Search Results for: eating my way

Eating My Way in Tehran | A Partial, Lusty Tour of the Food I’ve Eaten in Iran – Part 2

This post was written while I travel in Iran.

One night, a few weeks ago, my friends and I ended up eating dinner at a hopping (not fancy but well-known and well-loved) self-service restaurant in the heart of Tehran. Picture a huge salon with a seemingly endless aromatic array of all types of Persian food (you name it) which could be had simply by pointing – a dazzling and dizzying and enticing spectacle for sure but I nevertheless managed to keep my wits about me and remained mindful of taking a few pix for posterity.

This particular gentleman, the head chef, was (as you can see) quite agreeable regarding having his picture taken.

But this other assistant chef/server is giving me a scorching look like nobody’s business. Although, if I squint, I find his expression oddly enigmatic. A Persian Mona Lisa!

Now a note of warning: if you ever make it to Tehran, do not go to this restaurant when you are very hungry. Because you will inevitably pile your tray with a tremendous amount of food.

But they all look so delicious! Must. Eat. Everything!

And pile up the food we did! There were only 3 of us for dinner but we got enough food to feed a good number more.

And because I know you want to know, I am duty bound to tell you what’s what in each tray.

Top left tray contained the following goodies: mixed veggies; torshi (Persian pickles); fava bean rice (baghali polo) with lamb shank (mahicheh); and a can of an obscure beverage called Coca Cola.

Top right tray contained: ash reshteh, a big salad; yogurt with raisins, cucumber and walnuts; and an entree made with tongue (khorakeh zaban.)

​As for this bottom tray, it belonged to a greedy but very happy person, and I will let you guess who that person may have been.

Let’s identify the delicious edibles clockwise from the top: a bowl of spinach and yogurt; a beautiful cherry rice with the thickest most wonderful tadig you could possibly want; a tray with a combo of jojeh kabab (grilled chickent) and kabab ‘e barg (lamb kabab); and for good measure — lest this greedy person might not be entirely sated afterall — also a bowl of delicious kashk bademjoon (eggplant and whey dish) topped with fried, dried mint.

It all looked good and all of it tasted from delicious to very delicious, save for the jojeh and lamb kabab, which were lackluster, alas, and ended up as fare for the cute and coddled family pet.

And that, my friends, was just one night and one meal.

I have not even begun to tell you about the marvels of the various types of Iranian bread. Like this “barbarri” bread.

But that is a topic worthy of its own post, so on that mouth-watering note, I take my leave. And because someone (hi Tina!) asked in the comments of an earlier post (which I’m sorry but I really can’t respond to the comments for various reasons): I DO still fit in my clothes. It is a true Persian miracle! (Also, if you missed it, do check out the earliest Lusty Pictorial Tour of Food in Iran.)

Till soon!

xoxo

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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!

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…)

My Epic Trip to Iran – Part 2! | A New Journey!

My epic trip to Iran is so 2014! Here we are in 2015 and brushing up against 2016 — and guess what? Yes, yes, YES! I’m going back for a nice long visit to Iran again!

This time I’m going with my folks. It’s their first visit back after 20 years.

One occasion is my cousin’s wedding —  we are all tickled pink by the idea of seeing him as a sha’damad and I’m delighted by the idea of actually attending a real Iranian wedding in Iran!

Another occasion is that my mom is having her first solo art exhibit at Haft Samar Gallery in Tehran! The opening reception is September 18th. (The gallery’s website will be updated in a week or so — after their summer hiatus — with all the relevant info.) If you’re in Tehran, do come and say hi! (دوستان حتما بیایید!)

Yet another occasion is something exciting in the works for moi, but I will keep that under the wraps as a surprise till later.

I’ll be off for a couple of months. In my absence, I’ve scheduled a few blog posts that I hope you’ll enjoy. This time around, I won’t blog while traveling in Iran (I have my priorities straight finally and plan to devote that time on eating kooloocheh instead) but I definitely plan to post updates and pix of sights and food (yummy yummy Persian food) every chance I find via social media. If you do want to follow along my excellent journey (and please do!) there’s Twitter, my personal Facebook page, Fig & Quince’s Facebook page, and Instagram which may just be the best option.

 

Khoda hafez for now and till soon my friends!

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Drinking in Iran | Tea for Tu (تو) and Me!

Chai chá cháy chayee Persian tea in estakn served with rock candy (nabat) and dainty almond cookied

Persian tea with almond cookies & Nabat (rock candy)

Let’s fire up that samovar and brew some fragrant tea (or chayee as we say in Farsi) for this second installment of “Drinking in Iran” — a photo-essay series that documents some of the tasty drinks aka nooshidani yours truly had to sip, gulp, swig, imbibe, devour, knock back, taste, or merely gaze at covetously during my sentimental, epic trip to Iran; and that in the bargain, attempts to explore the people and culture of Iran and share some travel stories with you as well!

So grab some habe ‘ye ghand (sugar cubes) or something equally sweet, kick back, and let’s enjoy some good old fashioned chayee, Persian style!

Chayee (tea) چای

Samavar kettles Chai chá cháy chayee Persian tea tea Persian Tehran Iran kitchen of House of the Artists Chayee

Samavar & tea brewing at “House of the Artists” | Tehran, Iran

Tea is the most common, ubiquitous drink in Iran. Whether in someone’s home, in a stall in the bazaar, or in the kitchen of the House of the Artists (aka khaneh ye Honarmandan), there’s always a kettle or samovar gently boiling and bubbling and dreamily humming; and there’s always a pot of tea either being made or a cup of tea being sipped. That’s just the way it goes.

Chai chá cháy chayee Persian tea samovar persian tea cups sugar cubes Saadabad Palace

Royal Kitchen’s Samovar and Tea Tray | Saaadabad Palace | Tehran Iran

This samavar and tea service are on display at what used to be the kitchen compound of the Pahlavi Dynasty’s summer palace (Sa’ad Abad Palace – in the northern part of Tehran) which has now been turned into a museum. Note the special type of glass tea cups – which we call ‘estekan’ — and the pair of sugar cubes next to the estekan.

sugar cubes cookies ghand shirini shomali persian sweets for Chai chá cháy chayee Persian tea

Shirini shomali (sweets) & sugar cubes (habeh ye ghand) | Persian tea

Tea may be a global beverage – entirely commonplace – but drinking tea in Iran is made less ordinary because of the nicety of the associated rituals – such as the touches of sweets served alongside with this familiar beverage.

Sugar cubes are the most common and traditional way to sweeten tea. The old-fashioned way (but not chic, darling!) of having sugar cubes with tea is not to stir and dissolve it but to bite and suck the sugar cube between one’s teeth while taking sips of tea. It’s kind of fun to do but the sound effects and required facial mannerisms make it clear why the practice is frowned-upon-in-elegant-society. I like my tea with milk and no sugar (blashphemy, I know) but if I did like my tea sweet, I wouldn’t have minded occasionally practicing this method on the sly in private to my heart’s content. Elegance be damned!

Chai chá cháy chayee Persian tea tut persian marzipan mulberry antique silver spoon tea cup beautiful Tehran

Beautiful tea cup, antique silver spoon and tut – tea, Persian style!

As a guest in someone’s home, there are many dainty ways to sweeten the tea. Like this tea served with sparkly homemade ‘tut’ (Persian marzipaln mulberries) that I got to enjoy during a Persian new year ‘did va bazdid‘ visit with my lovely friend’s elegant family. (Note the beautiful antique silver spoon!)

mehmooni Persian party tea pastry shirini Chai chá cháy chayee Persian tea

Persian tea party! (Mehmooni)

Better grab that estekan ‘eh chayee while it’s nice and hot!

Chai chá cháy chayee Persian tea tea tray with assorted Persian sweet and Qajar tea pot in Shiraz Iran

Tea Tray with sweets in Shiraz with a Qajar Gent

In a trendy café, chayee may be served on a cute tray with nabat and almond cookies.

In Shiraz, a festive meal in a garden with live music (while seating and eating cross-legged family style on a kilim-covered wooden platform) culminated – to my heart’s delight – with a tray laden with assorted sweets and an adorable ersatz tea pot adorned with the portrait of a grumpy mustachioed Qajar royal gent.

Chai chá cháy chayee Persian tea Park Melat Tehran Iran

A typical sweet served with tea is nabat, aka rock candy. These days, nabat is served on a stick (much like a lollipop) that one dunks in the tea (a modern iteration of an old-fashioned idea) and stirs until it dissolves. A charming way to sweeten one’s tea.

This was at the lake front cafeteria of the very scenic Park ‘e Melat (formerly Park ‘e Shah ‘anshahee.)

Chai chá cháy chayee Persian tea Tea nabat cafe tehran Iran trendy food blogger Simi kitchen friend meeting

Simi dunking nabat in tea | Tehran, Iran

Sometimes it was not the nabat (rock candy) but the charming sweetness of the company that made the tea special. Like meeting (for the first time in real life!) the lovely Simi, fellow Iranian food blogger and now dear friend in a trendy Tehrani café at (Bagh ‘eh Ferdows) Ferdows Garden. [The Full account of meeting Simi and another lovely Persian food blogger friend in Tehran coming up one of these days!]

bagh 'e Ferdows coffee shop hanging out Chai chá cháy chayee Persian tea

Tea at Bagh ‘e Ferdows | Tehran, Iran

While I’m at it, may as well add this photo of yours truly (in the middle) sandwiched between gorgeous family friends. This was also at Bagh ‘eh Ferdows, but in the front garden.

Chai chá cháy chayee Persian tea tea bag persian kooloocheh road trip Caspian Iran

tea bag with kooloocheh shomali on Caspian sea road trip

Sometimes it was the company, the kooloocheh and the scenery that made even a weak tea-bag-brew an unforgettable cuppa’ for the books!

This was on the way back to Tehran after a road trip to shomal  – the beautiful Caspian sea region.

Chasing kaleh pacheh  with chai va limoo | Tehran, Iran

Chasing kaleh pacheh with chai va limoo | Tehran, Iran

Sometimes, tea with lemon was just a utilitarian workhorse.

The only way to chase a rich breakfast of kaleh pacheh! (I may have mentioned this already, but kaleh pacheh was the very first thing I had to eat when I arrived in Iran. At the crack of dawn! It was awesome! )

Lemon tea & honeysuckles in a garden in Yazd, Iran

Lemon tea & honeysuckles in a garden in Yazd, Iran

And sometimes tea with lemon with a friend in a garden blooming with fragrant honeysuckles in the ancient city of Yazd was nothing short of magical … a tangible ode to the dizzying perfection of a moment in life. Sip, sip, sip! I’ll drink to that!

Until we next meet, wishing you the perfectly brewed perfect-temperature tea with the au juste sweet pairing.

For now, khoda hafez!

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

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.
.

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!

About

book tatters Persian cookbook tabakhi

What remains of my mom’s very first cookbook!

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.

Most recent and major bragging right is cooking fesenjan for the New York Times for a Sunday Magazine cover article about Diverse Holiday Feasts From Five New York Families. Fig & Quince’s fesenjan recipe then went on to make it on New York Times food editor Sam Sifton’s Most Popular Recipes, 2014! Thank you Maman joon for teaching me how to cook and passing on your stellar khoresh ‘e fesenjoon recipe. Persian food rules!

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

azi-4F&Q-graphic

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!

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. She continues to teach and inspire me about food and food styling.

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.

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Thank you for visiting and please come again!

Fig & Quince goes to Alborz High School

alborz-highschool-tehran-iran-01

I devoured these Persian shirini with my eyes on my way to Alborz High School

Hello lovely folks! Here I am on a freezing Sunday in Tehran tending to my blogging duties. I’m forsaking you not, so forsake me not! But what the heck, my friends: the world is turning topsy turvy and going cuckoo and not in a delicious Persian kookoo way. I am not flippant and I don’t mean to be frivolous and I know this blog is a platform (one that I yearn to use to its full extent) but I also don’t want to get involved in politics. I won’t get involved in politics. Whatever I say, whichever I say it, will be held against me, one way or another. Politics, by nature, is divisive. Food, by nature, is yummy and unifying. So I will only communicate via stories of food and culture, as has been the modus operandi of this here ol’ blog. I must note that a number of you lovely readers have reached out to me publicly and privately – asking about my well being and expressing your concern and support — and for that, for your sweet and thoughtful care and consideration, I am grateful! I can’t send you all Persian cream puffs (’tis a true pity) but I’m sending you something nearly equally wonderful and less caloric: LOVE!  There’s no ban on that yet, huh? And I’m happy to report that while it’s true that I shiver and bite my nails when reading a certain someone’s Twitter stream and fret about the mayhem that may be unleashed, I nevertheless remain hopelessly optimistic that all will be well … and as it is now, I’m busy in Tehran with work and enjoying various Persian delicacies and recreational activities. And I do long to share it all with you! (ps Apologies that this post was prematurely published a few days ago. That was a snafu.)

(more…)

Persian Gulf | Golabatoon & Podcast

honey walntu tomato tea soft bread persian gulf breakfast sobhaneh Iran

Hello hello hello! Is There Anybody Out There?  (God, I love this album.)

But seriously: Are any of y’all still reading here? The blog stat says that a good bunch of you all are still coming and visiting (thank you! thank you!) but I know I’ve been MIA and I’m truly sorry for the absence. Perchance it made the heart grow fonder?

You see, my second epic trip to Iran (commenced circa September 2015) which was meant to last all of two months turned into a semi-permanent stay. I ended up not leaving and instead living here. In the interim, a whirlwind of activity ensued: I gave a TEDxTehran talk; I took a few cool trips (gastro, cultural and business) in Iran; I started a podcast series called the “Stories of Fig & Quince” (in Persian for the time being but moving forward I hope to do have an English version as well); AND, I ended up starting a digital media company (Zeerak Media) in Tehran! I mean, WHOA!

Throughout, I’ve wanted to share it ALL with you, every bit of it, every day, and yet, a body has just so much energy and yours truly is doing my best to stay afloat and play catch-up (while self-medicating with plenty of Persian pastry and such for the upkeep of spirit). It bears repeating that while absent from the blog’s website, I have been micro-blogging regularly and practically daily on Instagram and if so inclined, you could always follow my adventures there. Just saying!

Persian gulf burqa woman

To get warmed up and back in the blogging game, I thought I’d share a few photos of my very short yet truly memorable trip to the exotic, colorful, hospitable and entirely fascinating Persian Gulf region of Iran (or “jonoob” as we also call it here) circa February 2016.

The genesis of my trip was an invitation to attend a 3-day music festival in “Tiroor” (a small city an hour drive from Bandar Abbas, the main port of Persian Gulf.) The festival planners had set up local food and arts & crafts kiosks for the local artisans to show off and flaunt and vend their handiwork. The lady in the photo, a local artisan, is covering her face with something called a burqa. This is a type of hejab exclusive to the “bandari” women of this region, and it has become more or less defunct and prevails mostly as the custom of the  women who live in the small cities and villages in the region. There are many different types of burqa and each has a significance and signals the wearer’s status: married, widowed, young, old, bride. It is fascinating and yet too deep a subject for us to address except in this very harried and rather perfunctory way. (You can see a bunch of examples here.)

Pesian gulf woman needlework craft art jonoobi

The traditional “bandari” clothing is very ornate, very cheerful, and boldly bright. There is nothing bashful or understated about the fashion, let’s say that straight up! The embroidery is called “golabatoon” and it is used on all the party and formal wear of the women. For example, a bride typically needs to have a trousseau of at least 20 outfits – tunic and leggings – all of which needs be embroidered and bejeweled by hand and it can take up to two weeks just to create one legging! It is a big and serious business, and the sweet lady featured here is one such much-in-demand artisan who meticulously embroiders these ornate designs on fabric.  She told me she was booked solid for a year!

Persian women golabatoon jonoobi pants carpet Iran

During the 3 nights that I spent in Tiroor, I was hosted by a wonderful family, with 6 daughters and one son; each nicer and kinder and more hospitable than the next, and here are glimpses of the 2 youngest sisters with whom I spent the most time. As you may be able to tell from the photo, the leggings are a marvel of patterns and handiwork, and mind you, these leggings are the casual ones they wore for informal entertainment around the house!

snack Persian gulf carpet

Continuing with the dizzying yet pleasing plethora of the bold patterns abundant in the region, here we have a bowl of dry & crispy and somewhat spicy snack popular in the region that is called “pofak hendi” or alternatively “ajeel hendi” but it also has a very cute bandari nickname which unfortunately I no longer recall!

Typical Persian Gulf breakfast jonoob Iran

Now let’s discuss this photo! It brings back such wonderful memories! The cover photo  at the top of the page and this one is the documentation of the lovely and delicious breakfasts I was treated to every day by the very nice family who I mentioned hosted me during my 3 night stay in Tiroor. As you can spy with your little eye, the breakfast (served in a round tray as is the charming custom of Iran) included walnuts, sliced tomatoes, honey, taftoon bread, feta cheese and tea! It was such a nice and indulgent way to start the day. The lady of the house also made a tall stack of the small round soft bread you see in this tray in a little portable “tanoor” oven she had in the house. The sound you heard just now were a re-enactment of the squeals of joy I made when I was offered this bounty!

Book Burqa & the spices of Persian Gult

And let’s end with this still life of some of the souvenirs I brought back with me from this awesome trip. From top & clockwise: a really great book about the region written by a local female scholar; a red woolen burqa (older women wear this); a gold burqa (brides wear this); and a lovely bag of bandari mixed spices (cardamom, pepper, rose petals in the mix with other spices) that the locals use in everything from stews to seasoning fish and seafood.

OK, then! Hope this will do for a breaking-the-ice post after such a long absence and that you enjoyed it and that you’ve forgiven me a bit for going radio silent.

Meanwhile, for those of you who are farsizaban, I have a new podcast episode up narrating a tiny bit more of the story of the marvels of this trip to the Persian Gulf region of Iran. Do catch a listen and if you enjoy it, please do share the link with your friends. (Link!)

Persian Gulf Persian podcast Fig Quince

And now, it’s time to bid you a fond farewell. Thanks for sticking with me and I promise I shall be back soon with actual recipe posts (the food of the south and north of Iran is a revelation!) plus photo essays and travel stories. My intention is to start writing here regularly again. That is my fond hope and desire, and by golly, I shall do my best to fulfill it or bust.

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