Because persian food is delicious
March 15, 2009 4:17 PM   Subscribe

Help me find the authentic persian cookbook, potentially written in farsi...

Recently, I've been cooking an assortment of persian foods, trying out various cookbooks. I've seen this thread, and I have The New Food of Life and Persian Cooking: A Table of Exotic Delights. However, none of the recipes from these books match up quite right to the food I remember from my childhood. They make strange substitutions or change the recipes in subtle ways. I've found some recipes online that match up well, but it's only a few.

So, I'm wondering if anyone knows of a really good persian cookbook. I can (slowly) read farsi, so a book from Iran would work as well.
posted by typography to Food & Drink (8 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I bought my wife a copy of Persia in Peckham for Christmas, because she knows the author. However, I can't really vouch for its authenticity and quality beyond the fact that my (non-Persian) wife thinks it's wonderful.
posted by WPW at 5:44 PM on March 15, 2009

New Food of Life is the best Persian cookbook out there, in Farsi or otherwise.
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 7:45 PM on March 15, 2009

Best answer: The book you want is Persian Cuisine by M.R. Ghanoonparvar. Sadly, I think the book is out of print and tricky to find. Each recipe is in English and Farsi. And it basically has a recipe for anything you would want to cook. I don't think my (Persian) wife has found another cook book that compares. She lent it to her brother briefly, and then stole it back she missed it too much.
posted by chunking express at 7:46 PM on March 15, 2009 [2 favorites]

I was overly-eager to answer that question, and didn't finish reading. Perhaps your childhood foods are from a particular region or ethnic group in Iran, which is not as well-represented in the mainstream cookbooks.
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 7:49 PM on March 15, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks chunking express. It looks like there's a new edition of the book out, so I'll check it out.

thegreatfleecircus: Yes, that's certainly possible. However, even the intro of the book says it attempts to adapt persian food to western cooking styles. Additionally, the author seems to have her own idiosyncrasies (e.g. rose water in lots of recipes). It's a great book mind you, just not what I'm looking for.
posted by typography at 12:30 AM on March 16, 2009

You've got to watch out for the Tehrani authors they always want to put tomatoes in stuff and make their sauces too runny for a real good steam (who wants soggy tahdig?). I usually turn strait to the fessenjun recipe, if it's called fessenjam and it calls for diced tomatoes, the whole book goes in the "for recipe inspiration use only" pile.
posted by Pollomacho at 5:25 AM on March 16, 2009

I don't know if it will help, but I'd look for a used copy of the original "Food of Life." I have both that, and the "New Food of Life" and noticed that the author definitely changed some of the recipes between them. I think the New Food of Life has gone further to try to adapt to western ingredients and ideas about healthy eating.

I'm not sure how much cooking you've done in general, but I'll point out that first, cuisine is part of culture, and like all culture it is always changing. It varies over time, between cities, between families, and often, even over the years with a single cook. Even something as industrial and ubiquitous as the McDonald's french has changed some over the years.

My mother and her sisters, who only differ in age over a span of about 5 years, all learned to cook in my grandmother's kitchen within a span of about 5 years and yet each turned out distinctly variations on their staple persian dishes of Gormeh Sabzi, Shirin Polo & Bhagali Polo. Interestingly, once they all got copies of Food of Life, a lot of their dishes became more similar, at least for a while.

Anyway, my point is, its really unlikely that you'll find recipes that turn out like what you remember from your childhood, even if they were the exact recipes your family used. At the very least, the character of the ingredients can vary a lot. Corn fed beef is milder than grass fed beef. Thighs from mass produced chicken don't get as much use as those from a free range bird and wont be as meaty tasting. Lamb will taste different depending on the plants it feeds on. The flavor of gormeh sabzi will be influenced by the mineral content of the soil the herbs were raised in. Even so, you shouldn't be shy about altering the recipes to try and match your memories.
posted by Good Brain at 9:56 AM on March 16, 2009

I'd be curious to see how (or if) the book has changed. The original edition is just traditional food (though it looks like there may have been other books based on the title), is softcover, and isn't that long.

Ingredients certainly play a big part in cooking.
posted by chunking express at 10:43 AM on March 16, 2009

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