Author Yasmin Khan (“The Saffron Tales: Recipes from the Persian Kitchen”) takes us on a culinary adventure inside Iran – from the North-West town of Tabriz where we devour the city’s signature dish kofte tabrizi (lamb meatballs stuffed with hard-boiled eggs, walnuts and dried plums) traveling to the South, where we take in the cuisine of Gilan, one of the best places for vegetarian food in the country, to finally, Tehran where we visit upscale restaurants “serving dishes ranging from sushi and frozen yoghurt to dizi, a lamb, chickpea and potato stew made to a centuries-old recipe, cooked in a clay pot for several hours until the meat is so tender it can be mashed into a paste with a fork.” And through food, we get an excellent feel for the country and its cooks.
So what’s Iranian food like? According to Ms. Khan, “Those unfamiliar often assume that it is fiery or spicy, perhaps befitting the country’s climate or politics. But it is, in fact, gentle and soothing, a poetic balance of subtle spices such as dried limes, saffron and rosewater. Slow-cooked stews, known as khoresh, and elaborate rice dishes layered with herbs, vegetables, nuts and dried fruit are the bedrocks of Persian cuisine, creating a dazzling mosaic of scents, textures and colours at the dining table. Regional and seasonal delicacies are plentiful, making the most of Iran’s bountiful produce.”