Across Iran, however significantly within the northern areas, the place my household is from, herbs are handled like a vegetable or principal ingredient, somewhat than a garnish. In the Bay Area, the place I now reside, I can all the time 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 prepare dinner, I’m hardly an Iranian prepare 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 methods 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 all the time been a tightrope stroll for me. This undertaking 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 varied private, political and historic causes, many Iranians within the West confer with themselves as Persian. “Persian” is each an ethnicity and a language, often known 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 the whole lot 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 prepare dinner somewhat than a declaration of truth. It’s additionally an invite to my childhood dwelling, and to the Iran my mom constructed for her youngsters out of rice, bread, cheese and herbs.