Search Results for: eating my way

Hear ‘ye Hear ‘ye! Fig & Quince has a podcast!

Hello friends! One of the interesting things that happened to me while I’m here in Iran is that I was approached to do a podcast series. I’ve been a podcast junkie myself for like ever (like totally! & way before Serial) and absolutely love the genre; and of course as a blogger – namely someone who is compelled to record and share observances and thoughts and stories – the concept of creating a podcast channel immediately and intensely appealed to me and hence, I jumped on the idea! So it was that the “Podcast tales of Anjir ‘o Beh” was born! (“Anjir o beh” is Persian for “fig and quince” in case you were wondering.)

I debated about doing a bilingual version  – one in Persian and one in English – and I really really do want to be able to offer the podcast stories in both languages in the future so that those of you who don’t understand Persian (Farsi) can also have a listen but at least for the first season, it was not feasible. You should go have a listen anyhow! 😉

I’m happy to let you know that the 1st season is in the bag: a couple of teasers about Norooz (the Persian New Year) were released (here and here) earlier in the spring and  the first full episode – an introduction – finally went live a few days ago.

Going forward, there will be new episodes every Sunday and Wednesday at 4 pm (Iran time.)

The 2nd Fig and Quince podcast episode is also now up as well. And it’s a really good one! In this episode I chat with Haleh Farajollahi, a dear childhood friend (our moms were classmates and BFFs) and she tells mesmerizing tales of witnessing the sight and sound of thousands of silkworms feasting on grape leaves and the beautiful heirloom cloths her grandmother then made with this harvested silk and other impeccable housekeeping customs of her grandmother (let’s put it this way, Martha Stewart would have LOVED Haleh’s grandmother!) and the delicious food of the northern region of Iran.

The cover photo is a souvenir pic of me and Haleh just before we went down to the studio to tape our episode. (The turbaned gentleman in between us is none other than Ferdowsi, the revered Persian poet who is to Iranians what Homer is to the Greeks.)

Here are a couple of other photos related to what we talked about in this podcast:

چادر شب ابریشمی قدیمی شمال Silk Persian handmade cloth

One of the heirloom silk cloths: handmade and designed and dyed by Haleh’s grandmother with the silk harvested by the silkworms feasting on grape leaves. Isn’t that enchanting?

چادر شب ابریشمی قدیمی شمال Silk Persian handmade cloth

And this is another such priceless heirloom silk cloth. Haleh says she very carefully stores all of the cloths passed on to her by her grandmother and hopes to pass them on to her own children and that each year, just before Norooz and as an integral aspect of the “shaking the house” part of greeting the Persian New Year, she takes them out and airs them and admires them, before storing them again for another year.

What a treasure trove !

little persian girl with stuffed animal - Iran (Fig and Quince podcast)

And here’s Haleh as a little girl with her little stuffed animal. I mean: how adorable is she?

Do go and have a listen to this delicious 2nd episode of Fig & Quince podcast series (even if you don’t speak Persian, haha) and if you like what you hear, please do share the link with your family and friends.

Till soon, I remain your faithful blogger

With love and affection, from Tehran Iran

Advertisements

Persian Sour cherry Jam | Moraba ‘ye Albaloo

albaloo sour cherry jam moraba | Persian food blog

As wise as making lemonade out of lemons is making sweet jam from sour cherries.

Start with a heap of fresh lovely bright red and oh so tart sour cherries. Wash and dry. Take out the pits. While you are thus occupied by this monumental yet ultimately meaningful task dangle a few double-stemmed sour cherries from your ears like earrings. A throwback to the days of yore of childhood; when even eating fruit led to simple joyful pleasures. No reason it can’t be that way still.

albaloo sour cherry in Tehran Iran | Persian food blog

Fill a pot with all your pitted sour cherries. The labor of your beautiful soul, your beautiful hands. Add sugar, the equivalent of the amount of your sour cherries, on top of the heap. For example, if you have one pound of pitted sour cherries, add a pound of sugar. Allow sugar to lay restful, in intimate sojourn with the sour cherries for 3 or 4 or even let’s say 5 hours. Snow white and crimson, sweet and tart, in an embrace. Oh, what will they speak of. The tales they will tell.

After a few hours, feel free to interrupt this aforementioned liaison. By then, sugar and cherries will have concluded their tete a tete by creating a beautiful puddle of lurid pink liquid. Use a utensil or preferably your (clean) hands to nudge and gently mix well the sugar with sour cherries.

Place the pot over high heat and bring to a boil. Gently boil for … how long? Well, the length of times depends on how much sour cherries you used. For example, for a pound of sour cherries, 20 minutes will suffice. Longer if you have more cherries.

Make sure to skim and discard the pale pink foam as you boil the sour cherries. Doing so will make sure that you’ll end up with jam that won’t spoil or turn sour. Heed this advise and profit.

Once you’ve boiled the sour cherries for a sufficient amount of time, remove from heat, add rosewater, and let cool. How much rosewater you ask? Again, depends on how much sour cherries you used to make your jam. For example, for one pound of cherries, add 1/4 cup of rosewater. Feel free to trust your tastebuds, your senses, your instincts.

albaloo sour cherry jam moraba | Persian food blog

Allow to cool. Store in sterilized jars. But before doing so, make sure you make a number of delicious bite-sized sandwiches with yummy bread and butter. I personally also love the taste of feta cheese with sour cherry jams. Yummmmmmy!

You may also want to pose with your sour cherry jam for a food blog. Ideally in a scenic yard at the foot of beautiful mountains in Tehran. A swing set is optional. But preferable. Vastly preferable I say! Essential, some may even lay claim.

Persian girl & pot of sour cherry jam (moraba albaloo) in yard in Tehran Iran

Fateme 1 & Fateme 2 in blue with albaloo! | Tehran, Iran

Hope you liked this recipe and may you enjoy the summer and its delicious bounty my friends. Let’s not even think of fall and the mares of nights of November elections with its orange-skinned people and such things. Let’s just pick fruit off trees and eat our fill and make and eat moraba. With rosewater. With pleasure. With gusto. With love. With bread! Lots of bread. And butter.

xoxo

ps I must mention (and not in passing but with much gratitude) that the wonderful moraba ‘ye albaloo (sour cherry jam) photographed here is the handiwork of a truly wonderful khanum who feeds us at work. I’ll write more about the lovely khanum and also feature her stuffed grape leaves (dolmeh ‘ye barg ‘e moh) and finally tell you all about this work I’m doing here in Tehran, Iran by and by and now truly bye bye.

 

 

Save

Of Loss, Fruit & Scholarly Life in Tehran

Persian girl in Tehran University reference library

Zainab at Tehran University’s Historical Archives Reference Library

Hi guys! A future blog post is about making dolmeh with grape leaves but today’s post is about loss and scholarly life in Tehran. With some fruit and food pix thrown in for good measure. To distract you from the fact that I haven’t written any recipe posts lately. Tssk tssk.

First the loss – already alluded to in the last post. That is, I lost my phone. It must have slipped out of my pocket while I was riding a “taxi khati” (the kind of taxis where you share rides with others who are going your way, a manner of transportation that has its own lore and lure and culture and tricks and charms and repulsions, and one that I should definitely write about in a later post) and I only realized it was missing once I was home. A realization that had me in a cold sweat (literal!) followed by a hot sweat (also literal) and then a few minutes of numb acknowledgement of the fact. Is it hyperbole to say that the sensation – a horrible sinking feeling in the pit of the stomach and a clenching of the heart – felt like grief? Like deep mourning? Because it kind of did. Ah well, by now I’ve come to terms with it and have learned the lesson of backing up data the very hard way.  Ouch and ooy and boo hoo.

Anyhow! Let’s now change course and look at some delicious fruit as an amuse bouche topic:

azgil herbs gojeh sabz Persian fruit market in Tehran

The pile of herbs are “sabzi Kohee” or wild mountain herbs; and right behind it we have some loquats (azgil) and next to it we have that mythical and iconic Persian fruit of spring, that is: “gojeh sabz” aka, sour green plums.

kooloocheh Persian cookie muffin tehran Iran pastry shop 2016

Ok, so these are obviously not fruit, but I can’t help resist the impulse of sharing with you this yummy photo of a window display with tantalizing offerings of kooloocheh, n’oon panjareh (Persian “Window” candy) and “cake ‘eh Yazdi” (very similar to muffins.) If only calories did not count, it is quite possible that I would spend days if not weeks eating nothing but generous multiples of each of these every blessed day for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

mulberry strawberry gojeh sabz apples and oranges in Persian fruit market in Tehran Iran 2016

(more…)

Persianized Dolsot Bibimbap & Korean Tahdig! | Awesome Guest Post by @CaramelFlahn

Dolosot bibimbap Korean Persian -04  Dolosot bibimbap Korean Persian -01

Gentle readers, while some of you are currently home-bound due to a winter snow blizzard, some of you on the other side of the globe are fanning yourselves due to the excessive heat of summer; and meanwhile yours truly is here in Tehran, Iran, where the season is still winter but the weather is mild(ish), although the mountains surrounding the city are beautifully and lushly capped with snow.

Instead of a post of my own, what I have for you is a treat: an impeccable guest post (recipe and photographs) by Caramelflahn (Helen!) who is my culinary inspiration and obsession.

You may recall Helen’s foodgasmic interview (Lord have mercy! If you’re not averse to drooling over food, you shouldsprint over to that link and drool away!) and her stunningly exquisite (and am not throwing that adjective lightly) Saffron layer cake with white chocolate mousse & pistachio butter cream. (Just typing the title of the post sends shivers tingling down my spine! May the Lord be merciful again!) If you care even a tiny bit for food, you must follow Helen’s Instagram for pinch-me revelation and inspiration!  And you can always wipe away the pool of drool easily enough with a kitchen towelette! 😉

This, Helen’s latest guest post for Fig & Quince, Persianized dolsot bibimbap, is the fusion of a classic Korean fare with Persian inspirations. As if that’s not intriguing enough, there’s a cameo star turn by nooroongji or Korean ta’dig! What marvel of nature is that! Helen reports that Koreans LOVE noorongji! Helen’s favorite part of dinner growing up was the noorongji at the bottom of the rice cooker, and she and her older sister would fight over the big pieces of Korean ta’dig. This story makes me chuckle because the fight over tadig is such a typical occurrence at any Persian dinner table as well! Helen says her mom used to actually take leftover rice and press it on a hot frying pan with some toasted sesame oil to make giant sheets of noorongji for Helen and her older sister to snack on. What a fabulous idea! I shall make a note of doing the same going forward!

As for going forward, enough of my narrative in italics. This awesome Korean dish looks delectable and the recipe is detailed and involved, so let’s proceed posthaste to our guest’s wonderful post.  Here’s Helen in her own words:

Helen’s Persianized Dolsot Bibimbap

Dolsot bibimbap (돌솥 비빔밥) is a popular traditional Korean dish, and one of my favorite meals to eat and make. It’s a hot stone bowl filled with rice mixed with various vegetables, beef, fried egg (or just a raw yolk), and a specially seasoned sweet and tangy red pepper hot sauce. Dolsot [돌솥] means “stone bowl,” bibim [비빔] means “mixed,” and bap [밥] means “rice”.  It’s super tasty, (reasonably) healthy, well-balanced, and can easily be made vegetarian or vegan.

The hot dolsot accomplishes two things: (1) It keeps the contents piping hot until the very last bite. Perfect for these chilly fall days and upcoming winter! (2) Arguably the best and most important reason, it makes the bottom layer of rice toasty, nutty, and crunchy.  This crunchy rice, or nooroongji (누룽지)  tastes amazing and is the prized product and sign of any good dolsot bibimbap.

Just regular ol’ bibimbap has the exact same ingredients but is served in a standard non-heated bowl, so it doesn’t have that delicious nooroongji crunchy rice.  It’s still good, but not as good as dolsot bibimbap in the opinion of most people; the hot stone bowl really makes a huge difference.  Oh, what’s that you say?  You don’t own a 5lb granite bowl and have no idea where to get one?  Well, lucky for you, a well-seasoned cast iron skillet works (nearly) just as well!  That tasty toasty nooroongji you’ll get from the dolsot (or cast iron skillet) is the Korean equivalent of Persian ta’dig.  Which is why I thought creating a Persian-inspired dolsot bibimbap made delicious sense.

-5

Yes, Persian and Korean cuisines have considerably disparate flavor profiles, but they have many key similarities. Both are heavily based on rice.  Both like some of that rice to be crunchy. Both use lots of fresh herbs and vegetables.  Both embrace bold spices and complex flavors that pack a big punch.  Dolsot bibimbap has all of those things, and I think this Persian-inspired version does, too.

The flavors and ingredients are Persian-influenced, but based on the original Korean dish. Instead of steamed plain medium-grain white rice, there’s buttery fragrant saffron basmati rice. Instead of garlic-sesame-soy beef bulgogi, there’s garlic-cumin-mint lamb “bulgogi”.  Instead of sweet vinegary pickled oijangaji cucumbers, there are shirazi salad-inspired pickled cucumbers.  Instead of sauteed garlic-soy spinach and toasted seaweed, there’s a sabzi-inspired quick sauteed spinach with herbs.  I found most of the components were naturally analogous, but one distinctively Korean ingredient I had to keep was the gochujang (fermented red pepper paste).  It’s the umami-packed key ingredient of the tangy sweet spicy sauce that’s mixed in the bibimbap, and I think it complemented the Persian influences surprisingly well.  The end result is a hearty, satisfying complete meal in one sizzling, steaming bowl loaded with deliciously intricate flavors.

One thing I especially like about this recipe and dolsot bibimbap in general is that you can make everything the day before, and leftovers reheat beautifully.  This recipe can be eaten over the course of several days, and it’s like you’re making and enjoying a fresh bowl each time; all you have to make each time is the fried egg.

This was a lot of fun to do, and I really enjoyed exploring Persian cuisine! The bibimbap is seriously delicious! I hope you enjoy this as much as I did!

Dolosot bibimbap Korean Persian -03

Let’s make Helen’s recipe and let’s dig in!

Click to read the awesome recipe!

Greetings (& food!) from the tops of the snowy mountains of Iran

 

Group selfie of Iranian friends in snowy Lavasan Tehran Iran mountains

Can you see the birthday cake? Can you see the dog? Can you see me with cake all the way in the back?

Hello hello hello and happy new year again!

So how did you spend your first day of 2016? I hope you celebrated and rejoiced in the clean slate of a whole new year in either a truly wholesome or a truly decadent (or an intriguing combo thereof) fashion.

As for me? I started the new year on the right foot (literally ha ha) by going mountain climbing and spent the first day of 2016 at 2500 feet above the sea level traipsing around in the breathtakingly glorious — lushly carpeted with plush pristine snow — mountains near Tehran. Lucky me!  It was a memorable day filled with exertion, elation, and many delightful surprises. To wit: Do you see the photo above? That’s a group selfie with a new friend and a group of even newer (made-on-the-impromptu-spot) friends and a birthday cake and a very well mannered (but shekamoo) Iranian German Shepherd dog named Cesar!

But let me start my tale from the beginning!

It so transpired then that on Friday January 1, 2016 yours truly awoke at the ungodly hour of crack ‘o dawn to hitch a ride with @pilesport, a new friend (an avid mountain climber who has a few Mount Damavand expeditions under his belt) and we drove for an hour in the eerily (also wonderfully) empty streets and highways of Tehran and then onward to the mountain-roads to Lavasan (which used to be a teeny tiny no-consequences dehkadeh and now is the site of villas and a playground for billionaires etc, think a “winter Hamptons” type of place, but that’s another story) parked the car and while going brrrr brrrr brrrr in the bristlingly cold air of a true frigid winter day, donned the accoutrements for the mountain-climbing venture for the day ahead.

Female mountain climber snow Lavasan Tehran Iran

 

I had on 2 tight leggings, 3 layers of skin tight tops, a hijab scarf that did double duty as a neck scarf, a softly plush and snug cat-burglar type of wintry skull cap, sunglasses, gloves, knee-length thick socks, pair of borrowed boots, and was further equipped with “gert” these things (mine are red) that you wrap around your calves and cover over and tie to your shoes to help avoid snow getting into your boots and I was also handed a pair of batons (without which there’s no way in heck I could have made my way either up or down.)

Destination? The delightfully-quirkily-named “carrot fields” (dashteh havij) of Lavasan. In this photo, after climbing atop the mountain for a couple of hours on a rather steep (requiring mild huffing and puffing but not a killer angle) have finally – oh joy! – arrived at the level “dasht” (“field”) part of the trail.

Gosh, the snow was so beautiful up there! Like a gorgeous untouched pristine carpet. And there was serene silence. It was like a dream.

 

eggs and walntus & cheese and bread - provisions ot make breakfast in the snowy "carrot field" mountain field of Lavasan Tehran Iran

Exertions require fuel. Yummy yummy fuel. So once we arrived at the Carrot Field, it was time to have breakfast.  Akh joon!

@PileSport set up camp near a big rock that served double duty as both table and bench.  Unveiling the provisions of: taftoon bread, walnuts, cheese & dates.

 

Cracking eggs to make omelette camping style in snowy mountain top "carrot field" of Lavasan Tehran Iran

And then set out to make sunny side up eggs as well! Using half a stick of butter! But I guess, one had earned it by that point.

If you want to see a short video and hear the wonderful “jez va vez” sound of eggs cooking in sizzling butter in a skillet atop a mountain, you can see it here on my Instagram account.

Cracking eggs to make omelette camping style in snowy mountain top "carrot field" of Lavasan Tehran Iran Eating sunny side up eggs while camping out atop a snowy mountain (after 2 hours of exertion getting up there) when you’re all full of dopamins and also hungry as a wolf  is … all that it’s cracked up to be! Sorry, couldn’t resist the pun.

What I’m trying to say is that it hit the spot. And it was fun.

So we had one round of eggs sandwiched in taftoon bread polished off with hot tea seasoned with a special advieh (cinnamon & ground ginger & something else!) and that was awesome too.

Mountain Climbing Iranian friends in snowy Lavasan Tehran Iran mountains

Meanwhile, while we were at the task of making and eating breakfast, these guys camping out on a rock above ours were having a jolly rowdy good time — and kept inviting us to join them. “Befarmayeed.” “Just bring a fork.” “Bring some tea as well.”

Once they mentioned a birthday cake, I sprinted up those rocks like a billy goat! Ha ha!

(In the photo above, the birthday boy is holding up his birthday cake!)

Group selfie of Iranian friends in snowy Lavasan Tehran Iran mountains

Just kidding! It wasn’t just the delicious bait of an awesome chocolate cake in the mountains that lured me up there. As a blogger, it is my duty and report these types of things. No?

Once up on the rocks with this wonderful bacheha, much jovial hilarity and passing up of slices of cakes and a bunch of group selfies ensued. (Can you spot me back there holding my plate of cake? I’m smiling while typing this at the awesome memory. Such fun!) Turned out they were a group of friends who live in Lavasan.

Now, do you want to know how someone manages to bring a cake up a mountain without destroying it? The answer to this riddle is that you freeze the cake so that it can survive its trip in a knapsack and hope to make it up the mountains before it’s thawed completely. That’s how! By the way, the leader of the group is @mountain_rizan on Instagram if you want to go and have a look-see.

Cesar the German Shepherd Iranian dog! in the snowy "carrot filed" of Lavasan Tehran Iran mountain top

At some point, Cesar, the Iranian German Shephard was unleashed and invited to the party as well. You can safely bet that Cesar did not decline the invitation. And at every opportune moment when heads and attentions were turned hither and tither, Cesar heartily helped himself to what edibles he could find. Meanwhile, his human mommy kept doting on him. “Pessareh m’an!” 🙂

Anyway, it was then time to go down the rock and move on and we did.

Female mountain climber snow Lavasan Tehran Iran

But parting is such sweet sorrow!

So the lovely gang took a photo of us to postpone the moment of farewell!

Female mountain climber snow Lavasan Tehran Iran

And they also snapped me while snapping them back!

Iranian men women friends posing on top of rock in the snowy "carrot fields" of Lavasan Tehran Iran

And snap them back I did! Capturing them in making the “V for Victory” pose which is super popular with mountain climbers in Iran I’ve found! (I adopted it as well as you can tell from earlier pic!)  Thank you for the cake and the wonderful memories, @mountain_rizan and rest of the gang!

mountain-graffiti-Lavsan-Iran--2

mountain-graffiti-Lavsan-Iran

By then it was mid-morning and time to further climb atop the mountains. But before leaving “dasht ‘e havij” and right nearby where we’d partaken of dejeuner sur la neige, I detected this interesting rock calligraphy. Rock graffiti! It’s kind of cool, no? Thought it’d be fun to share its pic with you. The only word in there by the way that I can make out is “honar” which means “art” but can’t figure out any of the other words.

Iranian men women having a snow ball fight game in Lavasan Tehran Iran

And prior to leaving Carrot Field, was witness to another wonderful scene. A big group of climbers had divided efforts, and some of them were busy constructing a huge snowman, while the rest of them got into a spirited game of snow ball fight. (I have a couple of short videos of it that show off the majestically beautiful mountains as well and wish I could share it here but Internet access here in Iran won’t permit me posting it to WordPress, however I did post it one 12 second of video of the snowball fight here on Instagram.)

woman mountain climb snow Tehran Iran

And then what started off innocently as a pleasant return route on the trail, turned out into taking a serious climb route (in a rather heavy duty slope) up, up, and up the mountain. @Pilesport kept saying: “Just 5 more minutes, and we’ll get to the trees and we’re right there.” Meanwhile, the 5 minutes kept getting extended!

At some point I felt that no way would I be able to make it up there. But after a bout of weary complaining, I decided to embrace the journey and thought: “Let’s just put one foot above the other and anyhow it’s a good way to start a new year. Building resolve and determination.” And I just shut my mouth and climbed. And that, my friends, is how this shekamoo was able to make it up there.

Gorgeous and stark snowy mountain landscape in Lavasan Tehran Iran

The view kind of is worth it, don’t you think? It was … breathtaking! Literally, ha ha!

Gorgeous and stark snowy mountain landscape in Lavasan Tehran Iran

That little figure you see in the middle is yours truly, your faithful blogger and now a little mountain climber!

By the time this photo was taken, I could make out the trees (which turned out to be walnut trees) but it was still another further 20 minute ascent past the trees before we made it to the makeshift rest stop near the waterfall where climbers stop and rest.

And we stopped there. Had lunch! (Pasta. Plus pre-peeled nectarines and pre-cut apples. Plus lovely hot tea with dates.) It was freezing but it was also awesome. We also had some shireh va serkeh to drink as well. What’s that you say? Take some syrup (ideally grape syrup or such) and mix it with vinegar and you have yourself a sweet and sour drink that energizes and hydrates.

And then we went down the mountain which for me felt exhilirating because I pretty much swooshed down like I was skiing. I miss skiing!

And that’s kind of it! I’ll end here with this shot of tea being made on a makeshift fire by a bunch of salt-of-the-earth mountain climbers and heavy duty tea drinkers! Hopefully, I will have a follow up post at some point chronicling yet another awesome mountaintop adventure that I enjoyed the week following this one and at that point I will also talk more about the culture of mountain climbing in Iran.

Until then, your chatty blogger bids you a fond farewell.

tea mountain snow tehran Iran

 

A Visit to Bisotun & Taq-e Bustan | Kermanshah, Iran

Bisotun mountains near Kermanshah, Iran

Hiking in the historic Bisotun trail | Kermanshah, Iran

As I’ve been saying, I only had 3 short days in Kermanshah, but it was one of those trips where every minute counted and was quality — either fun, poignant, intriguing or drole, and often a wonderful combination of all of the above. In this penultimate post in the Trip to Kermanshah series I’ll take you with me to visit the two major historical attractions of Bisotun and Tag-e Bustan.

On an overcast afternoon, me and cousin Roshanak and Mr. S and Amoo Fereidoon drove to Bisotun. It was nearly an hour long drive but we had a lot of fun. I videotaped some of it, see below. Since it’s not dubbed into English, I’ll tell you the context:

We were discussing the abundance of Muhammadi roses in Roshanak’s house and I asked Amoo Fereidoon to describe how to make rosewater. Amoo readily started talking about the golab making process, using an old fashioned Kermanshahi word (‘”miyan” instead of ‘vassat’ to refer to “in the middle”) that promptly had Roshanak dissolving into peals of laughter. Then the talk turns to the ancient statue of Herculus at Bisotun and what’s happened to it (i.e the nude statue’s immodesty was covered in the period after the revolution and at some point Herculus was sadly beheaded but its head was later replaced) and that made all of us start laughing as well. What is not documented in the video and what I just remembered with a jolt of pleasure and also a pang of covetous cognition of absence, was that Roshanak had brought along a huge box of assorted shirini Kermanshahi and lots of fruit for us to snack on our little fun road trip. It was such a good wholesome time! Simple things in life, people, simple things, those are the ones that count when you come right down to it.

Once we arrived at the massive car park area of Bisotun it was drizzly so Amoo Fereidoon stayed put in the car and took a power nap while Roshanak and Mr. S and I went and hiked and saw all the sights of this majestic mountain bearing historic traces of ancient Persia  … passing by the aforementioned 480 BC era Hercules; the “Farhad Tarash” parts of the mountain where the rocks are made smooth because as legend goes that crazy-in-love (or plain crazy) Farhad chipped at the mountains in the besotted hopes of winning Shirin’s love; and the gorgeous cliffs with world-famous bas relief and inscriptions dating back to Darius The Great’s time.

I’ll leave detailed info about the site and its history between you and Mr. Google but will tell you that Bisotun was registered in UNESCO’s List of World Heritage Sites in 2006.

Here are some pix:

The statue of Hercules in Bisotun, 480 BC and discovered in 1957. Near Kermanshah, Iran

The statue of Hercules in Bisotun, 480 BC and discovered in 1957. Near Kermanshah, Iran

Hiking the historic Bisotun mountain with cousin | Kermanshah, Iran @Figandquince (Persian food culture blog)

Me & Cousin Roshanak hiking the historic Bisotun Mountain | Iran 2014

Farhad Tarash site at Bisotun, Iran |@FigandQuince (Persian food culture blog)

Farhad Tarash smooth clifs Bisotun attributed to Farhad & Shirin Legend | Bisotun, Iran

Allegedly this is where Farhad carved out the mountain for the love of Shirin

The legend goes that the Farhad the Stonecutter (Farhad Tarash) in love with Princess Shirin (who did return his love) was tasked by her father the king with creating a canal in the mountains to gain permission for her hand. This huge smooth rock face part of Bisotun mountains – popular with climbers – is allegedly proof of this legend. The story of Farhad and Shirin is riveting and (spoiler alert!) it has a Rome & Juliet ending. Here’s link to a very nicely narrated account of Shirin & Farhad: A Persian Love Story.

I don’t have any pix of the Darius the Great bas relief at Bisotun (I took it in instead of clicking away on the phone) so we might as well get in the car and drive to Taq-e Bustan, the other major historical site covered that day.

We drove to Tag e Bostan, in a race with the sun, arriving just before the sunset, and took in the beauty of this classic attraction of Kermanshah. I very much missed my father while I was there and hoped that he himself would one day soon return to this site which as my Amoo and dokhtar amoo described has long been a favorite family hangout.

Tag Bostan Carved Alcove Sassanian Relief | Kermanshah, Iran @FigandQuince (Persian food culture blog)

Sassanian bas relief in the Carved alcoves of Tag Bostan | Iran

Sassanian era bas reliefs set inside and around alcoves carved into the majestic Tag Bostan mountains, a historic attraction that is surrounded by popular open air restaurants and a boating pond, was the final leg of my second day of sightseeing odyssey in Kermanshah.

And here’s another video below, offering a glimpse of Tag Bostan and the surrounding boat pond … excuse the wobbliness, and please do excuse the high decible screetch of yours truly. I am loud, I realize with dismay! Note to self: pipe it down, dude!

Here’s how the day ended:

After duly seeing the sights at Tagh Bostan, we grabbed a wickedly good dandeh kabab (Persian rib BBQ served with bread, oh my gosh so yummy I can’t even begin to tell you, jayeh hamatoon khalli) and called it a night. A very good night.

Stay tuned for the final installment of the Trip to Kermanshah series when I take a lusty tour of all the yummy food I had to eat there.

Till soon!

Your Faithful Blogger

The Discreet Charm of Persian Roses, Persian Carpets & Persian Hosts | A Visit to Kermanshah, Iran (Part 2)

crystal bowl filled w pink Persian rose petals on paisely termeh fabric. Kermanshah, Iran | My Epic Trip to Iran 2014 @figandQuinceAs I said in the intro post about this series, I had a great time during my short visit to Kermanshah, Iran. A huge part of that enjoyment was due to the warm and heartwarming hospitality I received at the hands of every single member of my family in Kermanshah as I was subjected to many and multiple graceful acts of charm!

Now I’m going to show you a few pretty things I experienced that may charm you as well.

Let me start by showing off what awaited me once my sweet cousin Roshanak brought me to her home from the airport:

Click to continue to be charmed!

Mulberry, Elephant Ears, Tongue and Okra! | Some Persian Shirini!

noghly candy & Persian marzipan mulberry on Marimeko poppy design dish | FigandQuince.com (Persian cooking and culture blog)

Noghl and Tut (Persian Marzipan Mulberry) | Tehrangeles, California Norooz 2015

I got to make and taste and nibble on a host of yummy Persian goodies whilst I whiled away the time in the city of Angels (Los Angeles) a couple of months ago around Norooz time … when the sweet business of making and buying and eating Persian shirini was at hustling and bustling and fever pitch best. Persian shirini like these delightful mouthfuls pictured above called tut (also spelled toot) – named after and shaped like mulberries – that I made with my very own dainty little hands.

My lovely friends and hosts, Laya joon and Mehdi, also procured a whole host of Persian goodies from baghlava to gottab to bamiyeh and goosh ‘e fil and zaban. Persian sweets that are respectively named after okra and elephant ears and tongue!

It tickled your faithful scribbler’s fancy to notice that quite a few Persian shirini are named for and molded to resemble such disparate, and frankly, weird things from tongue to mulberries to okra to elephant ears … to window panes and spring blossoms! So I thought it’d be fun to take a quick tour of these sweet Persian avatars together and mull it over with each other. Ideally over tea! Let’s get started! (more…)

Sabzi Khordan – Persian Fresh Herbs Assorted Platter | All You Ever Wanted to Know!

plate of sabzi khordan persian fresh herbs platter: radishes (torobche) fresh mint (na'na) & piyazche (spring onions)

Simple plate of sabzi khordan: piyazcheh, torobcheh & na’nah

If you come from a Persian household or have had occasion to dine at one, you are privy to the fact that a Persian table at mealtime is considered naked without sabzi khordan (Persian: سبزی خوردن ).

Sabzi khordan literally translates to either “edible herbs” or “eating herbs” and refers to an assorted plate of fresh herbs and raw vegetables. An assortment that might include: basil (reyhan), green onions aka scallions (piyaz che), parsley (jaffari), chives (tareh), coriander (geshniz), cilantro, mint (na’nah), fenugreek (shanbalileh), radishes (torobche), savory (marzeh, origany or sweet fennel), tarragon (tarkhun), Persian watercress (shâhi) and maybe even sliced raw onions. (To see the vast potential variety of sabzi khordan, you might want to feast your eyes on this Google image search for سبزی خوردن.)

The choice of which fresh herbs and how much of them to use to assort the Persian herbs platter are entirely up to one’s whim and whimsy and provisions-at-hand; although typically, sabzi khordan is not really sabzi khordan without the presence of radishes which are crunchy, healthy, add a pop of color, and pack a nice bit of heat.

trimmed radishes (torobche) soaking in cold water | FigandQuince.com (Persian cooking and culture blog)

Radical Radishes (torobcheh)

a plate of radiant raihan (fresh basil) | FigandQuince.com (Persian Cooking and culture)

Radiant Raihan (Fresh Basil) | King of herbs!

scallion or green onions (piyazche) washed trimmed on cutting board to make sabzi khordan | Figandquince.com (Persian cooking and culture)

Scoundrel Scallions (Piyazcheh) for sabzi khordan

To make a meal out of sabzi khordan, Click to continue!

Happy Jars

doll bird gratitude jar still life for food blog

The bee who has been hauling his gold all day finds a hexagon in which to rest. And the past and the future? Nothing but an only child with two different masks.”

Billy Collins, “In the Evening” (via Anne Lamot’s “Small Victories”)

This was a post I meant to write 5 weeks ago – in time to reflect on 2014 and resolve on how to start 2015 on the right foot and here we are in February! Huh – so much for that!

There’s an American saying that it’s the thought that counts, but on the other hand, there’s is another saying that goes: The road to hell is paved with good intentions. A phrase that took me some mulling over to comprehend and not just because English is my second language but because I just could not wrap my mind around how good intentions could ever possibly lead to hell. But now that I’m older and wiser, I get it. It’s not just the intentions, it’s the action. Like when Rachel Dawes (Katie Holmes) tells Bruce Wayne (aka Batman): “It’s not who you are underneath, it’s what you do that defines you.” The gall of that gal!

(more…)