I finally allowed myself the luxury of a new cookbook. I’ve been hesitant about adding to my aresenal, but I have been eyeing, “Food of Life: Ancient Persian and Modern Iranian Cooking and Ceremonies” for a while now. When I was in New Mexico for my friend’s wedding, as we were putting together her wedding cake and she was talking about an incredible meal she made for everyone. She said it came from a bigger, slightly more expensive Persian cookbook. I knew immediately it was this one.
“Do it. It’s worth it,” she said. “It’s more than just a cookbook.”
That very night I finally ordered it. The book is more than just photos and recipes. There are also descriptions of ancient and modern Persian ceremonies, poetry, folktales, travelogue excerpts and anecdotes. The book began in exile after the Iranian Revolution of 1979 as a love letter to Batmanglij’s, the author’s, children.
One of the reasons I started this website was a way to keep track of my own experiences in the kitchen and how they translate to or from the rest of life. It’s sharing a piece of my journey to becomming a better cook, consumer of food and person in general, even if it means admitting to infuriating flaws and absurd points of view. Ultimately, like this book, this site is a creative outlet for the interior complexity we develop through all of our experiences, a way of sharing and submitting experiences in the kitchen and documenting my journey in order to be known. To whom? Myself? Strangers? Future children?
With that introduction, I made a classic that I learned from my days as a fish monger- my favorite herb crusted salmon- but added some green chili powder and dill to make it different. I made a Persian-inspired dish that did not come from the book. I needed a quick recipe so I put together a short-cut synthesis of other Persian recipes I’ve seen and I served these eggplant rolls as an appetizer.
- 1 large eggplant, sliced as thinly as possible
- 1 bunch fresh dill, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2/3 cup almonds, finely chopped
- 1 cup Greek yogurt (I used 2% Fage)
- salt and pepper to taste
- squeeze of lemon juice (optional)
Spray a grill pan with cooking spray or grease with vegetable oil. Grill the thin slices of eggplant until grill marks appear. Mash garlic cloves in a large bowl. Add the minced dill and walnuts to the bowl. Sprinkle with salt and pepper as much as preferred. Add yogurt to the bowl. Stir until well mixed. Spread the mixture over the eggplant sheets. Roll the eggplant around the mixture. Enjoy warm.
I’ve written about this wonderful fresh salmon before, but it’s easy enough, I won’t make you jump pages.
- 1 pound salmon
- a few pinches of green chili flakes
- 1 bunch cilantro chopped
- 1 bunch dill chopped
- hot pepper puree or sauce of your choice (I use Peruvian racoto peppers)
Preheat oven to 350F. Slather all of the ingredients on top of the salmon in the amount that you wish. Pop the salmon in the oven for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, cut and serve. The skin comes right off if you serve with a spatula. Enjoy!