Saraban : Persian Spiced Hazelnuts

Saffron, pistachios, apricots, pomegranates, angelica seeds… When my inspiration for scent pairings starts to wane, I flip through my favorite Iranian books and think of the vibrant combinations of Persian cuisine. It’s one of the world’s most sophisticated, with complementary and contrasting flavors used in a single dish. There are rice pilafs steamed until every grain is separate and glossy and then embellished with saffron scented butter and rosewater. Poultry is cooked with fruit and sweet and sour sauces. Meat is grilled in a variety of ways and vegetables star in everything, from soups to jams. Even something as simple as a yogurt cucumber salad is served topped with a flourish of golden raisins, walnuts and herbs. Every mouthful is an adventure. Every taste is a surprise. It’s a cuisine custom-made for perfume lovers.


If your perspective on Iran comes from the news, then you’re likely to associate it with the brutal events of the 1979 Islamic revolution, religious intolerance and reprehensible treatment of women. Persia, on the other hand, may connote the orientalist visions of roses and nightingales. As Greg and Lucy Malouf note in their marvelous book on Persian cuisine, Saraban: A Chef’s Journey Through Persia, “there is an element of truth and exaggeration in each version, but they are, of course, one and the same place… This duality, these contrasts, the opaqueness–once we arrived in Iran, we realised that they all contribute to a very real sense of mystery, and of reward.”

For a reader, the reward is obvious. Saraban is the third book in the Middle Eastern trilogy by Malouf, a Lebanese-Australian chef, and his partner Lucy. As in their other books, they offer a collection of traditional and modern recipes, alongside a travelogue. I love curling up in an armchair with a pile of cookbooks, but Saraban is especially enjoyable, and with every chapter I looked forward to the continuation of Maloufs’ adventures. Will they finally visit Shiraz? What impression will Yazd make on them, a city described by Marco Polo in 1272? Or Tehran, the Iranian chaotic, polluted capital city? The chapters are accompanied by stunning photos of the country and equally gorgeous images of food.


The best part, of course, is cooking from Saraban. Malouf has a flair for flavors, masterfully combining diverse ingredients and creating memorable tastes. For instance, his trout with orange and sumac is a revelation, but it’s simple to put together. Other dishes like lamb with jeweled-rice stuffing may force you to flex your chef muscles, but the book offers so much inspiration that I often rely on it for my own creations. You need to have access to a grocery store that stocks ingredients like barberries, rosewater, and spices, but for all of its flavorful complexity, Persian cuisine doesn’t require particularly obscure ingredients.

As Malouf comments, the book is more about his vision of Persian cuisine, rather than “authentic” recipes. The latter is not a concern of mine–for how much authenticity can a Ukrainian cooking Iranian food in Belgium strive? More important is that Malouf’s recipes are respectful of their heritage. This is not a book in which rose petals and pistachio nuts are scattered over everything in sight, without regard to the context and the traditional role of ingredients. Experimenting with Saraban, you learn how cumin is used to tone down the pungency of lamb or fish and how saffron can add a jolt of aroma and color to rice and lentils. You will use some ingredients in an unexpected way, but you’ll still be paying homage to a venerable food culture.


If Saraban peaks your interest for more Persian flavors, then I highly recommend Najmieh Batmanglij’s Food of Life: Ancient Persian and Modern Iranian Cooking and Ceremonies. Batmanglij is a doyenne of Persian cuisine, and she has recently updated and reissued her 1986 tome.  Another book of note is Margaret Shaida’s The Legendary Cuisine of PersiaPersian Cuisine: Traditional, Regional, And Modern Foods by M. R. Ghanoonparvar isn’t a glossy production, but if I’m cooking for Iranians, his recipes never fail to elicit a “tastes just like at home” compliment. Finally, I like Sabrina Ghayour’s Persiana: Recipes from the Middle East & Beyond for interesting ideas and modern (read, simplified) recipes. Her eggplant salad with saffron yogurt is a gem.


To leave you with a taste of Persian cuisine, I would like to share Saraban’s recipe for spiced hazelnuts. Malouf uses a mixture of different nuts and seeds, while I like to focus on a single variety. It’s a terrific nibble served with tea, coffee or a glass of wine.

Persian-spiced Hazelnuts

The original recipe makes 1kg, and while this quantity isn’t unreasonable, I scaled the formula to a sample portion. You’ll certainly find that 2 cups vanish quickly, but the next time you might adjust the proportion of spices and experiment with other nuts. For instance, I use much more cayenne than a mere dash, and I’m usually tempted to up the amount of cardamom, a spice I adore.  You can use almonds, cashews, peanuts, walnuts or pistachios instead of hazelnuts. I also discovered that adding a bit of egg white helps the spice paste adhere better and form flavor packed pellets.

250g (2 cups) shelled, unsalted hazelnuts
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom (from 3 pods)
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
a dash of cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon egg white (optional)

Preheat the oven to 425F/220C and line a baking tray with paper. Reduce the heat to 320F/160C. Remove some of the skin from hazelnuts by roasting them for 10 minutes and then rubbing nuts vigorously with a towel. Shake off the loose skins and let the nuts cool while you prepare the spice mixture. (This step can be omitted for almonds, cashews, pistachios and peanuts).

Whip egg white till frothy. Combine with ground spices in a bowl and toss with nuts. Add olive oil and stir thoroughly. Spread on the baking tray and place in the oven. Roast for 20 minutes, or until the nuts are golden and the spice paste is dry. Shake the tray from time to time. Set aside to cool and store in an airtight container.

Images from the book; hazelnut photograph is my own.



  • Claudia: Everything about this post is gorgeous. I don’t know much about Persian food but you’re making it sound very interesting. July 22, 2015 at 8:28am Reply

    • Victoria: It is very interesting! The spices and flavors are memorable, and the array of dishes is vast. Saraban does it justice. July 22, 2015 at 12:00pm Reply

  • Mike: Funny enough I have Saraban in my Amazon shopping cart. I liked Saha and wondered if Maloufs kept up their good work with Saraban…sounds like they did. July 22, 2015 at 8:48am Reply

    • Victoria: They sure did. Saha was the first book of theirs I read, and since I cooked most of the dishes from it, I was already a fan by the time I saw Saraban at a bookstore. It didn’t disappoint. July 22, 2015 at 12:02pm Reply

  • Karen: I just bought Saha a few weeks ago and have had Turquoise for several years. Turquoise is a book I give to people who I know won’t make it to Turkey – it’s better than a travel book because along with the beautiful photos and excellent writing, you get…!

    So Saraband is now on my must-buy list! Great post and thanks for helping to expand our horizons.

    It’s so easy to forget that all countries are made up of people just living their lives, loving their children and trying to just sit down at the end of a busy day to a meal with loved ones. July 22, 2015 at 9:01am Reply

    • Victoria: I loved Saha so much and cooked so often from it that I retyped the index (the way recipes are arranged in that book was confusing to me). I got Turquoise shortly after my last trip to Istanbul, and it helped me recreate some of the flavors at home. Turkish cuisine is another I could eat daily and not get tired of it.

      You put it really well. The way news are reported has a consequence of dehumanizing places and people. I’ve watched far too many news channels last year, as I followed events in Ukraine, and this is something I noticed again and again. July 22, 2015 at 12:12pm Reply

      • Karen: It’s why I check in the BdJ before the news sites! July 24, 2015 at 6:36am Reply

  • Nikki: Such a joy to read and look at! I will get this book, too! I adore Pomegranates which I only encountered when moving to the Southwest. Such a magical and mythical tree…One is not surprised that the cradle of civilization was supposedly close to those places…

    Thank you, V, for a great post! July 22, 2015 at 9:08am Reply

    • Victoria: I can relate. I was so happy to see pomegranates growing on trees in Spain. They looked like jewel-boxes.

      The book is beautiful. It also has a great recipe for a pomegranate, olive and walnut salad. July 22, 2015 at 12:14pm Reply

  • angeline: such a lovely article ! as a singaporean living in asia i’m pretty much exposed to a huge mix of cuisines. however, we tend to take for granted the deliciousness available, and the easy accessibility also means i’ve hardly explored in detail how to prepare the dishes from scratch or even to find out the exact ingredients used. this is especially so since most of these asian dishes do not have recipes in english and tend to be just something they eat at home adjusted according to taste. your post brought to mind what i received just a few days ago : a platter of pilaf rice and a dish of spiced chicken from my neighbour who shared what she prepared for celebrating the end of ramadan. July 22, 2015 at 9:42am Reply

    • Victoria: I haven’t visited Singapore, but I’ve been to Malaysia, and I can tell that you guys are living in a food paradise in terms of the diversity of cuisines available. Every night we would go to one of the hawker stall areas and try as many dishes as we could. If we had such a variety of food available here, I don’t know if I’d be trying to replicate these dishes at home. On the other hand, it’s fascinating to see how ingredients are put together and what makes some flavors sing. July 22, 2015 at 12:17pm Reply

      • Soraya: Happy to know you enjoy Malaysia. I live in KL and happy to show you around when you visit again. Did you get to eat nasi kandar? My fave! July 23, 2015 at 11:00am Reply

        • Victoria: Thank you very much, Soraya! I hope to return someday.
          Yes, we tried nasi kandar. It was mentioned by several Malaysian friends as one of the must try dishes. We loved all of the flavors and different curries served with rice. July 23, 2015 at 3:47pm Reply

  • Neva: You never fail to amaze me with your variety of knowledge and interests Victoria!
    Luckily my fiance is interested in Persian culture and plans a motorbike trip through Iran, so I have access to many interesting pieces of information and have lost all my stupid predjudice.
    I love cooking but I have never tried to prepare anything Persian so far. Your post certainly makes me curious. I think I will start with something easier I can find on the internet to encourage me to go on.
    Thanks for the recipe. Spiced nuts are a great snack which I serve to my guests sometimes. I melt butter, brown sugar, honey and add spices and a bit of salt. Then I add various nuts, mix it quickly and spread on baking paper and roast in the oven. Everybody thinks it’s delicious and whichever amount i prepare, very soon everything is gone. I will try the Persian version for sure. July 22, 2015 at 9:59am Reply

    • Victoria: I was thinking about it recently, and I think that having grown up in the Soviet Union, we were still closer to the Persian cultural space, so some of the practices don’t seem totally foreign. Russia has meddled much in the Iranian affairs, rarely to Iran’s benefit, but at the same time, there was some cultural exchange too. I remember that we studied Iranian poetry at school.

      Your boyfriend might find this film interesting, Les Routes Persanes. A director Melusine Mallender goes through Iran, Pakistan, and Turkmenistan on her bike and films along the way. She has done similar films in other places, and I liked this one very much.

      Yum! The way you make nuts with honey and butter sounds delicious. I’m now contemplating of making a batch of these hazelnuts adding some brown sugar or honey towards the end of the cooking. Sweet, salty and spicy is an addictive combo. July 22, 2015 at 12:25pm Reply

      • Neva: Yes, I can definitely recommend trying it out. My friends cannot get enough of it and I usually make a portion with 300 g nuts because more does not fit into the baking pan.
        And my fiance says “thank you” for the recommendation of Les Routes Persanes. Luckily he speaks French. He was trying to track it down on but it seems that it is not in regular distribution. Do you have an idea where to find the film? July 23, 2015 at 5:14am Reply

        • Victoria: We watched it on the French travel channel (Ushuaia, I believe), so I’m not sure where else it’s available. I will check around here, and I will find out something, I will email you. Otherwise, I was wondering about contacting the distributor directly. July 23, 2015 at 7:35am Reply

  • Tammy: Just visited a Persian restaurant in the City this weekend. Was intrigued by “Persian ice cream” on the menu: a confection of saffron, pistachio and rose water. More like gelato in texture though. July 22, 2015 at 10:02am Reply

    • Victoria: It’s probably because like gelato it’s made only with cream, no egg yolks. Now, with that combination of ingredients everything would taste wonderful. 🙂 July 22, 2015 at 12:25pm Reply

  • Hamamelis: Beautiful article, and very tempted to buy one of the books you mention, Saraban the most. I have been cooking from Claudia Roden’s Middle Eastern cookbook since I was 18 (!), that is more than 3 decades, and I have it still, a simple paperback, which I read many times, including the many MullaNasrdin stories (it still sparks joy!)…I have Ottolenghi, but find that often complicated, and I love the combination of travel/diary/cookbook…so I am very tempted.
    Have you travelled in Iran V.? July 22, 2015 at 10:09am Reply

    • Victoria: Claudia Roden is another cookbook author I love, and I especially appreciate how she gives regional variations in her recipes. This way you can learn how ingredients are used in different places and also have more delicious ideas to experiment with. Do you have favorite recipes from her book?

      Like Ottolenghi very much, but occasionally his recipes frustrate me with too much complexity. I remember reading one salad dressing recipe with called for creme fraiche, yogurt, and mascarpone, in addition to a bunch of other things. I like his inventive flavorings, though, so I’m not complaining much. The popularity of his books is really surprising, since he goes against all rules of contemporary cookbook publishing–many ingredients, many steps, many exotic ingredients. On the other hand, this is a good thing. July 22, 2015 at 12:32pm Reply

      • Victoria: P.S. No, I haven’t visited, but I really would love to. For now, I’m just reading everything about the country I can get my hands on, including a book Cornelia recommended here, Tom Holland’s Persian Fire. July 22, 2015 at 12:32pm Reply

        • Annikky: Persian Fire is one of my absolute favourite history books! July 24, 2015 at 1:25pm Reply

          • Victoria: Holland is such a good writer, and I like his “In the Shadow of the Sword” too. I’m only 1/4 through the book, but as always, he draws upon extensive research and offer an original (if controversial) perspective. You might like it. July 24, 2015 at 2:59pm Reply

            • Annikky: I’ve read this one, too, and I loved the beginning. But I felt that the book as a whole was weaker than his other works, the scene setting part was great, but the actual conclusions, the substance seemed to me somewhat lacking. I might be too harsh on him, though, I’m very interested to hear your final verdict. July 30, 2015 at 2:00pm Reply

      • Hamamelis: I think Imam Bayildi because of the funny story (fainting imam). But also ful mesdames, which I could never really cook for lack of availability but we had them in Oman for breakfast! July 22, 2015 at 12:58pm Reply

        • Cornelia Blimber: Hi Victoria! Glad you liked Persian Fire as much as I do.
          Tom Holland also made a translation of Herodotos’ Histories, very interesting on Ancient Persia.
          Off topic: Tom Holland is coming up with Dynasty, a history of the House of the Julii.
          It begins after the Famous Murder of Julius Caesar.
          I will buy it toghether with Barry Strauss: The Death Of Julius Caesar.
          That will be in September or October.
          Now I am busy with my traditional Summer lecture: The Punic Wars. I have now: Dexter Hoyos, Mastering the West. Very interesting read! July 22, 2015 at 2:06pm Reply

          • Victoria: Do you remember recommending me a book about Darius? The one that looks at the events from the Persian perspective (or tries as much as possible, given that records are few and far between). I can’t recall the author’s name off the top of my head, but I started reading the book sample on Kindle and really liked it. It’s not the kind of book Kindle is good for (I feel like underlining and taking notes), so I decided to get a paper copy. I will continue with it once I receive it.

            Your summer reading list is impressive. What are your thoughts on Mastering the West? July 22, 2015 at 2:58pm Reply

            • Cornelia Blimber: That book was ”Darius in the Shadow of Alexander” by Pierre Briant.
              I am waiting for a cheaper paperback edition; the hardcover costs € 41,95. The original French is even more expensive.
              You gave me a link to the review of James Fromm, a wellknown historian himself. But you had to pay for reading the whole review, do you remember?
              I love Goldsworthy’s book on the Punic Wars, and it gave me a better understanding of them, but still I had some trouble in having a grip on the stuff, if you know what I mean. Godsworthy gives so many details, and that can be a little bit confusing, although it is interesting for sure.

              Dexter Hoyos’ Mastering the West is very helpful for me. He gives you a clear survey. I realized how it was in the beginning a Sicilian war,Rome and Carthago where friends when it all started, about 264 BC. Hoyos makes clear how strange this war actually was, and how unexpected. Hamilcar was even praised by Cato the Elder, go figure! And yet, the conflict was inevitable, these two superpowers could not peacefully live together. The story is amazing, and Hoyos gives a very clear account.
              He also is very good in making the protagonists alive. For ex. you can see so to speak Hannibal after his victory at Cannae travelling in Italy, seeking for allies, posing as ”the liberator of the Italians from the Roman yoke”. Everything is told so vividly and with so much insight. I really enjoy this book.
              Sometimes I want more details, for ex. on the Battle at Cannae, but then I look for Goldsworthy again. He also wrote a monography on this terrible battle. July 22, 2015 at 5:09pm Reply

              • Victoria: My mom found it from a secondhand bookstore online for me for something more reasonable, but yes, the original price is a bit high. It’s a very good book, though, and I found myself drawn into it.

                Yes, you have to pay a subscription fee to access the full article by Fromm. I don’t have it anymore, so I only read as much as I could without paying.

                Reading about ancient history illustrates how despite the temporal separation, the issues that drove conflicts then–resources, balance of powers, egos–continue to do so today. When historians can indeed give color and texture, so to speak, to the events so ancient and removed from our time, it’s very special. July 23, 2015 at 7:41am Reply

                • Victoria: I found a reference from Xenophon about Persian food. He mentions that the court is “always contriving new dishes,as well as sauces, for they have cooks to find our varieties in both…. vintners scouring every land to find some drink that will tickle [the royal] palate: an army of cooks contrives dishes for his delight.” He mentioned the “superior excellence of their food.” In 400 BCE when this Greek was writing few other places could boast of such a refined court culture. July 23, 2015 at 3:56pm Reply

        • Victoria: I love eggplant, so Imam Bayildi is up there on my list of favorites. The story and especially different competing versions of why he might have fainted upon tasting the dish are hysterical.

          My friend Anissa writes about Middle Eastern food, and she posted a recipe for ful medammes I had to try. With tahini!

          I admit that reading the post and seeing the video is very bittersweet, knowing what has happened in Aleppo since then. But cooking these dishes makes me feel like I’m doing my little bit to keep the culture of that incredible place alive. July 22, 2015 at 2:54pm Reply

          • Hamamelis: Thank you for the link, and keeping some of it alive. July 22, 2015 at 3:24pm Reply

            • Victoria: I hope that you can try it. If you can’t find dried ful, please let me know. I still need to thank you for cardamom coffee and buckwheat porridge. 🙂 July 23, 2015 at 7:09am Reply

              • Hamamelis: ? July 23, 2015 at 4:08pm Reply

          • Michaela: Thank you for the link, I’ll have to try the ful medammes! I looked a bit at her blog, too. What a special and talented woman she is! July 23, 2015 at 7:07am Reply

  • Nancy A.: Always on the prowl for new recipes utilizing spices, herbs. Any recommendations for Moroccan cooking? Thanks! July 22, 2015 at 10:35am Reply

    • Victoria: Paula Wolfert’s Moroccan Cuisine (or perhaps, it’s called The Cuisine of Morocco) is a classic. It has been reissued a couple of years ago and now included many more recipes (but I see that she took out some fascinating recipes that included oud). July 22, 2015 at 12:37pm Reply

    • MJ: I enjoy Arabesque, a cookbook celebrating the cuisines of Morocco, Turkey, and Lebanon, by Claudia Roden. All the beautifully illustrated and easy to follow recipes delight. Just happened to open to a page w/ zucchini fritters and I have all the ingredients,nzucchini, onions, flour, eggs, dill, mint and feta cheese, on hand! July 22, 2015 at 12:42pm Reply

      • Victoria: Thank you for mentioning Arabesque. I pulled it out tonight and found a recipe for chicken tagine that fit all of the ingredients I had on hand. Roden’s recipes are also so clearly written that they rarely feel overwhelming. This is a special skill for a cookbook writer. July 22, 2015 at 2:43pm Reply

    • Victoria: Also, it’s not a book, but has a terrific section on Moroccan cooking with many recipes. I tried several and really liked the results: July 22, 2015 at 2:23pm Reply

  • Awfulknitter: I’ve been tempted by ‘Saraband’ too, even though I’ve only flipped through it in a shop once. I’m even more tempted now that I know it has some interesting reading in it – I’m finding more and more that I like cookbooks to read as much as to follow recipes. For me recipes often feel like inspiration rather than a set of instructions. Understandably my dishes do often tend to turn out a bit ‘generic Middle Eastern’ rather than specifically Persian, Lebanese, Turkish, etc.

    Another cuisine I’m intrigued by is Georgian – I’ve heard it described as a mix of Persian and Indian flavours. Diana Henry’s book ‘Roast Figs, Sugar Snow’ has a delicious recipe for a Georgian lamb stew with damsons. I found the spicing really unusual and intriguing, and on my one chance to visit a Georgian restaurant the intrigue continued: it’s rare to eat things where you’re not quite sure what the flavourings are, and guess at what elements have made up the delicious whole. The one that eluded my for ages was fenugreek, quite surprising seeing as it’s so strong and, I would have thought, distinctive. July 22, 2015 at 10:39am Reply

    • Victoria: If it’s a traditional dish, I’m more likely to make it according to the recipe first and later I may adapt it to my taste. Usually, I also use recipes for inspiration. It makes cooking more fun.

      Georgian cuisine was one of the highlights on our recent trip in May. There is definitely a Persian vibe to some of the dishes, but overall, the flavor is completely different and is not reminiscent of anything else. When lots of different people and cultures mix, the result is always a delicious cuisine. This is the case there. Georgians also use lots of different herbs. For instance, the lamb dish with sour plums includes almost as many herbs as meat. Herbs at Georgian markets are sold there in bales, rather than dainty bouquets, and there is so much variety. July 22, 2015 at 2:31pm Reply

      • Awfulknitter: I love the non-English grocery stalls at my local market. The huge bundles of herbs are so much better than the teensy packets you get from supermarkets! If I’m using herbs in my cooking, it’s usually by the handful. 🙂

        Mmm, I’ve just remembered that we haven’t yet had anything with herby sauce mirelle yet this summer. I must fix that as soon as the British weather actually looks like summer again!

        (Recipe for sauce mireille found here: I like it with salmon.) July 24, 2015 at 11:06am Reply

  • Daisy: Thanks for my morning read. Nice images and thoughts to start the day. I’m off to the shops…now which nut? July 22, 2015 at 10:50am Reply

    • Victoria: You’re most welcome, Daisy! 🙂
      That’s the hardest part, but if you have cashews, they’re so good with these spices. All of the shops around me were sold out, otherwise I would have made the recipe with them. Hazelnuts are delicious too, of course. July 22, 2015 at 2:37pm Reply

  • Tamara: My mouth is watering, but it’s almost lunchtime for me. 🙂 July 22, 2015 at 12:39pm Reply

    • Victoria: I took only a couple of photos inside the book, but it includes many more. I can’t flip through it without getting hungry. July 22, 2015 at 2:40pm Reply

  • Aurora: Such a great post and a lovely nut recipe, so useful when entertaining. I’ve had the privilege to taste Persian food as I have Iranian friends and especially enjoy lentil and eggplant dishes as a vegetarian, they serve the dishes with a plate of fresh spring onions and coriander: delicious.

    A very rich and ancient culture, like the USSR America has also intervened in a nefarious way in that part of the world. July 22, 2015 at 3:03pm Reply

    • Victoria: I usually don’t eat meat for Lent, and I found that adapting Iranian dishes to be vegetarian is not as challenging as it seems. I’ve used lentils instead of lamb in some versions of layered pilafs and chickpeas in stews. The spices might need to be adjusted, though.

      Russia, the USA, and Britain all bear the blame. In my other life as a political scientist, I used to teach an intro class on the Middle Eastern politics as a grad student, and this part was always difficult to explain to students who haven’t had much understanding of the region’s history besides the standard news outlets. July 23, 2015 at 7:08am Reply

  • Jessie: Nice looking recipe. How long would pistachios would take? July 22, 2015 at 5:11pm Reply

    • Jessie: PS Thank you for posting the story too. I like reading about faraway places. My beloved dog is getting old and doesn’t do a dog motel anymore, means I don’t travel. Reading and watching documentaries is my substitute. July 22, 2015 at 5:13pm Reply

      • Victoria: There is nothing like arm-chair travel! 🙂 But of course, I’m sorry about your pet’s health. July 23, 2015 at 7:19am Reply

    • claire: I haven’t made this particular recipe, but when I roast pistachios with salt 5-10 min is enough. July 23, 2015 at 1:35am Reply

      • claire: 5-10min at 160 C July 23, 2015 at 1:36am Reply

    • Victoria: I’d go with Claire’s suggestion of 5 or 10 minutes. Pistachios are so delicate. July 23, 2015 at 7:18am Reply

  • claire: Thank you for this lovely and colourful review. I’ve been keen on trying to cook Persian food at home and your post gave me a nudge. I decided to start with Persiana. I’ll let you know how it goes. Thanks, Victoria! July 23, 2015 at 1:31am Reply

    • Victoria: A great choice! Persiana is a wonderful book, and I hope that you enjoy cooking out of it. July 23, 2015 at 7:23am Reply

  • WingsOfSaffron: Wonderfully evocative post! I have a cookery book called “Malouf”, which too is absolutely recommendable.
    I would however like to make note of—in my mind at least—one of the very best writers in this field: Claudia Roden: Her all-encompassing “A New Book of Middle Eastern Food” is gold standard and her “The Book of Jewish Food”, well it is just beyond sublime. It poignantly brings home just how much our world and especially the Middle East as well as Eastern Europe has changed in the last 100-150 years, sometimes beyond recognition! Do read it, it is one of the best cookery books ever out there! July 23, 2015 at 1:46am Reply

    • Victoria: Malouf: New Middle Eastern Food was the book I got a few months ago, but I haven’t cooked from it yet. The recipes look very tempting, though.
      I love Roden’s books and have all of them. But when it comes to Iranian cooking, she’s not the best source, in my opinion. Iranian food is very different from other cuisines of the region, and in Roden’s Iranian recipes, I miss the complexity of flavors.
      Very much like “The Book of Jewish Food”! Her recipe for apricot tart from this book is one of my favorites. July 23, 2015 at 7:32am Reply

  • Dee: Absolutely beautiful… I love this new generation of cookbooks, and how they’re much more than just recipes. July 23, 2015 at 3:43am Reply

    • Victoria: I like that they explain the history, traditions and give the context for the dishes. This adds so much to my enjoyment of cooking. July 23, 2015 at 7:33am Reply

  • Michaela: Great article, thank you. Everything about it is interesting, and the comments, too.
    This funny and modest remark made my day: ‘for how much authenticity can a Ukrainian cooking Iranian food in Belgium strive? ‘ 🙂 July 23, 2015 at 7:16am Reply

    • Victoria: 🙂 Whenever I read cookbook reviews that focus on food of a specific region, I notice the question of authenticity. I appreciate knowing how a dish was changed from its original version or what ingredients can be substituted, but I’m not a purist when it comes to replicating recipes.
      Glad that you liked the post! There is so much to be written on Persian cuisine in the context of scents. July 23, 2015 at 7:45am Reply

  • Aisha: Those photos are stunning! The colors are so vibrant.

    Is the book an equal mix of recipes and history? July 23, 2015 at 3:36pm Reply

    • Victoria: They’ve done a great job with the photos. Bright colors but not overdone, still natural.
      The book is mostly recipes, but in between the sections on recipes is their travelogue. Not so much history as Greg and Lucy Malouf’s stories of travels around Iran. July 23, 2015 at 3:50pm Reply

  • JoDee: Your website inspires me to new heights! Last year I started a cookbook club with some friends. Our idea was to travel the world through food. We looked at Madhur Jaffrey’s book Indian Cooking, Ladurée’s The Sweet Recipes and Everyday Harumi for Japanese cuisine, among others (these were my favorites). I have been contemplating what new cookbooks to suggest to the group for the coming year and I believe now I have my answer! Victoria, your blog is fascinating. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this book. July 23, 2015 at 11:41pm Reply

    • Victoria: What a great idea to have a cookbook club and make food from all over the world! Persian food will be an adventure, since flavors are complex and the techniques are unusual. But for its apparent exoticism, it has a comfort quality too–lots of stews, soups and dips.

      I also love Everyday Harumi and Madhur Jaffrey’s Indian Cooking (also Julie Sahni’s books on Indian cooking are among my top favorites). July 24, 2015 at 5:09am Reply

  • Annikky: I am way late to the party, but had to comment, as I adore Persian cuisine and I discovered it mostly thanks to you. I believe I’ve collected all Maloufs’ cookbooks by now and incidentally, baked their orange, cardamom and sour cream cake yesterday to take to a picnic with colleagues – it’s very straightforward to make, but absolutely delicious. For everyday cooking, I think Persiana is very nice, too. July 24, 2015 at 1:30pm Reply

    • Victoria: I’m very happy to hear it. 🙂 The combinations of spices and flavors in traditional Persian cooking are so elegant, and Malouf does such a great job capturing them. I made his seafood stew for a dinner party last weekend, and it went well with Georgian wine and Ukrainian side dishes. July 24, 2015 at 3:14pm Reply

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