Across Iran, however notably within the northern areas, the place my household is from, herbs are handled like a vegetable or principal ingredient, quite 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 in some way 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 usually really feel at odds with each other — has at all times been a tightrope stroll for me. This challenge has felt extra important and private than every other 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 go away out lots 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 numerous private, political and historic causes, many Iranians within the West consult with 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 just’re not alone — I’ve spent most of my life confused about it — and for our functions right here, be happy to think about the phrases roughly interchangeably.
The job of distilling the whole thing of a 2,000-year-old delicacies all the way down to a handful of recipes is a futile one, so consider this checklist as an invite to cook dinner quite than a declaration of reality. It’s additionally an invite to my childhood house, and to the Iran my mom constructed for her youngsters out of rice, bread, cheese and herbs.