Mirza Ghassemi – A Persian Eggplant Dish (by Yvonne joon!)



This lush still life of Mirza Ghassemi (a Northern Iranian vegetarian/vegan eggplant dish) reverently flanked by grapes, cucumbers, radishes and the soft, delicious drapery of lavash bread – all under the watchful guard of a thoughtful lion – is the fanciful handiwork of Yvonne joon! Remember I said that the friendships struck up with some amazing people I’ve met via blogging is one of the best rewards of keeping this blog ? Well, Yvonne, a very funny and fascinating (not kidding, she’s a very interesting person to say the least) American lady who speaks Farsi (fluently, cheerfully, with humorous and elegant nuance; well-versed in even the most obscure slangs to my never-ending surprise and delight) and who I’m tickled pink to have gotten to know and to call a friend is what I call: Exhibit A! Trump card! Now, Yvonne does not blog but she was kind enough to indulge me and accept the task of writing a guest blog post along with the food styling and photography that goes with it. I salute her beautiful work and without further ado, usher you into Yvonne joon’s engaging narrative:

My name is Yvonne and I came to the Fig & Quince blog by accident. A happy accident. The word for a happy accident is serendipity. Serendipity comes from the story of The Three Princes of Serendip. The Three Princes of Serendip is a Persian story. Dang. This has Persian written all over it. Back to Fig & Quince. Somehow, through a friend, I clicked a link and was taken to The Land of Ahhhs. Yummy yummy Persian food recipes. Azita and I chitted and chatted back and forth. Somehow, I ended up here. As a guest chef blogger on my very favorite food blog. OK. That was a little background 411. Perhaps, even too much 411.

But, it gets better.

I’m an American married to an Iranian. I know anyone wise enough to be here, also knows Iran is Persia and Persia is Iran. My oldest daughter’s sixth grade HISTORY teacher didn’t know that, but, I digress. I lived in Iran for three years and I am an ardent Iranophile. Beautiful country, beautiful people…kind, generous, thoughtful people. A culture rich in tradition and history. I was and am in love. My introduction to the cuisine didn’t start out on such strong footing. I should mention, I came to Iran a vegetarian, who didn’t drink tea, coffee or soda. I came during the Iran-Iraq War. There were food rations. I was told I really needed to eat as a local and be thankful for what was offered. OK. I got it. I tried. I ended up eating a lot of potatoes with mast (yogurt), rice with torshi (pickled veggies) and every delicious Persian bread available. I was stubborn. The same courtesy bites I demanded of my children, I forced on myself. Well, some bites, like sheep head (kaleh pocheh), were NEVER gonna happen, but little by little, I became a connoisseur of delicious Persian fare.

My tastes seemed to run most closely with the food of Gilan and its people. Gilan is a state in Northwest Iran. Gorgeous country. People who lead a largely plant-based diet, with rice and fish supplements. So many delicious meatless dishes from which to choose and I choose the glorious Mirza Ghasemi. Follow me on a journey of taste sensation, from a basic, simple, “Say What?” recipe, to a contented being, unencumbered by the exhaustion some dishes insist upon. A grilled eggplant, garlic, tomato and egg dish which melts in your mouth, as you scoop it in with fresh Persian bread. Oh, you can eat it with rice and using utensils, but, where’s the fun in that?

Oh. Have I mentioned I’m now vegan? It’s been almost a year. Uh huh. Ey va. (A Persian expression of exasperation or disbelief.) So, here’s the thing. If you’re vegan, just omit the last step with the eggs, if not, do your egg thing. Either way, “Nooshee Jon et!” (Bon appetit in Farsi.) If you have leftovers, I’m available. Who are we kidding? Leftover Mirza Ghasemi? Kheili khandeedar. (Very funny.)

MIRZA GHASEMI (Simplified with Vegan Option)

  • Eggplant (2) medium
  • Tomatoes (2) medium chopped
  • Garlic (1/2 of 1) medium garlic clove diced
  • Turmeric (1/2) tbsp
  • Eggs (2) medium whisked (omitted for vegan option)
  • Tomato Paste (2) tsps
  • Olive oil (2) tbsps
  • Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Bake or broil the eggplant until soft to the touch. A knife should go in and out easily or the eggplant begins to look like it will explode. Choose your option. Remove the eggplants from the oven and let them cool. Cut the tops, peel the skin off and cut into small cubes.
  2. Fry garlic in turmeric and olive oil over a medium heat until nicely golden. Add eggplant and fry for another few minutes. Add chopped tomatoes and tomato paste, salt and pepper (initially, a tbsp of salt and tsp. of pepper, increasing at end, to taste.) Cook until all liquids have evaporated. While cooking and stirring, (careful to scrape bottom), whisk eggs well and add to eggplant/garlic/tomato mixture. (Unless, you’re vegan or cooking for one. Then, OMIT eggs.) Another few minutes of stirring and cooking, tasting for needed salt or pepper additions and beeya nekakoneed. (Come look.)

This is a party in your mouth. Eat it with flatbread, herbs and salad. I like to scoop it with a good sangak. (A crazy-delicious Iranian bread. If you buy it in Iran, beware of the hot rocks on which they are baked still in the bread. No one told me how hot they were. I think it’s a game in Iran. Watch the kharajee, foreigner, dance. Still love you guys. If you buy your sangak outside of Iran, rocks are removed for your convenience.) Heck: pita, taftoon, lavash…any of them will gratefully do.

Feeds (2) . Well, it should. You can increase the size of the recipe by simply multiplying the ingredient amounts by guess how much? TWO. For each additional TWO people. Uh huh. That easy. Baleh, joon’am. (Yes, my dear.)

Well, that’s my contribution. Being a food blogger is much harder than it looks! I think I shall once again step back and be the humble admirer I was destined to be. Just feed me. Persian food. Upon demand. Kheili mochakaram. (A BIG Thanx!)


The pleasure is ours Yvonne joon! Bee nahayat lotf kardi! Thank you for a healthy, simple and delicious recipe and a superb post!

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Comments (27)

  • Maria Dernikos 8 years ago Reply

    What a fantastic post. Yvonne you are a born blogger, I hope this isn’t the last we hear of you?

    Fig & Quince 8 years ago Reply

    Isn’t she??? She rocks! I also hope this isn’t the last we hear of Yvonne (hint, hint, HINT!) 😉

    Maria Dernikos 8 years ago

    It would be a crime!

  • apuginthekitchen 8 years ago Reply

    So nice to meet you Yvonne! Love eggplant dip, this sounds fantastic. Look forward to following your blog.

    apuginthekitchen 8 years ago Reply

    Ooops no blog, well look forward to more recipes featured on one of my favorites Fig and Quince. Thanks Azita for featuring this lovely recipe.

    Fig & Quince 8 years ago

    Yes I do hope she’ll favor us with more – in the near future!

    Fig & Quince 8 years ago Reply

    such an easy and yummy recipe – you really should try it Suzanne I know you’ll love it I’m now incorporating it frequently thanks to Yvonne

  • Darya 8 years ago Reply

    What a fantastic post! Yvonne, you write so well, what pleasure to read about your experience in Iran! And the recipe sounds delicious, I love eggplant! I hope you will be back with more stories and recipes. Azita, what a great idea to ask your friend to share her recipe with us!

    Fig & Quince 8 years ago Reply

    Oops! Forgive delayed reaction but somehow lost your comment in the shuffle. Thank you for the kind words and from your mouth to Yvonne’s ears/pen! 🙂

  • The Healthy Epicurean 8 years ago Reply

    This dip sounds right up my street, eggs and all 😉 And I just LOVE the photo of the eggplant ‘candle’…

    Fig & Quince 8 years ago Reply

    Eggs! Of course! That eggplant is actually a gold-winner Olympian (Yvonne’s delightful sense of humor) but yes it could be a candle as well! ha ha

  • lizzygoodthings 8 years ago Reply

    I’m loving this dish and the post… great to meet Yvonne, thank you both.

    Fig & Quince 8 years ago Reply

    So happy to read this!

  • Francesca 8 years ago Reply

    Yvonne, first let me thank you. I didn’t know the meaning of the word serendipity nor where it did come from. What a great story!
    Your post is lovely: Iran must be an amazing country and their culture is so fascinating. Your recipe sounds great too.
    Hopefully, you’ll come back to share more of what you learned there.
    Take care,

    Fig & Quince 8 years ago Reply

    Thank you Francesca! Yvonne, I hope you’re listening to what people are saying. Just saying!

  • Fae's Twist & Tango 8 years ago Reply

    Interesting cultural, historical and personal stories, delicious recipe, and a precious friend, Yvonne! I echo the others, hoping Yvonne will collaborate with you again. Thank you Yvonne. Thank you Azita! 😀 Fae.

    Fig & Quince 8 years ago Reply

    Thank you Fae, I really do hope Yvonne will be persuaded to do this again, I’m very curious to know her impressions and favorite recipes and she’s such a good writer. We’ll see!

  • yvonne rafi 8 years ago Reply

    What a lovely and kind group of women! I attempted to leave a thank you yesterday, but for some reason, it didn’t post. I typed “Mochakarram” (A BIG thank you in Farsi) and my iphone tried to autocorrect to Mocha Karma. I didn’t even know karma came mocha flavored, Live and learn.
    I thank you all for your more than kind comments and Azita Joon for always being the ultimate hostess.

    Fig & Quince 8 years ago Reply

    That’s genius Yvonne – Starbucks should jump on that. A tall mocha karma please! I know it’s a lot of work but hope you’ll do this again another time (or write a memoir!) and as you coined it: Mocha karma to you too! (love it) 😀

  • leduesorelle 8 years ago Reply

    Brava, Yvonne! I can see why you and Azita immediately bonded, you share the same delightful sensibility. Or is that the same as Persian sensibility? 😉

  • redrice57 8 years ago Reply

    Looks and sounds delicious – definitely be on my menu this weekend! Thank you for the idea! Fabulous photography too!

  • […] Il s’agit d’une recette que je viens de découvrir sur le magnifique blog fig & quince” […]

  • fermentfusion 8 years ago Reply

    Thank you for this delicious recipe! I made it and all the family appreciated it. I included it in my blog/domestic recipe book, because it’s really in line with what I expect from a recipe, vegetarian, tasty and easy to combine with different world cuisines! I just have a question: unless I missed the explanation, what means MIRZA GHASEMI? Thanks again!

    Fig & Quince 8 years ago Reply

    dear Ferment Fusion: I am THRILLED that you made this truly yummy dish and liked it. 🙂 And you blogged about it too- I have to include link here: http://fermentfusionblog.wordpress.com/2013/06/22/mirza-ghasemi-plat-daubergines-perse/
    I’ve forwarded it to Yvonne joon who wrote the post and recipe and deserves the credit.
    As for what Mirza Ghasemi means? It’s very interesting you ask that – because I’m working on a post explaining the different types of honorofics used in Persian to address people and Mirza is one of them. Basically Mirza Ghasemi just means something like: Mr. Ghasemi and I am uncertain why/how/where it got this name but logic dictates that perhaps a Mr. Ghasemi was the first one to concoct this dish.
    Hope this explains it a bit? Perhaps Yvonne joon or one of the people of Persian persuasion who read this may have a better explanation?

  • […] Mirza Ghassemi – An Iranian vegetarian eggplant dish […]

  • EM_TY 7 years ago Reply

    Hello – I’m an Aussie girl just returned from a huge adventure which included Iran. What an absolute treasure of a country, and the food was so good! I have been looking for this recipe, it was my fav, and shall be attempting it tonight! Thanks for posting it.

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