Across Iran, however notably within the northern areas, the place my household is from, herbs are handled like a vegetable or important ingredient, moderately than a garnish. In the Bay Area, the place I now reside, I can at all times spot an Iranian shopper’s grocery cart from afar — it’s the one piled excessive with bunches of parsley, cilantro, dill and mint.
Though I’m each Iranian and a cook dinner, I’m hardly an Iranian cook dinner. I’m extra of an Iranian eater, so when The Times requested me to decide on the dishes that by some means encapsulate Persian delicacies to me — the important recipes — I interviewed my mom, surveyed two dozen Iranian and Iranian-American cooks, and in contrast ingredient lists and strategies with nearly each Persian cookbook printed within the English language within the final 30 years.
Being an Iranian-American — honoring, representing and embodying two cultures that always really feel at odds with each other — has at all times been a tightrope stroll for me. This mission has felt extra important and private than another recipe assortment I’ve created.
I’ve sought, greater than anything, to share the style of my very own childhood, which is to say the style of an Iranian kitchen in America. Even so, I needed to break my very own coronary heart repeatedly once I selected to depart out a lot of my favourite dishes, like baghali polo (fava bean rice), tahchin (a savory saffron rice and yogurt cake with layered hen or lamb) and khoresh-e beh (quince and lamb stew).
A phrase about terminology: For varied private, political and historic causes, many Iranians within the West seek advice from themselves as Persian. “Persian” is each an ethnicity and a language, also referred to as Farsi, whereas “Iranian” is a nationality. Not all Persians and Persian-speakers are Iranian, and never all Iranians are Persian. If the excellence leaves you baffled, relaxation assured that you simply’re not alone — I’ve spent most of my life confused about it — and for our functions right here, be at liberty to think about the phrases kind of interchangeably.
The activity of distilling everything of a 2,000-year-old delicacies all the way down to a handful of recipes is a futile one, so consider this listing as an invite to cook dinner moderately than a declaration of reality. It’s additionally an invite to my childhood residence, and to the Iran my mom constructed for her kids out of rice, bread, cheese and herbs.