About

Azita Houshiar Persian dinner table

Welcome to Fig & Quince! (Photo by Wondergirl!)

Hello lovely reader! Welcome to Fig & Quince! My cozy little Iranian-American corner of the Internet where I tell stories and wax poetic about Persian food and the people and culture of Iran.

I share my family recipes and all the tools and tricks of Iranian cooking with you here because it’s my passionate mission to show you how to make good and authentic Persian food — with a modern spin and with creative twists. I’m equally driven by the fondest desire to do what I can to balance the myopic portrayal of my homeland and to promote a better understanding of Iran and Iranians.

Food is the indelible vehicle of memory. I write about food with nostalgia and longing and yearnings … with words that have meanings beyond their names and evoke images of snow-capped mountains, cypress trees, and samavars gurgling brewing tea. Words that breeze with the smell of honeysuckles, orange blossoms and ghormeh sabzi; bringing back memories of climbing mulberry trees, swimming in the Caspian sea, and sitting impatiently around the haft seen table with the gold fish and hyacinth and gold coins and green sprouts, counting down the slow moving minutes till winter ended and Norooz began — finally! Culinary tales that sometimes make me feel the touch of my grandmother’s hand caressing my head in her lap while patiently reciting for me, once again, the fairy tales of the Girl with the Silvery Moon Forehead and the Daughters of Narenj and Toranj.

Food is the edible expression of a culture! And Iranian food is poetic, captivating, and enchantingly delicious! Let’s dig in!

About Me: Your Faithful Blogger

azita houshiar photo blog Persian

Yours truly!

I am an Iranian-American and a (self-diagnosed) late-bloomer with eclectic interests: art, literature, design, law and technology chief among them. I have 2 law degrees. I have passed 3 bar exams. I am nearly trilingual. I love toy robots and graffiti. I enjoy books and words and language and wordplay. I’m addicted to podcasts. I’m ardent, earnest, flawed and full of ideas. I illustrate. I write. I Blurb. I lecture about Persian food and I give cooking classes. I once gave a talk about why Jane Eyre would have loved social media! I am a story teller. I love food. I love to eat. I cook. I blog: therefore, I am!

I recently went back to Iran for the first time after nearly 3 decades because I was so homesick I thought I was going to burst and die. I stayed for nearly 3 months. I feasted my eyes on the snow-capped mountains of Alborz, I stayed in Tehran, the city of my birth and childhood and I traveled to Yazd, Shiraz, Kermanshah, Isfahan and the Caspian sea; I visited old friends and family and made new friends; I went to chic art galleries and cafes and ancient mosques and bazaars and palaces; I went and cried at the graves of my grandparents; and I ate and ate and ate! It was a significant and sentimental journey poignant in more ways that I can articulate, and I call it: #My Epic Trip To Iran! I have given a couple of “show and tell” talks about this homesick trip to Iran (here and here) and I plan to take this show on the road! So: stay tuned! With a little bit of luck and a good bit of persevarance, I’d love to turn the whole experience into a little film.

Ultimately, what I’m all about is this: Persian food is amazing and Iranian culture is rich and I’m brimming over with passion about sharing my recipes and stories with you.

Let’s Keep in Touch!

If you want to just say hi, or, if you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or lucrative proposals to turn me into an overnight sensation, please do not hesitate to contact me! I am also available for freelance writing and graphic design & illustration assignments. Whatever the reason may be, I would be delighted to hear from you! Here’s my contact info:

Email | Twitter | Facebook |Pinterest | Instagram | Portfolio

Now, Let’s Meet the Other Cooks!

 

When my mother was a university student as well as a bright-eyed bride all of 21, she bought a cookbook to fill in the gaps of her cooking. When she left Iran, this cookbook (a tattered copy of which exists to this day – someone alert The Smithsonian!) was among the few things she brought to her new home in the U.S. Lucky for all those destined to eat at her table, my mother turned out to be a wonderful cook. As we say in Farsi: dastesh namak dareh – which literally translates to “her hands have salt.” I learned how to cook from my mom and all the recipes that I share here, unless otherwise specified, are ones that she taught me.

My maman joon is also a self-taught artist. If you’d like, you can check out her collage cutout Blurb Books.

 

 

Felfeli

A charming little fellow, let’s call him Felfeli, has also agreed to grace Fig & Quince with select if rather rare guest appearances. We are honored and could not be more delighted! (See him seeding a pomegranate Persian style, like a champ! Juicing a pomegranate in the nifty Persian “ablamboo” style. And here: soaking and washing rice grains to make Persian rice.)

A keen connoisseur of Persian cooking, Felfeli is particularly partial to āsh (thick soups), and also counts lobiya polo (green bean mixed rice), khoresh gheimeh (French fries stew as he calls it), khoresh fesenjoon (walnut and pomegranate stew) and of course tahdigh (crispy bottom-of-rice) among his favorites. He will eat sabzi khordan (mixed fresh herbs which is a permanent side dish of all Persian lunches and dinners) when he is 5 years old and not a day earlier -so please- do not offer him some until that momentous day is upon us.

Felfeli is way into dinosaurs, helicopters, numbers, bunnies, and rainbows.

beet laboo mast Persian food blog

Beet Borani (boarni ‘ ye laboo) Beet, beet!

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Thank you for visiting and please come again!

131 thoughts on “About

  1. HELLO AND A HUGE WELL DONE!! I ABSOLUTELY LOVE YOUR BLOG!!
    CAN NOT WAIT FOR SOME MORE YUMMY IRANI FOOD :)
    XXX

  2. Hello! I thought I responded to this here but maybe I was dreaming? I said it on your blog as well but bears repeating: delighted and touched and thank you for thinking of me!

    • Hi Lilly Sue! I’m so glad you found us and thank you for the encouraging feedback – it is very much appreciated. Lovely to connect with you and look forward to reading your blog postings as well. -azita

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  5. Pingback: Yatimcheh – Little Orphan (Eggplant) « Fig & Quince

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    • Fae, my mother is quite funny and also a wonderful and engaging story-teller. I really like her work and I’m happy others seem to share my opinion – I think she’s really talented! Thank you for your super awesome positive comments – means a lot – and as you know, I adore your writing and stories as well.

  7. Hello Azita,
    I just “discovered” your blog and am fascinated by your personal stories and the recipes.
    I am also an immigrant and appreciate heirloom, family and old recipes and thank you very much for sharing yours.
    I would like very much to learn how to make Toot. Those little sweets are “calling my name” and I would love to try them soon. I think I may not be the only one that would like to taste them.
    I will check your blog for more recipes and let you know how we liked them here.

    Best regards,

    Norma

    • Hi dear Norma! Thank you for visiting and nice to meet you – I’m thrilled by your “discovery.”

      You must have 6th sense or something, because guess what, our next post is … wait for it … yes: toot! Isn’t that a stunning coincidence? You’re not psychic are you?

      I hope to post the recipe in a week – you can wait that long I hope! ;) Just in case you want to stock up the ingredients, you’ll need rosewater, cardamom, slivered pistachios, blanched almonds and sugar.

      See you then and yes please I would absolutely love to hear what you think if you make any of the recipes.
      -azita

  8. Oh my, I can hardly wait for it!. I will check it, and believe it or not, I have just about everything, including the cardamom and rosewater. I am wondering – I have almond paste – I may be able to sustitute the almond paste for the home made marzipan. I will try and let you know. I have two cans and I will give it a try. I don’t have slivered pistachios, I have never seen them, but I have the shelled ones and I may need to choose the nicer looking ones.
    Thank you very much. I am looking forward cook some of your recipes. They are simple, easy, healthy and I bet, tasty.

    Norma

  9. Greetings from Australia,
    I don’t know much about Persian cooking but am familiar with some of its’ history. Cooking is a beautiful way to relax, be creative and above all share as an expression of love for friends and family.

    • Greetings! Forgive the delayed reaction – I somehow missed your charming message. I agree with you, cooking (at its best) is a generous act of love. Thank you for visiting and hope you’ll return again and again!! :)

  10. All praise for your work.There is nothing nicer than sharing knowledge.
    I love to cook, especially experimenting with different spices. I have some spices from Iraq, some of them I can’t identify, is there any problem to send You pictures of these spices to help me identify them? …. Thanks
    Best regards

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  12. Pingback: How to Eat a Pomegranate: Persian Style! (Part Yek. That is: Part I) « Fig & Quince

    • I in turn, love your comment, love that you love this page and love that you love Persian culture (huzzah!!) and conclude we are just love-prone. Which when you think about it is so beautiful. Thank you for visiting, next time I’ll make you tea and shirini which is the proper Persian etiquette when receiving guests ;)

    • Hi! Absolutely! So happy to hear that you enjoy Persian food. I would be delighted to help you find your way back to enjoying it. If you have any questions, just give a holler – don’t hesitate. Thanks for visiting.

    • I couldn’t agree more about gtarreiics. I miss sitting with some of the elderly individuals I used to help and they would tell me stories for hours about the things that they witness when they were younger, and the lives that they lived up to the point that they needed care. I have always felt that the elderly know how to live their lives better than anyone, and they for sure never take it for granted! Sometimes the people taking care of them are not good people though, and it always breaks my heart to see someone talking badly to an elderly man or woman.I like how you made a switch from little tiny babies that have no real experience with life, to elderly men and women who have lived life to its fullest and still have more life to share with others. Such opposites!

  13. Love your blog and am so glad to have come upon it. I am looking forward to learning more about Persian cooking and to reading your stories. I have a sweet friend who is originally from Iran and I am looking forward to letting her know about your site!

    • Laura! Thank you! I really and truly and very much appreciate it. Wish it were possible to hop over and say thank you in person. Edited to add: the feeling is mutual as I love your work and blog.

    • For some reason I’ve been gifted by a lot of love from the blogosphere today to which I say: yay! Thank you for the slew of awards and I hope we can go foraging together sometime!

  14. Hi I’ve just found your blog through blogging sister Laura at Laurasmess – and what a great find it is! I’m looking forward to following you and also delving into the archives to read so much more. As yet I haven’t had the chance to visit Iran and I’m really wanting to. Everything that I read and here about Iran just makes me want to visit even more and living so close there is really no excuses. But in the meantime I’ll live vicariously through your stories and recipes until I have the chance to visit myself.

    • How awesome! Only good things come from Laura it seems! It’s my pleasure to find you as well Andrea! I’m so interested in following your blog and finding out about life in Jordan. Look forward to reading through your archives and future posts. Already a fan of “delicious moments.” Cheers & beh salamati! :)

  15. Wow, what an interesting background! I, too, was an “armchair cook” for many years before I found my way into the kitchen. I only really started cooking in January of this year as my resolution and found out that I loved it! So glad we’ve been introduced :)

    • How did I miss this comment? Yikes! Well you know that I”m thrilled to have been introduced as well, feeling is tout mutual! : )

  16. I am so delighted to have stumbled upon your blog (through Laura’s Mess), and can’t wait to learn more. What a lovely concept you have here, and a lovely, easy style of writing. I’ll be back!

    • Thank you Chelsea! A great pleasure of keeping this blog has been meeting delightful like-minded people I’d never have the pleasure of knowing otherwise. I just checked out your blog and I can safely say that I’m equally delighted to have found you and your blog.

      Do come back now!

  17. Azita joon & Fari joon, I’m so lucky to find your blog. I can’t express in how delightful it is to read about Iran, cooking & culture. I married into this wonderful culture 35 yrs ago & embraced it with all my heart. You have brought back so many wonderful memories & adventures I got to experience in the summer of ’76. The family I married into are delightful & so much fun. They welcomed me with open & lovingly arms. The similarities of how I was raised in the South, regarding to family, the gatherings, closeness, food being so important with all the activities, everybody helping in the kitchen making wonderful dishes. I got the privilege to visit so many parts of Iran, smell, taste, met the people & share all the differences of the variety of areas. The people were for the most part pure love, opened their hearts & homes to my husband & I as we traveled to visit family & friends. When I saw the picture of the Damavand mountains with the snow capped tops, it brought tears to my eyes, I remembered seeing them for the first time. I never knew how deeply you could fall in love with such wonderful people & a beautiful country as well as the culture. I’ve not been back since I first visited, I really miss all the places I got to experience. Seeing the pictures, reading, seeing the dishes bring back such fond & fantastic memories. Everything in your blog is exceedingly done, reading all the extras you put in is such a joy to absorb. Thank you so much for what your doing. Such a delight to read & show my 4 children all these places, I hope they go back one day to experience. They embrace the culture & speak Farsi fluently, people are so surprised they are half American & half Persian & know so much about Iran & the culture. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your blog.

    • Hi again Madeline, just had to tell you that I shared your comment with my mother who was positively thrilled and looked delighted. Thank you for your wonderful support and encouragement. It means a lot!!

  18. Madeline joon! Hi! Thank you so much for this most wonderful comment. I have been feasting on it since you posted and consider it one of the most meaningful communications so far prompted by this blog. It makes my heart happy to read about you and your family. :) I’m sending you a huge and heartfelt cyber hug! By the way, if you ever want to do a guest post (I’m sure you know your way around at least one or two Iranian dishes) I’d be honored and delighted. Salam va boos az raheh dure! :)

    • Thank you dearest Fae! I so enjoyed reading your award post. I like learning more things about one of my favorite people! ;)

    • Thank you Parisa! I just spent some awesome quality time on your blog. I am very happy to find and “meet” you! Look forward to following your blog and wonderful recipes.

      • I’m very happy to “meet” you too Azita jan! Like you, I am in love with persian food! And I really miss a few things like torshi and ash that I haven’t had for a few years now!!! Your eggplant torshi sounds amazing, I’m definitely gonna try it! Felfeli is so adorable by the way! :)

      • as a proud & doting auntie I totally second your verdict re felfeli, as a proud Iroonie I also agree that Iranian eggplant torshi is amazing. khaily khoshalam az in ashnayee Parisa! :) ps was raving about your pretezels to friends and my mom. definitely plan to make those very soon

    • Even if I take no action, or, take action at the pace of a snail crossing Central park from end to end, I nevertheless remain deeply touched and very grateful for this beautiful gesture. Thank you very much.

    • It is an honor and you are so right, it IS nice to be nominated. Like you, I hope to do a post in the future thanking everyone. Thank you lovely Shiny Green Life!

    • Very happy to be found and to find you (just spent some quality time on your fine blog) and I love the idea of sharing recipes. :)

  19. oh man, i love iranian food. my father’s family are a bunch of assyrians from iran way way way back when (i’m led to believe they hail from somewhere around gabar). my great grandmother emigrated to kiev, so we have a good deal of russian blood mixed in as well.

    my life story aside, you have a great blog here. i’m definitely going to stop in from time to time for some recipes and clever writing (which seem to be in large supply). keep up the good work.

  20. Hello Azita, I just came across your blog. Looks quite interesting! I’m looking forward to following and reading more about you, your mother, the ever so charming Felfeli, and your cooking adventures! ~ Martine

    • hello! are you coming to the drink and draw, is that what you mean? ps any friend of Francesca is an instant friend of mine. :)

    • Thank you so much dear Ahila for the recognition. That is so nice of you! The team accepts the compliment with excitement and appreciation and gratitude! xoxo azita

  21. I just came across your blog today and it really warms my heart! love the illustrations and stories! Norooz mobarak!

  22. I just found your blog today while looking for some information on Persian new year for my half-Persian kids! You’ve done an amazing job! Count me in as a big fan!
    Happy Nowruz! Happy Spring!

  23. Salaam Azita jaan,
    So happy to have come across your fun blog! Love your work, the photography is beautiful, and your witty sense of humor is a delight! I see you had a legal career, which is what I am working on right now, but seems you have expanded creatively in so many different ways! Look forward to following your adventures and projects :-)

  24. What a lovely blog! Can’t wait to try some recipes. I’m Indian so some of the words sound very familiar (subzi, lobiya, polo…pulav in Hindi). But it promises to be a very different and exciting flavour. Tried the pomegrate peeling already and worked like a charm! Thanks for sharing your culture! Love from India!

    • Yay! So glad the persian pomegranate seeding technique worked for you!

      We do share many things culturally and it’s a dream of mine to visit India one day.

      Thanks for visiting and leaving such a beautiful comment!

  25. Hello all of you.. Such a light and tasteful site.. Tasteful in the design and style, tasteful recipes and tasteful humor (banamak).. Love what you are doing.. Ran across it by chance looking go Shekanjebin information. As you know vinegar, honey and water are so detoxing for early monrings to start your day with.. So great you have S with lettuce here and in lovely pictures.. Good to meet you all.. Parvin

    • Dear Parvin jan, thrilled that you found this blog and thank you for your lovely and supportive feedback. Really appreciate it. I have been in the habit of starting my day with lemon and hot water but you’re right … and I’m going to switch to vinegar, honey and water! Look forward to you visiting here often! Ghorbanetoon, azita

  26. Pingback: A Lot of Links and Bits and Pieces | Kitchen Counter Culture

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