Iran is not a very foreign land for many Americans. From the hostage crisis in the early 80’s to the more recent stoning case, Iran is probably most significant to Americans for its engagement in contemporary Middle East politics. What many may not know is that Iran is home to one of the oldest and richest civilizations that made advancements in mathematics, medicine, astronomy, literature, art, and naturally– food.
Persian food is subtly bold, balanced and refined. Highlighted with an array of herbs and spices such as mint, sumac and saffron, Iran’s cuisine culminates (at least in my opinion) to the height of artistry and skill in polo. Polo is long grain rice that is delicately mixed in endless combinations of spices, herbs, vegetables and meat. So why am I starting off with a seemingly easy no-cook soup? Fear, my friends. Fear of failure, of irregularly shaped rice, of burnt tahdig (the tasty toasted rice at the bottom of the pot). And mostly fear of failure under the tutelage of Persian cook extraordinaire, Noushi.
Noushi is my best friend’s mother and one of the best cooks I know. Now, I know most of you read that statement with some skepticism, as everyone’s mother or grandmother is “the best cook ever.” But anyone who has stepped into her kitchen can vouch for my claim so just trust me when I say that her cooking is amazing!
So what does all this jabber amount to? Certainly more Persian dishes to come in the future, courtesy of Noushi of course. As for this week, we’ll start our adventure to Iran with ab doogh khiar, an incredibly simple yet delicious cold cucumber and yogurt soup– absolutely perfect on a hot summer day. See you in the kitchen Friday!