Eating My Way in Tehran | A Partial, Lusty Tour of the Food I’ve Eaten in Iran

This is a lunch I had by myself at a tiny kabab and halim establishment. I got a window seat decorated with the Norooz trappings of sabzeh and goldfish and hyacinth and ordered the Kabab that came with grilled tomatoes nestled inside two generously sized, soft and stretchy layers of freshly-baked-on-the-premise taftoon bread. What a luxury! I also had yogurt – a "whole fat" one – that really hit the spot. I pretty much ate this entire meal with my fingers: tearing off pieces of bread, making a sandwich with a piece of kabab then adding a dollop of whole fat yogurt. So satisfactory. So yummy. I was very hungry and this food was very tasty and I confess I polished most of it off. You can’t say you blame me.

Click here to continue to read all about my gluttony!

A Modern Coffee Shop & a Traditional Tea House Joint | A Stroll in Tajrish Square & through the Tajrish Bazaar

Persian Big Apple Treats | Made by Angie with saffron, pistachios, rosewater and a big dollop of friendship!

Apple puff pastry with pistachio saffron rosewater and friendship

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, artistic and witty Angie of the Novice Gardener. Angie does everything beautifully – cooking, gardening, baking, writing, blogging, guest blogging — with an offhanded and effortless enchantment and a vibrant sense of infectious excitement. She also throws awesome and rowdy Fiesta Friday Parties. (If you are a food blogger, you should RSVP a resounding yes to the next one!) And in the same vein of just being an awesome person, she generously insisted on creating a Persian inspired recipe specifically for Fig & Quince! How did I get so lucky? I’m stunned by the beauty of these treats she’s made and beyond touched by the beautiful gesture of her friendship. Now let’s go and nibble daintily this charming and delicious morsel and treat!

Persian Big Apple Treats | by the divine Angie of The Novice Gardener

She’s a little bit Iran, she’s a little bit NY. That’s Azita, Iranian born, Brooklyn bred. By the time you read this, she will already be in Iran, fulfilling a life-long dream of traveling back to a place where it all began for her. Good grief, that sounds too serious, but anybody who reads her blog knows that Iran runs deep in her veins. My thought on hearing the news was very much like how I felt when a close friend found her dream job in a far-away place. I was excited and happy for her, yet sad that I wouldn’t be able to see or talk to her anytime I wanted to. Thankfully, with the internet and Skype, the distance was made shorter. I expect the same will be the case with Azita. I expect that she will stay in touch and keep us abreast with all the merriment she’ll be having. I have a feeling she’ll have the time of her life.muffin pan for Persian big apple puffs pastry pistachio saffron rosewater friendship dessert Iran NY

She is saying she’ll be staying for about 2 months, give or take, more or less, approximately. Is there a catch? I’m thinking there’s a chance she might like to extend her stay. I’m thinking that 2 months can possibly stretch into 3, maybe 4. I’m thinking there’s a likelihood that she will forget about us. I’m thinking there is a need to remind her that there are people waiting for her here, in her other home.

And I’m thinking we need to send her off in style. So, I’m sending her off with these special treats that doubly serves as a reminder. I call them the Persian Big Apple Treats. It’s a little bit Iran, it’s a little bit NY, just like Azita. Persian because of the saffron and pistachios and rose water and NY because of the apples.

the batter for Apple puff pastry with pistachio saffron rosewater and friendship

Apple pastry with pistachios, saffron and rosewater. YUM!

And I’m thinking let’s not say good-bye, let’s say instead, au revoir. Au revoir, Azita! Until we meet again!

Click here for the recipe!

A small peek at Norooz in Tehran | Greetings from Iran!

Hi everyone! Happy spring and Norooz Pirooz!

This cute and disarmingly gregarious boy is Elliah. (I met and got to talk to him at a hustling bustling market pulsing to the beat of frenzied shopping for sabzeh, goldfish, fruits and flowers and such accoutrements of greeting the Persian New Year – just hours before spring and Norooz were to sprung.) He is 10 years old and he was shopping for a goldfish and in the course of our convo he informed me that he has his own radio show! Too bad he wasn’t carrying his business cards or else I would have tracked him down for an extended interview! Elliah is holding a colored egg – one of the traditional items placed in the Iranian New Year’s Haft Seen spread.

Just in case you still don’t know what a haft seen (the Iranian New Year’s “tableau vivant” as I like to call it) is exactly, here are some real life honest to goodness examples of it.
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My friend’s haft seen at home

My friend’s haftseen at her office

 

And finally, a pretty haft seen at one of the houses we went for did va bazdid (the tradition of paying a visit to friends and family during Norooz) with my uncle and his wife.

I wish I could post and write a lot more but I have to rush off to get ready for the ardous task of going over for a festive and certain to be delicious lunch at a relative’s. Don’t you feel tremendously sorry for me? Ha ha. I have been merrily eating my way in Tehran and I promise a post entirely devoted to at least some of the many amazing things I’ve had to eat so far. Soon! But until then let’s end with this shot of some Persian cookies traditionally served at Norooz that were handmade by my friend’s friend.

Aren’t they something? Clockwise from left: nooneh nokhodchi, shirini bernji and the one at the bottom is a cookie with topped with handmade jam.

And on that teasing note, untll soon!

Hugs & Kisses and Greetings from Tehran!

Hi everyone! I made it! I’m in Tehran! Can you believe it? I still have a hard time believing it.

I am digging the snow-laden mountains and the amazing food and getting spoiled rotten by a dear friend. There’s no way I can express or detail the events, feelings, impressions, and my thoughts right now – I wish I could – but I’ve taken loads of pix and videos, and until I return to NY and have time to decompress and reflect, I’ll the photographs do (most of) the talking.

This first photo is one that I took of 3 cute and vivacious young girls who were only too happy to oblige my request to take their photograph. One of them said: "Oh! Let me first take off my ugly thick socks" and promptly did so and then the three of them posed with the skill and ease of Hollywood stars on the red carpet. Turned out they are architecture students. I loved their energy, enthusiasm and zest. Meeting them really cheered me up.

Click here to see lots of pix from Tehran!

The Perfect Persian Koloocheh – Made by a Perfectly Gracious Lady!

Koloocheh kooloocheh Persian cookie for Norooz recipe posted by Fig & Quince (Iranian food blog)

Maria’s Glorious koloocheh atop Maria’s Great Grandmom’s carpet

When I reached out for a guest post to Maria, one of my favorite food bloggers, she ended up blowing me away by gifting me with this truly glorious koloocheh post that she made and wrote from scratch. I gasped when first I saw a pic of Maria’s kooloocheh on Twitter and my mom looked at it, opened her eyes wide, nodded her head in admiration, and said: “that looks like khaleh joon’s kooloocheh!” Kahleh joon being the auntie who taught my mom how to cook. High praise indeed from my mom and I have nothing but the highest of praise and the humblest degree of gratefulness and a mountain of affection and love for Maria who not only helped me out, but did so with a generous heart and a joyful spirit and in the process created this gorgeous creation that we can all bask in its delight. Maria comes from a long line of women who love food and she cooks from the heart and with passion and enthusiasm. I love her writing and her recipes and admittedly, I plain  love her. Granted, you will too after any interactions. Guaranteed. You must run, not walk, and go and visit her blog. OK, so let’s get on with the post, and please do check out the recipe notes at the end demonstrating the pains and careful measures Maria took to put together the puzzle of a koloocheh recipe and perfect this delicious concoction.

heart black white graphic thumbnail illustration digital

The Perfect Persian Koloocheh – A Guest post by Maria Dernikos

Koloocheh is a Persian treat baked and eaten at celebrations.  These beautiful round golden discs are fashioned with a decoration of indented circles pressed into the dough. Baked with yeast, milk, butter, yogurt and eggs it has a rich dough but inside lies a rich seam of walnuts mixed with sugar and cinnamon.  As they bake in the oven the whole kitchen is immersed in a cloud of cinnamon perfume.  As they cook the smell creates a real feel good factor and a sense of something promising.

Growing up, my mother had friends far and wide and our house was always a popular visit.  My father would always remark that when he came home in the evening he would never know who would be sitting around the dining room table.  My mother revelled in producing a table of food that not only made her guests feel cherished but also so well fed that they had trouble leaving the table.  I would love the buzz in the kitchen as dishes that I had never seen or eaten before would be prepared, with me having the job of servinges them to our waiting guests.

Until recently I had never heard of Koloocheh nor ever tasted them.  The Fig and Quince kitchen asked if I would like to write something.  I know that Azita and her family are preparing for the Persian New Year and I wanted to bring something that would honour that occasion.  As I like to bake I thought the natural thing would be to produce a sweet of some sort and there starts my journey of learning about Persian food.  One of the things I have learnt is that recipes are handed down and that a Koloocheh recipe alters depending on where you live in Iran.  Scattering poppy seeds on the top being one example of this.

This recipe is not one that has been handed down, it is an amalgamation of all those recipes, which I hope will give everyone a piece of the Koloocheh they know and love. So forgive me if it is not exactly as you know it. On the poppy seed issue I have scattered a few on some of them!

I have made the Koloocheh in both a gas oven and an electric fan oven and there is no difference to how they cook.

As this is a dough recipe containing yeast, the amount of water/milk might need to be altered slightly.  A tighter dough produces a firmer Koloocheh whilst adding a little more liquid will give the Koloocheh a consistency more like that of a brioche.

Koloocheh kooloocheh Persian cookie for Norooz recipe posted by Fig & Quince (Iranian food blog)

A delicious torn open koloocheh that’s just asking for it! | by Maria Dernikos

Click here for the recipe!

Norooz ‘a Palooza

goldfish cigar box color pencils Norooz still life by Fig & Quince (Persian food blog)Norooz goldfish, cigar box, color pencils | Pix from Iranian New Year 2012

Norooz goldfish, cigar box, color pencils | Scenes from Iranian New Year 2012

This post written earlier and scheduled to publish while I’m off on my excellent adventure to Iran.

Hi everyone! A bunch of us Persian food bloggers (there’s a whole host of us out there apparently) gathered together under the tutelage of our fearless leader My Persian Kitchen to offer you a Norooz linkup roundup bonanza. The links to all these amazing Persian food bloggers and cookbook writers is below. (We may each spell Norooz differently, but ultimately we’re paying homage to the “New Day” Iranian New Year, born at the birth of spring, and replete with myriad pretty traditions.)

I’m packing and preparing for my trip as I write this post. Since time is of the essence, I hope you’ll accept and enjoy this pictorial roundup offering of some Norooz-themed vignettes, DIY, traditions and of course food! Infused with the colors, optimism and the beautiful promise of that most charming of seasons: spring!

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baby on bed with seed packets and Russian egg spring Norooz by Fig & Quince (Iranian food blog)

Spring is a pretty baby!

It is spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart.” Rainer Maria Rilke

Well, it’s not spring yet but it will be soon. Soon! Let’s plant seeds!

goldfish sabzeh egg holder pretty Norooz still life by Fig & Quince (Persian food blog)

3 sabzeh amigos & a pretty goldfish

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If you are celebrating Norooz or Easter, don’t forget to grow some sabzeh – sprout some lentil and wheat grassIt’s easy, here’s a DIY guide to growing sabzeh. Just make sure you do a better job than I did with that dude to the right. Poor chap, that is quite a scraggly head of hair. He needs some grass plugs!

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goldfish sabzeh egg holder pretty Norooz still life by Fig & Quince (Persian food blog)

A wheatgrass sabzeh that has seen better days!

Speaking of scraggly hairdos, here’s a sabzeh that is definitely ready for 13 bedar and its journey down a stream!

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Eggs colored with homemade natural dye Persian food blog Eggs colored with homemade natural dye Persian food blog

Eggs colored with homemade natural dye Persian food blog

Eggs colored with homemade dyes per Martha Stewart’s edict

Do you want to color eggs for Norooz or Easter? It’s a symbol of fertility, birth and renewal and it’s fun. You totally should!

Here’s a step by step DIY guide to coloring eggs with natural homemade dye made following the instructions of the doyenne of good and laborious taste: my beloved Martha Stewart. (If you’re going to try just one homemade dye, cabbage offers the prettiest family palette of hues. I love the cabbage dye for eggs. Love it! Try it!)

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Khoresht 'eh fessenjan for Norooz Persian pomegranate walnut stew for Iranian New Year

Khoresht ‘eh fessenjan for Norooz

Whether you are of Iranian persuasion or not, let’s face it, it’s always a good time for fessenjoon – the yummy Persian pomegranate and walnut stew. Fessenjoon: akh joon!

Festive Persian Rice  with saffron, barberries, almond, glazed orange havij polo

Festive Persian Rice with saffron, barberries, almond, glazed orange

And while you are at it, you may want to take a Persian rice from plain to Pawabunga and make a rice dish that is a pretty spectacle fit for any festive feast.

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Persian marzipan mulberry sweet recipe by Fig & Quince (Persian food blog)

Warrior Tut! Alone. Brave. Delicious!

Why not mix ground almonds, cardamom, confectioners sugar and rosewater formed into the shape of a mulberry (or even a Rubenesque pear like the divinely talented El Oso Con Batos did) bathed in a bed of granulated sugar and crowned with a pistachio stem? This marvel is tut and it is a confection that is tout delicious and cute. Pop pop pop into your mouth it goes. Recipe here!

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Haft Seen Illustration Persian New Year Norooz 7 S spread by Fig & Quince (Iranian food culture blog)

This is more like 5 S than 7 S! | Norooz Haft Seen Illustration

And if you’re still wondering what’s up with haft seen and what do those seven S’s mean, do check out this illustrated Guide to what’s in Haft Seen and the symbolism behind this tableau vivant.

Goldfish norooz illustration icon graphic persian new year by Fig & Quince (Iranian food culture blog)

There is an Iranian custom that a traveler must bring back a present for each and every member of family and extended relatives. That present is called a soghati. I definitely hope to bring soghati for all of you. Sharing some of the highlights of my journey to Iran.  Meanwhile, let’s feast our eyes upon a token of the promise of spring’s beautiful soghati - arriving soon at our doorsteps.

Brooklyn pretty spring blossoms | circa last year

pretty spring blossoms found in Brooklyn | circa last year

Now let’s go and check out these awesome Persian food bloggers and taste the wonderful Norooz palooza treats they have in store for you.


Ahu Eats: Norouz 2014 Recipe: Toot – Persian Mulberry Marzipan Candy 
Café Leilee:  Northern-Iranian Style Herb Stuffed Fish
Fae’s Twist & Tango: Naw-Rúz, A New Year Recipe Round-up!
Family Spice:  Norouz Twist on Kookoo Sabzi (Persian Herb Quiche with Chard and Kale)
Lucid Food:  Persian Raisin and Saffron Cookies for Norooz
My Persian Kitchen:  Naan Gerdooee ~ Persian Walnut Cookie 
Simi’s Kitchen: New Blog for Nowruz!
Spice Spoon: Noon Berenj – Thumbprint Rice Flour Cookies with Saffron & Rosewater for Persian Nowruz
The Pomegranate Diaries:  Nowruz Inspired Pistachio, Rosewater and Cardamom Shortbread Cookies 
Turmeric & Saffron:  Loze Nargil – Persian Coconut Sweets with Rosewater and Pistachios for Nowruz
West of Persia: Happy Nowruz, Recipe Roundup, and a Classic: Kuku Sabzi on TV
Zozo Baking: Nane Nokhodchi for Nowruz

boy smiling holding robin blue dyed egg Norooz Easter pretty

To those of us celebrating the Persian new year: Norooz ‘etoon Pirooz!

To all of us on the planet (save for our down-under friends): Happy Spring!

And to our Oz and Kiwi friends: Happy Autumn! (A most poetic season.)

Basically: Happy, happy, happy!

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

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