Eating a cold in Iran & Treating a cold in Iran


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?

Well, I’m absorbing and observing and enjoying this second installment of my epic trip to Iran and I daily share a few highlight pix if you want to follow along on Instagram. (Hashtag: #MET2Iran2!) A bit of news is that I will stay here in Iran for a good few months longer than I originally anticipated for a couple of exciting reasons … but more on that later!

Needless to say, I’ve had occasion to eat lots and loads and tons of truly delicious things during this sojourn in Iran — everything from fresh-from-the-tanoor sangak and barbari bread with butter and homemade sour cherry jam; to the most scandalously delectable slice of tahchin moist yet jam packed with tart plumb barberries and saffron rice and chicken; to the traditional old-fashioned Persian saffron, pistachio and rosewater ice cream served with starchy noodles called faloodeh – a combo which deservedly brings to mind hints of what may await one in heaven. And yet, if you ask me to name the most wonderful thing I’ve had to eat here, I wouldn’t hesitate to tell you that it was these wild, small black plums (aloo jangali) that one of my mom’s friends bought in Tajrish bazaar and brought along with her the first time we all got together. Too bad its season was fleeting! The memory of it lives on however. Tart, slightly sweet, and bright and perfectly crunchy. Ummmm!

But speaking of seasons, I’ve been in Iran long enough to see it change: resplendent summer finally yet still reluctantly relinquishing its sweaty and sunny reign to the moody autumn. Sadly, it’s also the cold season. A bad virus is going on and everyone’s getting it. I jumped on the this trendy viral bandwagon as well and caught it too and caught it bad. In Farsi, catching a cold is called “sarma khordan” which literally means “eating a cold” so yes, among all the delectable and delicious things here, I’ve also eaten a bad cold.

The good thing about “eating a cold” in Tehran is that there are not just pharmaceutical but also rather yummy home remedies to treat a cold in Iran. What ensues is a pictorial story of how yours truly took care of a big bad cold in Tehran, Iran.

Needless to say the antibiotic assistance of good ol’ turnip, aka shalgham joon, my former nemesis and now treasured buddy, was called on straight away.

You can do it too! Scrub turnips clean, steam cook with just a little bit of water till its flesh is tender when you pierce it with a fork, allow to cool, peel skin, quarter turnip and sprinkle with a bit of salt and partake.

At which point you may be inspired to chant: “Shalgham, bo’roo to halgham!” ( شلغم، برو تو حلقم!)

This above exquisite bit rhyme of poetry was uttered by moi and not by the revered Iranian poet Ferdowsi. Shocking, yet true!

While shalgham is mighty good for a cold, it’s not mighty enough to cure it on its own, so a trip to the local daroo ‘khaneh (literally “house of medicine” and Farsi for “pharmacy”) was called for as well.

For those of you who can read Farsi and are skilled enough to make out my less than graceful handwriting, the items on the seeking-a-cure-for-the-cold shopping list trip included: Kleenex, carrots (for the chicken soup), banana (that one’s a rogue item!), oranges (for the vitamin C, duh) and ginger, good ol’ ginger.

What we’ve got here are little Persian lemons, ginger, and turnip, an herbal-based cough syrup, two kinds of cold medicine pills, and eucalyptus inhaling vapor.

We also used some freshly picked eucalyptus leaves as well to make a steam vapor. [You can do it too: bring water to a boil, add either eucalyptus inhaler drops or fresh leaves into the boiling water, lower heat to simmer, cover face with towel above and over the pot and inhale the steam, taking deep breaths, for a few minutes.]

That’s not all! Chicken soup – served for breakfast lunch dinner – was made in big batches and gobbled but not pictured.

Things that we ate that I can picture are:

Mixed plate of fruits that are good to eat for a cold were served frequently and gratefully.

The Persian tangerines (we call them “narenghi” here a word that is most probably derived from the word “narenji” which is the word for the color orange in Farsi) are something that I’m a bit addicted to and that I snack on with abandon because they are juicy and taste great and make me feel infused with vitality. If that makes sense.

Persimmon (khormaloo) you may recall if you’re a long time reader here is another one of my former nemesis but one where our grudge lasted only during my childhood and adulthood brought with it not just bill payment responsibilities but also an ardent appreciation for persimmon, specially when they are nice and moist and soft and sweet (in a nuanced and unique way) like they are here in Iran.

And that’s all folks. For now! Lots of pix and lots of stories to come and I hope, plan and pray to get myself on a regular scheduling regimen so that I can share as much of it with you as I can. (As I mentioned above, if you want to see the pix I post daily from Iran, do follow along here on Instagram.)

If you have any special requests for stories about food or particular ingredients or recipes, don’t hesitate to drop me a line either in the comments or to

Meanwhile, germ-free hugs and kisses; and khoda hafez till we meet again!

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Comments (18)

  • wanderingcows 7 years ago Reply

    I’ve caught the dang’ cold that’s gone around my office. And your home remedies sound very comforting!

    Fig & Quince 7 years ago Reply

    Dang’ cold! 😄 exactly! Feel better sooooon!

  • apuginthekitchen 7 years ago Reply

    Hope you feel better your remedies are delicious and I hope they were effective but if not I am sure they tasted so good it would have a positive effect on your health. Sounds like you are having a wonderful visit.

    Fig & Quince 7 years ago Reply

    Awww, Suzanne, it’s so good to hear from you but it also makes me super homesick for NY!
    Yes I’m having a wonderful visit! Hope all’s great w you too! xx

    apuginthekitchen 7 years ago

    Miss you!

  • Azita, you are wonder woman, you are sick with a nasty cold, yet you are writing such a beautiful post. I have heard from my beloved Persian mother in law that chewing on dried apple seeds is good for coughing. It really helps. Wish you a speedy recovery so you can indulge in what is left of your trip. Khodo hafez

    Fig & Quince 7 years ago Reply

    <3!!! 😚😘

    I didn’t see any words on your reply….

    Fig & Quince 7 years ago

    Oh the annoying Internet issues!
    Sorry Cornelia joon! As I was saying, it’s always lovely hearing from you and while I’d heard about beneficial aspects of quince seeds I wasn’t privy to Apple seeds having similar benefits. I’ll try it! Mersi! xoxo

    Ah, Azita joon, thank you for your reply, it probably gas the same effect as quince seeds. I saw that you are selected for TED talks that is so great, I love TED talks. Can’t wait to see and hear you there, again you are wonder woman. xoxo much Love to you

    Fig & Quince 7 years ago

    It’ll be in Farsi, alas! But maybe they will subtitle the videos! I hope!

    Thank you. looking forward to it

  • soureh sedigh 7 years ago Reply

    I was sure that was a lime!!!!
    Feel better!!! I caught a cold from my daughter over two months ago and I still can’t hear out of my left ear too well..sooo annoying.
    I’ve been able to find some really sweet persimmons here in the US…I even tried to grow some in my back yard but the tree died

    Fig & Quince 7 years ago Reply

    Awww, that’s too bad about the tree! Feel better soon!!! <3

  • MyKabulKitchen 7 years ago Reply

    Aww, Azita jan the part on Shalgham warmed my heart and made me smile, as my mom thinks Shalgham is the cure for every ailment! But I don’t like shalgham! And that looks like the juiciest Khormaloo I have ever seen, nosh-e-jaanet and hope your feeling better 🙂

    Fig & Quince 7 years ago Reply

    I didn’t use to like shalgham either but if you cook it right, it’s good! Or at least: it’s not bad! ha ha. Give it another try and LOL re your mom. But lots of Iranians feel the same away about it by the way as a cure all!

  • Farah 7 years ago Reply

    Wow. I just found your blog and I’m hooked! Excited to follow your adventures in Iran & look forward to trying your recipes!

    Fig & Quince 7 years ago Reply

    Aww thank you Farah joon!

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