Review – The Saffron Tales: Recipes from the Persian Kitchen
If you’re like me, food is a big part of your travels. You see something new and even if you have no idea what it is, you’ll order it just to find out. But what happens when you fall in love with the food and can’t find it at home? Make it yourself.
After landing in Tehran before the sun was awake, I wasn’t really sure if I was hungry or not. But then I saw the hotel’s breakfast buffet, and I can never pass on a breakfast buffet.
Eggs any which way I liked, tomatoes, cucumber, bread, cheese, meat and jams – strawberry and carrot. Yes, carrot jam – savoury and sweet at the same time, I fell in love and had to get my hands on a recipe.
And that’s how I stumbled upon “The Saffron Tales” by Yasmin Khan. Not only is there a carrot, cardamom and rose water jam recipe (page 45), there are recipes for fesenjoon (chicken, walnuts and pomegranates – page 170), ghormeh sabzi (slow cooked lamb and herb stew – page 181), dolmeh (stuffed eggplants – page 146), of course kebabs and many other mouth watering dishes.
But it’s the stories that Khan has woven through book, around the recipes that bring the book to life. That along with the tempting photography.
The book opens with childhood memories of living in Iran on her parents’ farm, eating freshly picked figs at 6am with her grandfather and pickling garlic with her grandmother on the kitchen floor. She vibrantly explains Iranian customs and celebrations, which always revolve around food, and usually more than you can eat.
Khan “armed with a little more than a notebook and a bottle of pomegranate molasses” criss-crossed her ancestral home. The people she met and the stories they told are peppered throughout the book, giving the recipes a context.
Pore over this book and you will be in the ancient land of the spice route and learn how the ingredients are more than just food. They feature in ancient mythology and natural medicines, and artwork everywhere.
I have made the carrot jam, and it definitely gets the tick of approval; the lavaash (unleavened flat bread, page 60) is quick and easy; and the chocolate and pistachio torte (page 199) is moist and light and decadent all at the same time.
It’s the perfect way to get your Persian food fix when you don’t live near a Persian restaurant.
Want to know what I discovered in Iran? Read all about my travels here.