Video: Awarded Iranian American Chef Ariana Bundy’s beautiful introduction to Persian cuisine on TV at Nat Geo People on May 8th

Ariana Bundy, an award winning Iranian-American chef and cookbook author of ‘Pomegranates & Roses’, visits the vast and fascinating country of Iran to re-discover her heritage. From the lush green mountains of the Caspian sea, to the golden deserts of Yazd, Ariana eats her way through Persian delicacies in Bazaars, pastry shops, restaurants, and people’s homes.

Cooking alongside local women in palatial homes, countryside and in villages. She meets chefs, bazaar traders, farmers, food bloggers and home cooks and recreates the recipes she picks up along the way in her home in Dubai, by using common ingredients and short cuts to create exotic feasts.

About Ariana Bundy
TV Chef and cookbook author Ariana Bundy was brought up in New York, London, Switzerland and Paris. She inherited her love of food and cooking from her grandparents – who grew cherries, plums, apricots, apples, wheat and barley, bred sheep and goats for dairy, and had beautiful vineyards producing prized grapes – and from her father, who owned the first fine-dining French restaurant in Iran and later in Beverly Hills.

Ariana was Head Pastry Chef for the Mondrian Hotel in LA. Graduate of Le Cordon Bleu and Le Notre in Paris, she trained at Fauchon Patisserie and attended the European Business School in London. She has cooked for celebrities such as Tom Hanks, Nicole Kidman, President Clinton, Brad Pitt and Madonna to name a few.

Sources: Payvand News of Iran, Tehran Times

Advertisements

Photo gallery: Nowruz – Iranian New Year Food and Sweets

The main dish for Nowruz is Sabzi Polow Mahi (Sabzi Polow = Rice with fresh herbs, Mahi = Fish). In addition you have Kookoo/Kuku Sabzi (an Iranian Frittata made of fresh herbs and optionally barberries and walnuts). Besides this you have all kinds of sweets, some of them are depicted below:

Sources:

Tumeric and Saffron 1, 2, 3My persian kitchen 1, 2, Persian mama, Iran review, Bottom of the pot

A walk through the old pastry shops of downtown Tehran

Tehranis do not take their pastries lightly – literally. Baked goods are sold in boxes of a minimum 500g (1.1lb) going all the way to 2kg (4.4lb). It isn’t strange to see someone walking out carrying several boxes heaped in a precarious pile.

The Iranian palette is no stranger to sweets – from the haji badomi (sugary almond balls) of Yazd to the kolompeh (crisp, date-stuffed cookies) of Kerman. But Tehran has managed to take the European pastry and make its own, a bread pastry that is the perfect complement to afternoon tea.

“Armenians introduced Tehran to the European pastry,” the owner of Lord tells me. His father opened the shop in 1964, he explains, decades after Tehran’s first Armenian pastry store was opened in the bustling, now almost mythical Lalehzar Street. “They packed up and left for the United States after the revolution, but we had thick skin.”

There is no shortage of good pastry shops in downtown. Upscale bakeries have taken over in north Tehran, but this is still the Mecca of shirini (baked sweets). Walking a few minutes south from Lord, on Taleqani Street you will find one of Tehran’s best pastry stores: Shirini Danmarki (Danish Pastry), where the pastries have undergone an Iranian metamorphosis.

The shop offers custard or apricot jam in a buttery crust, apple filled tarts, and Iranian style puff pastry. People come in especially on the half hour (from 8:30 am onward) as the famed noon danmarki – slices of flaky bread stuffed with their own special crème patisserie and sprinkled with sugar – emerges fresh from the oven. […]

For me, an ideal day is roaming downtown’s old districts, then stopping at Danish Pastry for sweets. Then, going for lunch at Soren, an Armenian sandwich store located between Danish and Lord at the intersection of Villa and Warsaw streets: it has been making sumptuous, reasonably priced steak sandwiches sprinkled with diced herbs for generations of downtown dwellers. Then, back to Lord for coffee. Or the whole ritual can be practised in reverse.

West of Lord, on Aban street, in a quaint corner with old houses, stands Hans Bakery. If you didn’t notice the sign on the green door, you’d mistake it for another home. Inside, there are flowers in the yard, and from the kitchen comes the sound of banging pots and pans. The sweet smells of caramel, vanilla and cake lead the way.

The claim to fame of Hans is the delicious sponge cake layered with vanilla cream and strawberries. To get your hands on one, you must arrive before noon, or call to have them save you one. Go earlier and you will find the owners barking rapid Armenian to people over the phone as customers call in to make sure their cake is reserved. The store also sells tarts, an assortment of cookies and cream pastries, but it is their strawberry vanilla cake that makes up for their usually grumpy manners.

To find good natured folks, Orient Cafe, in what was once Roosevelt Avenue (now Moffateh) is the place to go: a brightly lit, spacious Armenian bakery and cafe, where Mr Sevak and his mother manage day-to-day operations. Their coffee is among the best in the city and the chocolate covered orange slices are always tender and full of flavour. Orient also offers delightful perok, a light apricot cake, and nazook, a crisp Armenian pastry baked here with a walnut filling. […]

Orient was established in 1943 by immigrants from Soviet Armenia. Mr Sevak’s family bought the cafe and bakery 15 years ago, following their successful experience with the Anahita Bakery in Sohrevardi Street. His mother oversees the workers in the bakery, and some from the original store were still here until around ten years ago. Bakers serve as the memory of their establishments, learning and perfecting recipes and passing them on.

Many Armenian bakeries also operate as cafes, the most well-known of these being Naderi Cafe, in Jomhoori Street, where generations of writers and artists and students have gathered, and still do. Naderi no longer bakes sweets – but offers raisin cake and roulette (cake roll) brought in. Both always taste stale, but how can you refuse Reza Khan, the jolly waiter, as he insists you’ll enjoy a slice of cake with your coffee?

For the best accompaniment to a cup of coffee, you once walked to Nobel, an Armenian bakery in Mirzayeh Shirazi Street, not far from Lord. Opened in 1963, Nobel baked Tehran’s best cream cookie: layer upon layer of light, airy biscuit covered with crème patisserie and their own distinct cookie powder. Nobel also baked sour cherry and peach pies.

But last summer the owners sold up and moved to the United States.

At least Talaie, another Armenian bakery on Mirzayeh Shirazi Street is still here, next door to the Armenian owned toy and greeting card stores. A small hole-in-the-wall kind of bakery, it sells the best Armenian gata – sweet bread – you can find in Tehran.

Expect long lines at 4 pm when the day’s bread is brought out. Gata is finely layered and in Tehran usually has koritz, a filling of flour, butter and sugar. Nothing goes better with a cup of Turkish coffee than a slice of gata and homemade jam.

Armenians are known not only for their pastries, they opened some of Tehran’s first chocolate shops. In the historic areas of Sadi and Hedayat streets, you will find Mignon bakery and chocolatier. The staff will tell you the shop has been here for 80 years and offer to show you a bound album with pictures of their California stores in Glendale and Pasadena.

The Boghossian family has managed Mignon since 1935, after fleeing to Iran from communist Ukraine where their father was imprisoned – he joined them a few years later. The youngest son, 73-year-old Roben, still runs the Tehran store and can be occasionally found there. My favourite at Mignon is dark chocolate covered marzipan with a hint of orange peel. At Christmas, the store is splendidly decorated and boxes of cakes and chocolates, wrapped in colourful ribbons, are piled everywhere.

Source: The Guardian | Iran Blog

Series: Iranian Food – Isfahanian Biryani

In the central Iranian city of Isfahan, Biryani is made with cooked mutton or lamb, which is stewed and minced separately, and then grilled in special small round shallow pans in an oven or over a fire. The meat is generally served with powdered cinnamon in a local bread, usually “nan-e taftoun”, but also occasionally “nan-e sangak”.

You can see some pictures taken during a festival of biryani cooking held in Isfahan:

Source:
Tasnim News
wikipedia

Photo gallery: Christmas 2014 in Iran – Armenian Christmas Food

Every holiday has its own traditional food, in Iran or anywhere else in the world. Iranian Christians, including Armenians, celebrate Christmas and the Christian new year with special dishes, pastries and drinks.

Many Iranians are under the impression that Iranian Armenians, like many other Christians in the world — and especially Americans — celebrate the new year, Christmas and Easter by feasting on turkey. In fact, turkey is as  popular among Armenians as it is among other Iranians in general.

So what is an Armenian Christmas dinner like? The Iranian calendar year starts with the spring equinox, on March 20 or 21, and Iranians celebrate with a dish of herb rice and fish. As it happens, this dish is also a staple of the Armenian Christmas dinner in Iran.

But the Armenian Christmas table has other dishes as well. A key part of the meal is vegetable kuku, an Iranian dish consisting of eggs, vegetables, herbs and sometimes nuts and dried berries. If you ask an Armenian where this tradition comes from the answer is more often than not “I don’t know”.

“On their Christmas eve, Iranian Armenians often dine on rice, fish and vegetable kuku,” writes the Iranian Armenian writer and documentary filmmaker Robert Safarian. “Since childhood we thought that this was a Christmas tradition until the borders to Armenia opened and we learned that there is no dish in Armenia called vegetable kuku. It is an Iranian dish that  has become an Armenian tradition.”

Armenian Christmas pastries follow a tradition too. The two most well known and popular ones are perok (or pirok) marmalade cake and gata pastry. In the past, these two dishes were only popular among Armenians but now they are among the highest-selling pastries in Tehran confectionaries.

Coins of Fortune

Gata varies in its ingredients, size and in how it is decorated, depending on the region or the cook’s preferences. It consists of layers of dough with alternating layers of butter or margarine. Ingredients include flour, sugar, butter, eggs, yeast, milk and salt. Sometimes rosewater or spices such as cardamom are added, though they are not part of the standard recipe. After about an hour in the oven, the layers rise and the final gata takes shape.

One of the most popular variations of gata is made with nuts, especially walnuts. Sometimes a coin is hidden at the center of the gata and the belief is that fortune will smile on whoever finds the coin in her or his gata.

Gata is generally known as a sweet pastry but a salty version is popular too; many Armenian households prepare them for Christmas or the new year.

Perok, the other favorite holiday pastry, is made from a dough very similar to that used to make pie. Its center consists of marmalade; variations in perok are defined by the type of marmalade used.

The ingredients for perok are: pastry flour, sugar, eggs, baking powder, vanilla, grated orange peel, grated walnut, and marmalade. First you mix the butter and sugar, then add eggs one by one as you continue to mix. Then mix flour, baking powder, vanilla, grated orange peel and walnuts together in a separate bowl. For the third step, pour the contents of the bowl into a mixer. After a short while, turn the mixer off and continue to combine the ingredients by hand. Put about one-fourth of the dough aside and place the rest in a Pyrex dish and cover it with marmalade.

Cut the dough you have put aside into narrow ribbons and place them on the marmalade surface, making an “X” pattern. Put into an oven pre-heated to about 175 degrees centigrade and bake for about 40 minutes, or when the perok is golden.

Do-It-Yourself Wine

Like many Christians in the world, cookies and chocolates shaped like Christmas trees, Santa Claus or other symbols of the holiday are popular with Armenians. Families put them under Christmas trees and give them to children as treats and gifts.

You must add coffee and wine to this feast — they have a religious significance for all Christians. Under the Islamic Republic of Iran, trade in alcoholic beverages is forbidden, so the Armenian community makes its own wine and other alcoholic drinks. The law allows religious minorities to make wine for religious purposes.

One last point. The Armenians celebrate Christmas on January 6, so after the new year. As to why, well, that is another story, as they say.

This article was originally published in IranWire

Iran’s Gilan Province: Anbu – Pomegranate Harvest

Anbu (also known as Anbuh-e Mashayekh) is a village in Talesh County, Gilan Province, Iran. At the 2006 census it had a population of 385 inhabitants.

Citizens of Anbu, a village in the south of Gilan, harvest pomegranates as fall arrives.

Sources: Wikipedia | Anbu, Iran, Mehr News Agency | Photos