A Persian Dinner Party of Dreams … except that it was real!
What follows are a series of images and narrative account of what appears to be a transcendental Persian dinner party of dreams … except that it was real! I did not attend this party (oh cruel destiny) but was made privy to it by Bojana, an intriguing woman I became acquainted with at a party in Brooklyn, who had hosted this gorgeous dinner and made the beautiful Persian-inspired orange blossom frozen yogurt dessert (see photo above and the recipe below.) I beseeched to document the dinner party and Bojana and her partners in artful decadence agreed and sent the pix and the story. What ensues is a beautiful visual and culinary feast we can vicariously enjoy. Before getting on with it though, let’s meet our tasteful, gracious hosts:
Bojana, who hosted the dinner and made the Persian inspired gorgeous dessert (the featured recipe) is an architect by day, baker by night. She loves nothing more than having an excuse for a house full of people eating, drinking and celebrating the simple pleasures in life. (Let me just say that if I had a genie granting three wishes, I would happily use one to attend a dinner party of hers.)
Shukri wrote the copy that follows – narrating the story of how the dinner party came to be and poetically detailing the dishes, several of which he made himself: rice; Medjool dates stuffed with walntus and Roguefort; and doogh, a most excellent and unique salted yogurt drink. Shukri was born in Kurdistan and has lived in Brooklyn for many years. When he’s not working, he either fiddles with bicycles or cameras, or he rides his bicycle, sometimes with a camera. If he’s forced to ride the subway because of endless winters, he likes to take his sketchbook on the train.
Pericle took all the photographs featured in this post. Pericle is an architect and amateur photographer. Amateur is defined as a person who engages in an activity for pleasure rather than for financial benefit or professional reasons. The root of the word being the latin amātor (lover) equivalent to amā- (stem of amāre) which is: to love. Words are not required to explain that the love shines through the stunningly beautiful photographs.
OK, then, now that we’ve met our hosts (so to speak) let’s proceed to get intoxicated in the heady delight of an ample amount of sensual gorgeousness!
The Story of the Persian Themed Dinner Party – written by Shukri:
While waiting for my friend to dine and catch up at the wonderful Cafe Nadery in Greenwich Village, I happened upon a copy of The New Persian Kitchen by Louisa Shafia in their little library. Noticing they had two copies, I convinced the manager to sell me one. Upon arrival, my baker friend extraordinaire Bojana, immediately volunteered a Persian themed potluck dinner at her place. The date was set and guests were asked to contribute a dish inspired by the Persian cuisine.
Having grown up in the Kurdistan region in northern Iraq, the ingredients in the book’s recepies were somewhat familiar to me. As the Persian Empire once stretched from Libya to India, Kurdish cuisine shares many of the same ingredients and dishes, although naturally varying from region to region.
I choose three recipes from the book:
- A fresh herb platter with feta cheese; showered with olive oil, baked seeds, and walnuts, and served and eaten with flat bread
- Homemade yogurt with fresh shredded beets and
- A potato and dill salad, served warm
I made rice the Kurdish way, the way my mother taught me. Neither Kurdish nor Persian, Medjool dates stuffed with walnuts and Roquefort were a personal touch and therefore legitimate Hors d’oeuvre. Finally, I made the ubiquitous-in-the-Middle-East drink of salted yogurt, called Doogh in Farsi, Dao in Kurdish, and Ayran in Turkish. This too I made the way I knew.
Although rigidly themed as you can tell, some guests proved unruly and insubordinate.
One guest had misheard the invitation and instead of Persian inspired dishes, he made two Syrian salads. Another guest baked a Dorada fish Mediterranean style.The venison, hunted by a personal friend, was entrusted to a guest who had never before tasted game. With a self described cookbook of intuition and feeling, the honorable deer was roasted to perfection.
And while spirits are not (publicly) part of an Iranian meal, the assembled Diaspora enjoyed the homemade Romanian pear and apricot brandy procured by our friend Pericle, whose beautifully ethereal photographs communicate the atmosphere of our dinner.
For desert, our gracious hostess and recently anointed architect of deliciousness, thought up a delicately layered Persian inspired Orange blossom frozen yogurt.
The ensemble looked like a mountain, snowcapped with a sweet nest of halva, where two lovers (pistachios) are surrounded by a field of red roses (pomegranate seeds). Our photo shows one pistachio on the peak and one in the crevasse, but so it goes. Moans and groans were heard (for either pistachio) upon the tasting of the first spoonful.
A truly amazing dessert, A worthy ending for the best of Persian feasts.
Here’s Bojana’s recipe and instructions, in her own words:
“I set out to create a desert that was easy and quick to make, subtle in flavor and very light. Knowing that Shukri’s dinner will be bountiful, I wanted our guests to have a palate cleanser at the end of the meal, that has a tart punch and clean finish.”
Persian (inspired) frozen Orange Blossom Frozen Yogurt
- Plain tart yogurt (yogurtland) or for homemade (Ronnybrook)
- Orange blossom water
- Shelled unsalted pistachios
- Freshly cleaned ripe pomegranate
- Shredded Halva
You can make frozen yogurt using your own home-made yogurt. I use Ronnybrook plain full fat yoghurt as a starter and whole milk. Follow any low sugar content frozen yogurt recipe, using an ice cream machine or; You can cheat; I found that plain tart flavor of Yogurtland yogurt is very close to the real thing. It will not be as full body tasting, as they are fat free, but it’s a great alternative.
Bring yogurt to soft serve temperature. Add Orange blossom water and mix in by hand with a silicone spatula. To a 1/2 gallon of yogurt you only need to use a capful of the orange blossom water. Add more to taste, but carefully, the flavor can quickly overpower.
Scoop nicely in a serving dish, sprinkle with pistachios, pomegranate arils and form peaks with your fingers atop of the yogurt with Shredded Halva.
Ta-da! The desert is done. Serve with that sound and smile.
Simply lovely! Thank you Shukri jan, Pericle jan and Bojana jan for a very special feast of a guest post!