Customer Review

33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Where it all began, 13 Jun 2009
This review is from: The Legendary Cuisine of Persia (Paperback)
This is the book which, nearly a decade ago, sparked off my love affair with Middle Eastern food. I had been making food from the Indian subcontinent for some while and felt it was perhaps time to expand the geographical horizon a bit. Flicking through this in the bookshop I was entranced, particularly by the photograph of morasa polow with the barberries, currants, sugar crystals, slivered pistachios and almonds and candied orange peel looking like jewels, hence the name meaning "jewelled rice".

The book kicks off with chapters on historical and cultural information, and a sizeable and useful chapter on the ingredients which make Iranian cuisine distinctive.

There follow chapters on bread and rice. Rice dishes include polows (compare Indian 'pilau' and Turkish 'pilaf'), mountains of rice steamed with other ingredients. The discussion on how to successfully cook these kind of rice dishes to perfection on its own is worth getting this book for.

Next come stews (koreshes - the koresht-e fesenjan, duck with a walnut and pomegranate sauce is a classic of world cuisine) and soups.

Then there are also kebabs, meat dumplings, stuffed meats & roasts; followed by stuffed vegetables, kukus (omelette like dishes), yoghurt & salad dishes, pickles, conserves & preserves, drinks, desserts, delicacies, sweetmeats & other confections.

Why only 4 stars for such a superb book? It's only because for me, the recipes tend to be a bit on the minimalist side compared to those in another couple of Iranian cookbooks I have by Najmieh Batmanglij,
New Food of Life: Ancient Persian and Modern Iranian Cooking and Ceremonies and Taste of Persia: An Introduction to Persian Cooking. Batmanglij tends to throw a few more ingredients into her recipes and are more packed with flavour. That approach may not be to everyone's taste - for many people less is more when it comes to combining different flavours - but personally I prefer the greater complexity of Batmanglij's dishes. Still, I wouldn't want to be without the books of either of these writers, as Shaida expertly guides you in the steps to success in preparing Iranian food.
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