuku Persian food on paisley cloth Iranian fabric with tangerines

I’ve twice already posted the recipe for Kuku ‘ye Sabzi (a type of fresh herb Persian frittata) and here I go posting it thrice! Overkill perhaps? I hope not, as I thought it’d be worthwhile revisiting this nutritious and classic Iranian dish to showcase a slight but pivotal modification of the traditional recipe (using spring onions or chives in lieu of the parsley and cilantro) which ends up giving the fresh herb kookoo a lighthearted vibe in both color and flavor.

kookoo sabzi Herb kuku Persian food on paisley cloth Iranian fabric with tangerines

Kookoo Sabzi with torshi (Persian pickles)

I love the pale green color one gets with this modified batter!

Still as delicious as the traditional fresh herb kookoo – and as always and as is true with many other types of Iranian food, it pairs wonderfully with bread and yogurt and torshi (Persian pickles.)

kookoo sabzi Herb kuku Persian food paisley cloth Iranian fabric

Persian textile with paisley and “saghee” mofit. Do you dig it?


That’s all folks — a quickie post! And the recipe follows. Enjoy!

Click here for the recipe!

A Partial Lusty Tour of the Food I Ate in Iran! | Part 3

Tea, dates & sweets - A fitting end to a fine Persian meal | Shiraz, Iran

Tea, dates & sweets – A fitting end to a fine Persian meal | Shiraz, Iran

Hi y’all! I’m finally back from my epic (I kid you not) trip to Iran!

Well, actually, I’ve been back for a good few weeks by now but (thanks to a sluggish combination of jetlag, a bout of being blue about leaving Iran, and writer’s block) it has taken me awhile to slide into the old blogging groove.

The writer’s block is certainly not due to a dearth of interesting things to report and share with you – the reverse in fact – I have so many stories, pix and videos to share. Instead, this has been more of a challenge of mustering motivation and focus. Kind of like standing in front of a fully stocked fridge and pantry — bursting with all sorts of delicious and exotic ingredients — and wondering: “But what should I make? What shall I make?” And in the frustrating process of indecisive, perfectionist (and I admit, lethargic) hand-wringing, ending up going hungry and involuntarily fasting!

But I do intend to snap out of this and tell you all about my glorious and controversial homeland of Iran – a most paradoxical country – and share tales of what was an intense and significant personal milestone of a trip. I experienced deep highs and crushing lows; climbed many hills and mountains (literally!); traveled to a number of cities; reconnected with friends and family and foe; enjoyed generous Persian hospitality, renewed relationships, fostered friendships, forged bonds, severed ties; basked in the innate poetic beauty of Iran and its culture, and cringed at the things that one must bear; saw and experienced things that made me glad, wistful, ecstatic, dreamy, nervous, enthralled, angry, happy, ashamed, proud, mad, deeply nostalgic, oft enchanted and sometimes profoundly sad; and of course enjoyed enviably good and yummy food that had me drooling and smacking my lips! Oh, the delicious things I ate and drank!

shirini kermanshahi noon koloocheh shirini Iran persian

Various Scrumptious Kermanshahi cookies and pastries | (shirini & koloocheh) Iran

I do hope to do this trip justice and recount and share it all with you in a meaningful and hopefully thoughtful way – including a few choice recipes – via a series of posts in the coming weeks and months, but I admit that I’m not yet entirely in the groove of being up to that task just yet.

So, to gently break the blogging fast, I thought it’d be both naughty (because it may torture you!) and nice to indulge in yet another lusty tour of the very many good things I had to eat and taste and savor when I was traveling in Iran. (In case you missed the earlier ones, here’s the first Lusty Food Tour of Iran and here’s another one.)

And here it goes, part 3 of “Eating my Way  in Iran” for your torturous pleasure:

Sholeh Zard traditional Persian sweet rice saffron rosewater recipe Persian food

Sholeh Zard – A persian dessert made with rice, saffron & rosewater | Made by Afooli!

These two yummy batches of Sholeh Zard (a traditional Iranian dessert made with rice, saffron and rosewater) were made by my friend Afooli for her Norooz party. Another time, my friend Haleh also specifically made it for me as well, so that I could photograph and document the recipe. I will post the recipe very soon. Promise!

Tangerine Jello with Fruit dessert Persian food trip to Iran

Tangerine Jello with Fruit

ژله انار Pomegranate jello (jeleh ye anar) Persian food dessert

Pomegranate jello (jeleh ye anar)

Jello desserts were quite popular in my childhood and I was surprised to see that they are still going strong in Iran. Usually served along with either ice cream or fruit.


koloocheh kooloocheh a yummy persian cookie pastry soft with sweet center Persian food

Koloocheh fresh off the oven! YUM!

koloocheh kooloocheh a yummy persian cookie pastry soft with sweet center Persian food

Ah, my sweet Koloocheh! Let me count the ways I love thee!

To avoid the too common travail of jumping up a few sizes after a trip to Iran, I tried to cautiously indulge and mostly succeeded in this endeavor, but tried as I might, I could NOT resist inhaling stacks of freshly made hot-out-of-the-oven koloocheh (a most wonderful and soft Persian pastry that is pillowy soft with a sweet center) whenever I got my greedy paws on some. And: je ne regrette rien! In fact, I only regret that I did not eat more of them! Mental note: Make some using Maria’s awesome kooloocheh recipe ASAP.

(noon 'eh khameh e va shirini persian sweets

shirini noon khameh pastry Persian sweet Food

shirini noon khameh pastry Persian sweet Food

Assorted Persian Puff and Cream Pastries (Shirini ye tar)

(noon 'eh khameh e va shirini persian sweets

Assorted “Dry” and cream Persian Pastries (shirini khoshk)

Oh sweet merciful cream and puff pastries! Needless to say: I miss these guys too! A lot!

And I still get goosebumps at the memory of my first taste of faloodeh va bastani - a dessert composed of starchy noodle threads combined with traditional Persian (usually called Akbar Mashdi) ice cream (that has chunks of solid crunchy cream! say what!) and served with a topping of freshly squeezed lemon juice – that my friends Afooli joon and Hossein served at their Norooz party.

The combo of textures (soft, mildly chewy and starchy, crunchy) and flavors (sweet, pleasently bland, tangy) was an intoxicating close-your-eyes and savor your life pleasure! Perfection!

Traditional Persian ice cream and starchy noodles (faloodeh ye bastani)

Traditional Persian ice cream and starchy noodles (faloodeh ye bastani)

Traditional Persian ice cream and starchy noodles (faloodeh ye bastani)

Persian New Year Persian dessert Faloodeh Bastani (ice cream & starchy noodles) & Norooz Colored Eggs

Faloodeh Bastani (ice cream & starchy noodles) & Norooz Colored Eggs

In conclusion: boy, did I miss y’all and I’m happy to be back, and please bear with me while I catch up and get back into the groove. Before signing off, I have to give a huge howdy and thank you to all of you who kept in touch and kept reading and commenting and to all of you wonderful friends who wrote the guest posts that helped me keep this blog humming along even while I was frolicking and traipsing around in my homeland.  Thank you!

Daffodil flower illustration icon graphic by Fig & Quince (Iranian food culture blog)

Till soon & Happy Weekend



Dulce de Mebrillo | A sweet quince. A sweet guest post.

This is a guest post scheduled to publish while I’m off on my excellent adventure of traveling in Iran. By Maria Dernikos, one of my favorite bloggers. If you missed Maria’s glorious kooloocheh recipe post, you should totally check it out and if you are not already reading Maria’s blog, you really must remedy the situation post haste. Maria displays refined tastes, understated penache, and a gentile and utterly sweet charm in every post. Her recipes are great and her stories “sit in the heart” which is a literal translation of “del neshin” a word we use in Persian, which is most apt. The guest recipe is for dulce de membrillo, a delectable sweet made with quince. Fond as I am of quinces and partial as I am to sweets, this is a recipe that I personally found alluring and am confident that you will find the same. Enjoy!

Click here for the recipe!

Vanilla Bean White Chocolate Pot de Creme with Rosewater |Guest Post

Vanilla Bean white chocolate pot de creme with rosewater

Vanilla Bean white chocolate pot de creme with rosewater

Hi everyone! As part of the continuing series of guest posts scheduled while I’m off on my excellent adventures in Iran, this post is by the lovely Suzanne, aka APugInTheKitchen.  Suzanne is a fabulous cook (I can vouch for it firsthand) and she is also a wonderful friend. We met via blogging and in fact Suzanne is the first blogging friend I met in real life and wouldn’t you know it, we then became neighbors and live within “spitting distance” of each other. Which prompts me to ask: who ever came up with that horrid phrase? Who wants to spit and measure the trajectory’s distance? Moving back to a delightful topic: Suzanne’s a warm, caring and generous person and it reflects in her cooking as her food is absolutely delicious. I love both her savory and sweet dishes and covet most of the recipes she posts on her wonderful blog. Anyhow, please welcome Suzanne and let’s go and find out about this awesome looking and sounding sweet dessert – originally published here. And grab a spoon!

Click here for the recipe!


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