Lusty tour of the food I ate in Kermanshah
In this last installment of docu posts about my super sweet Trip to Kermanshah, I really wanted to give you a mouthwatering, lusty tour of all the yummy food I ate during this visit. Everything from the Kermanshahi classic stew of khalal ghaimeh va zereshk (almond & barberry with cubed meat stew) to the spectacular Persian rib kabab (dandeh kabab) we devoured after touring tagh bostan, to gojeh sabz (unripe green plums) to all the toothsome shirini Kermanshahi (boxes and boxes) I got to take and I had to savor. However, somehow or other, I managed to either neglect to take photos or when I did, I took mostly blurry or poorly lit or horribly composed photos. You won’t need to scold me as I’ve already had a stern, scalding talk with myself (“one more mess up like this, buster, and you will be turning in your food blogger badge, doing a 100 push ups, making 100 servings of piyaz dagh without a break, and ruing the day you started a food blog.”) I promise, I shall know better from now on. This terrible mistake will not happen again.
That said, I hope you’ll still enjoy this as-is tour de food of Kermanshah, Iran. (Aside: I was rather pleased with myself for thinking up that “tour de food” phrase — I never have claimed to be forootan, have I — but Dr. Google busted my chops once again by shrugging and saying “Meh! So what! So have a gazillion other people.” Hmmmf! Doctor Google may be smart and all but he could certainly employ a kinder less artist-killer bedside manner.)
In any event, let’s commence our lusty oftentimes blurry foodie tour of Kermanshah shall we? Rolah jan, berim روله جان بریم as one might say in = the Kermanshah dialect!
Well to begin with, consider the cover photo of the Persian fruit roll up. These are called “lavashak” and they come in a variety of colors and flavors, depending on what type of fruit or mixtures of fruits has been used in its creation. Super popular as a snack, specially with kids, lavashak is sold in supermarkets and bazaars and delis all over Iran, but of course, some households make their own. One of those households being that of my cousin Roshanak, who is in the practice of making lavashak with all kinds of fruit from apricots to black plums to red mulberries, such as the one pictured above. It was so good! Akh! Ooof! My mouth is watering thinking about it.
Let’s move on before I drown in a pool of drool!
You may recall seeing from an earlier post in the Kermanshah series that a mehmoonie table laden with assorted awesome goodies, including the prototypical Persian pyramid of fruit awaited yours truly the second I set foot inside my cousin Roshanak’s house.
You may also recall reading that after a suitable amount of picture taking of all the edible goodies, as is my sacred duty as a Persian food blogger, that I commenced to gorge on gojeh sabz like a hungry and shameless savage BEAST.
You may further recall that my sweet lovely uncle – who is officially the oldest (mash’allah & bezanam be choob) and thus the most respected member of the Houshiar clan – came to visit in this interim as well and how seeing him, as corny as it sounds, was a feast too. You know, for the soul. And that the whole time I was stuffing my face and catching up with my lovely uncle, cousin Roshanak was slaving away in the kitchen and awesome-smelling things kept wafting into the drawing room. Of course I was not so bihaya to just sit there and eat while Roshanak toiled but I was strictly forbidden to set foot in there or lift even my little finger and the few times that I poked my face in there begging to help I was shoo’d away. Because: that is what Persians do! Ha ha!
Then what I didn’t tell you is that at some point Mr. S (Roshanak’s esteemed and genial husband) and Haji Agha (little inside joke about one of my favorite family members) arrived as well and the lunch bell was rung. What awaited us was a feast that was served super informally in the kitchen.
I can now also show you what I didn’t show in that post … et voila:
Where to begin? Let’s diagram and identify.
Let’s start at the bottom of the photo so working our way upwards what we have here are: lemons, zaytoon parvardeh (an olive appetizer/condiment), mixed veggie torshi (pickles), cucumber and tomato salad, to the right above the salad we have the famous Kermanshahi Persian stew made with slivered almonds, barberries and small cubes of meat called khoresh ‘e khalal ghaimeh and I no longer remember what the dish to the left is although I’m sure it was delicious, then we have the kashk bademjan (a type of Persian eggplant dish) with plenty of piyaz dagh (crisp fried onions) and of course the inevitable heaping pyramid shaped mound of white saffron-laced rice encircled by a valiant army of potato tadig, and then more lemons and olive, some sabzi khordan, a dish heaped with what looks like a plate of cut honey dew, a box of Kleenex, some bread, and a big ol’ bottle of Coke. Woof!
This may seem like a LOT of food for only 5 people, and it was, but again, people: THIS is what we Persian do! 🙂
(And don’t worry, none of it goes to waste.)
I swear, my mouth watered looking at this just now! My mom learned how to make this from my father’s mother, marhoom Shahbibi, and I will have to post its recipe soon. A crowd-pleasing type of food, this one is. And it has just the perfect mixture of tart and sweet, crunchy and soft. As is the awesome signature of Persian food, which I love. Imagine a ladle or two of it poured over and mixed with fluffy saffron-scented saffron-crowned white rice and you can see why my mouth watered. Whoo boy!
So by now I’ve talked lots of times about Persian rice and we’ve also discussed the wondrous joy that is ta’dig. Tadig can be made several different ways. Did you know that? Well, it’s true. Those wiley Persians even make a ta’dig using lettuce leaves, which I’m most keen to share with you sometime in the not too distant future.
Here we have ta’dig sibzamini (potato tadig). Every kind of ta’dig is good but they each have their own characteristics. Like, let’s say if ta’dig was your family then potato ta’dig would be your kind, loving, cuddly, comforting grandma who you love a lot. That’s ta’dig ‘e sibzamini for you!
Remember in that post about vanooshk and freshly harvest chickpeas in the Kermanshah bazaar I showed you a pic of a heaping stack of freshly cut grape leaves and told you how Roshanak gifted me with a tote bag filled with grape leaves she cut for me from her own bagh ‘e miveh (fruit orchard) that I then took with with me to Tehran?
Well, Roshanak et famile have a cottage in that aforementioned orchard as well and one night during my visit the whole family we went there and everybody cooked up a storm. The men built a bonfire and skewered and roasted chicken and meat and tomatoes and onions kabob (which is basically Persian BBQ) and the women made the saffron rice and salad and prepared sabzi khordan and filled serving bowls with yogurt and torshi. Then a sofreh (cloth) was spread over the Persian carpet, old-fashioned style, and we all sat around it, the whole lot of us, young and not-so-young and old and a few babies and kids and young adults, and we broke bread and ate cholo kabab and joojeh kabab and drank doogh. Need I say that it was good? Really really really good?
Verily, it was kind of awesome.
After unskewering (isn’t that a word?) the joojeh kabab, the fire-roasted chicken laid in this pot atop a big traditional tray (I LOVE these trays) till it was time to serve supper.
Moving on to other things I love:
Like these assortment of shirini Kermanshahi. I think it’s safe to say that I tried each and every kind and upon leaving Kermanshah, Roshanak got me several boxes to take back with me to Tehran as well. Talk about a bounty!
Speaking of leaving Kermanshah to go back to Tehran, shortly before heading to the airport we had a little family get together goodbye party. Edible delights were present of course and 3 kinds of ice cream were passed around as well. I initially protested but then I admitted defeat (you can’t battle with ta’rof!) and had some of each!
Now this, what we call “nooneh sokhari” in Farsi, bearing brand name of “Vitana” with the image of this smiley boy is not a thing specific to Kermanshah but that’s where I found a package and snapped a shot of it, so I’m including it here. For most of you, this doesn’t mean anything, but for certain Persians in diaspora, this is the stuff of nostalgia.
Speaking of, thus concludes my nostalgic look back at my sweet visit to Kermanshah during my epic and sentimental journey to Iran.
Hope you enjoyed it! And khoda hafez for now till we meet again.