Customer Review

32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Classic and unusual recipes, 14 April 2012
This review is from: Pomegranates and Roses: My Persian Family Recipes (Hardcover)
The culinary memoir seems to be a growing sub-genre in a saturated cookbook market - works describing the author's wonderful better-than-yours-could-ever-have-been childhood in far off exotic lands, with a few recipes thrown in here or there. As an avid collector of Middle Easter cookbooks, I had feared from the publicity that this new release would be firmly within that camp. However the family history part is in fact relatively unobtrusive and the food comes to the fore. Despite the subtitle "My Persian family recipes", the recipes here go beyond author Ariana Bundy's own family with ones which are regional or are Jewish for example (Ms Bundy confesses in the introduction to "gathering recipes by email, phone and travelling").

There are many classic dishes in here to be found in most if not all Iranian cookbooks - khoresht-e fesenjan, tas kebab, shirin polow, and zereshk polow for example. There are however plenty of recipes here dissimilar to what I have seen before despite my large collection - to name a few, zeytoon parvardeh (olives in pomegranate molasses and crushed walnuts), haroset (a Jewish-Iranian sweet involving fruits, nuts and spices), morabayeh bademjoon (an aubergine preserve flavoured with cardamom and rose water), faloudeh (rice noodle granita with lime and rose water), belderchineh too por (quails stuffed with rose petals), and gheymeh nessar (lamb with barberries, tomatoes and rose water).

The book is arranged by categorisation into fruit, nuts and pulses, vegetables, grains, dairy, meat, fish, herbs, and spices. Some recipes find themselves in odd places to my mind though - similar rice dishes will find themselves categorised according to a particular ingredient therein rather than coming gathered together under the grains section.

Recipes for the most part steer clear of hard to find ingredients, though there are still a few here and there which will be easier to find if you live down the Edgeware Road rather than in deepest Devon like myself. Many dishes are accompanied by an excellent photograph of the end result, though sometimes when there is a photo it is just of one or more of the ingredients. As someone who eats with eyes as well as mouth, I do like to see what the finished article ought to look like, and I would have liked more of this.

Ariana Bundy has given us a welcome addition to the corpus of Iranian cookbooks, wonderfully presented and suitable for novices to the region's cuisine. If looking for a first Iranian cookbook however, it's also worth considering the possible alternatives; my recommendations would include for example New Persian Cooking: A Fresh Approach to the Classic Cuisine of Iran, plus the older and less glamorous but excellent The Legendary Cuisine of Persia (which is where I began with Iranian and indeed Middle Eastern cooking), A Taste of Persia: An Introduction to Persian Cuisine and Food of Life: Ancient Persian and Modern Iranian Cooking and Ceremonies. There is also the visually stunning but not necessarily so practical coffee-tablish Saraban: A chef's journey through Persia.
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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 18 Apr 2012 13:21:11 BDT
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In reply to an earlier post on 18 Apr 2012 16:40:58 BDT
E. L. Wisty says:
Thanks Mrs K. I would guess around 2/3 of the recipes have an accompanying photo, and of those photos probably 2/3 are of the finished dish. I like to see a photograph, not so much to compare results but rather in order to decide what to cook in the first place. If you're entertaining you want to serve up something attractive rather than a dog's dinner however much it delights the tastebuds.

In reply to an earlier post on 18 Apr 2012 17:39:54 BDT
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Posted on 29 May 2012 17:01:11 BDT
Scotlanda says:
An excellent review as always, EL Wisty. It is interesting to come across a cookery book which diverts from the norm. I do like unusual recipes, am also an avid collector of Middle Eastern cookery books which I've bought thanks to some of your excellent reviews. I can second your alternative recommendations :Taste of Persia: An Introduction to Persian Cooking ,The Legendary Cuisine of Persia, and last but by no means least, Food of Life: Ancient Persian and Modern Iranian Cooking and Ceremonies (25th Anniversary Edition) .
This new one is now on my wish list.

In reply to an earlier post on 30 May 2012 19:04:51 BDT
E. L. Wisty says:
Thanks Scotlanda. I can't believe they're now asking 40 quid for the Food of Life book. That's just criminal!

In reply to an earlier post on 4 Jun 2012 14:24:08 BDT
meerkat says:
Excellent review as ever, Mr W. To your reading list, I'd add Persia in Peckham by Sally Butcher, for a cheery intro to Persian food.
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