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Forough Hekmat 


Forough Hekmat 

The Art of 
Persian Cooking 

Forough-es-Saltaneh Hekmat 

New York 

Hippocrene paperback edition, 1994. 

Third printing , 2005- 

Copyright © 1961 Doubleday & Company, Inc. 
All rights reserved. 

For information, address: 

Hippocrene Books, Inc. 

171 Madison Avenue 
New York, NY 10016 

ISBN 0-7818-0241-5 

Printed in the United States of America. 

This book is dedicated to Dr. Albert H. Domm, of Los Angeles, who restored me 
to health; to the many American friends who urged me to write it, and to my 
country, Iran, which inspired the unique cuisine and poetry presented herewith. 


Preface 9 

Chapter I-The History of Persian Cooking 15 
A Persian Hoine 19 
The Marriage Ceremony in Iran 20 

The Birth of a Baby 25 

The New Year 26 

Death 31 

Public Religious Offerings 32 

Offerings to Allah 36 

Chapter II-Food and Entertainment within the Persian Home 39 
Private Parties 43 

Manners and Customs of the Persians 44 
Chapter III-The Fundamentals of Classic Persian Cooking 47 
Utensils 49 
Basic Ingredients 50 


Chelou and Polou (Traditional Rice Dishes) 59 

Abgushtes fSoupsl 78 
Khoreshes fStewsl go 

Kababs (Broiled Meats and Vegetables) 107 

Kuftehs (Meat Balls) 120 
Dolmehs (Stuffed Dishes) 124 
Kukus fEgg Dishesi 130 
Boranis (Persian Salads) 133 
Desserts 136 

Pastries and Confections 144 
Preserves and Beverages 159 
Ancient Health Notes from Persia 175 
English Index j 81 

Persian Index 187 

During the nine years that I lived in the United States of America I watched 
with pleasure the curiosity and interest of my friends in Berkeley, San Francisco, 
Los Angeles, and New York as they enjoyed the exotic and delicate Persian 
dishes I served to them. It was their urging that persuaded me to commit my 
knowledge of Persian cooking to paper. 

Increased communications and extensive travel from one country to another 
have made a pygmy of our world to a point where all men are neighbors. Today 
there is more need than ever before for all people to work together toward a 
mutual understanding of the customs, manners, and morals of other lands and 

Certainly one fundamental of life that all men have in common is food. 
Everyone must eat to survive, but different people have different food 
preferences and various methods of preparing their dishes. To understand the 
food habits and tastes of another country enables one to understand more fully 
that people's way of life. 

Since food is generally based on tradition, I believe that to learn only the 
recipes of a country's classic dishes is not sufficient. Some knowledge of the 
traditions behind the dishes, or at least some details of their historical and 
cultural origins, seems desirable. However, to compress the traditions of a nation 
like Persia, whose customs have changed constantly throughout the ages, is 
beyond the capacity of any one book. Despite the difficulties I have attempted in 
this book to depict typical customs of Iranian life, along with descriptions of 
traditional concepts of culinary art which, though dating back to ancient times, 
are still in existence today. 

For many centuries the Iranians have looked upon food from three different 

points of view-the medicinal, the philosophical, and the cultural. Their 
physicians and philosophers considered food and drink as the principal factors in 
reviving the body and as an effective means to strengthen or weaken man's 
character. Consuming an excess of rich and luxurious foods, such as enormous 
quantities of red meats, fats, starch, or alcoholic beverages, was considered to 
provoke evil thoughts and to convert a man into a greedy, selfish beast. A 
healthful diet of vegetables, fruits, fish, fowl, and certain delicacies composed of 
mixed petals and blossoms of roses was believed to have unusual powers that 
could transform man into a gentle and noble creature. 

Eat naught hut regal food , 

If you would develop both the body and the soul. 

This bit of wisdom was penned by an ancient Persian philosopher. 

Short explanations of some of the foods and beverages believed to be the most 
constructive to health, because of their medicinal values, are given in the last 
chapter of this book. 

The third point of view is the cultural and artistic. Food was considered an art, 
furnishing enjoyment to both body and mind. And so the Iranians cultivated not 
only the taste and flavor of their dishes, but the manner in which they were 
presented. Unfortunately most of the elaborately artistic and outstanding dishes 
in Persian classical cooking have never been recorded. In the course of the ages 
they have been passed down orally or visually from generation to generation 
and, as usual, each family proudly cooks its inherited recipes for its own 

Not only do Persian dishes vary from one section of the country to another- 
just as, in China, Cantonese cuisine differs from Peking cooking-but from family 
to family. In general the peerage of Shiraz has always been famous throughout 
Persia for exceptional skill in the culinary arts, and many of the recipes in this 
book are from Shiraz, handed down to me by my grandmothers and members of 
my family on both sides who, generation after generation, produced these same 
dishes in their kitchens for various public offerings and for private parties. It was 
in Shiraz, a thirteenth-century city in southern Iran, where I was born. It is close 
to Persepolis, the ancient capital of Persia. 

To supplement these recipes, I have translated and tested many others which I 
have gathered for years from my friends of big, old families living in the greatest 
cities in the north, east, and west of the country. 

Now nothing more of importance remains for me to say except to offer my 
sincere thanks to my dear friend, Miss Franses Richardson of Los Angeles, the 
intelligent and learned head of the library of Twentieth Century Fox, who 
favored me by reading and commenting upon the composition of this book with 
great honesty; to His Excellency, Mr. Pahlbod, General Director of General 
Administration of Fine Arts of Iran and to Dr. Simin Daneshvar, Editor of 
NagshoNegar, the periodical by the Administration of Fine Arts, who granted me 
permission to reproduce the old paintings and pictures in this book. Their help 
was indispensable. 


April, 1959 
Los Angeles 

Haft Seen-Seven S'es, in a middle class family at the time of New Year. The 
items I have talked about in the book-especially the green grass in the center-are 
shown here. The young man is looking at his watch, heralding the arrival of the 
New Year. The other man is reciting from the Qoran at that particular moment. 

Part One 

JUUt 1C It 




as Reflected in Persian Feasts and Special Occasions. 


The History of Persian Cooking 

Wake up , 0 Drowsy Onel 
Depart from your pillow of neglect 
Look at the Market of Life , 

How many substances there are 
To strengthen your being . 

To neglect them makes you a picture on the a valll 

Bos-hac-Thirteenth century 

Persian literature is as richly beautiful as her hand-woven rugs, silks, 
brocades, delicately worked jewelry, miniatures, and magnificent architecture. It 
is equally enriched by poetic references to Persia's culinary art, which the 
Iranians, by means of their artistic skill, elevated to a high degree, producing 
many masterpieces and delicacies. 

Firdausi, the great Persian epic writer, tells an enchanting 
tale about a knight who was captured and imprisoned in a 
deep well by the enemy king of a neighboring country; where¬ 
upon Rostram, the famous hero, accompanied by a thousand 
followers, went secretly to the enemy’s land to rescue him. 
Arriving there, he ordered a chicken to be cooked and stuffed 
with rare ingredients. Then, putting his ring in the center of 
the stuffing, he sent it as a gift to the hopeless prisoner. Thus 
word was conveyed that Rostram had come to the rescue. 

There are many other such stories in which food or drink plays an important 

About 700 years ago a poet, Bos-hac of Shiraz, wrote a book of satirical 
lyrics, calling his characters by the names of different foods and beverages. By 
means of these symbolic characters he narrated critical observations on the 

political situation of his time. Using the same food-named characters, he went on 
to pen many of his own philosophical ideas. In one he says: 

0 Loaf of Sugar! Enjoy not the melting of plain sugar 
into water, 

For your own fate will certainly he the same. 

Do not he grieved, O Sour Orangel Like the sweet orange, 
turn into preserves 

And then your sourness will change into sweetness. 

Ah, how sad! It seeyns we cannot have apricots, l muttered 
to my Heart. 

Despair not, at least there is watermelon, 

My Heart consoled me. 

O Quince, would you wish to associate with the sincere 
and the honest, 

Throw off your woolen mantle of hypocrisy and run away 
even from yourself. 

Just as no one, so far, knows the inner secret of the watermelon . 
Each has a sweet dream of his ownl 

Artistically combined foods have played a major role in the life of the Persian 
people. History has preserved numerous records of social and political events 
wherein food played a part. They tell how crimes were committed by means of 
delicious foods, temptingly displayed. Many kings, amirs, and other dignitaries 
were poisoned by a halva prepared by a queen or a slavemaid. But more often 
halva played a peaceful role in settling differences between two or more people. 
Bos-hac wrote wisely: 

We brought halva for -peace, 

Never mind if there is a fight between it and the 
sugar pilou. 

As might be expected, women have had a great influence on the cookery of 
Iran. Thousands of recipes have been devised by Persian women. In the palaces 
of Persian kings there have always been women who, though plain of feature, 
have been held in highest esteem, frequently displacing in favor the most 
ravishing court beauties because of their incredible skill in the preparation of 
food. Even the average housewife was aware that carefully prepared food was 
appreciated, and she took pride in her work. 

Consequently, home-cooked food in Iran far outclasses in delicacy and flavor 
any dishes prepared in the inns or eating places. 

Throughout the ages the influence of Persian culinary art spread to all the 
Middle Eastern countries-to Turkey, Iraq, Armenia, and Syria-where today these 
same dishes are prepared, but they all have their origin deeply rooted in the 
culinary history of Persia. 

As in other countries, the people of Iran have special dishes for special 
occasions. Through the ages their culinary traditions have been faithfully 
observed at weddings, birthdays, and funerals; at religious and historical feasts 
as well as at many formal and state gatherings. 


At a traditional Persian banquet in a private home or in the mosques, the best 
of foods and refreshments is set aside to be served to the public and the poor 
with the compliments of the host. This custom from olden times is observed 
today even in small towns by the aristocracy and the well-to-do-merchant class, 
many of whom still maintain two separate houses, each close to the other. The 
first, called the andarooni (inner house), was set aside especially for the women 
of the family. The second, the birooni (outside house) was dedicated to the head 
of the family, the aga, and his sons and menservants. Most of the aga's time, until 
late at night, was passed in the birooni, while he attended to his business and 
received friends, often serving lunch to them. If guests were present at noontime, 
it was considered mandatory for the aga to offer food. Letting a friend or 
acquaintance leave one's house hungry is still considered the height of 

At the same time the women, together with their maidservants, had their own 
friends in to lunch in the andarooni. But preparing meals for both houses was 

and still is the responsibility of the matriarch, or khanom of the house, who gives 
the orders to the cook. 

Both houses were completely walled, and the flower gardens, the carefully 
tended trees, and a pool of fresh water were all part of the enclosed courtyard. 
Between the pool and the flower beds the ground was paved with large bricks, 
and on summer afternoons carpets were spread on these bricks and chairs and 
tables set out for the heads of the two houses and their friends. Such is still the 
general style of the houses, either large or small, rich or poor. But it is in the 
more sumptuous dwellings that many of the public feasts always have taken 


One of the most important social functions, even among the lesser-known 
families, is the wedding reception. According to historical records, many ancient 
wedding customs remained all over the country as the most important part of the 
marriage until almost twenty years ago. These ceremonies still exist in all parts 
of Iran, either as they were in olden times or with slight modifications. 

One of the oldest traditions is that all the delicacies for the wedding must be 
prepared by the women at home, so many of the women who are close relatives 
and friends of the engaged couple gather together in the houses of both the bride 
and the groom during the month preceding the ceremonial days of the wedding. 
There they make a large number of special and elaborate pastries and 
sweetmeats. The quantity, of course, depends on the number of guests 
anticipated, but generally more sweets than are required are made so that they 
may be sent to friends and relatives who are unable to attend the feast and given 
to the servants who help prepare the feast. 

The Engagement Day 

In former days all the women relatives and friends of the couple were invited 
to lunch at the bride's home by her mother, to announce the engagement. A 
diamond ring, a large Cashmere shawl, large trays of a special wedding candy 
called nogle, and a bowl made of sugar candy were presented to the bride by the 
groom's mother or sisters. All sorts of cookies, candies, nuts named ajeel, fruit, 
tea, and other refreshing beverages or sherbets were served by the bride's mother. 

Today the engagement celebration is limited to an afternoon party and the 

guests limited to the close relatives and friends of both families. Nogle and ajeel, 
however, are special treats for this happy occasion, and their recipes are given in 
a later chapter. 

The Matrimonial Ceremony 

The wedding day is the most important one for the Iranian Moslem women. 
Prominent personalities known to the family are invited to sign the marriage 
certificate, or gabaaleh, which is the agreement of the dowry, or mahr. The mahr 
outlines the amount of money, villages, houses, and gardens, or any other such 
property which is settled on the bride by the groom. In some Moslem countries 
the amount is insignificant, but in Iran it is a very costly business. It is a form of 
protection for Moslem women against divorce, the right of which is given to the 
man. If he wants to divorce his wife, he is obliged to pay the whole amount of 
the property agreed upon according to the gabaaleh. In cases where the wife 
wishes a divorce, she may absolve her husband from payment of her dowry. 

The following beautiful traditions and customs are still followed everywhere 
among Iranian Moslem families: 

At the time arranged for the actual matrimonial ceremony, which is almost 
always in the afternoon, the bride sits in front of a large gold- or silver-framed 
mirror. At the sides of the mirror are two gold, silver, or crystal candlesticks, 
lighted with colored candles. The mirror and candlesticks are presents from the 
groom, symbolizing the happiness and purity awaiting the bride's future life with 
him. On her knee is an open volume of the sacred Qoran, while masses of 
beautifully colored and fragrant flowers surround her. From head to toe she is 
covered with a gold-embroidered net veil, and a square of Cashmere shawl, 
embroidered with gold and real pearls, called a prayer rug, is spread in front of 
her. Large gilded trays are placed on each side of the rug, and on the trays are 
arranged large pieces of white cheese, fresh, green, aromatic herbs, and a special 
flat bread on which a poem of blessing and prosperity is written in colored 
sesame seeds. The cheese, greens, and bread are shared with the guests after the 
ceremony as a symbol of prosperity. 

The air is scented by burning incense, and the bride sits silently while two 
Moslem priests, representing both the bride and the groom, recite prayers. Then 
the priest representing the bride asks her consent. 

"Young, noble, honest, and matured lady, are you willing to marry this 
honorable man?" 

Then he mentions the amount of the mahr. 

Three times he asks the same question, but there is no answer from the bride 
until the third time. It is at the moment when she says "yes" that she and the 
groom become legally man and wife. 

During this ceremony three happily married women play a part. Two hold a 
square of white silk over the bride's head, while the other rubs two large pieces 
of lump sugar together, making a shower of sugar on the silk. This action 
symbolizes the happiness and sweetness that will be the bride's in her married 

After saying "yes," the bride is kissed on the forehead by the groom and is 
presented with a gold ring and a wedding gift consisting of a piece of jewelry. 
Then she is kissed by her parents and the groom's parents and is showered with 
nogle mixed with pearls and with gold or silver coins. The pearls and coins are 
gathered by the guests as souvenirs. 

As a rule the matrimonial ceremonies are held in the bride's home, and tea, 
other beverages, fruit, ajeel, and nogle and other homemade pastries are served. 
Then comes a happy interval between the wedding ceremony and the actual 
wedding night, during which time traditions important to the Iranians are 
diligently observed by all families, rich or poor. 

One of these is the dowry, or jahiz, presented to the bride by her parents. The 
amount of the jahiz generally depends on the amount of the mahr-the more the 
mahr agreed upon by the groom, the more the jahiz, which consists of all the 
necessities for a new home, including furniture, carpets, draperies, chandeliers, 
mirrors, kitchen appliances, et cetera. In former days such items as large silver 
bowls and jugs were given to the groom for washing his face and hands, and 
brooms, the handles embroidered with gold and real pearls, were included 
among the gifts for sweeping the bride's rooms. Other expensive gifts of clothing 
and jewelry for the bridegroom, his parents and brothers and sisters and fabrics 
or money for the servants were also part of the jahiz, which often required from 
two to six months to complete. 

Another tradition, which is still customary in many parts of Iran, is a shower 

for the groom, but not, as in America, for the bride. About a week before the 
wedding the elders of the town or village gather together, and each presents the 
young groom with money, or if the groom is a farmer, the gifts may consist of a 
couple of cows, mules, or seeds for cultivation. 

Taking the couple to the public bath was another happy and popular ceremony. 
The custom still exists in some parts of the country. On the day before the 
wedding night the bride and groom, riding on horseback, were each taken to 
separate public baths by their relatives. At the head of this happy procession 
were musicians and men carrying torches flaming with perfumed oil. After the 
washing was over, the happy caravan returned home. 

On the afternoon of the actual wedding night the bride's mother again 
entertained the women relatives and friends of both families at her home, and 
again sherbets, nogle, ajeel, and fruits were served. After the repast all the guests 
followed the bride to her new home for the nuptial night. The bride rode either 
on horseback or in a decorated carriage called a "moving throne," carried by four 
horses or mules. The interior of the carriage was decorated with puffed satin 
cushions and draperies. Once more groups of musicians led the parade while 
servants carrying flaming, musk-perfumed torches and jingling crystal 
candlesticks illuminated the path. The bride entered her new home via a pathway 
paved with flowers, symbolizing her new life of freshness and beauty. 

For a specified three to seven days women guests stayed at the inner house 
with the bride, and their meals included breakfasts of pastries, white cheese, tea, 
and fmit, as well as many elaborate and costly special dishes for luncheons and 

Men friends and relatives stayed at the outer house with the groom and his 
father, only for the wedding evening. After dinner and beverages, served from 
ten o'clock until midnight, everyone went home. 

Public wedding feasts took place at the groom's home either three to seven 
days before or after the wedding night. The number of these feasts depended 
upon the wealth, social position, or importance of the families of the bride and 

On the morning after the wedding night a great shower of gifts poured in from 
parents, friends, and acquaintances. The gifts from the mothers and fathers were 

always very specialbracelets, necklaces, rings and brooches of diamonds, 
emeralds, rubies, and pearls, and a written deed to a house or garden or part of 
some property. This custom still exists all over the country. 

When my sister and I were married, each of us was given half of a village. 
Formerly gifts were delivered by servants and were taken first into the presence 
of the groom's mother. After that they were taken to the room of the bride, in the 
house of the groom's father. 

Since Iranian women officially set aside the veil, over twenty years ago, and 
took their place beside men in the social world, many of these customs have 
been gradually changing. The younger generation has become Westernized to 
some extent, and families are not as wealthy as they once were. No one stays for 
a week at the wedding house, as in former days, and often a party given at a 
hotel takes the place of all the feastings and celebrations of old. 


Next in importance to a wedding as a reason for celebration is the birth of a 
child. While still an important occasion in Iran today, the ceremonies are greatly 

Formerly dinners and luncheons were served to relatives and friends. Women 
were entertained in the andarooni by the ladies of the household, and men were 
entertained in the birooni by the father. On the seventh night after the birth of the 
baby a large dinner and reception were given to all. On that night, for about two 
hours before dinner, the baby, dressed in its best clothes, was passed from one 
elderly and important lady of rank or age to another, sitting side by side on the 
sofas, chanting the following hymn: 

"Hold the baby; pass the baby; God protects the baby." 

After that the mullah (priest) who had been invited to officiate would come in 
to recite the prayer and name the child. Plenty of cookies, special candies, 
pastries, fruit, and nutsalmonds, pistachios, and fruit seeds-were served both 
before and after dinner. In many families the guests were entertained with music 
and singing which continued through the night. On the following day all the 
leftover food was distributed to the servants and others who had labored to 
prepare the feast. A considerable number of poor families, too, were served the 
elaborate dishes special to such occasions. At the present time these ceremonies 

are reduced to one or two large dinners, given sometime after the birth of the 

THE NEW YEAR (Nowrooze) 

Since 8699 years ago, as shown in the Zoroastrian calendar, Iranians have had 
their national festivities on the arrival of each of the four seasons of the year, but 
the greatest of these is the beginning of spring, March 21 to 22. This is our New 
Year, and it is as old and magnificent as the history of Iran itself. 

Nowrooze, as it is called, means "New Day." It begins the moment the sun 
passes the sign Aries in the vernal equinox in March. In ancient times the New 
Day celebrations continued for forty days, and the entire time was spent in 
music, dancing, games, and visiting. They were days of great happiness for all 
but those who were in mourning, and everyone was excused from paying any 
taxes during those holidays. Today the celebration lasts for only thirteen days, 
but many of the old customs still remain. 

During the month preceding Nowrooze a thorough cleaning takes place inside 
and outside the house. The furniture is rearranged and all the carpets are washed 
and cleaned. Garden pools are cleaned, and new flowers and plants replenish the 
flower beds. In the kitchen, too, there is great activity. The ladies attend to the 
making of a multitude of sweetmeats appropriate for the occasion, and a 
particular sweet bread for the New Day is prepared by women specialists, who 
come to stay in the houses for several days and nights to make it. 

History relates that in ancient Persia, at the first moment of the transition to 
the new year, all the products of the earth available in the country had to be 
presented to the shah, (king) by all the different classes of the people in a special 

The most beautiful girl of the court, magnificently costumed, presented the 
shah with a large tray of gold on which was placed a token of all the 
commodities of the country. 

"What have you brought to me?" the shah asked. 

"I have brought you happiness," the girl replied. 

"Where have you come from?" he queried. 

"From the land of happiness," she answered. 

"What do you want?" he questioned. 

"Prosperity and joy for all, up to the End." 

At that moment, by the order of the shah, the rubies, pearls, diamonds, and 
other precious gems which had been hung in huge bunches on the cypress and 
date trees surrounding the reception chamber were presented to the people. The 
trees themselves had been covered from top to bottom with large leaves of gold. 

By the same token, presentations were made to the grandees, nobles, and 
landowners by their subjects. This official royal checking of the economic 
situation of the country became a national ceremony of Nowrooze and is 
continued today in all families. 

In the houses of both large and small families the table is the highlight of the 
happy moment when the sun passes to the sign Aries in March. The table, called 
haft seen, meaning "the seven S's," is spread with a white cloth called a so f reh 
and decorated with the products of man and nature-all sorts of vegetables, meats, 
fowl, fish, dairy products, eggs, both raw and cooked, sweetmeats and pastries, 
all manner of nuts, grains, and cereals. Also put upon the table are fresh water, 
salt, flowers, a mirror, and lighted candles. Each of these items is symbolic. The 
special flowers for the table are violets, hyacinths, and narcissuses. Young, green 
blades of wheat and lentils are other important and traditional items placed upon 
the table. About twenty days before Nowrooze raw wheat and lentils are soaked 
and left to grow into a mass of greenery. Then a clay jar covered with these 
green shoots must be there for each member of the family, as a symbol of the 
roots of his life. 

These verdant jars are most attractive at the table. On top of each is fixed a 
lighted white wax candle, decorated with red, green, and gold designs. The 
children's nurses and the servants used to prepare the jars, the decorative candles, 
also oranges decorated with artificial gold leaf, and would bring them as presents 
to the lady of the house who would, in turn, present them with other gifts of 
money or expensive fabrics and plenty of sweetmeats. 

As the old year gave way to the new, the mother of the family extinguished 
the candles with two green leaves or small white candies. 

A special sweet, rich, brown halva called samanie, made with wheat flour and 
water and containing quantities of walnuts and almonds, is traditional at the New 
Day table. There are many references in Persian literature to this delicacy. 

From the first moment of the New Year all the members of the family gather 
around the haft seen, waiting for the old year to give way to the new. If, for any 
reason, a member of the family is absent, his or her picture is there instead. Past 
unhappinesses, anxieties, and conflicts are forgotten; if not, the person must 
carry the burden of these unfriendly feelings for another entire year. 

The arrival of Nowrooze is symbolized by an ancient superstition whereby a 
few eggs placed on a mirror on the table seem to move slightly. According to 
Persian mythology, the earth was placed on one horn of a mythological bull who 
lives on the back of an enormous whale in the sea beneath the seventh stratum of 
the earth. Once a year, at the moment of the New Year, the bull, tired of carrying 
weight on one horn, moves the earth from one horn to the other. The eggs, 
symbolic of the earth, supposedly move to indicate the movement of the earth 
being transferred to a new horn. It is a moment of great rejoicing, kissing, and 

An amusing part of the New Year celebration is that a mother must eat as 
many cooked and dyed eggs as she has children. Even those mothers who never 
eat eggs at any other time try to manage it. But I cannot remember that my 
mother ever managed to eat more than two eggs, even though she had seven 

Another folk legend connected with the New Year's activities is an interesting 
one worth recounting. Tradition relates that Nowrooze is personified by Babaa- 
Nowrooze, meaning Old-Father-New-Day, and he is represented with a long 
white beard and a hoary head. Ten days before his arrival, when new life begins 
to awaken on earth, Mother Old (Nani-Nowrooze), who is waiting for him, 
prepares everything so that it will be clean, fresh, and beautiful-washes, sweeps, 
dusts, cooks, and cleans the whole world. Then, being very tired, she takes a nap. 
Just at this moment Baba comes and goes. Waking, Mother Old finds she has 
missed him. 

"Ah, he is gone, gone! I will take a flame and burn the whole world!" 

And she becomes so furious that she picks up a flaming piece of wood and 

throws it onto the earth. The whole world turns into flames! And the hot summer 

The chicken, vegetables, and fish which decorate the haft seen table are used 
to make the Nowrooze polou, a rice dish which is served either on the first night 
or the first day of the Nowrooze. The recipe will be given in a later chapter. 
Relatives, friends, and servants are all invited to the polou meal. 

It is also the custom that, a week before Nowrooze, live chickens, eggs, fresh 
fruit, yogurt and other dairy products are brought to the house of the landlord 
from his villages. Great portions of these commodities are distributed among the 
servants with pounds and pounds of rice and purified butter for them to make a 
Nowrooze polou in their own houses for their families. 

All the old families, including my maternal and paternal families, were most 
particular about carrying out every phase of this very special tradition. 

On the very first morning of Nowrooze the festivities begin, and receptions 
and visits to friends are continued for thirteen days, during which time all 
schools and public offices are closed throughout the country. It is the custom for 
the youngest and those of inferior station to visit their elders and those of 
importance in the community first. The elders and important citizens repay the 
visit at a later date. Even slight aquaintances visit one another, and on these visits 
gifts, mostly gold and silver coins, are given to the young by the adult. 

On the thirteenth day, the last day of the Nowrooze festivities, which 
traditionally is supposed to be an unlucky day, all people, rich and poor, enjoy an 
all-day picnic. This last day must be observed away from home, with all sorts of 
fun, games, music, dancing, and the enjoyment of quantities of food and 
beverages. The food of this day is kababs served with wine, ajeel, and special 


Another important occasion when food plays a role in the traditions of our 
country is at the time of mourning for the dead. Formerly these ceremonies 
lasted from three to seven days. At the present time they are limited to three days 

During this time friends and relatives gather in the house of the deceased to 

console the family. There are specific foods, desserts, and halvas for these 
occasions. At the same time whole meals, with halva and fruits, are distributed to 
the poor. 

On the afternoon of the seventh day the mourners, accompanied by both men 
and women relatives and friends, visit the cemetery. Carpets are spread on the 
grave and on them are placed crystal candlesticks with lighted candles, china 
vases filled with flowers, and large dishes of sweetmeats, fruits, and halvas. 
Coffee, the beverage served on mourning occasions, is served to everyone. 

After sitting for an hour on the carpets and quietly reading prayers, the 
mourners retire to a room to listen to the mullah, (priest) who recites prayers and 
relates the tragic stories of the Prophet and his family which offer consolation to 
the bereaved. Then they return home, and the candles, flowers, and foods are 
distributed to the poor. The same ceremony is repeated on the fortieth day after 
death, and from then on mourning is over until one year has passed. On this day 
the seventh-day ceremony is repeated. 

A special kind of halva, made of either sugar or dates, is always served to the 
poor during these ceremonies. In olden days, these halvas were put in a large 
bowl and carried behind the bier of the deceased. Bos-hac has this to say: 

What of a basin of halva, carried behind my bier tomorrow, 
While hunger ends me in disgrace today? 


The religion of Islam has developed the natural generosity of the people of 
Iran. The offering of food and refreshments to the public, and especially to the 
poor, is an expression of that generosity. Public feasts, served in private houses 
or in the mosques, are paid for by wealthy hosts and hostesses. 

There are two different occasions when food is offered to the public. The first 
is purely for charity's sake, and the offering is given at any time of the year by 
one person or, in these days, more often by a group. The second is a religious 
ceremony which takes place on the specific days or nights of the mourning 
months of Muharram and Safar (the first and second months of the Arabic year) 
and on the fasting month of Ramadan (the ninth month of the Arabic year). 

All charity dinners used to be free. No one ever paid for them. But since the 
inhabitants of the big cities have become Westernized, some of them consider 
free charity feedings oldfashioned. Now they gather in groups, arrange a party, 
serve the food, but sell tickets to help the poor. 

Still, free charity receptions are the custom to some extent all over the country. 
They may be offered in thankfulness for the recovery of the health of a beloved 
child or relative, for the success of a difficult business or financial enterprise, or 
to express gratitude for the birth of a long-wanted child. For any of these reasons 
and many more, the best of food is offered to the poor, and the feasts last from 
one to three nights, depending on the importance of the subject or the wealth of 
the benefactor. 

Religious public feastings, on the other hand, commemorate either happy or 
sad events in the life of the prophet Mohammed and his family, such as his 
birthday, the birthday of any of his twelve descendants (Imams), or the day he 
was elected by God as His Apostle Messenger (Payghambar), which is a happy 
occasion for Moslems. Among the faithful observers of these events are many 
aristocrats and wealthy businessmen, who hold the celebrations at their houses, 
as well as at the bazaars, mosques or at Hosainiyehs. Hosainiyehs are large 
houses dedicated to Iman Hussein by wealthy men and women for public feasts. 
They have vast grounds and gardens where the people sit and are served. 

When there is a happy occasion, the head of the house, the Aga, receives 
people of all classes at his birooni. Every part of the house or of the bazaar is 
cleaned and carpeted and decorated with fresh flowers and mirrors and other 
articles of beauty. In the bazaars both men and women come and go, sitting 
awhile on couches placed on large carpets to enjoy tea or sherbet with cookies 
and candies. Only men are allowed in private houses. 

The sad religious occasions for public feasts are in the mourning months of 
Muharram, Safar, and Ramadan. Thirteen centuries ago, on the tenth of 
Muharram, the martyrdom of Iman Hussein (Mohammed's grandson) and his 
close relatives took place in the course of a battle with a caliph on a plain in the 
southwest of Baghdad. The plain is now a city named Karbala. This city as well 
as Najaf and several other cities of Iraq near Baghdad are sacred cities for 
Iranians, because Ali, the Prophet's son-in-law, and his descendants are buried 

For many ages the Iranians have expended enormous wealth in those cities, 
building magnificent tombs and marvelous shrines. They have presented the 
most precious jewelry, carpets, and valuable works of art for their adornment. 
Thousands of Iranians go on pilgrimages each year to visit the shrines, and many 
of the extremely faithful, when they are old, emigrate to Karbala or Najaf to be 
buried near the Imam's shrine when they die. 

During the two months of Muharram and Safar people clothe themselves in 
black. No marriage takes place in Iran during these sixty days, and in many 
houses of wealthy men and women mourning assemblies are arranged in the 
morning, afternoon, or early evenings. 

Men, women, and children gather together and sit on large, beautiful carpets 
spread over the brick-paved grounds between the pool and the flower beds. 
There they listen to professional narrators who eulogize the deeds of the martyrs 
of Karbala. This traditional commemoration is called Rowze Khani. When the 
narrations are over and the people are truly affected with grief, tea or coffee is 
served by men, who walk among the seated guests offering to each a cup. 
Formerly, instead of tea, they served rose water with rock candy dissolved in it- 
hot in winter and icy cold in summer. In fact this is still served in many cities. 
The Rowze Khani lasts from three to twenty days. 

But the most important part of the mourning is the distribution of food to the 
public in the evenings of these two months. Sofreh is the name given to these 
public dinners, and they are served in the birooni of wealthy men or women or in 
the mosques. Men of all classes, but no women, are welcome to eat of the special 
dishes for these occasions. Relatives of the benefactors, neighbors, friends, 
priests, businessmen, and the poor, all gather together on carpets spread over the 
grounds. Tea is served first, then dinner. After the tea is sipped, a few 
professional narrators relate the tragic story of Karbala and other unhappy events 
in the lives of the Prophet and his relatives. People listen, shed tears of grief, and 
admire the bravery and unselfishness of those who sacrificed their lives as well 
as their possessions to establish the religion of Islam. Then dinner follows, 
served on large wooden trays placed in front of the followers. The dinners 
continue from three to ten nights. 

Each night a tray of foods-halva, salads, and sherbets-is sent to the houses of 
the various members of the family and to the home of each neighbor for the 
women. The exclusion of women from these ceremonies is a tradition and even 

now, when the women of Iran are no longer secluded from the world, they are 
not invited to attend. After dinner each poor man carries home to his family a 
large copper bowl filled with rice, chicken and meat dishes and, of course, halva. 

In Ramadan another public offering of food takes place. It is traditional to 
feed the people at night, especially the poor, since they fast all day. Wealthy 
benefactors serve the very best of dishes at a feast called Eftari, meaning the 
"breaking of the fast." These ceremonies are like those of Muharram, except for 
special dishes, recipes for which are given farther along in the book. 

During Ramadan parties and gatherings are held in the evening, because 
during the day the people who are eligible to fast must devote their time to 
praying to Allah. They relax, sleep, and pray, and set aside all the problems of 
material life and worldly lust. After the sun sets they are permitted to break their 
fast and again to enjoy living until two hours before the dawn. At that time, 
according to religious laws, they take the last of food, and fasting begins again. 

A special dessert named "halva of milk" (halvaye shir) and a confection 
known as zolobiya are served at the evening parties during Ramadan. These 
sweets used to be made and sold only during that month, but today they are 
made and enjoyed at all times of the year. 


Sometimes a mother desires God's protection for her child, and will make a 
vow to give a most valuable and delicious food or halva to the poor in order to 
please Allah. This is an ancient ceremony, which still takes place in Iran. Special 
kinds of halvas are characteristic of the different types of Nazr offerings. 

A few days before the anticipated celebration the servants begin to prepare the 
particular pudding or food which is to be served. The recipients of the food are 
pleased, naturally, and the honored child grows up to be a happy adult, embraced 
in the love which prompted his parents to suffer the labor of making a Nazr in 
his behalf. A Nazr has an important psychological effect on a child's heart and 

I have never forgotten two particular holy days-the twenty seventh of Safar 
and, seven months later, the last Friday of Ramadan. My mother had lost two of 
her children, who died before my birth. So, as an offering for my protection, she 
made her vow to Allah to prepare a special soup (aashe reshte) on one day, and a 

halva (ardeh khorma) on the other. 

The whole house stirred with activity on those days. And I felt very important 
to be the center of so much loving attention from the older members of the 
family, and to be treated with respect and awe by my younger brothers and 
sisters and our friends. Each of my brothers and sisters, except the eldest brother, 
had only one Nazr, while the first son of the family and I had the privilege of 

There is another Nazr offering which causes much amusement for the children 
of Persia. Once a year, when the figs are ripe, each child is weighed and the 
equivalent of his or her weight, in fresh red or white figs, is given to the poor. 
This is repeated each year until the child is about seven years old. 

Large scales, with a pair of round pans hung on either end of the handle, are 
used. It was great fun to sit in one pan while figs were piled high in the other. 
One at a time we would be hoisted up into the air by a strong manservant, to be 
weighed. Such excitement to be swinging up there! And we always protested 
that we were not weighed correctly, so that the poor man would have to weigh us 
again and again and keep us in the air as long as his strength would permit. The 
figs were divided among the servants and the poor, but the weigher's portion was 
almost certain to be much more than that of any other. 


Food and Entertainment 
Within the Persian Home 

Glorious is the golden disk of sun, as my Crown. 

Magnificent is the celestial sphere, as my Throne y 
With two loaves of bread, either made of wheat or oat f 
Two pieces of clothing, either new or old, 

But, with a free heart, chained with love for All, 

And a freewill to help the afflicted call, 

Sharing my loaves with the hungry, under the shading pines, 
And rejoicing the life with frieytds and kin. 

Greater is such happiness 
Than the immortal life! 

Sadi, the Persian poet-Twelfth century 

Throughout Persia the times for serving the main meals of the day are the 
same everywhere, regardless of the variations in climate. Breakfast is any time 
from 6 A.M. to 9 A.M., depending on the preference of the family. Midday, from 
noon to i P.M., is the luncheon hour, while dinner occurs between the hours of 9 
P.M. and midnight. 

In addition to these main meals, everyone partakes of fruits or sherbets in 
midmorning, and afternoon tea is from 4 to 5 P.M. 

The classic breakfast consists of hot tea and milk; bread, butter, fruit 
preserves, honey; white Iranian cheese, either plain or mixed with crushed 
walnut meats; eggs, hard, soft, or scrambled; and apples or grapes in summer- 
oranges or tangerines in winter. Bread, tea, and cheese are the simple breakfast 
of the whole nation. In the Eastern cities of Iran, during the hot, dry summers, 
the standard breakfast consists only of fresh fruits, and in the cold winters in 
other parts of the country a kind of hot cereal called haleem and a soup called 
gipa are enjoyed. 

The midmorning refreshments in winter consist of oranges and pomegranates 
and, in summer, all sorts of watermelons, cantaloupes, peaches, cucumbers, 
romaine, and sherbets. 

The foods for lunch and dinner are practically the same. One kind of polou or 

chelou (rice dishes) and a dish of meat (khoresh) is always on the table. Even if 
the Aga and his lady do not care for them they must, nevertheless, be made for 
the servants. Other kinds of meat dishes, fish, soups, desserts, yogurt, and 
seasonal fruits are the chief items served for both lunch and dinner. 

From ancient days until the Iranians came into close contact with first the 
Arabs and then the Mongols, who temporarily ruled Iran, they sat on short¬ 
legged chairs, named korsi, and used very low tables for dining. But since those 
tribal rulers used no table nor chairs, but sat on the ground to eat, the Iranians 
gradually changed their habits. Beautifully designed, thick carpets and thick 
plush cushions and mattresses made the custom gracious and comfortable, and it 
is still, on many occasions, a delightful custom, even in houses that are furnished 
with the latest furniture, to sit on the floor. Of course no one would ever think of 
stepping into a room or over a carpet with shoes on; shoes were, and still are, 
removed at the entrance to such a room. 

The food was placed on a clean, white cloth, or which was placed over a 
leather sofreh of the same size spread on the floor. Sitting at the sofreh, members 
of the family and their guests ate everything but soup and dessert with the 
fingers of their right hands. For soups and desserts, a shorthandled Chinese silver 
or wooden spoon was used. 

Washing the hands carefully before each meal was adhered to strictly. I still 
remember vividly when the tall, slender Negro maid whose job it was to attend 
to the water pipe for my father, and to the hot water for washing the hands, 
would come into the dining room at mealtime. She had a large, shining brass 
bowl in one hand and a large brass jar of hot water and some towels in the other. 
She would kneel first in front of the guests and wash their hands, then my 
father's, mother's, eldest brother's, and the other children's hands followed 

Although the fork and spoon are gradually replacing the fingers among all 
classes of Persians, you will still find these traditional eating habits and manners 
in vogue more or less everywhere throughout Iran. 


Iranian women, secluded in the andarooni for many centuries, found ways and 
means of entertaining among themselves, and different kinds of social affairs 

developed. These basic social functions of Persia are still enjoyed today. 

Afternoon tea parties are always popular and usually begin about four o'clock. 
Friends and relatives are invited to the house, but it is also usual for them to drop 
in on the lady of the house without a formal invitation. Cookies, candies, nuts, 
fruits, romaine lettuce-either with vinegar, which is often mixed with finely 
minced fresh chervil, or with pickles of eggplant-toasted corn, and boiled fresh 
lima beans are the foods most frequently served at such parties. The ladies chat, 
laugh, talk of serious subjects-even politics-and social affairs. In some families 
music is played and the guests dance and sing. Nowadays men are included in 
these parties, and gambling is their amusement. 

All-day parties, which date 'way back into the history of the life of the Iranian 
women, are still carried on by the old families. The party begins at the house 
about ro A.M. and continues until sunset when, in olden days, Iranian women 
had to be in their homes. 

The guests are usually comprised of relatives and close friends from families 
of equal prominence. Upon the arrival of the guests, sherbets, in summer, or tea, 
in winter, are served. The sherbets in large glasses, the tea in smaller ones, each 
on a silver stand, are placed on silver trays. 

About an hour later cookies, sweet breads, and fruits such as pomegranates, 
oranges, tangerines, apples, and pears in winter, and other seasonal fruits in 
summer, are passed. Luncheon occurs between I and 2 P.M., and the hostess 
always outdoes herself to serve unusually delectable foods, halvas, and other 
delicacies, arranged in the most attractive manner. 

At teatime in the afternoon the same foods that were served in the morning are 
again offered. At some of these all-clay parties a group of musicians would play 
old classical songs for the enjoyment of the guests. 

A third kind of party, and perhaps the most popular in Persia, reflects the 
poetical nature of the Iranians. To visit an informal garden in summer or a green 
field on a sunny day in winter; to picnic beside the fresh, murmuring water of a 
brook, where the air is filled with the fragrance of blossoms and flowers, is to 
the Persians one of the most enchanting ways to relax with friends. By sharing 
fine food and wine and music, by reciting spirited and poetic anecdotes and 
poems in the great outdoors, they feel and enjoy nature more deeply. These 

picnics, therefore, are a form of entertainment indulged in with great frequency 
all over the country. Formerly they lasted until sunset and sometimes, on a 
moonlit night, until early evening. But in this modern day and age, they very 
often last until midnight or the following morning! Kababs and polous are the 
traditional fare, served with wine. 


Gracious hospitality is inherent in the character of the Persian people-a 
characteristic as ancient and revered as history itself. 

To the Persians, a guest is "a gift of God" and is, therefore, proffered the best 
that the host has to offer-the best food, the most comfortable chair. The host 
never sits at the head of the table, but stays in the background, and it is not 
unfrequent for him to go hungry, so engrossed is he in attending the needs and 
pleasures of his guests. Even if the guest should be an enemy, no discourtesy is 
ever dreamed of. 

When a visitor is present in the home, no host sits while his guest is standing, 
nor does he ever turn his back or speak harshly. As a matter of fact, in the code 
of Iranian good manners such actions on either side are considered insulting. 

There are stories in the history of Iran concerning defeated warriors who, by 
simply going to the house of their conquerors, were generously and graciously 

An old folk tale illustrates the emphasis put on the host-guest relationship: 
One night a king, who had lost his way while hunting, reached the small tent of 
an old women who lived far out on the lonely plains. Her only source of food 
was the milk of the goat she possessed. 

The king asked her if he could stay for the night and was cheerfully welcomed 
by the old woman, who never suspected she was entertaining royalty. For dinner 
he was served an especially delicious kabab of fresh meat. The next morning, as 
the king was preparing to depart, he asked: 

"Where did you get fresh meat in such a deserted place as this?" 

"I had a goat, brother," she humbly replied. 

"Ah, your only source of life," he asked in amazement, "and you killed it to 
feed me?" 

"Source or no source," she said, "I could not let my guest sleep hungry." And 
she smiled. 

Then the king asked her to go with him to his palace, where she was blessed 
with many kindnesses. 


The Fundamentals of 
Classic Persian Cooking 

When the Sultan Shah-Zaman 
Goes to the city Ispahan 
Even before he gets so far 

As the place where the clustered palm-trees are, 
At the last of the thirty palace-gates, 

The pet of the haram, Rose-Bloom 
Orders a feast in his favorite room — 

Glittering square of colored ice, 

Sweetened with syrup, tinctured with spice, 
Creams and cordials, and sugared dates, 

Syrian apples, Othmanee quinces 

Limes and citrons and apricots 

And wines that are known to Eastern princes . 

T. B. Aldrich-"When the Sultan Goes to Ispahan." 

Most of the ingredients used in Persian cooking are available in the United 
States today. Rice flour, puffed peas, saffron, and Iranian cheeses can be found in 
Italian, Armenian, and Greek markets. The fresh vegetables, the dry vegetables, 
seeds, and spices used in Persian foods are at hand in most of the chain stores in 
America. And the necessary kitchen equipment can be found in almost every 

The techniques for preparing the ingredients listed here briefly are the basic 
principles of Persian cooking. And the methods for preparing halva, sweets, and 
sherbets are described in the recipes in the latter part of this book. 


Of first importance in Persian cooking are the pots, pans, skillets, and 

saucepans, and the materials of which they are made. The shapes of some of 
these utensils often differ from the shapes of those used in America, especially 
those used for the cooking of rice. But substitutes can easily be made. 

All vessels-caldrons, spatulas, ladles, colanders, et ceteraare made only of 
copper, but are always lined or coated with tin. The tin is renewed as soon as it 
begins to wear off. Recently aluminum pans have come into use in Persia, but 
nothing is ever cooked in an iron vessel. But no matter what metal the utensil is 
made of-brass, copper, aluminum, or enamelit is most essential that the vessels 
be thick and heavy-bottomed. 

The Persian saucepan for cooking rice is called deeg, and it has a special 
shape, patterned from ancient times. It is deep, with a narrow top and a wide 
bottom. The saucepan used for making halva, sherbets, and other sweetmeats has 
a wide-open top and a round, small bottom. The strainer for rinsing rice should 
be large and shallow. 



The best kind of fat for any Persian food is clarified butter. A second choice is 
vegetable oil, but in America I have used chicken fat and margarine for all kinds 
of rice dishes, and vegetable oils for pastries, and found them satisfactory. No 
pork fat is ever used in Persia. 


To make a fluffy rice, the rice should be very hard, yellowish in color with no 
broken grains, and at least two years old. The harder the rice grains, the more 
feathery the rice dish will be. There are many varieties of Persian rice, all superb 
in quality. If you can obtain Persian rice do so, otherwise be sure to buy fine- 
quality, long-grained rice. 


The Iranians prefer mutton and lamb to beef. Beef is very cheap and is 
regarded as second-grade meat. It is used chiefly by the third class of people and 
the villagers. Meats in order of preference are: fowl, venison, lamb, mutton, and 
veal. Pork and pork products are not common food for the nation. It is used by a 

small minority of Christians, foreigners, and some of the younger generation 
familiar with European customs. 

Rice Flour 

From ancient times many puddings and sweetmeats in Persia have been made 
with rice flour, which you can buy in any market. But in America it can be found 
only in fine bakeries and, sometimes, in the health-food stores of large cities. 
However, it is easily prepared at home as follows: 

Wash rice of any kind, three or four times. Then spread it to dry. While still 
damp, pound it in a deep mortar with a heavy pestle or pass it through a fine 
grinder. Powder it fine by pounding and sifting alternately until all the rice is 
converted into a very soft white powder. Spread the powder to dry thoroughly. 
Placing it in a very warm oven will speed the process. Store in a tightly 
stoppered glass jar in a cool, dry place. 

If you own an electric blender, simply measure ~ cup raw rice into the 
container, cover, and blend at high speed for about two minutes, or until the rice 
is reduced to a fine powder. 


This is the sour juice of unripe, green grapes which is used in all parts of 
Persia in soups and meat dishes. It is also considered by Persian physicians as an 
important medicine for liver disturbances and as a relief from rheumatism. When 
late spring arrives and the grapes are still green, part of them are sent to the 
markets, where homemakers whose job it is to bottle the juice for sale in shops 
buy what they need. The juice is very sour indeed-much more so than the juice 
of lemons or limes. But lime juice may be substituted for it in recipes. 

Puffed Peas, or Nokhodchi 

Peas processed in a way that puffs them and makes them edible, with the 
flavor of a nut, are used extensively in Persian cooking. They are available at 
most Italian or Greek stores for a reasonable price. (Italians call them chichi.) 
Flour made from these peas in the same way that rice flour is made from rice is 
used in puddings and cookies. 


This is a combination of puffed peas, shelled pistachios, almonds, hazelnuts, 
pumpkin and watermelon seeds cooked in salted water and then roasted. It is 
served with drinks at Persian parties. Homemade ajeel is cooked in half salted 
water and half lime juice before being roasted. 

Dried Limes, or Limu Omani 

Fresh limes are boiled in slightly salted water for five minutes and left to dry 
in the sunshine. When dry, they are stored in tightly closed boxes and used in 
soups and meat dishes, to which they add a delicious and unusual flavor. 


In general Persian foods are only mildly spiced in contrast to the highly spiced 
curries of India and Indonesia. Saffron and turmeric are the most popular 
seasonings, and both are always finely powdered for use. 

From earliest times saffron, because of its delicate flavor and perfume, has 
been used to flavor rice and meat dishes as well as puddings, halvas, and other 
sweets. Saffron is made from the stamens of small yellow flowers which grow 
abundantly in different parts of Persia. The flowers are collected, dried, and sold 
in the markets. Persian saffron is an important item of export. It must be kept 
tightly stoppered in a glass or china container. When used, a pinch of saffron is 
pounded in a small mortar until it turns to a fine powder. After it is ground, a few 
drops of hot water are added to form a thick, pungent liquid. If dry saffron is 
added to hot oil, it will lose color and will not impart its flavor to the food. So 
always mix it first with a little hot water, then add it to the hot oil for polous. 

Turmeric is used especially in meat dishes. Like curry powder, it is generally 
cooked in a little oil with onion and black pepper before it is added to the other 

All kinds of peppers and hot spices are also used in Persian cooking, but 
always in limited quantities, for the food of Persia is delicate, gently seasoned; 
some of the dishes are fragrant with the more aromatic spices such as cardamom, 
cinnamon, and clove. 

Tangerine Shreds, or Khelale Narangi 

Tangerine peel plays a large role in flavoring Persian foods. The white, bitter 

layer beneath the skin is carefully removed with a sharp knife, and the yellow 
peel is cut into very fine shreds about one inch in length. These shreds are then 
dried and stored in a tightly covered glass jar for future use. When it is used, as 
much as is needed is put into cold water and boiled for about five minutes. It is 
then rinsed, covered with fresh water, and boiled again for two minutes. A final 
rinsing removes any bitterness, and the shreds are ready for use. 

Essences of Flowers 

The distillations of flower petals and blossoms are used in various foods- 
sweets, puddings, and beverages. For many centuries rose and orange flower 
water have been employed not only as perfume, but as ingredients in cooking. 

In Persia there grows a special kind of rose which is small and pink-a sort of 
wild rose-hut it has such a strong scent that one small bud will perfume an entire 
room. This is the rose that is used for distillation, and the pure scent is extracted 
and exported to many parts of the world. The name of this rose is Damask, but in 
Persia it is simply called the Red Rose. 

The Red Rose is symbolic of the color and fragrance of a beautiful girl, and in 
Persian poetry a beloved is often called Gole, meaning the Red Rose. 

In Persian literature, the nightingale is everlastingly frenzied with love for this 
rose, and the whole night long he sings only the enchanting songs of love for his 

Small white roses, orange and quince blossoms, pussy willows, the peels of 
citrus fruits and the seeds of the anise and fennel are also distilled for use in 


History reveals that the Persians were one of the first peoples to use many 
varieties of herbs as parts of food, either for the sake of their flavors or for their 
medicinal benefits. Most of these herbs and flavorful plants grow in America, 
but Americans do not seem to know how to use them or realize the extent to 
which their flavor can improve a dish. 

One particular leaf, common in America, which appears in many Persian 
recipes, is mint. The leaves are picked from the stalk, dried, and kept in a tightly 

closed box or jar. As needed, the leaves are finely powdered before use. 

Another delicious green plant, popular in Persian cooking, grows abundantly 
in the spring in the mountainous regions of Persia. It is a kind of cardoon, called 
kangar. It is thistlelike, related to the artichoke family, with a soft, small, edible 
stalk and a tender heart. But it is full of prickles and must be handled with care. I 
have not found this vegetable growing in California, but I am sure it grows 
elsewhere in the United States. In Persia it is cooked and combined with rice or 
meat, or served with yogurt as a salad with kababs. 

In the farms throughout the country it is cooked, combined with yogurt, and 
stored in a goatskin. This is called kangar mast, and after remaining in the skin 
for a week or two it is particularly delicious. 

I will always remember the thrill, as a child, when with my brothers and 
sisters I waited impatiently for winter to end, because each year with the coming 
of spring our farmers would bring the large goatskins filled with hangar mast 
from the village. Some of it my mother would send to relatives and friends as 
gifts; some she would give to the servants to take home, but a good share was 
kept in the supply room for us. At any time we children wished we were allowed 
to eat all we wanted of it, regardless of whether it was just before mealtime or 

In later years I tried making it myself and modernized the procedure by 
keeping it in a china bowl. The result was good, but still it was not the same as 
that brought from the village in the goatskin! 

Bos-hac, in his Divan has a satirical anecdote about the hangar. 

"As a token of gratitude to the camel who has never hurt the earth by his soft 
feet, the Earth grows prickles which the camel, because of his extremely affable 
nature, leaves as a blessed gift for our lips and teeth. And we, sons of Adam, 
cook it, mix it with yogurt and serve it with kababs. Therefore, it seems that the 
taste of the camel and that of Man are alike." 

In Persia the camel is symbolic of stupidity and lack of common sense, 
intelligence, and talent! 

Part Two 

The Classic Cuisine 

of Persia 

Chelou and Polou 

(Persian-Style Rice) 

Perhaps polou is the most traditional dish in all of Persia, and certainly rice, 
which forms the basis of both polou and chelou, is the most important food 
commodity in Persian cuisine. The method of cooking both polou and chelou 
produces delicate dishes which are different in taste and texture from any of the 
well-known Chinese, Arabic, or Spanish rice dishes. The rice is delicately 
perfumed, each grain white, feathery, and fluffy and apart from any other. It is 
essential that the rice be cooked in plenty of water. As a general rule, one pound 
of rice should be covered with hot water to a depth of 8 to io inches. 


(Serves 3) 

Chelou is simply cooked, buttered rice which is baked in the oven in such a 
way as to form a crunchy crust in the bottom of the pan. This cmst I fondly call 
the crispy-crunchy. 

Chelou is always served with meat dishes having a thick sauce, called 
khoreshes (see Index). 

Wash thoroughly one pound long-grained rice. Fill a 4-quart saucepan with 
water and bring to a boil. When boiling steadily, add the rice and 3 tablespoons 
salt and boil, uncovered, for 7 to I o minutes over high heat. Stir the water 
occasionally, being careful not to break the rice grains. Be careful, also, not to 
overcook the rice. It is done when it is cooked at the core. Test a grain by biting 
it in half. Remove immediately from heat, drain in a colander, and rinse with 
lukewarm water to remove excess starch. The larger the pan used to boil the rice, 
the more feathery the grains will be. If the rice is tasteless after being rinsed, 
bathe it again with about I pint strong, lukewarm salt water. 

Heat a heavy-bottomed saucepan or flameproof casserole over a low flame 
and add 2 tablespoons cooking oil or melted butter mixed with 1 tablespoon hot 

water. Swirl pan to coat it evenly with the mixture. Mix a cup cooked rice with I 
egg yolk, slightly beaten, and spread it evenly over the bottom of the pan. Fill 
the pan with the remaining cooked rice, mounding it up in the center. With the 
handle of a long-handled spoon make a deep hole in the center of the mound, 
cover, and bake in a 350° oven for 15 minutes. Remove cover and sprinkle rice 
with 2 or 3 tablespoons hot butter or any good oil mixed with 2 tablespoons hot 
water. Cover and bake for 30 minutes longer. Remove from oven and place pan, 
covered, on a cool surface for io minutes. This makes it easier to remove the 
brown crust in the bottom of the pan. Uncover pan and stir rice gently with a 
spatula to make it fluffy. Turn rice out onto a warm serving dish in a mound. 
Then remove the brown crust and serve it separately, or heap it over the rice on 
the serving platter. 

NOTE: Instead of mixing the rice with egg yolk to form the crust, you may 
use 1/a cup milk or 3 tablespoons yogurt, or i medium fresh tomato, peeled and 


And nearer as they came , a genial savour 
Of certain stews y and roasts-meats y and Pilaus , 
Things which in hungry mortals’ eyes find favour. 

Byron-Don Juan. Canto V, St. 47 

When rice, cooked and drained, is mixed with any kind of vegetable, fruit, 
fowl, meat, or nuts, it is called polou. A generous amount of butter is used to 
coat the rice, and saffron, chopped almonds, pistachios, or spices are usually 
used for flavoring. If chicken for polou is small, it may be sauteed and placed in 
the center of the polou. If large, it is better to boil it with a little water and i 
medium onion until tender, then place it in the center of the rice. The broth then 
should be mixed with the butter in place of hot water, and poured over the rice. 

(Shecar Polou) 

This ancient polou, served with its accompanying mincedmeat dish (Qa'meh 

khoresh), has always been mandatory at weddings, other important celebrations, 
and religious public feedings. It is a great favorite with the Persians. In olden 
days it was called (meaning yellow with saffron), or yellow rice. 

i cup sugar 
Vi cup water 

3 ounces shredded dried tangerine peel 
i medium onion 

Yi pound ground lean veal or beef 

i teaspoon salt 

Yi teaspoon black pepper 

Yi teaspoon turmeric 

A pinch of clove (if desired) 

i pound long-grained rice 

Butter or oil 

Yi teaspoon saffron 

Yi cup melted butter or chicken fat 

Yi cup finely chopped blanched almonds 

Yi cup chopped pistachios (Serves 3) 

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan combine sugar and water. Boil rapidly to a 
thick syrup, or until syrup spins a long thread. Prepare tangerine peel (see 
Index), add it to the boiling syrup, and boil for 3 minutes longer. 

Grind the onion and mix it with the meat. Season with salt, pepper, turmeric, 
and clove. Form the meat into small balls the size of hazelnuts and saute in a 
little butter or oil until brown on all sides. 

Cook rice according to directions for cooking chelou and drain thoroughly. 
Mix the syrup and meat balls with the rice, stirring the rice slowly and carefully 
so that each grain is coated with the syrup. Oil the inside of a deep casserole and 

put in the rice mixture, mounding it up in the center. Bake in a preheated 350° 
oven for 45 minutes and continue as for chelou. Then place rice on a large 
serving dish. 

Grind saffron to a powder and mix with a little hot water to form a thick paste. 
Combine paste with the hot melted butter or chicken fat and pour over the rice. 
Stir and mix gently until all the grains, especially those on top, become yellow 
with the saffron. Sprinkle with the almonds and pistachios. 

Nora: Chicken may be used in place of the meat balls. Saute the chicken in a 
little butter or oil until brown on all sides and place it in the center of the rice 
before it is baked. To serve: Place chicken in center of the serving platter and 
surround by the saffron rice. When this polou is served with Qa'meh, chicken or 
meat balls are not generally used. 


Sweet polous such as this exotic cherry polou are served either with tiny meat 
balls, as in the following recipe, or with Qa'meh khoresh (see Index). If Qa'meh 
is served, the meat balls are omitted. 

2Vi pounds long-grained rice 
i cup sugar 

2Vi pounds pitted fresh sour cherries 
i pound ground meat 
i onion, finely chopped 
Vi cup butter or margarine 
Salt and pepper to taste 

5 ounces (Vi cup) blanched chopped almonds or pistachios 
Vi teaspoon saffron 

(Serves 4) 

Cook rice according to directions for chelou and drain. Mix sugar and 
cherries, bring to a boil, and boil until syrup is thick. Combine meat and onion, 

season, and form into small meat balls. Saute the meat balls in the butter until 
browned on all sides; mix with the cherries and rice and season to taste with salt. 
Oil the inside of a heavy saucepan or flameproof deep casserole as follows: put 
in the pan 2 tablespoons oil or melted butter mixed with I tablespoon hot water 
and swirl pan to coat it with the mixture. Place pan over low heat and fill with 
the rice-cherries-meat mixture, mounding it up in the center. With the handle of a 
long-handled spoon make a deep hole in the center of the mound, cover, and 
bake in a preheated 350° oven for 45 minutes. Uncover pan and stir rice gently 
with a spatula or large spoon. Turn out on a serving dish in a mound and sprinkle 
with the chopped nuts and saffron prepared with 2 tablespoons oil. 


This polou is prepared chiefly for large parties and receptions. It is frequently 
served for wedding dinners or the celebration dinner of the birth of a baby. 

2 pounds long-grained rice 
i small turkey 
i large onion, chopped 

1 cup butter or cooking oil 

2 cups hot water 

Vi pound mixed dried prunes, plums, barberries, and 

Salt and pepper to taste 
Vi teaspoon cloves 
3 A cup hot turkey broth 
V\ pound currants 

3 tablespoons cuminseed 

i teaspoon saffron (Serves 8) 

Cook rice according to directions for chelou and drain. Wash inside of turkey 

thoroughly and make four or five incisions with a sharp knife on different parts 
of the breast. Saute the turkey slightly with the onion in i cup of the but ter in a 
large deep pot until browned on all sides. Add the water, cover closely, and 
simmer over very low heat about 3 hours, or until turkey is tender. Then uncover 
and cook until browned on all sides. Remove, stuff the inside with the mixed 
dried fruits, and sprinkle generously with salt, pepper, and cloves. Coat the 
inside of a large saucepan with a cup butter mixed with ti cup of the turkey 
broth. Place the pan over low heat and pour in half the rice. Place turkey in 
center and sprinkle with fried currants and cuminseeds. Cover with remainder of 
the rice. Make a hole in the center of the rice, cover, and bake in a preheated 
350° oven for 20 minutes. Remove pan, sprinkle with remaining butter mixed 
with remaining broth, cover, and bake again for 30 minutes longer. To serve, 
place turkey on a large serving platter. Moisten the saffron with a little hot broth 
and add it to the rice, carefully stirring the rice with a spatula to mix it well with 
the currants and seeds. Surround the turkey with the rice. This polou is served 
with Qa'meh and pickles. 


i pound lean ground beef 

Salt and pepper to taste 

Vi cup butter or oil 

i large onion, finely chopped 

Yz teaspoon curry or clove 

i pound long-grained rice, washed and drained 

4 cups tomato juice 

(Serves 2 to 3) 

Season the meat with salt and pepper and form it into tiny balls the size of 
hazelnuts. Saute the meat balls in a deep casserole in 2 tablespoons of the butter 
or oil until brown on all sides. Remove meat and saute the onion and curry in the 
oil re maining in the pan. When onion is lightly browned, add the rice and the 

remaining butter or oil and saute until the rice is brown. Add tomato juice and 
enough water to completely cover the rice by about i inch. Cover the top of the 
pot with a thick towel, then cover closely with the lid. Simmer over very low 
heat for about 35 minutes, or until the water is completely absorbed by the rice. 
Mix the meat balls with the rice. Make a hole in the center. Cover and bake in a 
preheated 350° oven for 45 minutes. Serve hot with sour pickles. 

NoTE: If chicken is preferred to meat, saute the chicken until brown on all 
sides, then steam with a little water or broth until tender. Place the chicken in the 
center of the rice and bake as usual. One small eggplant, peeled, chopped, and 
fried, or i cup cooked string beans or peas may be added to the rice. Chicken 
may be substituted for the meat balls. 


i pound long-grained rice 
4 cups tomato juice 
Vi pound ground meat 
i small onion, grated 
Vi teaspoon salt 
V 4 teaspoon pepper 
Vz teaspoon turmeric 
6 tablespoons butter 

i very small eggplant, peeled and chopped 
4 tablespoons cooking oil 
i tablespoon hot water 

1 e gg 

Yi tablespoon saffron (Serves 3 

Wash rice thoroughly. Put it in a large saucepan and add enough 
cover the rice by a depth of one inch. Cover top with a towel, then with the lid, 

to 4) 

water to 

and simmer over very low heat for 30 minutes, or until there is only a little water 
left. Add tomato juice, stir well, cover, and simmer over low heat for another 20 
minutes, or until all the moisture has been absorbed. Combine meat, grated 
onion, salt, pepper, and turmeric, form into small balls and saute in 2 tablespoons 
of the butter until brown on all sides. Remove balls, add 4 tablespoons butter and 
fry the eggplant until soft. 

Coat a large deep casserole with z tablespoons of the oil mixed with the hot 
water. Beat the egg well and mix 2 tablespoons of the rice and sprinkle over 
bottom of pan. Add half the rice, then the meat balls and eggplant, and cover 
with remainder of the rice, mounding it up and forming a hole in the center. 
Cover and bake in a preheated 350° oven for 45 minutes. 

To serve: place the casserole over a basin of cold water for io to 15 minutes, 
then remove contents in one piece, like a large ball. Mix saffron with a little hot 
water and add to remaining oil, heated. Pour over the mound of rice. 


2 pounds long-grained rice 

i pound boneless shoulder of lamb or veal 

1 onion, chopped 

Yi cup butter or margarine 
4 cups tomato juice 
Salt and pepper 

3 e gg s > lightly beaten 

2 tablespoons oil 

i tablespoon hot water (Serves 6) 

Cook the rice according to the recipe for chelou, but not so soft. Rinse and 
drain. Cook the meat with the onion in water to cover. Add butter, tomato juice, 
and salt and pepper to taste. Cover and boil until the tomato juice is reduced to a 
thick gravy. Coat the inside of a deep casserole with the oil mixed with the hot 
water. Put half the rice in the bottom. Put first the meat and then half the gravy 

over the rice and pour over the eggs. Now cover with remaining rice and pour 
the remaining gravy over the rice. Make into a mound with a hole in the center. 
Cover and bake in a preheated 350° oven for 45 minutes. Serve hot with pickles. 


(Tah Chin) 

This is a "party" polou, also served for very special guests. 

3 cups yogurt 

Salt and pepper to taste 

i teaspoon saffron 

I pound lamb or veal shank or round 

1 Yi pounds long-grained rice 

2 eggs 

6 tablespoons melted butter, or any good oil 

(Serves 4) 

Season cups of the yogurt with salt, pepper, and Ih teaspoon of the saffron. 
Cut the meat into large cubes and soak it in the seasoned yogurt for 5 to Io hours. 
Then cook the rice according to the directions for cooking chelou, but cook it for 
5 minutes only. It must not be soft. Rinse rice and drain. Beat the eggs and mix 
with ;, cup of the yogurt and i cup cooked rice. Coat the inside of a deep 
casserole with melted butter mixed with i tablespoon hot water and put the rice- 
yogurt mixture in the bottom for a crusty layer. Put a layer of meat over this and 
add 2 to 3 tablespoons yogurt in which meat was soaked. Then add a cup of rice. 
Repeat the layers of meat, yogurt, and rice, ending with rice, and pour any 
remaining yogurt over the top. Make a hole in the center, cover, and bake in a 
preheated 350° oven for 45 minutes. 

To serve, spoon the soft rice and meat onto a serving platter and place the 
crispy-crunchy layer on top. Sprinkle with the remaining saffron mixed with a 
little water and melted butter or oil. Serve hot and with no pickle. 

Nom: If desired, / pound fresh spinach may be washed, chopped, drained, and 
fried in z tablespoon butter. Add the spinach to the meat and yogurt mixture and, 
when making the layers, put some of the spinach over the meat, then the yogurt, 
and then the rice. 


Yi pound ground lamb or veal 
i onion, grated 
Yi teaspoon turmeric 
Yi teaspoon pepper 
i teaspoon salt 

Yi cup butter or any good cooking oil 
i Yz pounds fresh carrots, grated 
Yi cup lemon juice 

3 tablespoons sugar 

i pound long-grained rice 
i teaspoon saffron 
i tablespoon hot water 

4 tablespoons cooking oil or melted butter 

(Serves 3 to 4) 

Mix meat with the onion, turmeric, pepper, and salt. Make tiny balls of the 
meat and saute them in the butter or oil until browned on all sides. Remove the 
meat, add the grated carrots, and continue to saute until the carrots are lightly 
browned. Add lemon juice and sugar, cover, and cook over low heat until the 
carrots are soft and the gravy is thick. 

Cook rice according to the directions for chelou, rinse, and drain. Mix the rice 
with the carrots and gravy, put it into an oiled deep casserole and bake in a 
preheated 350° oven for 45 minutes. Mix saffron with the hot water and cooking 
oil or melted butter and stir lightly into the rice. Serve hot with Qa'meh and any 
kind of pickles. 

(Adas Polou) 

34 pound lentils 

1 pound long-grained rice 

2 tablespoons cooking oil 
i tablespoon hot water 

i pound diced cooked lamb, veal, or chicken 

14 pound stoned dates 

14 pound currants 

Vi teaspoon saffron 

Vi cup melted butter or margarine 

(Serves 3 to 4) 

Wash lentils, cover with lightly salted water, and cook until tender. Drain. 

Cook the rice according to the directions for chelou and mix with the cooked 
lentils. Coat inside of a deep casserole with the 2 tablespoons oil mixed with the 
hot water. Place casserole over low heat and pour in half the rice and lentils. 
Place meat on top and sprinkle with the dates and currants. Add remaining rice, 
mounding it up, and make a hole in the center. Cover and bake in a preheated 
350° oven for 45 minutes. Just before serving, mix saffron with a little hot water 
and with the ~ cup melted butter or margarine and stir lightly into the polou. 

Nom: If desired, 2 or 3 whole hard-cooked eggs may be added with the meat. 
This polou may also be served with Qa'meh instead of with meat or chicken. In 
this case just use dates, currants, and eggs for the filling. Serve hot with pickles. 


(Morgh Polou) 

This is the chicken polou generally served at the Persian New Year in the 
southern region of Persia, with the chicken placed on the haft seen table (the 
"table of the seven S's"). The amount of rice and number of chickens needed 
depend upon the size of the family or the number of guests. The following 
quantities are designed to serve 5. 

2 pounds long-grained rice 

1 large chicken 

H pound currants 

2 ounces cuminseeds 

Vi cup (i stick) butter or any good cooking oil 
i teaspoon saffron 

This polou is made in exactly the same way as the turkey polou on page 64. 
The chicken is sauteed and steamed, but it is not stuffed. Serve hot with Qa'meh 
and pickles. 


(Sabzi Polou) 

In the north of Persia the Nowrooze polou is served with the fish and 
vegetables placed on the haft seen table, instead of the chicken. 

2 pounds long-grained rice 

i Vi pounds of equal parts of fresh spinach, dill, green 
onion tops, coriander (if available), and fresh 

6 pieces white fish fillets 
14 cup shortening or good cooking oil 
i teaspoon saffron 
i tablespoon hot water 

3 tablespoons cooking oil 

(Serves 6) 

Prepare the rice according to directions for chelou and drain. Wash the greens, 
chop fine, and cook in the water adhering to the leaves until wilted. Mix greens 
with the rice. Saute the fish in the 1/4 cup shortening until lightly browned on 
both sides. Put half the rice in an oiled deep saucepan or casserole. Arrange 
pieces of fish over the rice and cover with remaining rice. Make a hole in the 
center, cover the pot tightly, and bake in a preheated 350° oven for 1 hour. Just 
before serving, mix saffron with the water and the 3 tablespoons oil and sprinkle 
over the rice. 

No'rE: If desired, you may omit the vegetables, mix the rice with 3 ounces 
cuminseeds, l,h teaspoon saffron, and 1/ pound currants and serve with fried 
fish. This is called fish polou or mahi polou. Either kind of fish polou is served 
with Qa'meh and eggplant, or pickles. 


(Sheved Bagla) 

i Vi pounds long-grained rice 
1Y1 pounds fresh dill 

i box frozen lima beans, cooked and drained 
i pound boneless lamb or veal from shoulder, shank, or 

Salt and pepper to taste 
i large onion 
Vi teaspoon turmeric 
3 tablespoons cooking oil 
Vi cup any good oil or butter 
Vi teaspoon saffron 
i tablespoon hot water 

(Serves 3 to 4) 

Cook rice according to directions for cooking chelou and drain. Mince the dill 
very fine and mix with the lima beans and rice. Stew the meat in one piece, with 
salt and pepper to taste, the onion, turmeric, and a little water for 2 hours, or 
until very tender. Then oil the inside of a large saucepan or casserole with the 3 
tablespoons oil and put in half the rice. Place the meat in the center of the rice, 
cover with remaining rice, and make a hole in the center. Cover casserole and 
hake in a preheated 350° oven for 20 minutes. Then mix half the butter or oil 
with a cup of the broth in which the meat was cooked, pour over the rice, cover, 
and continue to bake for 35 minutes longer. Place pot on a cool surface for i o 
minutes, then turn out rice onto a large, hot serving platter. Mix saffron with the 
hot water and the remaining oil or butter and sprinkle over the rice. Stir rice 
gently with a spatula to coat the grains with the yellow saffron. Place the meat in 
a separate dish and the crispy-crunchy, or bottom crust, in another. Serve with 
Qa'meh and any pickle or yogurt, and serve buttermilk for a beverage. But 
yogurt mixed with water, salt, pepper, and powdered mint leaves, called doogh 

(see Index) is best with this polou. 

Nom: A chicken may be substituted for the meat. 


(Barreh Polou) 

This is a very popular polou which is served at both formal and informal 
receptions, private parties, and dinners as well as luncheons given in honor of 
one or more special guests. Boshac speaks highly of it. 

0 thoul with Lamb-Pilou and Halva, and I with Date-Lentill 
He who granted that regal dish to the kings 
Gave also this humble dish to the poorl 

Braise half a baby lamb or a saddle of spring lamb in a large deep pan with i 
teaspoon pepper, t teaspoon turmeric, i large onion, chopped, and I cup water. 
When well done, sprinkle with salt and place in the center of a large casserole of 
rice as for chelou. Bake in a preheated 350° oven for 45 minutes and sprinkle the 
rice generously with melted butter or oil. Prepare saffron (see index), fried 
caraway seeds, and currants and mix well with rice. The amount of rice for this 
polou depends on the number of guests. When serving, place the meat in the 
center of the rice on a large warm serving dish. Serve with pickles and Qa'meh. 


This polou belongs to northern Persia. The people of Rasht, a large city on the 
shores of the Caspian Sea, are famous for it. It doesn't need any oil or butter and 
is made in the shape of a cake. It is served cold with any kind of khoresh and 
pickles, and is a perfect dish for hot summer days. 

Cook i pound rice according to directions for cooking chelou, only increase 
the cooking time by about 15 minutes, until rice is very soft. Rinse only once 
and put it into an oiled casserole. Bake, tightly covered, in a preheated 350° oven 
for 45 minutes, without taking it out to sprinkle with butter as in other polous. 
Remove pan from oven and uncover. Let cool for io minutes, then spread a very 
white cotton cloth over the rice, still in the pan. Press it hard against the bottom 
and sides with the palms of the hands to crush the rice kernels together to form a 

cake. Place casserole over a bowl of cold water for lh hour to cool. Then cut into 
squares or oblongs and arrange the pieces upside down on a serving dish, with 
the brown, crispy layer on top. 


This is a kind of quick chelou which is not rinsed or drained. It is richer than 
the average chelou and very easy to make. When dami is served with any kind of 
khoresh, it is made plain, otherwise it is mixed with many other ingredients such 
as those used in polous. 


Wash i pound long-grained rice thoroughly in cold water. Put into a deep 
saucepan and add enough water to cover the rice by about I inch. Add i teaspoon 
salt and 3 tablespoons butter or oil. Cover tightly, first with a towel and then with 
a lid, and simmer over a very low heat about 30 minutes, or until all the water is 
gone. Check it once to see if the water has boiled away. Check a kernel with the 
teeth, and if still rather hard, add half a cup of hot water by sprinkling it over and 
around the rice, stir gently, cover again, and simmer for a few minutes longer. 
Then take off the cloth, add 4 tablespoons of melted butter or oil, cover again, 
this time only with the lid of the pan, and bake in a preheated 350° oven for 20 
to 30 minutes. Remove and serve like other chelous with khoresh and pickles. 


(Serves 3 to 4) 

Saute Ih onion, finely chopped, 3 ounces crushed walnuts, and I pound 
currants in a little butter until onion is transparent. Stir in % teaspoon clove, 
nutmeg, or curry powder. Steam rice in the same way as for plain dami. When all 
the water has boiled away, place the currant-nut mixture in center of rice in same 
casserole. Cover with rice and bake, covered, in a preheated 350° oven for zo 
minutes. Remove, mix all together, and sprinkle with prepared saffron (see 
Index) and melted butter or oil. Serve with Qa'meh and any kind of pickle. 


Pit io ounces of sour black cherries. Grind Ih pound meat and make into tiny 
meat balls, or simply cut 3h pound meat into small pieces. Saute the meat with 

half an onion, finely grated, in a little butter until meat is browned. Add ~ pound 
chopped walnuts, 2 ounces currants, the cherries, and 2 ounces chopped dried 
apricots. Mix all together with the well-washed rice. Add water to cover the rice 
by one inch. Cover with a towel and a lid and proceed as for other dami. 


How dignified looks Abgusht 

With a mantle of bread on his shoulder, 

And a necklace of ■peas around his neckl” 

There are many ancient, classic soups in Persian cuisine. Although 
inexpensive to make, and a favorite of all classes, both rich and poor, they are 
looked upon as humble food. Made of meats, vegetables, legumes, and fruits, 
soups frequently make a meal in themselves, or precede a polou at the luncheon 
table. They are served with chopped fresh herbs, radishes, chopped onion, fresh 
mint leaves, bread, and pickles. Being modest in manner, the Persians, when 
inviting their friends to lunch or dinner, use as expression of modesty meaning, 
"Please give me the pleasure of taking a humble morsel of my soup and bread." 


(Abgushte Adas) 

1 pound brisket of lamb or veal 

2 cups lentils 

1 large onion, chopped 

Yi teaspoon each turmeric and pepper 

3 to 4 dried limes 

2 cups hot water 

Yi small head cabbage, chopped 
i teaspoon salt 

(Serves 6) 

Put meat and lentils into a deep saucepan and add onion, spices, limes, and hot 
water. Cover tightly and stew over low heat for i hour. Add cabbage and salt. 
Cover and simmer again for another hour, or until meat is very tender. Strain off 
liquid to serve separately. Remove bones and pound remaining ingredients in the 
pan with a heavy wooden pestle or potato masher. Shape into a mound in a 
serving dish and decorate with sliced onions. Red beans may be used instead of 
lentils, in which case cabbage is not used. Serve hot or cold with bread, pickles, 
herbs, and radishes. 

(Gushte Kubideh) 

This favorite dish is frequently served at picnics and as a snack with 
beverages. It is spread on bread and served with white and red radishes, fresh 
onion and herbs, pickles or cucumber borani (see Index). 

i pound brisket of lamb or veal 
i cup yellow split peas 
Yi cup large, dried white beans 
V\ small green pepper, chopped 

1 large potato, peeled and diced 

2 large tomatoes, peeled and quartered 
i large onion, chopped 

Yi teaspoon each turmeric and pepper 

1 teaspoon salt 

2 cups hot water 

(Serves 4) 

Trim and wipe meat. Put all ingredients into a deep saucepan, cover tightly, 
and simmer over low heat about i hour. Uncover and continue cooking, stirring 
vigorously, until liquid is partially cooked away. Strain off soup to serve 
separately. Then pound the remaining mixture with a heavy wooden pestle or 
potato masher until blended to a paste, removing any bones and skin. Put the 
mixture into a serving dish, forming it into a mound, and decorate with sliced red 
and white onions and red radishes. It is ready for sandwiches or for snacks and 
can be served hot or cold. If decorated and kept in the refrigerator for several 
days, the onion flavor will permeate the meat, and if a small peeled eggplant is 
cooked with the other ingredients, it makes the dish even more delicious. 


(Abgushte Beh) 

i pound brisket or shank of lamb or veal 
i large onion, chopped 
3 ounces red beans or split peas 
3 cups hot water 

Vi teaspoon each turmeric, pepper, and clove 
i teaspoon salt 
i large quince 
i tablespoon cooking oil 
Vi cup lemon or pomegranate juice 
Brown sugar to taste 

(Serves 4) 

Put meat, onion, beans, water, and seasonings into a saucepan, cover tightly, 
and simmer over low heat about I hour. Peel and chop the quince and saute it 
lightly in the oil, until partially cooked. Add to the soup along with the fruit 
juice. Stir in sugar to taste. Cover tightly and simmer about I hour longer. Strain 
soup, discard bones, and pound the meat. Form the meat into a mound in a 
serving dish, decorate with sliced onions and radishes, and serve with bread, 
pickles, and herbs. Serve soup separately. 


(Abgushte Miveh) 

i pound shank of lamb or veal 
Vi cup mixed dried red beans and yellow split peas 
i small fresh beet 
i onion, chopped 

Vi tablespoon turmeric, pepper, curry or clove or saffron 
i teaspoon salt 

3 cups hot water 

4 ounces mixed dried apricots, prunes, peaches, and plums 

(Serves 4) 

Put meat in a saucepan with the beans and peas, beet, onion, spices, and salt. 
Add hot water, cover tightly, and simmer over low heat about i hour. Add dried 
fruit, cover, and simmer for i hour longer. Taste for flavor and if too sweet add i 
to 2 tablespoons lemon juice or verjuice or 3 to 4 crushed dried limes (limu 
omani-see Index). 


(Abgushte Sib) 

i pound shank of mutton or veal 

1 large onion, sliced 

Yi cup mixed yellow split peas and bleached wheat 

2 cups hot water 

Yi teaspoon each turmeric and pepper 

1 pound fresh cooking apples, peeled and chopped 

2 tablespoons shortening 

i pound sour black cherries, pitted 
i teaspoon salt 

Vi tablespoon powdered mint leaves (Serves 4) 

Put meat in a saucepan with the onion, peas, and wheat. Add water and spices, 
cover tightly, and simmer over low heat about I hour. Saute the apples in half the 
shortening with the cherries and salt for a few minutes, or until apple is partially 
tender. Add to the simmering meat, cover, and simmer about I hour longer. Just 
before serving, saute the mint in the remaining oil and add to soup in serving 
bowl. Serve with herbs, radishes, and bread. 


This is a soup made of head, stomach, and trotters of lamb. It is one of the 
oldest soups in the history of Persian cuisine, dating back to the days of Bos-hac, 
who admired it repeatedly: 

Years ago , before Moza’far [sweet yolou] had bloomed 
Among foodsj as blooms yellow rose among flowers, 

In my head I cherished yearning desire for Giya. 
Don't ask of Giya and its concealed Secrets. 

No one ever divulged this enigma, nor will ever do sol 

The tradition of serving Gipa from 6 to 7 A.M. as an early, rich breakfast is still 

practiced among the peoples of small towns and villages, as it was in Bos-hac's 

He who desires to have Giya, 

/Is early as dawn-breeze, he must awakel 1 ' 

There are two kinds of gipa-one plain, the other elaborate. At the present time 
they are served as luncheon dishes. 


(Serves 6) 

Prepare one lamb's head, stomach, breast, and 2 to 4 trotters. Wash and clean 
thoroughly. Put all in a large deep saucepan with 2 large onions, chopped, and a 
piece of lamb fat. Add i teaspoon turmeric, a pinch of cloves, a bunch of fresh 
celery leaves, pepper, and sufficient water to cover. Then add 5 chopped dried 
limes (see Index), but no salt. Cover very tightly, first with a clean towel, then 
with the lid. Simmer over very low heat for 5 to 6 hours. When ready to serve, 
add salt to taste. A few pieces of chopped carrot may be added for flavor, if 
desired. Serving gipa with aromatic herbs, onions, radishes, and pickles is 
mandatory. Grapes served after gipa are traditional. 


(Serves 4) 

Clean a head of lamb and put it in a deep pot with 2 onions, chopped, a few 
celery leaves, and 1 teaspoon each of pepper and turmeric. Add water to cover, 
cover pot, and simmer over low heat for 3 hours. 

Meanwhile clean the stomach of a lamb and cut it into 2 parts, each as large as 
the palm of the hand. Sew three sides of the pieces together to form a small bag, 
leaving open about 3 inches at the top for the mouth of the bag. 

Wash / pound rice and soak in / cup warm water for 30 minutes. Add / pound 
ground meat, 2 tablespoons sweetened tangerine- or orange-peel shreds (see 
Index), 4 tablespoons each chopped blanched almonds and shelled pistachios or 

walnuts, 3h teaspoon saffron, 5 to 6 dried chopped prunes or plums, and salt and 
pepper. Mix all together and stuff the bag with the mixture, leaving room at the 
top of the bag for the rice to expand as it cooks. Pour 2 tablespoons melted butter 
into the bag and sew mouth of bag closed. 

Put bag in soup pot with the head, cover with a towel, then with the lid, and 
continue to simmer for 3 hours longer. When well cooked and the water has 
boiled down to a rich broth and the bag is soft and puffed, remove both head and 
bag from pan to a serving dish. Serve hot, and serve the broth separately. Herbs, 
radishes, and pickle are mandatory. 


(Serves 4) 

Each part of the country has its favorite recipe for making eshkaneh. The basic 
ingredients are onion, flour, walnuts, and any kind of fruits, or fruit juice or 
yogurt as follows: 

Saute i onion, chopped, in 6 tablespoons cooking oil until onion is transparent. 
Stir in 2 tablespoons flour and cook, stirring, until flour is golden brown. Add 
Ufa tablespoon powdered mint leaves, Ih teaspoon each of salt and pepper, and ; 
cup coarsely chopped walnut meats and saute for a few minutes longer. Then add 
any of the following ingredients: 2 cups pomegranate juice or i cup verjuice with 
3 cup water, or i cup hot water and i pound pitted fresh sour black cherries or 
apricots and 3h cup sugar, or sugar to taste. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 
minutes. Drop in 4 eggs, one at a time, and simmer until the eggs are cooked. 
Serve hot with bread. 

Yogurt may be used instead of fruit or juices. Stir in i cup yogurt and i sliced 
clove garlic, just before adding the eggs. Drop in eggs and stir very gently over 
low heat for 3 to 4 minutes. 



Thick soups, similar to stews, are classic cold-weather dishes in all parts of 

Persia. They are ancient and hearty dishes, and are generally served for lunch. 

Those who know how to iiiake Aash, 

Be sure , are great and ingenious artists. 

Alive is the one in whose kitchen Aash is regularly served. 

The varieties of Aashes are numerous in Iran, but here are a few which are 
popular with all. 

(Aashe Mast) 

5 cups water 
Vi pound ground meat 
i large onion, minced 
3 ounces yellow split peas 

i pound mixed fresh spinach, dill, and green onion tops, 

Vi teaspoon each pepper and turmeric 

1 teaspoon salt 
Vi pound rice 

2 cups yogurt 

Vi onion, finely chopped 
2 tablespoons cooking oil 
Vi tablespoon powdered mint 

(Serves 4 to 5) 

Bring water to a boil in a deep saucepan. Add meat, onion, peas, vegetables, 
spices, and salt. Cover tightly and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes. Add 

rice and cook, covered, for 30 minutes longer, stirring occasionally to prevent 
the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pan, until all ingredients are well 
cooked. Stir in yogurt and heat, but be careful not to let the soup boil. Pour 
steaming soup into a tureen. Saute the i finely chopped onion in the cooking oil 
until golden brown. Remove onion and saute the mint for a few minutes in the 
oil remaining in the pan. When mint and oil turn green, sprinkle both fried onion 
and mint on top of the soup and serve hot. 


(Aashe Anar) 

i pound mixed fresh green onion tops, coriander, or 
parsley, minced 

A few fresh mint leaves, minced 
i large onion, minced 
i medium beet, peeled and chopped 
3 cups hot water 

Vi pound shoulder of lamb or veal with bone, chopped, or 
ground meat 
3 ounces yellow split peas 
Vi teaspoon each pepper and turmeric 

1 teaspoon salt 
Vi pound rice 

2 cups pomegranate juice 

(Serves 4) 

Put minced vegetables and chopped beet in a deep saucepan with the water. 
Add meat. If ground meat is used, form it into balls the size of small walnuts. 
Add peas, spices, and salt, cover tightly, and stir over medium heat for 15 
minutes. Add rice and fruit juice, cover, and simmer for about 2 hours, stirring 

occasionally, until all ingredients are well cooked. If more liquid is needed 
during the cooking period, add i cup hot water or more fruit juice. 

(Aashe Torsh) 

The oldest recipes for the many varieties of aash are made with the juice of 
sour fmits and are considered to be remarkably effective health foods. Basically 
they are made in the same way as the pomegranate aash, but 2 pounds of fresh 
sour plums, prunes, or barberries or 2 cups of lemon juice are substituted for the 
pomegranate juice. 


This is a refreshing thick soup which originated in the northern section of 
Persia and which is served in both summer and winter. 

Vi pound mixed lentils and red beans 
i large onion, chopped 
5 cups hot water 
Vi pound ground meat 
i pound spinach, chopped 

1 fresh beet, peeled and chopped 
Vi teaspoon each pepper, turmeric, and salt 
2Vi tablespoons rice flour (or wheat flour) 

Vi cup cold water 

2 cups verjuice or Vi cup fresh lemon juice 
4 eggs, lightly beaten 
Vi onion, minced 
2 tablespoons cooking oil 

(Serves 4) 

Cook lentils, beans and chopped onion with the hot water in a deep saucepan 
for 15 minutes. Form the meat into balls and add to the boiling ingredients along 
with the spinach, beet, and spices. Cover tightly and simmer for 30 minutes. 
Combine flour and cold water, beating to a smooth paste, and stir into the boiling 
ingredients. Add the fruit juice and continue to cook for 30 minutes longer. 
When the mixture is rather thick, remove from fire and stir in the eggs. Pour into 
a tureen and garnish with the minced onion sauteed in the oil until golden. 

(Haleeme Gusht) 

The revtedy of my body and soul is Haleem, 
Go, servant, and bring me that remedyl 

(Serves 4) 

This ancient dish, made only of wheat and meat, is indigenous to the cold 
parts of Persia. The meat must be of the very best and, in order of preference, 
goose, duck, or chicken first, venison second, and lamb last. Haleem originally 
was served as a breakfast food and even today entertaining at a 'haleem breakfast 
on cold winter mornings is a popular custom throughout Persia. It is also 
frequently served in winter for lunch, but never for dinner. Haleem is always 
sprinkled with hot butter and sugar or honey and is served with bread. 

Trim off all fibers and skin from 2 pounds boneless shoulder of deer or lamb 
and cut into pieces. Put the meat in a heavy, deep saucepan with i whole onion 
and add enough hot water to cover the meat by a depth of i inch. Cover and bring 
to a boil, then simmer over low heat for i to 2 hours, or until meat is very tender. 
In another saucepan cook i t pounds bleached wheat in water to cover by a depth 
of i inch until tender. When wheat is soft, run it through the finest blade of a 
meat grinder. Discard onion from meat and run the meat through the meat 
grinder. Mix wheat and meat and grind once more. Return mixture to the kettle 
and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until cooked to a thick porridge. 

If poultry is used, cook it whole, discard bones, and grind the meat. The 
amount of wheat should be equal to the weight of the fowl before it is cooked. 

When ready to serve, turn mixture into a bowl. Heat a good quantity of butter, 
pour it over the haleem, and sprinkle with sugar or honey and lots of cinnamon. 
Serve with toasted bread. It is important that both the haleem and the butter be 
very hot. Pomegranates are traditionally served after haleem. 



Ha'pyy is that Meat which is close to Butter and Walnut. 
Delighted is that Pomegranate which has a secret with Sugarl 


In Persia it is customary to serve polous and chelous with one of the many 
variety of khoreshes. The ones preferred, which are served at all important 
occasions, are: Qa'meh, Qormeh Sabzi, Fesenjan, and Mosamma Bademjan, 
which are centuries old. 

All khoreshes are modestly spiced, but flavored with sour juices. The juices 
which may be used are either lime, lemon, sour orange, or verjuice. Sometimes 
dried pomegranate seeds are also used for flavoring. 

The meats most often used for khoreshes are lamb, chicken, duck, or other 
fowl rich in fat. 

There are also many varieties of khoreshes which are meatless, and I am 
giving some of the best ones in this book. 

The usual spices used are saffron, black pepper, and turmeric, but for some 
khoreshes hot spices are required. 


(Finely Minced Meat) 

Drops of butter on the face of Qa’meh 
Tells us of the dews on tulip’s petals. 

This dish is mandatory at weddings, funerals, birthdays, at large dinner parties 
and religious public feasts. It is served with a sweet polou or chelou. 

i large onion, chopped 

4 tablespoons butter or good oil 

i pound ground lamb, veal, or beef 

Vi teaspoon pepper 

Yi teaspoon turmeric 

i cup tomato juice 

Yi cup hot water 

14 pound dried yellow split peas 

Yi cup lime juice or 3 dried limes (limu omani) 

Yi teaspoon salt or to taste 

14 teaspoon saffron 

Any of the following ingredients: 

Yi pound potatoes, chopped and fried 
1 e ggpl ant > P ee ^ e d and chopped 
Yi pound pitted sour cherries 
Yi pound fresh apples or quinces, chopped and fried 
4 ounces dried red (or small white) beans 

Saute the onion in the butter or oil in a deep pot until well browned. Remove 
onion and drain. In the butter remaining in the pot cook the meat, mixed with the 
pepper and turmeric. Stir well until all ingredients are smoothly mixed. Add 
tomato juice and hot water and cook over medium heat, covered, until meat is 
well done. Add split peas and lime juice or dried limes, and season to taste with 
salt. Partially cover and simmer over low heat for 45 minutes. Then add the fried 
onion and any of the other ingredients desired. Again partially cover and simmer 
until all ingredients are cooked and blended and a rich, colorful gravy rises to the 
surface. When ready to serve, pour into a serving bowl and top with a teaspoon 
saffron mixed with a little hot water. One-half teaspoon of clove or curry powder 
may be added with the turmeric. In this case saffron is not used. 


This khoresh is also a very old and popular dish with all Iranians. It is 
mandatory at all festival dinners and the public food servings of the religious 
nights of Ramadan and Muharram. It may be made of duck, partridge, chicken, 
lamb or veal hind shin, shoulder, or ground meat. 

1 large onion, minced 
Yi teaspoon pepper 

Yi teaspoon turmeric 

2 tablespoons butter or cooking oil 

i pound meat or a small duck or partridge 
i tablespoon flour 

Yi pound walnut meats, coarsely chopped 

Yb cup hot water 

1Y1 cups pomegranate juice* 

Salt to taste 

Juice of i or 2 lemons (optional) 
i small eggplant 
Cooking oil 

i Yi teaspoons cardamom powder 

(Serves 6 ) 

Saute the onion with the pepper and turmeric in the butter or the oil until well 
browned. Remove onion and drain. If ground meat is used, make small balls and 
brown slightly in the oil remaining in the pan. If birds are used, brown them on 
all sides. 

Sprinkle meat or birds with the flour and the chopped walnuts and saute for a 
few minutes longer. Add water, pomegranate juice, and salt to taste and, if you 
like a sourer dish, the lemon juice. Cover and simmer over low heat for 3o minu 

Peel eggplant, cut lengthwise into 6 or 8 pieces, sprinkle each piece with salt, 
and stack one on top of the other for a few minutes to drain. Then rinse in cold 
water, dry, and saute in hot oil until lightly browned on both sides. Arrange the 
eggplant on top of the meat or poultry, partially cover, and simmer over low heat 

until the eggplant is tender and a rich, brown gravy rises to the top. Add 
powdered cardamom, stir well but gently, and cook about 5 minutes longer. 
Serve with chelo. 

NoTE: t pound white fish or salmon may be used instead of meat or poultry. 
In this case the cooking time will be about 15 minutes less. Also either of the 
following vegetables may be substituted for the eggplant: one pound fresh 
pumpkin meat, minced and sauteed, or one pound Italian squash, halved and 

" Sometimes I use lemon or lime juice, brown sugar, and lh cup tomato juice 
when pomegranate juice is not available. 

(Qormeh Sabzi) 

This khoresh is served with chelou or kateh, dami and sweet polou. It is very 
much favored for picnics, and is humorously titled say-yed-ul-qava-mire, 
meaning the master of all minced ones. 

i pound shoulder, leg, or shanks of lamb or veal with bone 

1 medium onion, chopped 

2 tablespoons oil 

i teaspoon turmeric 
i teaspoon black pepper 
Vi cup hot water 

1 cup lemon juice 

2 pounds equal parts of fresh green onion leaves, celery 

leaves, spinach, parsley, and fresh dill (if available) 
}A cup any good oil 

One of the following ingredients: 

3 ounces dried red or small white beans or Vl pound 
chopped raw potatoes 

(Serves 4 to 5) 

Cut meat into large pieces and saute it with the onion in the 2 tablespoons oil 
until browned. Add turmeric and pepper, the hot water, and lemon juice. Cover 
and cook over low heat for Io minutes. 

Meanwhile wash and mince all vegetable leaves and, without adding water, 
cook them in a large frying pan over low heat, folding constantly until wilted and 
dry. Add the 'A cup oil and mix and saute about 5 minutes longer. Add 
vegetables to the simmering meat. If dried beans are to be used, they must be 
added now. Cover top partially and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes longer. 
If potatoes are used, they should be sauteed slightly in a little oil and then added 
to the meat. Let simmer again, partially covered, until a rich gravy rises to the 

Nom: Sour fruit such as unripe sour plums or dried limes may be added in 
place of the lemon juice. 


(Mosamma Bademjan) 

Eggplant is an important vegetable in Persian cuisine, and Persian cooks know 
how to make it appetizing. It is prepared for the table in many different ways. 
The most favorite is called mosamma, but it is also referred to as the "khoresh of 
kings and mullas," for it is believed that kings and Moslem priests always are 
served the choice dishes. 

For many centuries mosamma has been the most popular of dishes. At formal 
dinners and elaborate parties, when one wishes to pay a compliment to the guest, 
it is always served along with a turkey or chicken polou or chelou or dami or 

Serve with pickles or fresh limes. 

2 large eggplants 
2 large onions, sliced 
14 small green pepper, cut into rings 
i pound lamb or veal shoulder, hind shin, or shanks with 
the bone 

or i large chicken, cut into serving portions 
4 large fresh tomatoes, peeled and chopped 
Juice of 2 large lemons 
Salt and pepper to taste 
From Yi- i cup oil 
Yi teaspoon powdered saffron 

(Serves 5 to 6) 

Peel and cut eggplants lengthwise into 5 or 6 slices. Sprinkle the slices with 
salt and stack them to drain off the bitter juice. Arrange onion slices, green 

pepper slices, meat or chicken, and chopped tomatoes in alternate layers in a 
deep pot, finishing with tomatoes. Add lemon juice and seasoning, cover tightly, 
and simmer over low heat about 1 hour. When meat is well done, stir gently to 
mix all ingredients. Rinse eggplant and dry. Saute the slices in hot oil until 
browned, soft, and glazed. Arrange the eggplant over the meat, partially cover, 
and cook over high heat for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to low and simmer until the 
eggplant is golden brown and the gravy is reduced to a brownish glaze. Stir only 
once, turn into large serving dish, and sprinkle with prepared saffron (see Index). 
The eggplant looks and tastes best when it is golden brown, not too dark in color. 

Mosainma may be served with plain chelou, or the rice may be mixed with 2 
ounces fried currants, I ounce toasted cuminseeds, and I teaspoon prepared 
saffron. These ingredients should be added after the rice is turned into the 
serving dish. Sliced tangerine peel, prepared as for sweet polou, may be used 
instead of the currants and cuminseeds. Italian squash may be substituted for the 
eggplant. In this case the dish is called mosamma kadu. 

(Motanjen Khoreshe) 

8 ounces chopped blanched almonds, pistachios, or 

i pound boneless lamb or venison shoulder, ground 
i large onion, grated 
Yi teaspoon each salt and pepper 
i tablespoon butter or oil 
14 pound yellow split peas 
i cup hot water 

i pound mixed dried apricots, prunes, plums, and peaches 
Vi teaspoon powdered saffron 

(Serves 6) 

Saute the nuts over very low heat in an ungreased pan until lightly browned. 
Mix meat with onion and salt and pepper and form into small balls. Cook 
throughout in a deep pot in the butter or oil until well browned on all sides. Add 
peas and water and cook, covered, over low heat for about 30 minutes, or until 
peas are soft. Wash fruits in hot water and add with the nuts. Salt to taste and 
simmer for 30 minutes longer. Sprinkle with prepared saffron (see Index). This 
khoresh should have a thick gravy. Shredded tangerine peel may also be added. 
This khoresh is usually served with chelou, kateh, or plain dami. 

Easy Khoreshes 


(Khoreshe Beh) 

I pound shoulder or hind shanks of lamb or veal with 

i large onion, minced 

Vi teaspoon each pepper and turmeric 

y* cup good cooking oil 

1 cup hot water 

3 ounces yellow split peas 

2 large, ripe quinces 
Vi cup lemon juice 

2 tablespoons molasses or brown sugar 
Salt to taste 

(Serves 5 to 6) 

Trim the meat from the bones and mince it. Saute the minced meat with the 
onion, pepper, and turmeric in 4 tablespoons of the oil until nicely browned. Add 
water and simmer, covered, for about 30 minutes. Add peas and continue to cook 
over low heat. Wash, peel, and slice or cube the quinces. Saute in remaining oil 

until partially cooked and add to the meat. Add lemon juice and molasses or 
brown sugar (the exact amount depends on the cook's taste) and salt to taste. 
Simmer, partially covered, until a thick, rich, goldenbrown gravy rises to the top. 
Serve with dami, kateh, chelou, or bread and pickles. 

NoTE: Carrots may be used instead of quinces. 


(Khoreshe Sib) 

i pound roundsteak or veal, minced 
4 tablespoons good cooking oil 
i cup hot water 

i pound apples, peeled and chopped 
i pound sour black cherries, pitted 
Yi cup lemon juice 
Brown sugar to taste 

(Serves 6) 

Saute the meat in z tablespoons of the oil until browned. Add water, cover, 
and simmer for about 30 minutes. Saute the apples in remaining oil until 
partially soft and add to the meat along with the cherries. Continue to simmer, 
partially covered, over low heat for about 30 minutes longer, or until meat is 
tender. When nearly done, add the lemon juice and, if too sour, stir in as much 
brown sugar as desired. Serve with chelou or bread, dami, or kateh. 

NOTE: i pound dried or ilh pounds fresh plums or prunes may be substituted 
for the apples and cherries. If dried fruit is used, it must be added to the meat 
sooner than the fresh. 


There are many varieties of this dish in different parts of Persia, but it 
originates among the people of northern Persia, especially in the city of Rasht. 

Here rice is cultivated, and their cuisine is based on chelou, which they serve 
with many kinds of fish and green vegetable khoreshes. The following recipe is 
one of them. 

1 pound boneless lamb or veal 
Yi teaspoon turmeric 

Yi teaspoon salt 
Yi teaspoon pepper 
Yi large onion, chopped 
4 tablespoons cooking oil 

2 cups hot water 

i pound equal parts green onion tops, chives, and 
coriander leaves or celery leaves 
Yi teaspoon saffron 

Discard the fat and fibers from the meat, cut meat into small pieces, and saute 
with the turmeric, salt, pepper, and onion in half the oil until browned. Add the 
water, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes. Mince the greens and saute in 
remaining oil until wilted, tossing constantly. Add to the meat, cover, and 
simmer for 30 minutes longer, or until meat is tender. Add prepared saffron (see 
Index) and serve with chelou, kateh, or dami. 



i pound hind shanks or round of lamb or veal, cut into 
large pieces 
I onion, chopped 
Yi teaspoon turmeric 

1 teaspooon salt 

Yi teaspoon pepper 
4 tablespoons cooking oil 

2 cups hot water 

A large bunch or 2 small bunches celery with the leaves 
V\ pound fresh coriander leaves (or parsley) 

1 small bunch mint (1 ounce), if desired 
Yi cup lemon juice 
Yi teaspoon saffron 

(Serves 4 to 5) 

Saute the meat with the onion, turmeric, salt, and pepper in half the oil until 
well browned. Add the water, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes. Cut off and set 
aside the celery leaves and cut the stalks into 4-inch pieces. Saute them slightly. 
Mince celery leaves, coriander or parsley, and the mint. Saute in remaining oil 
and add to the meat with the lemon juice. Simmer for about 30 minutes, or until 
meat is partially tender. Place celery pieces on top of meat and continue to 
simmer over low heat for 30 minutes longer, or until meat is tender and the gravy 
is rich. Add prepared saffron and serve with chelou, kateh, or dami and fresh 
lime or lemon. 

NOTE : Fresh green beans may be used instead of celery. When using beans, 
add I cup tomato juice or 3 large tomatoes, chopped, and no lemon juice. 


(Khoreshe Rivas) 

i pound boneless round or shoulder of lamb or veal 

4 tablespoons butter or oil 

i cup water Salt and pepper 

I pound fresh rhubarb, cut into 4-inch lengths 

1 to 2 tablespoons brown sugar 


Saute the meat in half the oil until well browned. Add water and salt and 
pepper to taste, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes. Saute the rhubarb in 
remaining oil for a minute and add to meat. Stir in sugar mixed with a little hot 
water, cover partially, and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, or until fruit is soft and 
the gravy is rich. If too sweet, add lemon juice; if too sour, add more sugar. Do 
not stir while this khoresh is cooking. When ready to serve, sprinkle with 
prepared saffron (see Index). Serve only with chelou, dami, or kateh. 


(Khoreshe Mast) 

i pound ground meat 
i teaspoon salt Vi teaspoon pepper 
Vi teaspoon turmeric 
3 tablespoons butter or oil 
i tablespoon curry powder 
i teaspoon clove (optional) 
i teaspoon cardamom (optional) 
i onion, grated 
i cup hot water 

i container yogurt (Serves 4) 

Make small meat balls of the ground meat mixed with the salt, pepper, and 
turmeric. Sautes in the butter or hot oil with the curry powder, clove, cardamom, 
and onion until well browned. Add water, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes. Stir 
in the yogurt and cook, uncovered, being careful it does not boil, for 5 minutes 
longer. Serve with chelou, kateh, or dami. 

(Khoreshe Anar) 

This is another dish very popular in the northern parts of Persia. 

i pound fresh coriander leaves or parsley 
i ounce mint leaves 
6 tablespoons oil 
i pound ground meat 
i onion, minced 
Yi teaspoon pepper 

1 teaspoon salt 

Yl teaspoon turmeric 
Yi teaspoon clove (optional) 

8 ounces walnuts, coarsely chopped 

2 cups pomegranate juice 

(Serves 4) 

Mince the coriander or parsley and the mint leaves and saute them in 3 
tablespoons hot oil until wilted. Mix meat, onion, pepper, salt, turmeric, and 
clove and form tiny meat balls. Saute in the remaining oil with onion until 
browned on all sides. Add to the vegetables. Add nuts and pomegranate juice 
and simmer, partially covered, about I hour, or until a rich gravy rises to the top. 
This dish does not need saffron. It is very delicious when served with chelou, 
kateh, or dami. 


(Narange Khoreshe) 

1 pound lamb or veal hind shanks or shoulder 

2 tablespoons butter or good cooking oil 
Yi teaspoon pepper 

Yi teaspoon turmeric 
i small onion, chopped 
i cup hot water 

i pound tangerine or orange peel 
Yi cup lemon juice 
Salt to taste 
Yl teaspoon saffron 

(Serves 4) 

Chop meat into small pieces and saute in the butter with the pepper, turmeric, 
and onion until lightly browned. Add hot water, cover, and simmer for 3o 
minutes. Prepare the tangerine or orange peel according to instructions (see 
Index), only cut the peel into 2-inch pieces. Add peel to the meat with the lemon 
juice and salt and simmer for 15 minutes longer. When well done and gravy is 
rich, add prepared saffron and serve with chelou, kateh, or dami. 

NOTE: 2 pounds okra may be used instead of the peels. Cut off the stems and 
fry in a little butter or shortening until partially cooked. Add to half-cooked meat 
with i cup tomato juice or i pound chopped fresh tomatoes. Do not add saffron or 
lemon juice, and do not stir when okra is added. 

Meatless Khoreshes 

There are many vegetable khoreshes without meat which are served with 
bread or rice. Some of these are. 


(Bademjan Sorkh Kardeh) 

This is a very popular dish and a favorite with all Persians. 

It appears frequently on everyday menus in Persian homes. 

i large eggplant 
Vi cup oil 

Vi pound tomatoes, peeled and thinly sliced 
Vi cup hot water 

(Serves 4) 

Peel the eggplant and cut lengthwise or into thin rounds. Sprinkle the slices 
generously with salt and stack them in a pile to drain for i o minutes. Then rinse 
in cold water and dry. Saute the eggplant in the hot oil until glazed and golden on 
both sides, adding more oil if needed. Arrange the tomato slices over the 
eggplant. Add the hot water and cook, uncovered, over medium heat for 30 
minutes, or until the eggplant is soft and glazed with a rich, brown gravy. 

If this dish is to be served with bread, grate half an onion into a cup of wine 
vinegar. Add salt and black pepper to taste, then either pour it over the food in 
the serving dish or serve it in a separate gravy bowl for people to help 
themselves to the quantity they wish. This dish must be served hot, otherwise it 
loses flavor. 

(Mollah Ghash Kardeh) 

This dish is so delicious that even mulla is supposed to faint from the sheer 
joy of eating it! 

2 large onions, sliced 

3 large tomatoes, sliced 

1 e ggpl ant > peeled and sliced Vi inch thick 
Salt and pepper 

1 small bunch of fresh coriander or parsley, minced 
Vb cup hot water 

2 tablespoons oil 

2 cloves garlic, sliced 

(Serves 3 to 4) 

Arrange onions, tomatoes, and eggplant in alternate layers in a frying pan, 
sprinkling each layer with salt and pepper and the minced greens. Add water, oil, 
and garlic. Cover tightly and simmer for about 30 minutes or until the liquid is 
reduced to a rich gravy. Serve hot either with bread or chelou, dami or kateh. 


(Shesh Andaze) 

Grate i pound of any one of the following fruits or vegetables: Quinces, 
apples, carrots, or potatoes. Saute the fruit or vegetable in 3/a cup butter or hot 
oil in a large frying pan until partially cooked. To apples, quinces, or carrots, add 
t cup lemon juice. To potatoes add only 1A cup hot water. Sprinkle with salt and 
pepper, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes. Then spread the fmit or vegetable into 
a smooth layer in the same pan and make 6 indentations in the top. Drop an egg 
into each indentation and cook until the eggs are hard. Serve two eggs with the 
surrounding vegetable or fruit to each person. Serve with chelou or bread. 
Spinach may also be used, but this does not require further cooking after it is 

(Broiled Meals and Vegetables) 

Though chicken broils } and salt brings tears into its eyes } 
The sight of it delights my heart—what a joy! 

Here comes delicious fragrance from the kitchen . 

In the Persian language kabab means simply broiled meat, yet there are many 
methods of preparing it, each part of the country having its own specialty. Since 
the climate varies greatly in different parts of Iran, from the fertile green pastures 
of the lowlands to the high mountains, many varieties of animals, both wild and 
domestic, are abundant throughout the land, and the flesh of these animals and 
birds is used in different regions in the making of kababs. 

For uncountable generations kababs have been a favorite food for both parties 
and for picnics, and Persian cooks know how to make them savory and inviting. 
An old tradition always associates kababs and wine or other alcoholic beverages, 
and in Persian literature the two words kabab and sharab (wine) are always 
found together. 

Although kababs are the favorite method of preparing meat all through the 
Middle East, the recipes given in this book are typically Persian. All kinds of 
fragrant herbs and aromatic pickles, salads, and radishes are served with kababs. 


This kabab is made especially for serving with chelou and must be tender and 
juicy. The chelou, too, must be feathery, very white, and delicate in flavor. 
Chelou Kabab is not only popular with all Persians but is one of the dishes most 

enjoyed by visitors from abroad. In the Shamshiri restaurant in Tehran the very 
best chelou Kabab is served today. Everyone, including our foreign visitors, 
frequents this restaurant for lunch and dinner. If it happens that you, too, should 
visit Tehran someday, do not fail to go there and judge for yourself the difference 
between chelou kabab of Persia and the popular American counterpart known as 
shish kebab. 

The finest kababs are made from top-quality fillet or top round of lamb or 
venison, although often boneless chuck, sirloin, and even rump or shoulder are 

There are two different kinds of chelou kabab, the first known as: 

(Kababe Barg) 

2 pounds fillet or top round 
4 onions, grated 
i cup fresh lemon juice 
Salt and pepper 

(Serves 6 to 8) 

Remove all fibers from the meat and cut into thin slices about 3 inches wide 
and 4 inches long. Beat each slice gently with the sharp edge of a knife several 
times in order to make fine cuts in the pieces, but be careful not to cut them all 
the way through. Place the meat in a china dish and cover with the grated onion. 
Add lemon juice and store in refrigerator for 12 hours to 3 days. About 20 
minutes before serving remove meat and brush off onion. Sprinkle with salt and 
pepper. Stick two skewers into each piece from either side to keep the pieces flat, 
and broil over flaming charcoal or under broiler flame, turning skewers 
frequently until the meat is brown on all sides. It must be juicy and not over¬ 

The second method of making chelou kabab is called 


(Luleh Kababe) 

1 Vi pounds lean meat, ground twice 
3 onions, grated 

Salt and pepper 
Yi teaspoon saffron 

2 egg yolks 

(Serves 4 to 5) 

Put the meat in a china bowl and cover with grated onions. Cover bowl and 
leave in refrigerator to marinate for several hours. About 20 minutes before 
serving, remove meat from the juice, brushing off the onion, and rub with salt 
and pepper, the prepared saffron, and the egg yolks. Wet skewers with a little 
water and shape the ground meat around them in cylinders, pressing the meat 
tightly around the skewers so that it sticks tightly. The meat cylinders must be a 
little shorter in length than the skewers themselves. Broil over flaming charcoal 
or under the broiler flame, although charcoal is much to be preferred. If charcoal 
is used, turn skewers round and round frequently over the fire until the kababs 
are browned on all sides, but still juicy. 


There is a special way to serve either of the above two kababs. In the first 

place a white, feathery chelou is mandatory and must be hot and ready to serve. 

Then shake out the white from one or two eggs per serving through a hole made 

in the top of each shell, leaving the yolks in the shells. Put the shells holding the 

yolks in a dish on the table near the kababs and chelou. Each person places a 

portion of rice on his own plate with a large pat of sweet butter and one or two 

egg yolks in the center of the hot rice. The rice is then sprinkled with salt and 

pepper and dried powdered sumac fruit.' and eaten with the hot kababs. 
Remember that both the chelou and the kababs must be served hot-the hotter the 
more delicious. If served lukewarm, they lose much of their appeal and flavor. 

Some people like sliced raw onions with their kababs. The beverage which 
usually accompanies chelou kabab is doogh, which is a popular, cooling drink 
for hot summer days. Yogurt or sour milk is poured into a wide-mouthed bottle 

and shaken for a couple of hours. All the butter in the sour milk or yogurt 
separates and is removed. The resulting liquid is the doogh. It is frequently 
served with ice and is enjoyed by the Persians in much the same way as 
Americans love orange juice. It will keep in the refrigerator for days. Americans 
might prefer to substitute buttermilk or diluted yogurt. 


(Kenjeh Kababe) 

This is the kabab that the Turks call sheshlik. In America the two words-the 
Turkish sheshlik and the Persian kenjehkabab-have become confused and 
combined to make sheshkabab, or shish kebab! 

Kenjeh kabab is served with either chelou or with bread and salads, pickles, or 
with yogurt dishes called borani, of which I shall talk later. Fragrant herbs such 
as sweet basil, marjoram, and mint, and also red radishes and fresh onions and 
chives are always served with it. 

2 pounds lamb or veal, sirloin, rump, or shoulder 

3 large onions 

i cup fresh lime juice 
Salt and pepper 
Vi teaspoon saffron 

(Serves 6) 

Remove all the heavy fibers from the meat and cut the meat into z-inch cubes. 
Grate onions into a deep china bowl and add the lime juice. Soak meat in the 
mixture, partially covered, in the refrigerator for 2 or 3 days, stirring the pieces 
once a day, which helps to make them tender. About 30 minutes before serving, 
take meat out of the juice and clean off the onion. Season pieces well with salt, 
pepper, and prepared saffron. Insert skewers through the pieces, keeping each 
piece close to the other and inserting a small piece of lamb fat between them. 
Broil over a very hot charcoal fire or under the broiler, turning the skewers 
frequently until meat is browned on all sides, but still juicy. One cup yogurt may 
be used in place of the lime juice. This kabab is the favorite for picnics. 


(Kababe Parandeh) 

Great is the ecstasy of my heart, caused by 
The breast of goose, the drumstick of hen, and 
The breast of partridgel 

There are many types of birds that may be used for making this kabab- 
chicken, partridge, pheasant, squab, or any other fowl tender and rich in fat. It 
used to be the custom in the winter to bury the fowl in the snow, complete with 
feathers, for two days in order to tenderize and age it. In the summertime it was 
soaked for about half a day in the cold, fresh water of the pool. But now, with 
refrigeration, these processes are unnecessary. 

If the bird is small and tender, it may simply be pierced by two skewers and 
brushed generously with a mixture of half cooking oil or melted butter and half 
lemon juice. It is then broiled over a blazing charcoal flame until done. During 
the broiling period it is turned frequently and basted often with the oil and juice 
mixture. Partridge and squab are delicious broiled in this manner. 

But if the bird is large and one suspects its succulence, it is first stewed in a 
tightly covered pot with I whole onion and about ~3 cup water until tender. It is 
then broiled as above. 

Bird kababs are served with any fresh aromatic herb or with salad greens, and 
usually with fresh radishes and a sour pickle. 

(Kababe Morgh) 

Cut a large chicken into serving portions. Wash and put the pieces into a deep 
saucepan with a cup hot water, i small whole onion, a few peppercorns, t cup 
lemon juice, and i large tomato, sliced. Cover and bake in a moderate oven 
(3500) or over low heat until tender. Remove chicken and sprinkle with 2 
tablespoons melted butter or oil. Season with salt and pepper and broil under the 

broiler, or insert skewers through the pieces and broil over charcoal flame, 
turning frequently until golden brown. Serve with bread, salad, pickles, radishes, 
green onions, fresh herbs and drinks. 


Stuff a large chicken or cock with 2 small onions, 2 tablespoons each of dried 
barberries and currants, i ounce of dried limes (limu omani), salt, pepper, and a 
pinch of clove. Sew up the opening and put chicken in a deep saucepan with/ cup 
lemon juice, ~h cup tomato juice, and ~ teaspoon prepared saffron. Bake, 
covered, in a moderate oven (350°) until almost tender. Remove and insert two 
large skewers-one from each end-and broil over blazing charcoal, turning 
frequently, or in a rotisserie oven, basting occasionally with melted butter or oil. 
Serve with herbs, salad, yogurt, or pickle, and drinks. 


(Kababe Dig) 

Although this meat dish is not broiled at all, but is baked or roasted, it has 
been known for generations as "kabab in a 

i large roast of meat—lamb or veal shoulder, leg or round 
i clove garlic 

1 small carrot, sliced 

2 small stalks celery 
2 large onions 

2 large tomatoes 

Salt and pepper 

Yi teaspoon turmeric 

Yi cup lemon juice or sour-orange juice 

V\ cup butter or margarine or any good oil 

Yi teaspoon saffron 

Wipe meat with a damp cloth. Make a few small slits in the flesh here and 
there and insert thin slices of garlic. Place meat in a large, deep pot with the 
carrot, celery, onion, tomatoes, salt, pepper, turmeric, and / cup of the sour juice. 
Cover tightly and bake in a preheated 350° oven for 2 to 3 hours, depending on 
size of roast. Check every 20 minutes and add a very little hot water if the juice 
has cooked away. When meat is well done and liquid has cooked away, place pot 
over low heat and add the butter and remaining sour juice. Saute until the meat is 
browned and there is a small quantity of brown gravy in the pan. Place meat on a 
large serving dish and sprinkle with prepared saffron (see Index). Surround by 
the pan gravy, aromatic herbs, and radishes. 


(Kababe Barreh) 

This is also one of the oldest types of kababs, and there are two methods of 
preparing it. The primitive method is still used by villagers and nomads of Persia 
and is extremely simple and delicious: 

Remove the skin from a whole baby lamb. Clean lamb and wash thoroughly 

inside and out. Then season with salt and pepper, replace it in the skin and sew 
up. Make a very strong fire with plenty of wood either over a heap of tiny 
pebbles or over a hole dug in sandy ground. When the fire burns down to a hot 
ash, place the lamb under the heap of pebbles or in the hot sand and leave it for 
half a day until it is well baked and tender. 

The modern method, which is used by the city folk, is as follows: 

Combine th pound of mixed dried fruits and nuts-plums, prunes, peaches, 
half-ripe dates, currants, raisins, apricots, blanched almonds, walnut meats, 
hazelnuts or pistachios (you may use any or all of these ingredients)- 
with'teaspoon each of pepper, turmeric, and cloves, 5 dried limes, powdered, i 
teaspoon prepared saffron, (cardamom and cinnamon are also frequently used for 
flavor) and 2 tablespoons shredded tangerine peel. Saute the mixture for a few 
minutes in 2 tablespoons butter or good oil and then use it to stuff the inside of a 
tiny baby lamb. Sewing is not necessary. 

Place lamb in a large roasting pan with i cup lemon or sourorange juice and 2 
cups tomato juice. Cover tightly and bake in a preheated 350° oven until very 
tender. Serve with polou mixed with saffron and cuminseeds, or with salad, 
bread, sliced fresh onion, fresh mint or other herbs, radishes, and wine. 

Large chicken, pheasant, or any kind of large bird such as duck or goose may 
be stuffed and baked as above until tender. The bird is also sauteed in butter or 
oil until browned on all sides, if desired. 


(Kababe Mahi) 

A whole fish may be stuffed with the same fruits and nuts as given for kababe 
barreh. The head and tail are brought together and sewed in place. The fish is 
then broiled over charcoal or put into a large, deep, covered saucepan and baked. 

To bake the fish, place a few small clean sticks crosswise in the bottom of the 
pan (or use a trivet) and place the fish on the sticks. Pour over Ih cup lemon juice 
mixed with Ih teaspoon prepared saffron, cover and bake in a preheated 350° 
oven until tender, basting several times with juices in pan. 


(Kababe Kolbeh) 

This is a simple kabab which is often served at picnics or at family meals with 
a bottle of wine or other beverage. 

Cut i calf heart, 4 lamb kidneys, and i small calf's liver into medium-sized 
chunks, sprinkle them with 2 grated onions, a generous amount of freshly ground 
pepper, and a little poultry seasoning. Let stand for 2 hours. Pierce skewers 
through pieces of meat, alternating heart, kidney, and liver and placing a thin 
slice of onion between each two pieces. Broil over blazing charcoal, turning 
constantly. When meat begins to drip, sprinkle with salt and continue to turn 
until well broiled and browned on all sides. Serve hot with bread. 


O Cook! You delight my heart with Shami 
And l add a hundred coins to your Salary. 

A favorite for luncheon parties and formal dinners as well as for family meals, 
shami kabab is served either hot or cold accompanied by bread, all sorts of 
salads and pickles, or yogurt mixed with minced cucumber or spinach (see 
borani), or with plain yogurt sprinkled with chopped onions and chives. Sliced 
onions, radishes, fresh mint leaves, sweet basil, fresh marjoram or tarragon and 
romaine leaves with vinegar are commonly served with it. Most of the countries 
in the Middle EastTurkey, Armenia, and Arabia-all have their own indigenous 
variations of this kabab. 

i pound short ribs of lamb, veal, or venison 
I large onion, minced 
i teaspoon each salt, turmeric, and cloves 
V\ cup hot water 
% pound yellow split peas 
Vi cup water 

Vi pound lean beef or lamb, ground 
5 e gg s > beaten 
Vi teaspoon saffron 

i pint cooking oil or i pound shortening 

(Serves 4) 

Cook the short ribs with the onion, salt, turmeric, cloves, and the 1/a cup hot 
water in a small pot until all the water has boiled away. Wash peas and cook in 
the 1 cup water for about 20 minutes, then add to the meat and continue to cook 
until the peas are very soft and the water has cooked away. 

Take the meat from the bones and mix meat, peas, and ground raw meat 
together. Pound well with a meat hammer or potato masher until well blended, 
then knead in the eggs. Add the prepared saffron and let the mixture stand in the 
refrigerator for a to 3 hours. Then knead again thoroughly. 

Wet a fine clean cloth and place it over a large saucer or bowl, which is used 
to mold the patty. Dust mold with flour. Take a ball of the mixture as big as a 
walnut and spread it over the wet cloth, making a round patty about '/z inch 
thick, and sprinkling with a little flour to prevent meat from sticking to the hand. 
Make a hole in the center of the cake with a finger. Heat the shortening in a large 
flat pan and in it fry the patties, a few at a time. The hot shortening must cover 
the patty. As soon as the patties are brown and crisp, remove to a paper towel to 

If the dough is too soft and the patty breaks into pieces during the frying, 

sprinkle a little more flour over the cloth when molding the patties. 

Red beans may be substituted for the yellow split peas. 

(Tas Kababe) 

This is a famous Persian dish, especially favored for picnics. There are many 
variations of it, made of fruit and vegetables such as okra, eggplant, squash, 
quinces, apples, prunes, and plums. 

2 large onions, sliced 

3 large tomatoes, sliced 

14 green pepper, chopped 

i pound round or shoulder of lamb or veal, cubed 
V\ cup oil, or a few pieces of lamb fat 
i cup lemon juice or 2 cups pomegranate juice or sour- 
orange juice 

1 eggplant 

Yi teaspoon each saffron, turmeric, and pepper 
A pinch of cloves 

(Serves 4) 

Arrange alternate layers of onion slices, half the tomato slices, the green 
pepper, and the meat in a deep saucepan and place remaining tomato slices on 
top. Add oil or lamb fat, half the juice and spices. Cover tightly and simmer over 
low heat for i hour, or until meat is tender. 

Meanwhile peel and slice the eggplant. Sprinkle the slices generously with 
salt, stack them, and let drain for 15 minutes. 

When meat is tender, rinse and dry the eggplant slices and saute them slightly 

in a little oil. Place the eggplant on top of the other ingredients, add remaining 
juice, cover partially, and continue to simmer for 20 minutes longer or until a 
thick, rich gravy rises to the top. Stir occasionally, very gently in order to mix 
only the ingredients beneath the eggplant slices. Sprinkle with prepared saffron 
and serve hot with chelou, dami, or bread, pickles and herbs, and radishes. 

All other fruits and vegetables mentioned above are cooked in the same way 
as the eggplant. And all of them may be combined together, making a very 
delicious tas kabab, or "tas kabab of Gamblers." 

(Meat Balls) 

Ground meat, formed into balls and cooked in a variety of ways, appears 
frequently in the daily menu of the Persian people. It would be impossible to 
attempt to give recipes for the many variations, as each housewife adds 
something of her own preference in seasonings and ingredients to a favorite 
recipe. I have selected only two, which I feel are representative of the best and 
most unusual in Persian cooking, are usually served with bread, fresh onions, 
radishes, herbs, yogurt, or pickles. 

(Kufteh Mo'alla) 

This is usually served only for parties or for private guests. 

1 pound lamb shoulder, ground 

2 large onions 

Yi pound split peas 
Yi pound rice 

1 small bunch each fresh dill, green onions, chives, and 

coriander or marjoram or parsley 
V\ cup butter or oil 
Spices to taste—salt, pepper, clove 
Yi teaspoon saffron 

2 ounces dried currants and barberries 

2 ounces prunes or plums 

2 tablespoons shredded tangerine peel (see Index) 

5 hard-cooked eggs 

4 tablespoons shelled pistachios 
4 tablespoons chopped blanched almonds or walnuts 
Yi small onion, chopped and sauteed in butter until lightly 

1 pound lamb bones 

6 cups water 
Salt and pepper 

Yi teaspoon turmeric 

2 ounces (4 tablespoons) rice, pounded 
Yi cup lemon juice 

Y\ teaspoon saffron or curry powder 
Brown sugar 

Yi tablespoon powdered mint 
1 tablespoon oil 

(Serves 4 to 5) 

Grind meat and i large onion twice through finest blade of a meat grinder. 
Cook peas with water until tender. Cook rice according to directions for chelou 
and rinse. Wash the green herbs, mince very fine, and saute in butter or oil until 
wilted. Combine meat, peas, rice, and herbs and pound well with a meat hammer 
or potato masher. Add spices and ~ teaspoon prepared saffron and knead until 
the meat dough is well blended. 

Moisten the inside of a large bowl, to serve as a mold, with I tablespoon cold 
water. Press half the meat into the bowl. In the center place the currants, 

barberries, prunes, half the tangerine shreds, 3 of the hard-cooked eggs, the 
pistachios and chopped nuts, and the fried onion. Put remaining meat on top and 
form all into one large ball. 

Simmer the lamb bones in the water with the other large onion and salt and 
pepper and turmeric for about i hour. Remove bones and put the meat ball in the 
broth. There must be sufficient liquid to cover the ball; if not, add as much water 
as needed. Add the pounded rice and cover and simmer for about i hour, or until 
meat ball is well done. Add lemon juice, the teaspoon saffron or curry, and 
remaining tangerine shreds, and sweeten the broth to taste with brown sugar. 
Simmer, covered, for 5 minutes longer. 

Saute the mint in the I tablespoon oil. 

Place the meat ball in a large serving dish and pour the broth over it. Sprinkle 
with the fried mint and the remaining 2 hard-cooked eggs, chopped. Serve the 
soup separately. 

Garnish with a few leaves of fresh coriander, sweet basil, or parsley. Serve hot 
or cold with any pickles desired. 

(Kufteh Tabrizi) 

Tabriz is the capital of Azerbaijan province in northern Persia. 

Vi pound rice 

V 4 pound yellow split peas 

1 pound ground lamb, veal, or beef 

2 onions, grated 

V\ teaspoon each turmeric, pepper, and curry or clove 
Vi teaspoon salt 

3 hard-cooked eggs or 6 to 9 dried prunes or plums 
12 almonds, blanched and chopped 

1 large onion, chopped and sauteed in butter until lightly 

(Serves 3) 

Cook the rice according to directions for chelou and rinse. Cook peas until 
very tender, then mash. Grind the meat twice through finest blade of a meat 
grinder. Combine the rice, peas, meat, grated onion, spices, and salt and knead 
the mixture into a dough. Wet a clean cloth and spread it in a small round bowl, 
approximately 6 inches in diameter, which will serve as a mold. Fill the bowl 
half full of dough. In the center place either a hard-cooked egg or 3 prunes or 
plums, and sprinkle with a little chopped almonds and i teaspoon of the sauteed 
onion. Cover the ingredients with more of the meat dough and shape the whole 
into a medium-sized ball. Make two more balls in the same manner, using 
remaining ingredients. 

Bring to a boil 3 quarts of water, filling to the top a saucepan large enough to 
hold the three meat balls. Add remaining sauteed onion and carefully lower the 
meat balls into the boiling water. Cover and simmer for about 2 hours, or until 
well done. Remove meat balls to a serving dish and either pour the broth over 
them or serve it separately. 

If desired, 2 cups lemon or pomegranate juice may be substituted for part of 
the water used to cook the balls. Also cooked chicken meat, mixed with fruit and 
nuts, may be used in the center of the meat balls in place of eggs. 

(Stuffed Dishes) 

Among the many Persian dishes and delicacies which have been adopted by 
neighboring countries are the various Dolmehs, or stuffed vegetable dishes, 
which are popular not only with the Persians but with the Turks, the Arabs, 
Indians, and Armenians. The recipes following are typical Persian recipes. 


(Dolmeh Bademjan) 

Basic Stuffing 

5 tablespoons rice 
Yb pound ground meat 

1 onion, grated 

Yi teaspoon each of saffron, pepper, turmeric, clove, and 

4 tablespoons butter or oil 
A small bunch fresh coriander or parsley 
A few fresh onion leaves 
3 tablespoons yellow split peas 

2 large eggplants 

i cup lemon juice, or sour-orange juice 
Brown sugar to taste 

(Serves 3 to 4) 

Boil rice according to directions given for chelou, drain, and reserve the water. 
Saute the meat with the onion and spices in i tablespoon of the butter or oil until 
meat is browned. Mince the parsley and onion leaves fine. Cook split peas in a 
little water for 5 minutes, drain, and mix with the meat, rice, and greens. Salt to 
taste and mix well. 

Cut off about i inch from the tops of the eggplants and set aside to use later for 
covers. Peel and fry the eggplants on all sides in 2 tablespoons of the butter or 
oil until partially tender. Then scoop out the insides of the eggplants very 
carefully so as not to break through the skin, leaving a shell about t inch thick. 
Chop the removed part of the eggplant and combine with meat mixture. Fill the 
eggplants with the mixture, pressing it into the hollows gently so that the 
eggplants will not break. Replace tops, securing them with toothpicks, and place 
the eggplants upright in a large deep pan. Add r cup drained rice water or hot 
water and the lemon juice. The liquid should reach more than halfway up the 
sides of the eggplants. Add as much brown sugar as desired and the remaining 
butter or oil. Cover tightly and simmer over very low heat about i hour, or until 

most of the water is cooked away, the stuffing is well cooked, and a thick, rich 
gravy covers the bottom of the pan. Serve with bread, sliced fresh onion, 
radishes, and fresh herbs. 


In this favorite dolmeh the eggplants are not peeled and the rice (4 
tablespoons) is saut6ed before it is cooked in 6 tablespoons good oil with 3 
tablespoons raisins or currants, A pound ground meat, and a small bunch of dill 
or parsley, finely chopped. Then add enough hot water to cover the rice about i 
inch deep, cover first with a towel and then with the lid, and simmer over very 
low heat about 30 minutes, or until all the water is absorbed. Remove and stir in 
Uf teaspoon each of cardamom, cinnamon, salt, and pepper, and i small onion, 
chopped and sauteed in 2 tablespoons oil until lightly browned. Scoop out the 
insides of the eggplants, chop pulp, blend with meat mixture, and stuff the 
eggplants. Use either z large eggplants or 4 small, and cook as in the recipe 
above. Serve hot. 

(Dolmeh Barg) 

(Serves 4 to 5) 

The stuffing ingredients for this recipe are exactly the same as those used in 
dolmeh bademjan. Grape leaves are used instead of eggplant. 

Wash fresh, tender grape leaves (or those preserved in brine) and put as much 
stuffing in the center of each as the leaf will hold when folded. If the leaves are 
small, use two overlapping. Then fold corners of the leaf over the filling and tie 
each little bundle with string. 

Arrange the bundles in a deep saucepan, one on top of the other to form a 
mound. Either arrange a layer of fresh greengage plums between each layer of 
dolmehs, or pour lh cup lemon juice or 2 cups verjuice over all. Add 3 
tablespoons melted butter or other good shortening and as much water as needed 
to cover the dolmeks to two thirds of their depth. Season with salt and pepper 
and press a small, flat, metal piepan or aluminum dish on top of the dolmehs. 
Place a stone or other weight on the dish to hold the dolmehs under the liquid 
while they are cooking. Cover tightly and cook over very low heat until most of 

the liquid has cooked away and the leaves and stuffing are juicy and tender. Turn 
off heat, but leave the dolmehs covered for about 3o minutes. Then arrange them 
in a serving dish, removing the strings. This dolmeh is preferably served cold 
with drinks. 


(Serves g to 5) 

Prepare basic stuffing as given in recipe for dolmeh bademjan. Cut the tops off 
4 or 5 large, ripe tomatoes, saving the tops to use as covers over the stuffing. 
Scoop out insides of tomatoes, leaving a shell ~ inch thick. Chop removed 
tomato and add to the meat mixture. Fill the tomatoes with the stuffing, replace 
tops, and secure with toothpicks. Arrange the tomatoes in a small deep saucepan, 
with a sprinkling of finely minced coriander or parsley and salt and pepper over 
each. Add ~a cup tomato juice and 3 tablespoons melted butter or good oil, 
cover tightly, and cook over low heat about 30 minutes, or until juice is cooked 
down to a rich gravy and the tomatoes are soft and juicy. Serve hot. 

Large green peppers are frequently cooked in the same manner, but first hold 
them, one at a time, over a flame, turning constantly, until the peel bursts in 
several places. Remove peel, cut off tops, and discard the seeds, or mix some of 
the seeds into the stuffing. Continue as in the above recipe. 


(Kotab Dolmeh) 

Vi package active dry yeast 

i cup rose water, orange-flower water, or water 

4 cups (i pound) sifted flour 

Vi teaspoon cardamom 

14 cup melted butter or any good cooking oil 

i cup lentils 

i small onion, grated 

6 tablespoons oil 

Oil for frying 

Soften the yeast in the flower water. Add flour and cardamom and stir in the 
butter or oil to make a dough. Turn out on a lightly floured board and knead until 
smooth. Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place for about 2 hours. 

Meanwhile cook the lentils in water to cover until soft and most of the liquid 
has cooked away. Mash the lentils until smooth, combine with the onion, and 
sautes in the 6 tablespoons oil until golden brown. 

Punch down the dough and roll it out on a lightly floured board until it is I 
inch thick. Cut it into round loaves 3 inches in diameter. Spread half of each 
round generously with the lentil paste, fold in half, and press edges together, 
moistening the edges with water if necessary to make them secure. Fry the little 
loaves in deep hot shortening until both sides are puffed and browned and 
cooked through to the center. Serve hot. It is very delicious if brown sugar or 
molasses is added to the lentil paste. 

(Dolnwh Beh) 

Vi pound ground beef 

1 onion, minced 

2 tablespoons yellow split peas 
2 tablespoons cooked rice 

V\ small cauliflower, finely chopped 
Vi teaspoon turmeric 

1 teaspoon salt 

14 cup chopped walnut meats 

2 large, ripe, yellow quinces 

2 tablespoons cooking oil 

3 cups pomegranate juice or Vi cup lemon juice and i cup 

hot water 

(Serves 3 to 4) 

Saute the beef with the minced onion in a little oil until browned. Cook peas 
in water to cover for 5 minutes and drain. Combine meat, peas, rice, cauliflower, 
turmeric, salt, and walnuts, and saute all together for a few minutes in the oil 
remaining in the pan. 

Cut tops from the quinces and scoop out the centers, leaving a shell about one 
inch thick. Stuff the hollows with the meat mixture, replace tops, and fasten with 
toothpicks. Place the quinces upright in a large saucepan with the oil and add the 
liquid to cover fruit by two thirds. Cover with a towel and then with lid, and 
cook over low heat for 2 hours, or until quinces are well done and soft and a 
small amount of rich brown gravy remains in the saucepan. Serve hot with 

(Egg Dishes) 

"Oh, who could remain calm and patient , 
And his heart reposing, when I talk 
Of the attributes of hot Kukusl 

A popular ancient dish of Persia, called kuku, is easily made with beaten eggs 
mixed with vegetables, meat, or fish. There are many variations to the basic 
recipe, but one of the favorites, served at formal dinners, weddings, and 
receptions is .. . 


(Kukuye Sabzi) 

6 eggs 

i small onion, grated 
i tablespoon flour 

1 pound mixed fresh coriander or parsley, chives, green 

onion tops, romaine leaves, and dill, all finely minced 
Yi teaspoon each pepper, salt, and saffron 
Yi cup cooking oil 

(Serves 4 to 5) 

Beat eggs until light and fluffy. Add onion, flour, and minced vegetables and 
season with spices. In an 8-inch frying pan heat oil until very hot. Pour in egg 
mixture, cover, and bake in a preheated 350° oven for 30 minutes. Check 
underside of the kuku by lifting edge with the blade of a knife. If well browned 
and the top well puffed, cut it into quarters and turn each piece upside down. 
Cover and continue cooking for to minutes longer, or until brown on other side. 
Remove from oven and place kuku in a flat dish. Serve hot or cold with chelou 
or bread. If it is served with chelou, sprinkle it with z or 3 tablespoons of chelou 
for decoration. Six ounces chopped walnut meats or 2 ounces dried barberries 
may be added to the kuku. 

(Kukuye Bademjan) 

2 small eggplants 
Yi cup cooking oil 
6 eggs, well beaten 
i tablespoon flour 

Yi teaspoon each salt, pepper, cloves, or saffron 

(Serves 4 to 5) 

Peel and dice eggplants and saute them in half the cooking oil until soft and 
well browned. Mash thoroughly and add to beaten eggs. Stir in flour and spices. 
Heat remaining oil in an 8-inch frying pan, pour in egg mixture, and cook as for 
Vegetable Kuku above. Serve hot with bread and herbs or salad. 


(Kukuye Mahi) 

This is made in the same way as Vegetable Kuku, except that t small onion, 
chopped and fried, a pinch of cloves, and 2 cups fried flaked white fish, mashed, 
are substituted for the minced vegetables. 

(Kukuye Alu) 

i pound potatoes 
i small onion, grated 
6 eggs, well beaten 
i tablespoon flour 

Vi teaspoon each salt, pepper, and curry powder 

1 tablespoon seedless white raisins 

2 tablespoons chopped parsley, sweet basil, or coriander 
Vi cup cooking oil 

(Serves 4) 

Peel and cook potatoes until soft. Mash well and mix with grated onion. Stir in 
eggs, flour, seasonings, raisins, and chopped parsley or basil. Heat oil in an 8- 
inch frying pan, pour in egg mixture, and cook as for Vegetable Kuku. Serve hot 
with bread, if desired. 

NOTE : Cooked mashed pumpkin or beans may be substituted for the 



This kuku, similar to an American omelet, should be quickly made and served 
straight from the oven. It makes a delicious luncheon dish. 

6 eggs, well beaten 
i tablespoon flour 
Yi cup salad oil 

(Serves 4 to 5) 

Combine eggs and flour and beat well. Heat oil until very hot in a frying pan, 
pour in egg mixture, and cook as for Vegetable Kuku. Serve hot, sprinkled with 
confectioners' sugar or honey. This kuku is usually turned out onto a plate lined 
with thin toast. 

(Persian Salads) 

In Persian cuisine boranis take the place of the American tossed salad or 
vegetables marinated in French dressing. Frequently they are served with bread 
as a simple meal, but more often as the salad course to a complete meal. I have 
found them very popular among my American friends. They are based on yogurt 
and different vegetables, and are served with polous, kababs, meat balls, soups, 
breads, and liquors. 

(Borani Esfanaj) 

i pound fresh spinach 

1 small onion, minced 
Vi tablespoon oil 

2 cups yogurt 

3 cloves garlic, minced 

1 teaspoon powdered mint 

2 tablespoons crushed toasted walnut meats 
Salt and pepper to taste 

(Serves 3 to 4) 

Wash and chop spinach coarsely. Mix with the minced onion. Cook it with its 

own moisture in a frying pan over low heat, tossing frequently, until all water is 
evaporated. Add the oil and saute about 3 minutes. Turn spinach into a salad 
bowl and mix lightly with the yogurt and garlic. Sprinkle with mint, walnuts and 
salt and pepper to taste. 

(Borani Bademjan) 

In this borani eggplant is substituted for the spinach. There are two ways of 
making it. The first is to peel and slice a large eggplant. Sprinkle slices with salt 
and stack them in a pile to remove the bitter juice. Then wash slices, dry, and fry 
them in good oil until browned on both sides. Add 2 tablespoons hot water, 
cover partially, and cook for about io minutes. When eggplant is tender and the 
water has cooked away, mash it with yogurt, salt, pepper, and minced garlic. 
Serve with kababs, polous and other foods, or as a snack with beverages, or with 
bread as a main dish. 

The second method is as follows: Make a slit about 2 inches deep in the 
bottom of a large eggplant, put it in a baking dish and bake in a preheated 350° 
oven for about 45 minutes, or until tender. Then peel and mash eggplant, mix it 
with the yogurt, salt, pepper, and minced garlic. Coarsely chopped walnuts are 
frequently added. Small fried meat balls are added instead of walnuts when 
served with alcoholic beverages. 


Cooked fresh or canned beets may be used. Chop or grate the beets and 
combine with yogurt, salt, pepper and powdered mint. This is one of the salads 
served during the winter months. 


(Mastva Khiar) 

(Serves 4 to 5) 

This salad is the most popular of any in Persia. Grated cucumbers may simply 
be mixed with yogurt and seasoned with minced onion and salt and pepper, or a 
more elaborate concoction may be made: 

Peel and grate i large or 2 small cucumbers and mix well with i or 2 cups 
yogurt. Add 4 tablespoons white raisins, ~a cup chopped walnuts, i small onion, 
minced, salt, pepper, and powdered mint. Serve cold. 

Another recipe adds to the cucumber and yogurt mixture, fresh or dried 
marjoram, sweet basil and mint, small white raisins, a few chopped dates, 
minced onion, chopped walnuts, and r or 2 chopped hard-cooked eggs. All the 
variations of inastva khiar are served with polous, kababs, stews, and with some 
soups. They are most refreshing in hot weather. 

If you wish to he looked upon as sweet as halvaye-shekar, 
Sow the seed of love in hearts as does halvaye-shekar . 

(Shir Berenj) 

This is one of the most nutritious, delicious, and easiest to make of popular 
Persian desserts. Its heritage goes back to unknown times when Persians 
discovered that rice and milk cook to a delectable pudding. Ages ago it was 
served even to children as porridge for breakfast. Bos-hac says: 

Oh, how delicious is a bowl of Shir Berenj in early morning When your 
nurse rouses you from the bedl 

According to legend, shir berenj was originally the food of angels, first made 
in heaven. When the prophet Mohammed ascended to the seventh floor of 
Heaven to meet God, he was served this dish. 

During the religious nights of the fasting month, Ramadan, this dish is 
mandatory for the evening breakfast after sunset when the faithful Moslems 
break their fast, and also served at the feasts of Nazr. It is a favorite dessert of 
the rich and a nourishing main meal for the poor. It is not, however, customary to 
serve it at formal receptions. 

2 cups (i pound) rice 

1 quart milk 

2 cups water 
i cup sugar 

Vi cup rose water 
i teaspoon cardamom 

(Serves 4) 

Wash rice in several changes of hot water, then put it in a deep saucepan with 
the milk and water. Bring quickly to a boil, then reduce heat and cook over very 
low heat, stirring and folding occasionally to prevent rice from sticking to 
bottom, for 2 hours or until liquid has cooked away. Combine sugar, rose water, 
and cardamom and stir into the pudding. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Pour into 
a serving dish and serve either hot or cold. Honey or grape molasses replaces the 
sugar when it is served cold. 


(Sholleh Zard) 

Maybe the candle of Sholleh Zard has entered through my door 
That so brightened is my humble rooml 

This is one of the most delicious puddings in all of Persian cuisine. It is 
enjoyed by young and old either as a main meal or for dessert. It does not seem 
ever to have been served for breakfast or at formal receptions, but both this dish 
and shir berenj are traditional for vow offerings (Nazr). 

Yi pound rice 
6 cups cold water 
Yi teaspoon turmeric 
3 cups hot water 

2 tablespoons butter or shortening 

1 cup rose water 

2 cups sugar 

Yi teaspoon prepared saffron (see Index) 

Yi teaspoon each cardamom and cinnamon 
Y°> cup blanched shredded almonds 

(Serves 6) 

Wash rice in several changes of water. Bring the cold water to a boil. Add rice 
and turmeric, stir well, then simmer, covered, for about 30 minutes, or until most 
of the water has boiled away and rice is puffed and tender. Stir rice with a large 
perforated spoon while gradually adding the hot water. Add shortening and 
continue to cook the rice for about 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Then add rose 
water mixed with sugar and stir again until well blended. Stir in prepared saffron 

and cardamom, and cook, stirring, for about I o minutes longer. Stir in nuts. Pour 
into a serving dish and sprinkle with cinnamon, making crisscross lines over the 
surface. Serve hot or cold. It will keep in refrigerator for a week. 


These are favorite dishes which have delighted Persians for many ages. There 
are many variations: some are made especially for religious occasions, some for 
their nutritive values and some simply for their deliciousness. But ah are delicate 
and delectable desserts. 

(Halvaye Shekar) 

This may be called the grandfather of all halvas, since it is the oldest. For ages 
it has been served as a vow offering for the health of a child, and for mourners' 
dinners. The people in southern Persia still serve this halva for breakfast. 

i pound coarse wheat flour 

i pound (2 cups) hot cooking oil 

1 pound sugar 

Vi cup rose water or water 

1 teaspoon prepared saffron (see Index) 

1 teaspoon cardamom 

(Serves 4 to 5) 

Roast the flour in a large saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly, until it 
turns yellow. Add oil gradually, stirring vigorously to mix it with the flour, and 
continue to cook until flour and oil mixture becomes light brown. Melt sugar in 
rose water or water and stir it gradually into the fried flour mixture. Continue to 

cook over low heat until the excess oil starts to rise to the surface. Add saffron 
and cardamom and cook for 5 minutes longer, stirring constantly. Remove pan 
from heat but continue to fold and stir for about t o minutes. Return mixture to 
heat and stir for 5 minutes longer, or until excess oil covers the top. Remove oil 
with a spoon and set aside to use for another purpose. Put 'halva in a deep 
serving bowl and press it with the back of a large tablespoon against the sides to 
make a thick layer inside the bowl, formed into the shape of rose leaves. Serve 
hot or cold. 

(Halvaye Khorma) 

Among the oldest and most delicious halvas, this one made of dates is known 
to every Persian, yet it is customarily served only as a food offering to the poor 
at funeral ceremonies and other religious occasions in the holy days of the 
months of Ramadan and Muharram. It is never served at any happy occasion. 

It is made in the same way as the sugar halva except that i pound soft fresh 
dates, stoned and mashed, are used in place of the sugar. 

Toast the flour and stir in the oil. When golden brown, stir in Ih cup rose water 
or N cup hot water, if rose water is not available. Add the dates and mix well on 
the fire. Add saffron and cardamom and proceed as for sugar halva. 


These exotic halvas are popular at dinner parties and other gay social events. 
They are made either with the aromatic and tender flower petal of small five- 
petal white or yellow roses, jasmine, or orange or quince blossoms or with water 
extracted from these flowers. The one made with white roses, known as 
nastaran, is perhaps the simplest of all to make. 


(Halvaye Safid) 

The surface of a plate of Halvaye Safid 

Is so freshly beautiful that it wins the stake on beauty 

From the spring floiver garden . 

Yi cup vegetable oil 
i pound rice flour 
i pound confectioners’ sugar 

1 cup rose water or water 

2 cups water 

Yi pound fresh small white rose petals ( nastaran , see 

i teaspoon cardamom 

cup chopped pistachios or blanched almonds 

In a large saucepan melt oil, stir in rice flour, and fry until the mixture turns to 
a light cream color-not brown. Dissolve sugar in the flower water, add to the 
frying flour and mix thoroughly. Bring the 2 cups water to a boil, add the rose 
petals and simmer for 4 to 5 minutes. Drain, rinse in cool water, and mince the 
petals. Stir petals and cardamom into the flour mixture and cook, stirring, for 
about 15 minutes. Remove pan from heat and continue to fold and stir for io 
minutes. Return mixture to heat and stir for 5 minutes longer, or until excess oil 
covers the top. Remove oil with a spoon and set aside for another use. Put halva 
into a deep serving bowl and press it with the back of a tablespoon against the 
sides to make a thick layer inside the bowl in the shape of rose leaves. Sprinkle 
with the nuts. 

NOTE: If yellow halva is preferred, add ~ teaspoon saffron along with the 


Delicate and delicious are the halvas made of jasmine, orange or quince 

blossoms, or small yellow roses. 

What a fragrance! The bowl of Halvaye Goll 
With delicate sweet scent 

These halvas are made in exactly the same way as halvaye sa fid. Sometimes 
wheat starch is substituted for the rice flour. In this case mix I pound starch with 
about I cup cold water until mixture looks like milk. Pour into a saucepan and 
bring to a boil. When it starts to thicken, add the oil and stir vigorously. Fry until 
starch turns creamy in color. Then add sugar melted with the flower water, the 
minced petals, and the cardamom and continue as for other halvas. Sprinkle with 
crushed pistachios or chopped blanched almonds. Serve hot or cold. 


1 V\ pounds fresh dates 

4 ounces (Vi cup) shelled walnuts 
8 ounces wheat flour 
8 ounces buckwheat flour 
% cup vegetable oil 
Vi cup sugar 

3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar 

2 teaspoons each cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, and 


Stone dates. Toast the walnut meats and chop coarsely. Knead the dates with 
the hands until soft and blended, then knead in the nuts. Sprinkle a cooky sheet 
generously with cinnamon. Place the date dough in the center of the sheet and 
press it against the bottom and edges to make an even layer about i inch thick. 

Combine the wheat flour and buckwheat flour and toast it in a skillet, stirring 
constantly until it turns creamy in color. In a small saucepan heat the oil and stir 

it gradually into the flour mixture. Keep stirring and folding over low heat until 
mixture is smooth and golden brown and the excess oil rises to the surface. 
Combine sugars and half the spices and stir into the flour mixture. Continue 
cooking and stirring until everything is as soft as a cake frosting. Pour the 
frosting mixture quickly over the date dough. This second layer should be about 
~ inch thick and should cover the date dough. Let cool for 30 minutes, then 
sprinkle evenly first with confectioners' sugar and then with the remaining 
spices. With a sharp, oiled knife, cut the dough into 1-inch squares and leave on 
the sheet until completely cool. 

(Halvaye Shir) 

This halva is frequently distributed to the poor during the month of Ramadan. 

Vi cup vegetable oil 

4 ounces rice flour 

i quart milk 

4 tablespoons rose water 

Vi. cup sugar 

i teaspoon cardamom 

Vi cup confectioners’ sugar 

Vi teaspoon prepared saffron (optional) 

14 cup chopped pistachios or blanched almonds 

In a deep pot heat the oil. Stir in flour and fry slightly. Gradually stir in milk 
and continue to stir until mixture is smooth. Add rose water, sugar, and 
cardamom and cook, stirring, until thick. Add confectioners' sugar and saffron if 
desired and stir until sugar is dissolved. Pour into a large flat dish or onto a 
shallow cooky sheet moistened with water, and sprinkle with nuts. Cool, then cut 

into large oblong pieces. The halva may be poured into individual serving bowls 
and sprinkled with nuts. 


Pastries and Confections 

Being so delicate and graceful y Lady Qotaab wears 
Always a fine blouse of dough. 

Since the Maiden-Qotaab has her head opened 
A veil of fine dough is made for her . 

A nation as old as Persia has necessarily influenced the culture of its 
surrounding countries. This is true of the culinary art as well as other crafts, and 
is particularly noticeable in the confection category where, even today, many 
sweet delicacies are exported in large quantities to her neighboring nations. 
Among them are baglava, kotab, and pashmak which are indigenous to Yazd in 
eastern Iran; kolucheh (a patty of rice) from Hamadan in west central Iran; gazz 
from Isfahan, central Iran; komach from Shiraz, southwest central Iran, and 
basloq from Kerman in the southeast. 



So much overwhelmed am I today by Baglava 
That it should not heft me to care for 
The shadowy delight of Ardeh-Khorma 

During the centuries all the neighboring countries of Persia have copied 
baglava, but none of the adaptations is as delicate or delicious as that made by 
Persian women. Traditionally it is served for Nowrooze and other happy 

i pound almonds 

Jasmine, orange or pussy-willow blossoms, or vanilla bean 
i pound cube sugar 

1 pound cake flour 

iVi cups hot vegetable oil 
7 tablespoons milk 

2 eggs, well beaten 
About Vi cup water 
i cup sugar 

Vi cup hot water 

Blanch the almonds about twenty days before making the baglava, dry them 
well, and perfume them by putting them in a deep jar or bowl fitted with a tight 
cover and filling the jar with flower blossoms (a vanilla bean may be used in 
place of the flowers to perfume the almonds). Cover closely and add flowers 
daily for ten to twelve days, stirring almonds each time. When well perfumed, 
remove flowers and keep the almonds tightly covered, ready for use. 

When ready to make the baglava, pound the almonds with the cube sugar in a 
mortar. If the mortar is not large enough to hold both almonds and sugar, pound 
a little at a time until all almonds and sugar are pounded and mixed together. 
Sieve the mixture through a large-holed sieve. 

Sift the flour into a bowl. Combine 4 tablespoons of the shortening with the 
milk and eggs and stir into the flour along with enough water to make a dough. 
Knead dough until smooth and glossy. Cover with a towel and let it rest in a 
warm place for 30 minutes. Then turn onto a floured board and knead again 

Take part of the dough, about the size of a very small orange, and roll it out on 
a lightly floured board into a round sheet about zo inches in diameter, and as thin 
as paper. Cut the circle into four equal parts, making four triangles. Place the 
triangles, one at a time, on a clean wooden board and sprinkle with the almonds 

and sugar mixture. Then roll into a cylinder about I I inches thick and 6 to 7 
inches long, beginning at the acute angle and rolling to the curved edge. Place 
the cylinder in a baking dish about I ' inches deep and 6 inches wide, letting the 
cylinder overhang on both sides of the dish. Continue rolling the triangles of 
dough and arranging them in pans, packing them as closely as sardines in a can. 
When pans are full, cut off surplus ends overhanging the pans with an oiled 
knife, and cut the cylinders into II/z-inch squares. Sprinkle lightly with 
remaining hot oil, letting it flow through the cuts and over the surface by moving 
and swirling the dish from side to side. Bake in a preheated 375° oven for about 
30 minutes, or until top of the baglava becomes a reddish brown. 

While the baglava is baking, combine sugar and water and cook over high 
heat until syrup spins a long thread. When baglava is done, remove from oven 
and quickly pour the thick syrup over it. Swirl the pan so that all surfaces will be 
coated with the syrup. Cool. Then carefully remove the squares and store in a 
tightly closed container. 

Chopped pistachios may be used in place of the almonds. 

(Lauze Badam) 

This is another ancient but highly favored sweetmeat for special occasions. 
The making of these almond squares is similar to the making of fondant candy, 
which is popular in America at Christmas time. 

Vi pound cube sugar 

1 pound blanched almonds perfumed with flowers or 

vanilla (see baglava) 

2 cups sugar 

% cup hot water 

Pound the cube sugar and almonds in a mortar with a pestle until coarsely 
crushed in the same way as for baglava. Sieve and reserve 'A cup of the finest 
part. Combine the sugar and water and cook over high heat until the syrup spins 
a long thread. Remove from heat and stir until cool enough to handle. Add the 

almond-sugar mixture and knead to make a white dough. Quickly form dough 
into a ball. Then sprinkle a thin layer of the reserved almonds and sugar on a flat 
china or glass dish. Place ball of dough in center and, with palms of the hands or 
a rolling pin, flatten dough until it is i inch thick, gradually sprinkling over it the 
remaining almonds and sugar to prevent the dough from sticking to the rolling 
pin or hands. Let it set for 3 hours, then cut it into i /-inch squares with an oiled 

If the almonds are not scented with flowers or vanilla, sprinkle the dough with 
i teaspoon cardamom or vanilla when you are flattening it on the plate. About / 
teaspoon saffron may also be added to the dough to make it yellow; then it is 
called "yellow lauze." Place the squares in a tightly closed box or tin and store in 
a cool, dry place. 


Many elaborate variations of almond squares are called shirazi lauze because 
the ladies of that city are famous for making the best of them. A few typical 
varieties follow: 


This is actually the same as almond lauze, except that the shape is changed. 
When the dough is ready to be flattened, divide it into small pieces as large as a 
mulberry and shape each piece into the facsimile of a mulberry. Roll in 
granulated sugar and insert a lengthwise sliver of a pistachio in the bottom of 
each to represent the stem. 

(Lauze Narjeel) 

This is a favorite sweetmeat at Nowrooze and other special occasions. It must 
be very white and fine-grained and is easy to make. 

Peel and grate I pound coconut and spread on a clean towel. Combine I pound 
sugar with I cup hot water, bring to a boil and boil until it spins a long thread. 
Remove from heat. Add all but about 3 tablespoons of the shredded coconut and 

blend and knead with the fingers until the dough is smooth and white. Continue 
as for almond squares, sprinkling the dough with the remaining coconut instead 
of almonds. If dough is sticky, sprinkle with confectioners' sugar. 

(Lauze Asali) 

Pound I pound blanched almonds, then knead with enough honey to make a 
thick paste. Flatten the paste on a dish to a thickness of about i inch. Boil I 
pound sugar (2 cups) with 2A cup water until it spins a long thread. Beat until 
white and creamy and pour over the paste. Sprinkle generously with z ounces 
crushed pistachios mixed with I teaspoon cardamom. Press slightly with a rolling 
pin or the palms of the hands and, when still warm, cut into squares. 

(Sahoone Asali) 

This elaborate confection ranks in popularity with baglava and lauze. It is 
customary to serve it at New Year's and at wedding and birthday celebrations. 
Frequently a large dish of sahoone asali is sent by an employee to his employer 
or to a dear friend as a token of great esteem. 

Vi pound shelled almonds 

i cup sugar 

Vi cup hot water 

Vi cup honey 

Vi cup good cooking oil 

Vi teaspoon prepared saffron (see Index) or cardamom 
and cloves 

Crushed pistachios and finely chopped coconut, mixed 

Blanch and sliver the almonds lengthwise. Combine sugar and water in a 
saucepan, bring to a boil, and boil over high heat until syrup spins a long thread. 

Add honey and almonds and let the syrup cook for I o minutes, stirring 
constantly. When it begins to turn amber in color, stir in the oil and continue to 
stir until the almond shreds look brown and a little of the syrup becomes very 
brittle when dropped into cold water. Stir in the saffron or cardamom and cloves. 

Now reduce heat to very low and work quickly. Oil two cooky trays. Drop the 
candy on the trays from a long-handled spoon into rounds about I inch in 
diameter, keeping each round about an inch away from the other. Someone else 
must stand beside the trays with a knife, helping to shape the syrup into rounds 
as soon as it is dropped from the spoon and is still hot and soft. It becomes hard 
and brittle almost at once. Quickly sprinkle each round with mixed nuts. Keep 
the syrup over low heat until it is all dropped onto the trays. Let stand for 30 
minutes, then remove with a spatula. If they stick to the tray, try slightly 
warming the tray to soften the candies. Place candies one by one on absorbent 
paper to remove the oil, then arrange in a tin or box with paper under each patty 
to prevent it from sticking. Cover tightly and store in a cool, dry place. 

(Kolucheh Berenj) 

This small, delicate cooky is made only in Persian homes. The people of 
Hamadan (the capital of ancient Media, in western Persia) and Kermanshah, 
another old city in the west, are specialists in making it. The recipe I am giving 
here is a Shirazian variation which was made by my grandmothers and mother 
before me. It is usually served with another sweetmeat known as Masqati and is 
popular at sad as well as at happy occasions. Bos-hac admires these two 

To two moons I did liken Kolucheh and Masqati Yet be sure, their beauty is 

beyond such comparison 

i cup good shortening 
i cup confectioners’ sugar 

1 e 88 

i egg yolk 

3 cups (12 ounces) fine rice flour 
i teaspoon cardamom 
Finely chopped pistachios 

Melt shortening and pour into a mixing bowl. Beat vigorously with a large 
spoon until the shortening becomes creamy and fluffy. Gradually stir in sugar 
and beat until mixture is fluffy. Beat egg and yolk thoroughly and stir into the 
sugar mixture. Gradually stir in flour and cardamom and knead with fingers to 
make a smooth, soft dough. Let dough stand at room temperature for about I 
hour, then shape into balls the size of large hazelnuts. Place balls on a cooky 
sheet about i inch apart and, with the edge of a thimble, make two or three half 
circles on each for decoration. Sprinkle with chopped nuts and bake in a 
preheated 375° oven for Iz to 15 minutes, or until the bottom of each cooky is 
slightly brown. Remove from oven, let cool for 5 minutes, then store in a tightly 
covered box in a dry place. 


6 pounds sugar 
i pound cornstarch 
About 6 cups water 

1 cup warm cooking oil 

Yi pound finely crushed almonds 

2 teaspoons cardamom 
Finely ground pistachio nuts 

Combine sugar and cornstarch with enough water to make a mixture as thin as 
milk. Boil over medium heat, stirring constantly, until sugar is dissolved. Add 
oil. Continue to boil, stirring until the bubbles cover the surface like a thick 
blanket. Remove from fire and add almonds and cardamom. Mix and pour into a 
deep baking dish to a thickness of I ~ inches. Sprinkle generously with finely 
ground, sieved pistachios. Let stand for about I hour, or until firm enough to cut. 
Cut into i-inch squares and let set for 2 hours longer. Remove squares with a 
spatula and store in a tightly covered dish in a cool, dry place. 


Of sweet Zolo-biya chain I hung a necklace around her neck. From its 
delicious loops I made a ring on her ears. 

Here is another confection which is as old as the story of One Thousand and 
One Nights, for the name is mentioned in many stories in the book. It is served 
only at informal home parties and nightly gatherings during the month of 
Ramadan. It is also a favorite present to the poor during this month. 

For making this confection, the Persians have always used a mineral salt 
which is gathered and dried on the shores of the Persian Gulf. It is white and 
very fluffy and is called darya, meaning sea foam. Bicarbonate of soda is an 
appropriate substitute for it. 

4 ounces (Vi cup) yogurt 
i pound wheat starch or cornstarch 
i tablespoon good oil 
i teaspoon soda 

1 pound, 12 ounces (3^ cups) sugar 

2 cups hot water 

2 tablespoons honey 
Shortening or oil for deep frying 

Gradually combine yogurt and starch, add oil and soda and stir well, making a 
smooth dough, thin enough to flow through a large funnel. Cover and let rise for 
i hour. Meanwhile combine sugar and water and boil over high heat until the 
syrup spins a thread. Stir in honey and boil for 3 minutes longer. Remove from 
heat and keep warm. 

Heat shortening or oil to a depth of i inch in a large frying pan. Pour the batter 
into the hot oil through a large funnel, blocking half the hole with the middle 
finger and moving the funnel in a circle to form several circles twisted together 
and as large as three inches in diameter. Cook the circles until golden, dip in the 
warm syrup, and place in a sieve or on a perforated tray placed over a cooky 
sheet to drain. Cool and store in a tightly covered container. 



This delicate candy is served mostly with cocktails. 

3 e gg whites 

i cup confectioners’ sugar 
i tablespoon lemon juice 
Yi teaspoon citric acid 
Vz teaspoon cardamom 

Beat egg whites until stiff but not dry. Gradually beat in the sugar and 
continue beating, adding drop by drop the lemon juice mixed with the citric acid, 
until the meringue is very thick and glossy. Beat in the cardamom. 

Cut strips of white paper 3 inches wide and about i 8 inches long. Place each 
strip on a strip of cardboard cut the same size as the paper. Hold paper and 
cardboard together firmly with the left hand to prevent paper from slipping, and 
with the right hand dip up a little of the meringue on the back of a teaspoon and 
place it on the right edge of the paper, pressing spoon downward in such a way 
that the meringue forms a tiny half moon on the edge of the paper. Make another 
one about a inch away from the first and continue until right edge of paper is 
full. Repeat all along the left edge of paper. Hang the strips on a clothesline to 
dry at room temperature. Needless to say, the room in which these little 
meringues are to dry must be free from excess humidity, which Americans may 
find difficult at certain times of the year! Perhaps the better solution is to put the 
meringues in an oven preheated to 2500, then turn off the heat and let the 

meringues dry in the warm oven or hang them in a sunny room. When 
completely dry they will come off the paper at a touch. Store in a tightly closed 
box, and they will last for months. 

(Nogle Alu Balu) 

This is another delicate candy served with cocktails and at private parties. The 
ingredients and preparation of the meringue are exactly the same as for making 
pofak. When the meringue is thick, wash and dry 2 pounds fresh sour cherries 
with stems. Then take each one by the stem and dip it into the meringue to coat 
the cherry completely. Place coated cherries on a cooky sheet lined with plain 
white paper and put in a warm place to dry. (A warming oven is an excellent 
place, or a radiator in a warm, dry room.) 

(Nane Penjereh) 

8 eggs 

1 34 cups milk 
1 34 cups flour 
i teaspoon cardamom 
Shortening or oil for deep frying 

Beat eggs until thick and light in color. Stir in milk and gradually stir in flour 
and finally the cardamom. Beat well. The batter should be the consistency of 
heavy cream and free from lumps. Heat shortening in a small deep saucepan to 
375°. Heat a brass or aluminum rosette iron in the hot oil, shake off excess oil, 
and dip iron quickly into the batter, being careful not to let the batter cover more 

than 3's the depth of the iron. Lower iron into the hot shortening and, as soon as 
the batter sets and begins to expand, shake the iron to allow the rosette to slip 
off. Fry until a light golden brown. Place upside down on absorbent paper to 
drain. Heat mold again in the oil for a second and continue, stirring batter 
frequently, until all batter is used. Sprinkle generously with confectioners' sugar 
and store in a tightly covered container in a cool, dry place. If the batter sticks to 
the iron, the oil is too hot. 

(Nane Goosh Feel) 

3 egg yolks 
1 e gg white 

14 cup rose water or water 
Yi cup milk 
Yi teaspoon cardamom 

About 14 ounces (about 3 Yi cups) sifted flour 
Shortening or good oil for deep frying 

Beat egg yolks and white and combine with the rose water, milk, and 
cardamom. Gradually stir in enough flour to make a soft dough, turn dough out 
on a lightly floured board, and knead until firm, smooth, and glossy. Cover and 
let stand for 2 hours. Divide into balls the size of small walnuts. Then with a 
rolling pin roll each ball out as thin as paper 3 inches in diameter and cut into 
rounds. With the fingers gather one side of the round and press dough together 
into a tiny handle / inch in length and thickness. The remainder of the circle 
should flare out like an elephant's ear. The round may be cut in half, if desired, 
and the diameter edge of each half circle gathered together so that the cooky 
resembles a Chinese fan. Place the cookies on a cooky sheet and keep them 
covered with a towel to prevent them from drying. When all the dough is 
fashioned into "fans" or "ears," heat oil to a depth of about I inch in a shallow 

frying pan to 375°. Fry the cookies a few at a time in the hot oil for about 30 
seconds on one side, then turn and fry the other. They should not be allowed to 
brown much. Remove and drain on absorbent paper. While still warm, sprinkle 
generously with confectioners' sugar. Store in a tightly closed container in a dry 

(Gol Kaukab) 

3 e gg s 
Yi cup milk 

V\ cup rose water or water 
Yi teaspoon cardamom 

About 14 ounces (about 3 Yi cups) sifted flour 
Shortening or oil for deep frying 

1 e gg y° lk 

Beat whole eggs until well blended and combine with milk, rose water, and 
cardamom. Gradually stir in flour to make a soft dough. Turn dough out onto a 
lightly floured board and knead until firm, smooth, and glossy. Cover and let 
stand for 2 hours. Divide dough into balls the size of a small apple. Roll out each 
ball on the floured board until it is as thin as paper and cut into 3-inch rounds. 
When all the dough has been cut into rounds, place one round on a cooky sheet. 
Beat the egg yolk slightly with a fork and drip one drop in the center of the 
round. Place another round over it and drip a drop of yolk over this second one. 
Repeat until there are 6 rounds, piled one on top of the other. Press the center of 
pile firmly with the finger against the bottom of the cooky sheet. Then with a 
small, sharp knife cut 6 slits, equally spaced, through the cooky at right angles to 
the center, being careful not to cut through the center. 

Heat shortening in a saucepan to 375°. Insert a small stick or pencil into the 
center of one of the cookies and carefully lift up and separate the sections of 

dough, which radiate from the center like the petals of a flower. Dip the "flower" 
by the stick into the hot oil. Fry, but do not brown, turning the stick constantly so 
that the hot shortening can flow between the petals. Remove stick and with a 
large, perforated spoon or sugar tongs remove the cooky carefully to drain on 
absorbent paper. While warm, sprinkle generously with confectioners' sugar. 
This recipe makes 18 very beautiful and delicious "dahlias." Store in a tightly 
closed container in a dry place. 


This cooky is still as dear to the Persians as it was to Bos-hac 70c years ago. 
The people of Yezd, an ancient city in Eastern Persia, are specialists in making 
them. They pack them in small tin boxes and send them to markets all through 
Persia and to neighboring countries. 

The ingredients for these cookies are exactly the same for Elephant Ears (see 

After the dough is made, cover and keep it in a warm place for about 2 hours. 
Then turn dough out on a lightly floured board and knead well. Divide dough 
into portions the size of apples. Roll out each portion on the floured board until it 
is as thin as a cabbage leaf, and cut it into rounds 3t inches in diameter. Mix 
together equal parts of finely pounded almonds, pistachios or hazelnuts, and 
sugar. Cinnamon, cardamom, or cloves may also be added. Place I tablespoon of 
the mixture over half of each round. Brush edge with lightly beaten egg yolk and 
fold in half. Press edges together firmly, then gather the diameter edge of each 
cooky together with the fingers to shape each cooky like a half moon. Roll the 
gathered edge about inch think and score with a sharp knife. Fry cookies in deep 
shortening, heated to 375°, until lightly browned. Drain on absorbent paper and 
sprinkle generously with confectioners' sugar. Store in a tightly closed container 
in a dry place. 


Preserves and Beverages 

Be always loyal to the friend who, 
Though sour in form, is sweet in meaning 



For countless generations the Persians have preserved all manner of 
vegetables, fruits, and flower petals, first in honey or molasses, and later in sugar 
to serve as dessert or at the breakfast table. Cardamom seeds are the favorite 
flavoring for all preserves. They should be crushed fairly finely in a small mortar 
with a pestle and added to the preserve 2 to 3 minutes before it is to be removed 
from the heat. 

(Moraba Alu Balu) 

i pound sugar 
i cup water 

i pound pitted sour black cherries 
i teaspoon crushed cardamom 

Combine sugar and water in a saucepan, bring to a boil, and boil rapidly until 
syrup spins a thread. Add cherries to the boiling syrup and boil rapidly until the 
cherries look transparent. Add the cardamom and boil for 2 to 3 minutes longer. 

Remove cherries from syrup with a perforated spoon and put them in a wide¬ 
mouthed jar. Again boil syrup until it spins a long thread. Remove from heat, let 
cool for 5 minutes, then pour over the cherries. Leave uncovered for 2 days in a 
cool place. Then seal with jar lid and store at room temperature. 

One pound apricots or peaches may be substituted for the cherries, but in these 
preserves a cup shelled and crushed pistachios are usually added along with the 

(Morabaye Sib) 

Apple, quince, and citron are the oldest known preserves in Persian cuisine. 
Ginger, cloves, mace, and nutmeg were used as flavorings as well as the 
ubiquitous cardamom. Today these spices are still used in certain parts of the 
country. In Jahrum, an ancient city in southern Persia, the people make a 
delicious date preserve flavored with ginger. It would be impossible to give all 
the recipes here, but certainly you may substitute other spices for the cardamom 
if you wish. 

1 pound large sour apples 

2 cups cold water 

2 tablespoons white vinegar 

i pound (2 cups) sugar 

1 Yi cups hot water 

1 tablespoon lemon juice 

¥\ cup shelled almonds and pistachios, mixed 

Yi teaspoon cardamom 

The apples are kept whole. Peel them, but do not remove cores or stems. Drop 

them immediately into the cold water mixed with the vinegar to prevent them 
from discoloring. Bring the sugar, hot water, and lemon juice to a boil. Add 
apples and boil rapidly until the syrup spins a thread and the apples are soft and 
transparent. Remove apples and put them in a wide-mouthed jar. Again cook 
syrup until it spins a long thread. Add nuts and spice and boil for io minutes 
longer. Pour syrup over the fruit and let stand, uncovered, for 2 days. Then seal 
and store in a cool, dry place. 


(Morabaye Narange) 

This is a beautiful preserve with a most delicious flavor. 

3 large, thick-skinned oranges 
2 pounds granulated sugar 
2 cups water 

Vi tablespoon crushed cardamom seeds 

Shave a thin layer of the skin off the oranges. A thin yellow layer must 
remain. Put the oranges into a bowl filled with cold water for 3 days, changing 
the water 4 times each day. After 3 days, put the oranges in a saucepan with 
fresh water and bring to a boil. Drain, cover with fresh water, and bring to a boil 
again. Repeat this process twice more and drain. Combine sugar and water, bring 
to a boil, and boil until syrup spins a very long, thick thread. Meanwhile make a 
few shallow slits in the sides of each orange with a sharp-pointed knife. As soon 
as the syrup is thick, add the oranges and cook until the oranges are transparent, 
turning them frequently and gently. Pour oranges and syrup into a china bowl 
and let stand for 24 hours. Drain oranges and return the syrup to the heat. Add 
the cardamom, bring syrup to a boil, and boil rapidly for io minutes. Transfer 
oranges to a wide-mouthed jar. Pour hot syrup over the oranges, seal tightly, and 
store in a cool, dry place. The oranges look like whole fresh ones. 


(Morabaye Gerdu) 

This is a unique preserve made best by the elder citizens of Shiraz. There they 
make a social production of the making of the preserve. At least three people 
help to peel the green walnuts, each person in turn cutting only one round of peel 
from each walnut as fast as possible and passing it along to the next person, who 
uses a clean knife to remove the second round of peel. The knives are washed in 
between each round. 

2 tablespoons white vinegar 

2 pounds green walnuts (the first and second skins must 
be still tender and green) 

4 heaping tablespoons slaked lime 
i pound cube sugar 
i cup hot water 
4 tablespoons white vinegar 
Vi teaspoon crushed cardamom seeds 

Fill a large bowl with cold water and add the 2 tablespoons of vinegar. With a 
sharp knife remove a thin layer of peel from a walnut and continue removing 
thin layers until all the walnuts are peeled, washing the knife after each layer is 
removed. Each peeled walnut is dropped immediately into the bowl of acidulated 
water to preserve the color. Then in a large crock mix the slaked lime with 4 
quarts of water. Stir thoroughly and let stand until a layer of powder forms in the 
bottom of the crock. Drain the walnuts and pour the limewater over them, being 
careful not to include the sediment in the bottom of the crock, and let the walnuts 
soak in the limewater for 6 hours. Drain and rinse the walnuts in fresh cold water 
many times until no trace of lime remains. Cover with fresh water and let stand 
for 6 hours longer. 

Combine sugar and hot water and bring to a boil. Add the 4 tablespoons 
vinegar and boil rapidly until the syrup spins a thread. Drain and add walnuts 
and boil until the walnut meat is soft and transparent. They should be white, not 
dark in color. Add the cardamom and boil for 2 to 3 minutes longer. Cool, then 
pack into clean jars, seal, and store. They look beautiful and taste delicious. 


(Morabaye Havij) 

The native carrot of Persia is a tender, juicy, sweet variety, pale yellow in 
color. It is made into a nutritious preserve during the winter months when fruits 
are not available. 

2 pounds young carrots 

2 tablespoons slaked lime 
i pound sugar 

i cup hot water 
Yi teaspoon cardamom seeds 

3 ounces shelled pistachios or almonds 

Scrape carrots and cut them into thin rounds. Remove the hard center from 
each piece to form rings. Cover with limewater made by mixing the slaked lime 
with q quarts cold water (see preceding recipe) and let stand for 12 hours. Rinse 
thoroughly, cover with fresh water, and let stand for 12 hours. Rinse thoroughly 
and drain. 

Combine sugar and water, bring to a boil, and boil rapidly until syrup spins a 
long thread. Add carrots and boil until carrots are tender and transparent. Add 
cardamom and nuts and boil for 3 minutes longer. Cool and pack in tightly 
closed jars and store in a cool place. 


(Gol Moraba) 

The Persian women have always had an extraordinary fondness for and 

appreciation of flowers. From ancient times they have devised many dishes of 
sweets and preserves from perfumed flower petals. One made of orange 
blossoms by the natives of Hamadan and Kermanshah is sold in the markets, but 
it is never quite as good as the homemade variety, which is a fine, white, tender, 
and fragrant preserve. 

Vi pound dried white orange blossoms, or i pound fresh 

i pound sugar 

i cup hot water 

Vi teaspoon crushed cardamom 

Vi cup crushed pistachios or almonds 

Pour 2 cups fresh cold water over the petals and let them stand for I hour. 
Drain, cover with fresh water, and bring slowly to a boil. Boil for I to 2 minutes, 
drain, and rinse the petals in ice water. Drain again thoroughly. 

Make a thick, heavy syrup of the sugar and hot water, boiling until it spins a 
long thread. Add the cardamom and nuts and boil for 5 minutes. Add the petals 
and boil for i minute longer. Remove from heat and pour into preserving jar. 
Cool, cover tightly, and store in a cool, dry place. This preserve does not keep as 
long as other preserves. 

Preserves of quince blossoms, small yellow 5-petal roses, and jasmine are 
made in the same way. Only the jasmine petals do not need boiling. Simply 
cover them in cold fresh water for 2 hours, rinse and drain thoroughly, and add 
to the syrup. The syrup for these preserves must be very thick. 


i pound watermelon rind 
4 heaping tablespoons slaked lime 
i pound sugar 
i cup hot water 

i teaspoon crushed cardamom seeds 

Remove the thin green part from the rind and cut rind into small squares about 
t inch thick. Add the lime to 4 quarts cold water, stir, and let stand until a thin 
layer of white sediment falls to the bottom of the crock (always use a china or 
crockery bowl for limewater). Pour the limewater over the rind, being careful not 
to include the sediment from the bottom, and put in the refrigerator to chill for 
48 hours. Drain and rinse thoroughly. Cover watermelon rind with fresh cold 
water and let stand for 6 hours. Change water twice more, letting rind soak for 6 
hours each time, or a total of 18 hours. Rinse thoroughly, put pieces in a 
saucepan, cover with fresh water, and bring to a boil. Drain, cover with cold 
water, bring to a boil again, and boil until the rind is transparent. Drain, rinse, 
and drain again. 

Boil the sugar with the water until it spins a thread. Add the rind and continue 
to boil until the rind is crisp and very transparent and the syrup is thick. Add 
cardamom and cook for 3 minutes longer. Pour into a china bowl and let stand 
for 12 hours. Return to saucepan and again boil until syrup is very thick, or for 
about io minutes. Pour into preserving jars, seal, and store in a cool place. 

Pumpkin may be substituted for the watermelon. The hard, yellow peel must 
be removed before the pumpkin is diced. 



Pickles are essential to Persian food and always accompany the various 

polous, kababs, and fried meats. Even the poorest home in the country has a 
supply of pickles, for it is a general belief that pickles not only are appetizing 
and appetite-stimulating but are necessary to the functioning of the body 
chemistry. The acidity of the pickles helps to consume the oils and starches in 
the body and aids digestion by relieving the work of the stomach and liver. 
Therefore, in the course of ages, pickles of fruits, vegetables, and the peels of 
fruits have been devised, all based on strong cider or grape vinegar and a variety 
of spices, such as red and green pepper, cinnamon, cardamom, mace, nutmeg, 
turmeric, ginger, and coriander, as well as the many available seeds-fennel, 
anise, white poppy and mustard-and also garlic and tamarind. 


(Torshi Holu) 

1 tablespoon finely chopped dried ginger 
4 cups grape vinegar 

2 tablespoons coriander seed 
i whole bulb garlic 

i pound fresh or dried peaches 
]4 pound dried tamarind (if available) 

Vi teaspoon red pepper 
Yi cup cubed sugar 
i teaspoon salt 
i teaspoon black pepper 

Soak the ginger in I cup of the vinegar for 2 days. Soak the peaches also, if 

they are dried. Toast coriander seeds slightly. Peel and separate garlic cloves. 
Combine peaches with the gin ger, coriander, garlic, and 3 cups of vinegar. Soak 
the tamarind in the remaining cup of vinegar and rub between the fingers until 
all the tamarind pulp is smoothly dissolved. Strain the liquid into the other 
ingredients. Add the red pepper mixed with the sugar, salt, and black pepper. 
Bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes. If the pickle is too thick, add a little more 

One half pound of any or all of the following ingredients may be added to this 
pickle: dried chopped prunes, plums, apricots, cherries, apples, figs, or 
persimmons; fresh or dried limes; small unpeeled oranges or tangerines, 

When the pickles are done, all the ingredients must be covered with vinegar. If 
sweet fruits are used, the sugar should be eliminated and the ginger should be 
doubled. Put pickles into a perserving jar and fill jar to overflowing with vinegar. 
Seal, but check every few days. If the vinegar is absorbed, open the jar and add 
more. These pickles are delicious with all sorts of rice and meat dishes. 

(Torshi Limu) 

This is one of the most popular pickles in Iran, and the women of Shiraz are 
renowned for making it superbly. 

With a rough, clean stone or a fine grater scrub the skin of 20 large fresh limes 
until all the green is removed. They must look like small white balls. Roll the 
limes in salt until they are thickly coated and place them in the sun or a very 
warm room to dry. When well dried, brush off the salt and pack them in a 
preserving jar. Cover with white or distilled vinegar. Close tightly and keep at 
room temperature. 

Dried limes may be kept in a covered jar and soaked in vinegar whenever they 
are needed. Lemon juice may be substituted for the vinegar. This torshi is best 
with kababs, polous, or qa'meh. 


Split zo large limes into 4 sections, leaving them intact at the bottom. Stuff 

each lime with salt and place one on top of another in a basket in the sun to dry 
for at least zo days. Then store in a cool, dry place. When needed, remove the 
salt from as many limes as desired and pack them in a jar. Cover with red-wine 
vinegar, cover, and keep at room temperature for about i week before serving 
with any kind of meats and polous. 

(Torshi Khramlu) 

2 pounds ripe persimmons, chopped 

3 dried limes, chopped (limu oinant) 
i tablespoon dry mustard 

Yi tablespoon red pepper 

1 tablespoon black pepper 

2 cups grape vinegar 

i tablespoon crushed cardamom seeds 
i tablespoon grated nutmeg 

1 cup toasted coriander seeds 

2 tablespoons sweet-fennel seeds 

1 tablespoon anise seeds 

2 teaspoons salt 

i tablespoon cinnamon 
i tablespoon crushed cloves 

1 tablespoon toasted poppy seeds 

2 whole bulbs garlic, peeled and chopped 
Yi pound fresh dates 

i cup vinegar 

In a large crock combine all ingredients except the dates and the I cup vinegar. 
Stone the dates, chop them, and cook in the I cup vinegar until soft. Then mash 
well and add to the re maining ingredients. Stir to combine thoroughly, pack in a 
wide-mouthed jar, cover tightly, and store in a cool place. Serve with all kinds of 
dishes and kababs. 

(Torshi Sib) 

Cut off Winch slice from the top of the apples and reserve. Remove cores and 
stuff each apple with a mixture of salt, black pepper, and powdered mint leaves. 
Replace tops on apples and secure with toothpicks. Pack apples in a large crock 
and cover with vinegar. Cover tightly and keep at room temperature. Serve with 
meat and soups. 

(Torshi Bademjan) 

The most popular pickle in Iran, the one served with every kind of food and at 
every meal, is made of eggplant. An inordinate craving for this pickle by Persian 
women is usually associated with much laughter and merriment, for it is 
accepted proof of pregnancy! I understand that in America the popular dill pickle 
has much the same amusing connotation. 

Several different varieties are made in different parts of the country. Here are 
two variations: 

One: Cut the stem end from 2 large eggplants and make slits about 2 inches 
deep in the bottoms. Bake the eggplants in a hot oven (400°) until they are well 
cooked and soft. Then chop and mix the eggplants with 2 tablespoons dry 
mustard and i tablespoon mustard seeds, 2 tablespoons black pepper, lh 
teaspoon red pepper, ~4 cup toasted coriander seeds, 3 small hot peppers, r 
tablespoon cardamom, i tablespoon chopped ginger root, 2 tablespoons fennel 
seeds, i tablespoon anise seeds, 2 large bulbs of garlic, peeled and chopped, and i 
tablespoon turmeric. Then soak ~ pound tamarind pods in 2 cups strong vinegar. 
When well soaked, rub with the fingers until the pulp from the pods is mixed 
smoothly with the vinegar. Strain the mixture into the other ingredients. Add 

enough vinegar to cover, season with salt to taste, and pack in preserving jars. 
Cover tightly and store at room temperature. 

Two: Cut the stem end from 2 large eggplants and make slits in the bottoms 
about 3 inches deep. Cover with water in a large pot, bring water to a boil, and 
simmer until eggplants are very tender. Drain, cut in half, and put in a large sieve 
to drain for about 2 hours. Then spread the eggplants on a towel and put in a 
warm place or in the sun to dry completely. The dried eggplant will keep for 
almost 2 years, ready to be mixed with spices and vinegar for pickles. To make 
pickle, stuff the inside of half a dried eggplant with the same spices as used in 
the recipe above. Cover with another half eggplant and place in a crock or jar 
with vinegar to cover. Serve in a few days. 


There are two kinds of refreshing drinks served in Persia which are as old as 
the country itself. One is an uncooked drink made of sugar, water, and the juice 
of fruit or flowers, served with ice, and called The other, made of a cooked 
mixture of sugar and fruit juices, is known as sharbat, or sherbet in English. 

Like preserves, all sherbets are made into a fine, clear fruit syrup which may 
be kept in tightly corked glass bottles for months. 

(Alu Balu Sharbat) 

Boil i pound fresh sour cherries with z cup water in an enamel saucepan until 
very soft. Mash and filter the liquid through a fine cloth, pressing the cherries 
gently until all the juice is extracted. Boil z pounds sugar (4 cups), dissolved in i 
cup water, for about 3 minutes, or until syrup is clear and sugar is dissolved. Stir 
in juice. If mixture is too sweet, add lemon juice or citric acid mixed with a little 
water. Boil until the syrup is almost as thick as maple syrup, but not thick 
enough to spin a thread. Remove from fire, cool, and pour into sterilized bottles. 
Cork and store in a cool, dry place. 

To serve any sherbet, pour 2 or 3 tablespoons of the fruit syrup into a large 
glass, add fresh cold water and i or 2 ice cubes, if the weather is hot. American 
palates might prefer adding soda water. 

The juice of pomegranates, barberries, rhubarb, sour oranges, verjuice, 
lemons, or any other sour fruit may be used in place of the cherry juice. 

(Beh Limu Sharbat) 

This sherbet has medicinal uses in Persia aside from the fact that it is served 
as a refreshing drink in hot weather. 

Peel i large ripe quince and drop it into 2 cups water mixed with 3 tablespoons 
lemon juice. Roll the quince in the acidulated water, round and round, until all 
sides are thoroughly bathed. This prevents the quince from darkening. Peel 
another quince, place it in the lemon-juice water, and remove the first one to be 
grated. Grate both quinces fine, place in a sieve, and press gently to remove as 
much of the juice as possible. Mix the juice with I cup lemon juice. Boil 2 pound 
sugar (4 cups), dissolved in I cup water, to a thick syrup. Add juice and continue 
to boil until the syrup is thick. Cool and bottle. 


This is an ancient health drink which is still well known and enjoyed by every 
Persian. It is deliciously refreshing in the hot summer and a popular punch to 
serve with kababs and polous when mixed with finely grated cucumber. It 
frequently serves as a light meal, accompanied by romaine and bread. 

The leaves of lettuce are folded one by one and dipped into this sherbet. 
Formerly people affected with jaundice existed almost solely on sekanjabin and 
romaine, but without bread, until their ailment was cured. 

Boil 2 cups sugar and I cup water until thick, but not thick enough to spin a 
thread. Add / cup white vinegar and the juice of 2 large lemons. Continue to boil 
until drops of the syrup drip slowly from the end of a spoon. Add a bunch of 
fresh mint leaves and cook for 3 minutes longer. Strain syrup from the mint, 
cool, and bottle. If fresh mint leaves are not available use 2 or 3 drops of mint 


During my visit to California I tried this refreshment on several different 

occasions, and always with great edification. None of my guests was content 
with one cup, but always asked for more. 

Peel and grate lh small slender, seeded cucumber into a glass or small bowl 
with 3 tablespoons sekanjabin. Add 2 ice cubes and 2 or 3 crushed almonds and 
fill glass with ice water. 

(Persian Lemonade) 

In olden days a f shorehs were served with meals, as American coffee is today. 
At the present time they are served only as mid-meal refreshments. The juices of 
fruits and extracts of aromatic flowers, seeds, and citrus peels are used to make 
these beverages. 


In a large wineglass combine the juice of one lemon, i tablespoon sugar, and z 
ice cubes. Fill glass with water. 


In a glass combine i tablespoon sugar and z tablespoons rose-flower water or 
orange-blossom water. Add ice cubes and fill glass with water. 


Soak i pound sugar in i cup distilled extract of orange or lemon blossoms in a 
tightly covered container for 2 days. Then put about 2 tablespoons of the syrup 
in a glass. Add ice cubes and fill glass with water. 

(Gol Benafsheh) 

Bring 2 cups water to a boil. Add 8 ounces mashed small fresh wild violets, 
cover tightly, remove from heat, and let stand for 12 hours. Strain liquid from the 
violets into a measuring cup and add an equal amount of sugar to the flowers. 
Return the liquid to the violets and sugar and put in the top of a double boiler. 

Cook over simmering water until the sugar is completely dissolved. Cool and 
bottle. Store in a cool, dry place. Serve a small amount of it as a f shoreh, or 
without water as violet tea. It is believed to be relaxing to the nerves and mind. 

Ancient Health Notes from Persia 

Certain well-known foods, herbs, and beverages are believed by the Persians 
to promote health and well-being. 

To what extent the efficacy of these beliefs is based on medical or scientific 
fact is not really important. The important factor is that certain Persian concepts 
of food that once may have seemed to be based on superstition are still practiced 
in Persia, as practical observances of the basic laws of mental and physical 

Perhaps a knowledge of the century-old health-food habits of my people will 
help the Western world to have more appreciation and understanding of the 
ancient culture of Persia. 

Throughout the ages the answer to the question of longerlasting youth and 
vital health has been yogurt, and many of the earliest records of ancient Persia 
abound with references to this important milk food. Today it is a well-known 
fact that yogurt is one of the most easily assimilated protein foods, which 
releases the Vitamin B stored in the body for use within the digestive system and 
promotes energy and mental health. In Persia it is used both as a food and a 
medicine. As a medicine, it is the only nourishment given to one suffering from 
dysentery or diarrhea. 

Mixed with a good quantity of finely chopped fresh garlic, yogurt is one of the 
oldest cures for malaria, and in most villages and small towns in Persia garlic- 
infused yogurt is used ex tensively as an antidote and preventative for many 
other illnesses. 

Two fresh greens, spinach and coriander, are believed to revitalize the liver 
and correct constipation. Coriander, especially, is used extensively in the food of 
patients and convalescents. For a severe cold the patient is given a thick soup 
(aash) of rice and chicken to which is added onion and a large quantity of fresh 
spinach and coriander. A similar soup, but containing turnips, is recommended 
for the patient with a fever due to a cold virus. And a cure for a cold in the head 
is the inhalation of the steam from a big bowl of hot turnips. 

Kateh polou mixed with yogurt is a favorite meal for patients recovering from 

a severe bout of diarrhea, and most of the variations of the sour-fruit khoreshes, 
made without meat and spices, are the main dishes served to one recovering 
from dysentery, high blood pressure, or liver conditions. They are usually served 
with kateh or plain dami. 

Again for those with digestive grievances a thick pomegranate soup is 
excellent. This is made by simmering a little rice and a small bunch of crushed 
fresh mint leaves in 2 cups of fresh pomegranate juice. 

When verjuice is substituted for the pomegranate juice, the soup, along with 
cooked spinach and coriander, is believed to be helpful to those suffering from 
rheumatism, arthritis, or high blood pressure. Other variations of the sour aashes, 
included in the soup chapter, are popular aids for bile disturbances. 

Another important health food is Persian bread. It is made in a long, flat piece 
as thick as cardboard. In the cities bakery shops are on every street. Each shop 
has its round-bellied clay oven, lined with pebbles and heated with wood. The 
dough is flattened over a large, wooden mold with a handle up to approximately 
35 inches long, 20 to 25 inches wide and I inch thick. The mold is carried into 
the oven and the strip of dough is placed against the side of the oven over the hot 
pebbles. In this manner it bubbles and browns on both sides, becoming crisp 
with no soft dough in the center. The bread is usually served fresh and hot from 
the bakery. 

Together with this bread a most healthful and delicious breakfast consists of 
white cheese mixed with crushed, toasted walnuts and powdered dried wild 
marjoram and tea and hot milk. With its bitter, pungent taste, wild marjoram is 
famous for its carminative effect on the digestive system. Bread and white 
cheese mixed with walnuts and fresh mint leaves are also served for lunch or 
dinner during the hot days of summer. They are served with grapes or any kind 
of melon-watermelon, muskmelon, or cantaloupe. This combination of foods is 
considered nutritious and invigorating. Even Bos-hac refers to it: 

Enjoy bread and muskmelon, not only one, 

But two, three, four, five and six! 

Have them with cheese and walnut, not only one, 
But two, three, four, five and sixI 

A few other health-food tips from ancient Persian medicine are that by 
substituting walnuts for red meat a person is made gentle and kind; that plenty of 
dried red grapes before breakfast improve the memory; lots of pistachios enrich 
the blood, and citron-peel preserve is a sure cure for anemia. 

In early days, long before the drinking of tea became customary, the Persians 
brewed tisanes from flowers. These flower teas are still considered healthful 
beverages in Iran and are used not only as preventive medicines but to effect 
certain cures. Saffron-flower tea, served plain or flavored with dried lime, is 
believed helpful to heart and nerves, having such strong relaxing effects on the 
nervous system that the drinker can no longer control his laughter when he 
drinks too much of it! 

Many other flowers are gathered, dried, and sold in shops as medicines for 
strengthening the nerves, heart, brain, and eyes. Popular ones are the flowers of 
the camomile, the violet, and the hollyhock. Another is a purple flower with 
large leaves shaped like a cow's tongue called cow tongue, which grows in 
abundance everywhere in Persia. The dried petals, steamed like tea in a pot, 
make a beverage drunk daily, sweetened with rock candy. And in many old- 
fashioned families all these flowers are kept on hand for such emergencies as 
fainting caused by shock, overwork, heart attack, and other illnesses. 

There are men and women in all parts of the country whose job is to collect 
from the gardeners at the beginning of spring tons of a variety of medicinal 
flowers, in addition to citrus peels and anise and fennel seeds. These they distill 
and store in large jars to sell to housewives. The distilled water of citrus peels, 
especially of citron, also the extracts from anise and fennel are all popularly 
believed to relieve colic pains and other disturbances of the degestive tract. 

Pussy-willow distilled water is believed to have a strengthening effect on the 
heart. Pussy-willow flower, called Beed Meshk, or musk of willow, grows in 
many parts of Iran. The flowers, three inches long and about one inch wide, are 
covered with a feathery gray hair. The distilled aromatic water of this flower 
must be drunk about two hours after breakfast or two hours before lunch. It is 
frequently sweetened with sugar and served iced. 

Another, and perhaps the most important food fact which the Persians have 
known for centuries, and which is today certainly more fact than fiction, is that 
an excess of fat in the diet causes liver and heart ailments and produces 

hardening of the arteries. Ancient Persian physicians found a natural way to 
counteract the storing up of excess fats within the body. They believed that 
eating the sour juices and vinegars or fruits with their foods would neutralize the 
fat. As a result, all sorts of sour juices are used in Persian dishes, especially in 
fried foods and other dishes with any quantity of fat, and innumerable varieties 
of sour pickles are placed on the table to be enjoyed with every meal. 

Seven hundred years ago, in the end of his Divan, Bos-hac said: 

“Oh I pray thee wcryfarer, if ever you pass my humble grave 
With an utterance, sweet as Halva, pray make my soul happy ” 

And so say I. 

-The End- 

English Index 

Almond Squares, 146 

Khoreshe, 98 
Pickle, 169 
Preserve, 160 

and Sour Cherry Soup, 81 

Beet Salad, 134 
Beverages, 170 
Cherry Sherbet, 171 
Lemonades, 173 
Quince and Lime Sherbet, 

Sekanjabin , 172 
Sekanjabin Punch, 172 
Biggest Balls, The, 120 
Bird Kabab, 112 
Blossoms, Halva of, 141 
Bowl Kabab, 118 
Butterless Polou, 75 

Candy, 144 
Cherry, 154 
Little Puffs, 153 
Masqati, 151 
Z olobiya, 152 
Carrot Polou, 69 
Carrot Preserve, 163 

Celery Khoreshe y ioo 
Chelon , 59 

Cheron, How to Serve, iio 
Cher cm Kabab, 107 

Candy, 154 
Da 7 ni, 77 
Polou , 62 
Preserve, 159 
Sherbet, 171 

with Fruit, 113 
Kabab, 113 
Polou, 71 

Coconut Squares, 148 
Cookies. See Pastries 
Coriander, 176 
Cucumber Salad, 134 
Currant Dami, 76 
Cut Pieces Kabab, hi 

Dahlia Cookies, 156 
Dami, 75 
Currant, 76 
Plain, 76 
Sour Cherry, 77 
Date Halva, 140 

Desserts, 136. See also Halva 
and Pastries 
Rice Pudding, 136 
Yellow Pudding, 137 
Dolmehs, 124 
Eggplant, 124 
Eggplant, Elaborate, 125 
Grape Leaves, 126 
Pastry, 127 
Quince, 128 
Tomato, 127 

Egg Dishes (Kufeus), 130 
Eggplant, 131 
Fish, 131 
Omelet, 132 
Potato, 132 
Vegetable, 130 
Egg Kuku, 132 

Khoreshe, 95 
Khoreshe, fried, 104 
Kuku, 131 
Pickle, 169 
Salad, 134 
Stuffed, 124 
Stuffed, Elaborate, 125 
Elephant-Ear Cookies, 155 

Fish Kabab, 116 
Fish Kuku, 131 
Fish Polou, 72 
Flower Essences, 53 
Flower Preserve, 164 
Flowers, Halva of, 140 
Flowers as a Medicine, 177 
Fruit and Nut Khoreshe, 96 
Fruit, Dried, Soup, 81 

Grape Leaves, Stuffed, 126 

Halvas, 138 
of Blossoms, 141 
Date, 140 
of Flowers, 140 
Little Colored, 142 
Milk, 143 
Sugar, 139 
White, 140 
Herbs, 53 

Honey, Patty of, 149 
Honey Squares, 148 

Kababs, 107 
Bird, 112 
Bowl, 118 
Chelou, 107 
Chicken, 113 
Chicken with Fruit, 113 
Cut Pieces, in 
Fish, 116 

How to Serve the Chelou, 

Kidney and Heart, 116 

Lamb, 114 

Leaf, 108 

Pot, 113 

Rolled, 109 

Shatnt, 116 

Kidney and Heart Kabab, 116 

Lamb Polou, 74 
Lamb Kabab, 114 
Leaf Kabab, 108 
Lemonades, 173 
Lentil Polou, 70 
Lentil Soup, 78 

Lima Bean and Dill Poloti, 73 
Lime Pickle, 167 
Lime Pickle, Quick, 168 
Limes, Dried, 52 
Little Colored Halva, 142 
Little Puffs, 153 

Marjoram, Wild, 177 
Meat, 50. See also Stews and 

Finely Minced, 90 
Pounded, Soup, 79 
Meat Balls (Kuftehs), 120 
Biggest, The, 120 
of Tabriz, 122 
Meatless Soup, 84 
Milk Halva, 143 
Mulberry Squares, 148 

Oil, 50 
Omelet, 132 

Orange-Flower Ade, 172 
Orange Preserves, 16 z 

Pastries, 144. See also Candy 
Almond Squares, 146 
Coconut Squares, 148 
Dahlia Cookies, 156 
Elephant-Ear Cookies, 155 
Honey Squares, 148 
Mulberry Squares, 148 
Patty of Honey, 149 
Persian Pie (Baglava), 144 
Rice Patty, 150 
Shirazi Squares, 147 
Turnover Cookies, 157 
Window Bread, 154 
Pastry, Stuffed, 127 

Patty of Honey, 149 
Peach Pickle, 166 

Bread, 176 
Lemonade, 173 
Pic, 144 
Style Rice, 59 
Persimmon Pickle, 168 
Pickles, 166 
Apple, 169 
Eggplant, 169 
Lime, 167 
Lime, Quick, 168 
Peach, 166 
Persimmon, 168 
Polotis, 59 
Butterless, 75 
Carrot, 69 
Cherry, 62 
Chicken, 71 
Damis, 75, 76, 77 
Fish, 72 
Lamb, 74 
Lentil, 70 

Lima Bean and Dill, 73 
Sweet, 61 
Tomato, 65 
Tomato, Easy, 67 
Tomato and Eggplant, 66 
Turkey, 64 
Vegetable, 72 
Yogurt, 68 

Pomegranate Khoreshe, 102 
Pomegranate Soup, 86 
Pot Kabab, 113 
Potato Kuku, 132 
Preserves, 159. See also Pickles 
Apple, 160 

Carrot, 163 
Cherry, 159 
Flower, 164 
Orange, 161 
Walnut, 162 
Watermelon, 165 
Pudding, Rice, 136 
Pudding, Yellow, 137 
Puffed Peas, 51 
Punch, 172 

Pussy-Willow Water, 176 


Khoreshe, 97 
Lime Sherbet, 171 
Soup, 80 
Stuffed, 128 

Rhubarb Khoreshe, 101 
Rice, 50 
Flour, 51 
Patty, 150 
Pudding, 136 
Persian-Style, 59 
Rolled Kabab, 109 
Rose-Water Ade, 173 

Saffron, How to Use, 52 
Salads ( Boranis ), 133 
Beet, 134 
Cucumber, 134 
Eggplant, 134 
Spinach, 133 

Serving Chelou Kababs, no 
Shami Kabab, 116 
Six Fallen, 105 
Soups, 78 

Aashes (Heavy Soups), 85 

Apple and Sour Cherry, 81 

Dried-Fruit, 81 

Cipas, 82, 83 

Lentil, 78 

Meatless, 84 

Pomegranate, 86 

Pounded Meat, 79 

Quince, 80 

Sour Aash, 87 

Wheat Porridge, 88 

Yogurt, 85 

Sour Cherry Dami, 77 
Sour Soup, 87 
Spices, 52 
Spinach, 176 
Spinach Salad, 133 
Stews (Khoreshes), 90 
Apple, 98 
Celery, 100 
Eggplant, 95 
Eggplant, Fried, 104 
Fesenjan, 92 

Finely Minced Meat, 90 
Fruit and Nut, 96 
Pomegranate, 102 
Quince, 97 
Rashti, 99 
Rhubarb, 101 
Six Fallen, 105 
Swooned Priest, 105 
Tangerine or Orange-Peel, 

Vegetable, 93 
Yogurt, 101 

Stuffed Dishes. See Dolntehs 
Sugar Halva, 139 
Sweet Polou, 61 
Swooned Priest, 105 

Tangerine or Orange-Peel Kho- 
reshe, 103 

Tangerine Shreds, 53 
Tisanes, 177 

and Eggplant Polou, 66 
Polou, 65 
Polou , Easy, 67 
Stuffed, 127 
Turkey Polou, 64 
Turnover Cookies, 157 

Utensils, 49 


Khoreshe, 93 
Kuku, 130 
Polou, 72 

Verjuice, 51 
Violet Ade, 165 

Walnut Preserve, 162 
Walnuts, 168 
Watermelon Preserve, 165 
Window Bread, 154 
Wheat Porridge, 88 
White Halva, 140 

Yellow Pudding, 137 
Yogurt, 166 
Khoreshe , 101 
Polcm, 68 
Soup, 85 

Persian Index 

Aashes, 85 
Anar, 86 
Mast, 85 
Torsh, 87 
Sak, 87 
Abgushtes, 78 
Adas, 78 
Bev, 80 
Eshkaneh, 84 
Gipas, 82, 83 
Haleeme, 88 
Kubideh, 79 
Miveh, 8i 
Sib, 81 

Adas Polou, 70 
Afshorehs, 173 
Gol, 173 
Limu, 173 
Ajeel, 52 

Balu Maraba, 159 
Balu Nogle, 154 
Balu Sharbat, 171 
Kuku, 132 
Anar Khoreshe, 102 
Asali Lauze, 148 
Asali Sahoone, 149 

Badam Lauze, 146 

Borani, 134 
Dolmeh, 124 
Kuku, 131 
Sorkh Kardeh, 104 
Torshi, 169 
Barg Dolmeh, 126 
Barg Kababe, 108 
Baglava, 144 
Barreh Kebabe, 114 
Barreh Polou, 74 

Dolmeh, 128 
Limu Sharbat, 171 
Khoreshe, 97 
Boranis, 133 
Bademjan, 134 
Esfanaj, 133 
Mastva Khiar, 134 

Chelou, 59 
Chelou Kababe, 107 

Damis, 75, 76, 77 
Dig Kababe, 113 
Dolmehs, 124 
Bademjan, 124 

Barg, 126 
Beh, 128 
Kotah, 127 

Eshkaneh, 84 

Fesenjan Khoreshe, 92 

Gerdu Morabaye, 162 
Gipas, 82, 83 
Gol Halvaye, 141 
Gol Moraba, 164 
Gol Benafsheh, 173 
Gol Kaukah, 156 
Gushte Kubidch, 79 

Halvayes, 138 
Gol, 141 
Khorma, 140 
Rangenak, 142 
Safid, 140 
Shekar, 139 
Shir, 143 

Haleeme Gusht, 88 
Havij Morabaye, 163 
Holu Torshi, 166 

Kababes, 107 
Barg, 108 
Barreh, 114 
Chelou, 107 

Dig, 113 

Kenjeh, 111 
Kolbeh, 116 
Luleh, 109 
Mahi, 116 
Morgh, 113 
Parandeh, 112 

Shami, 116 
Tas, 118 
Kangar, 54 
Kangar Mast, 53 
Karafs Khoreshe, icx) 

Kateh Polou, 74 
Kenjeh Kababc, in 
Khagineh Kuku, 132 
Khelale Narangi, 53 
Khoreshes, 90 
Anar, 102 

Bademjan Sorkh Kardeh, 104 

Beh, 97 

Fesenjan, 92 

Karafs, 100 

Mast, 101 

Mollah Ghash Kardeh, 105 

Mosamma Bademjan, 95 

Motanjen, 96 

Narangi, 103 

Qa’meh, 90 

Qormch Sabzi, 93 

Rashti, 99 

Rivas, 101 

Shesh Andaze, 105 

Sib, 98 

Khorma Halvaye, 140 
Khramlu Torshis, 168 
Kolbeh Kababe, 116 
Kolucheh Berenj, 150 
Kotah, 157 
Kotah, Dolmeh, 127 
Kuftehs, 120 
Mo’alla, 120 
Tabrizi, 122 
Kukus, 130 
Alu, 132 
Bademjan, 131 

Khagineh, 132 
Mahi, 131 
Sabzi, 130 
Kukuye Alu, 132 

Lauzes, 146 
Asali, 148 
Badam, 146 
Narjeel, 148 
Shirazi, 147 
Toot, 148 

Afshoreh, 173 
Omani, 52 
Torshis, 167, 168 
Lulch Kababe, 109 

Mahi Kababe, 116 
Mahi Kuku, 131 
Mahi Polous, 72 
Masquati, 151 
Mast Khoreshe, 101 
Mastva Khiar, 134 
Mollah Ghash Kardeh, 1 
Marabas, 159 
Alu Balu, 159 
Gerdu, 162 
Gol, 164 
Havij, 163 
Narange, 161 
Sib, 160 

Morgh Kebabe, 113 
Morgh Polou, 71 
Mosamma Bademjan, 95 
Motanjen Khoreshe, 96 

None Goosh Feel, 155 
Nane Penjerch, 154 

Narangi Khoreshe, 103 
Narange Morabaye, 161 
Narjeel Lauze, 148 
Nogle Alu Balu, 154 
Nokhodchi, 51 

Parandeh Kababe, 112 
Pofak, 153 
Polous, 59 
Adas, 70 
Barreh, 74 
Knteh, 74 
Mahi, 72 
Morgh, 71 
Sabzi, 72 
Shecar, 61 
Sheved Bagla, 73 
Tah Chin, 68 

Qa’meh, 90 

Qormeh Sabzi Khoreshe, 93 

Rangenak, 142 
Rashti Khoreshe, 99 
Rivas Khoreshe, 101 

Sabzi Kuku, 130 
Sabzi Polou, 72 
Safid Halvaye, 140 
Sahoone Asali, 149 
Sekanjabin, 172 
Shami Kababe, 116 
Sharbats, 171 
Alu Balu, 171 
Beh Limu, 171 
Shekar Halvaye, 139 
Shecar Polou, 61 
Shesh Andazc Khoreshe, 105 

Sheved Bagla, 73 
Shir Berenj, 136 
Shir Halvaye, 143 
Shirazi Lauze, 130 
Sholleh Zard, 137 

Khoreshe, 98 
Morabaye, 160 
Torshis, 169 

Tah Chin, 68 
Tas Kababe, 118 

Torshis, 166 
Bademjan, 169 
Holu, 166 
Khramlu, 168 
Limu, 167, 168 
Sib, 169 

Verjuice, 51 

Zolobiya, 152 

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" One particular genus of sumac tree grows in abundance in Persia. It has 
pyramidal panicles of small crimson, one-seed, sour fruits which are dried, 
powdered, and sold in the markets. This fruit has many uses in Persian foods and 
is also used medicinally. But in America sumac is used only for tanning and 
dyeing. There is no substitute for this seasoning with chelou kabab. 

Table of Contents 

Preface 9 

I- The History of Persian Cooking 

A Persian Hoine 19 

The Marriage Ceremony in Iran 20 

The Birth of a Baby 25 

The New Year 26 

Death 31 

Public Religious Offerings 32 

Offerings to Allah 36 

II- Food and Entertainment within the Persian Home 

Private Parties 43 

Manners and Customs of the Persians 44 

III- The Fundamentals of Classic Persian Cooking 

Utensils 49 
Basic Ingredients 50 

Chelou and Polou (Traditional Rice Dishes) 

Abgushtes fSoupsl 

Khoreshes fStewsl go 

Kababs (Broiled Meats and Vegetables! 

Kuftehs (Meat Balls) 

Dolmehs (Stuffed Dishesl 

Kukus fEgg Dishesl 
Boranis (Persian Salads) 


Pastries and Confections 

Preserves and Beverages 
Ancient Health Notes from Persia 

English Index j 81 

Persian Index 

There is a special way to serve either of the above two kababs. In the first place a 

white, feathery