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Following on from their earlier Saha and Turquoise, Greg and Lucy Malouf turn their attentions to Iran. In the same vein as those earlier books, it is mostly a travelogue and photograph album, and almost secondarily it seems a recipe book. 'Turquoise' I thought had too many photos of old blokes sitting around smoking tabs and kids mucking around in grubby back streets of Istanbul. 'Saha' was a bit better in that respect as the photographs were generally more food related and added to the 'food atmosphere'. This new book falls somewhere between those two stools, but having said that, this is probably a prime contender for the most visually stunning cookbook I have seen, with a riot of colour and patterns depicted in the country's art and architecture.

As to the recipes themselves, there are plenty of classics such as shirin polow, zereshk polow (here with rose petals), morasa polow (jewelled rice, here sadly somewhat understated compared to other cookbooks) and a version of duck fesenjan. However there's also a reasonable selection of items I haven't come across before despite having a sizeable collection of cookbooks of Persian and Middle Eastern cooking, from simple street food such as grilled corn on the cob but enlivened with sumaq and lime zest and juice, to koofteh Tabrizi, giant meatballs stuffed with fruit and nuts. I can't wait to have a go at the cardamom and pistachio fudge which undoubtedly tastes as amazing as it looks in the photograph (albeit in the photo it also contains rose petals which are not mentioned in the text - don't you just hate it when they do that in cookbooks?).

Would I recommend it? Well yes and no. As a lover of Middle Eastern food in general and Iranian food in particular, I can count myself content to include this in my collection. If you are happy to have essentially a coffee table book, fine. I'm not sure a book like this is something you would want to let anywhere near the kitchen lest it get splattered with your pomegranate molasses. If you want something more practical and potentially expendable, then for starters I would suggest The Legendary Cuisine of Persia or A Taste of Persia instead.
33 comments| 63 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
Following on from their earlier Saha and Turquoise, Greg and Lucy Malouf turn their attentions to Iran. In the same vein as those earlier books, it is mostly a travelogue and photograph album, and almost secondarily it seems a recipe book. 'Turquoise' I thought had too many photos of old blokes sitting around smoking tabs and kids mucking around in grubby back streets of Istanbul. 'Saha' was a bit better in that respect as the photographs were generally more food related and added to the 'food atmosphere'. This new book falls somewhere between those two stools, but having said that, this is probably a prime contender for the most visually stunning cookbook I have seen, with a riot of colour and patterns depicted in the country's art and architecture.

As to the recipes themselves, there are plenty of classics such as shirin polow, zereshk polow (here with rose petals), morasa polow (jewelled rice, here sadly somewhat understated compared to other cookbooks) and a version of duck fesenjan. However there's also a reasonable selection of items I haven't come across before despite having a sizeable collection of cookbooks of Persian and Middle Eastern cooking, from simple street food such as grilled corn on the cob but enlivened with sumaq and lime zest and juice, to koofteh Tabrizi, giant meatballs stuffed with fruit and nuts. I can't wait to have a go at the cardamom and pistachio fudge which undoubtedly tastes as amazing as it looks in the photograph (albeit in the photo it also contains rose petals which are not mentioned in the text - don't you just hate it when they do that in cookbooks?).

Would I recommend it? Well yes and no. As a lover of Middle Eastern food in general and Iranian food in particular, I can count myself content to include this in my collection. If you are happy to have essentially a coffee table book, fine. I'm not sure a book like this is something you would want to let anywhere near the kitchen lest it get splattered with your pomegranate molasses. If you want something more practical and potentially expendable, then for starters I would suggest The Legendary Cuisine of Persia or A Taste of Persia instead.
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on 22 December 2011
Persian food is hearty yet healthy, loaded with flavour and aroma. Herbs feature heavily, used every bit as abundantly as in Vietnamese cuisine. By contrast, though, they're often added to long-cooked stews and egg dishes, resulting in deep, rich, elusive flavours that linger in the mind. Chapters are divided into topics such as 'Staples', 'Sweets' and 'Small Dishes', reflecting the generosity with which Persian food is presented.

Greg's recipes are consistently compelling, displaying a slight avant-garde spin toward traditional Persian recipes. From Barberi breads at breakfast to a Fresh herb stew with lamb and dried lime at dinner, opportunities for use are limitless. Tempting Cardamom-pistachio butter fudge jostles for attention alongside the 'Longest night grazing mix' or the clever Olive, pomegranate and grated walnut salad.

The Maloufs weave the tale of a relatively unknown cuisine with verve, revealing elements of the country's complex history. The book's design includes gold cut-outs dividing chapters and a dust jacket which unfolds to reveal beautifully patterned paper in warm earth tones.

When a book delivers such wealth, it's difficult to categorise. You have to make up your own mind...Enjoy
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on 2 June 2014
Frankly after reading this book I can't see any point in anyone writing a Persian cookbook ever again!
The recipes are easy to follow, and though modern, are rooted firmly in traditional Persian cooking. As an Iranian cook used to the traditional flavours, I love the new take. The photos and travelogue provide a colourful and beautiful picture of Iran around 2010. The book itself is beautifully produced and would grace any coffee table. The only problem for me is that this book is so beautiful that I don't want to ruin it by using it in the kitchen! I tend to leave it in the next room and look at the recipes there.
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on 7 August 2012
I was looking for a recipe book that would remind me of the sights and sounds of my month traveling Iran, and I found it. Saraban is a 'Must Have' book if you have spent any time in Iran. It has exquisite photos, an accurate account of the diverse country and its hospitable people, and a collection of fantastic recipes. Greg Malouf presents classic Persian recipes in a contemporary way. They are easy to follow and simple to prepare for the home cook. This book has broadened my culinary repertoire and looks great on my kitchen bench too!
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on 28 November 2012
This is a most beautifully presented book both in terms of the recipes and the stunning photographs, which makes it one to pick up and browse over with pleasure every so often, as well as being one to treasure. I'm not much of a cook, but I've been to Persia and I adored the food, so I am going to try out the recipes!
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on 8 October 2012
Greg Malouf is synonymous with great middle eastern inspired recipes and his wife Lucy is a great travel writer. This latest book is more like a travelogue/coffee table book. The quality is beautiful, the recipes work and it reads very well as a travelogue. All in all a great gift for yourself or someone you like who loves good food.
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on 1 June 2012
Lovely book with beautiful pictures and lovely recipes. Very interesting and more than happy with this purchase - can recommend as a present for others.
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on 2 May 2011
This beautiful book, filled with wonderful photographs, is a delight to the eye. The interesting commentary makes it one third travel book and two thirds cookery book. I may never cook any of the recipes but just looking at them makes the mouth water.I love it.The Amazon price is also half the recommended retail price. What more could you want
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on 29 May 2011
This is a delightful book, more a coffe table book that a cookery book, but still showing some very good dishes.
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