2005 is when it all began. I met a man I had no intention of spending much time with as my bags were packed and my ticket purchased to head to the other side of the world to possibly never return.
But my heart had been captured in many ways and one of those was by the Iranian/Irish family that he was a part of. If at this point you don't know anything about either culture, let me tell you that gathering and feeding people runs deep.
This spoke to me in many ways (which are even more so apparent to me now 15 years later), plus the fact that Persian food is delicious, I wanted to be a part of the gang. I didn’t get on that plane…
One of the first dishes I was taught, shall we say, was the way in which often a whole chicken is cooked. It was poached first before being stuffed with fruit, nuts and herbs and then roasted to perfection. Making total sense to ensure that the chicken meat was moist and tender and fell off the bone every time. This was of course accompanied by rice.
OMG the rice! Never will I ever cook rice in a different way again (unless my children just can't wait…). The crispy bit as it was commonly known in our households or Tahdig to the connoisseurs. My initial thoughts were “why would someone want to crisp up rice on the bottom of a pan? Surely it will burn?”. My oh my where my taste buds are in for a ride! It is a total art and work of the heart preparing rice for your family/friends/feast and it is a joy introducing it to anyone who is willing. I can't take the credit for it obviously but I love the fact that in our house and extended family it is now known as “Mummy’s yummy rice”, a legacy I am highly honoured to hold.
Over the years and having attended classes with Sabrina Ghayour and Honey & Co. I have developed a great love for Persian and Middle Eastern cuisine. One of the things I love about it most (maybe not surprisingly) is how well it translates to the family table and feeding the masses.
How nurturing it is in its appearance and flavours, the ease of which it is to prepare (mostly) and that over the last 10 years, as well as in the growth of your local Middle Eastern grocer shop, its popularity and more commonplace nature has brought ingredients more readily into the mainstream supermarkets with brands like Belazu, making it an everyday possibility.
Whenever someone asks me for a recipe idea I’ll 9/10 recommend something from my library of Persian and Middle Eastern cookbooks. I have a whole shelf dedicated to them and have purchased books for others as gifts.
I feel like one of my many jobs on this earth is to ensure that as many people get to experience the deliciousness and comforting food that Iran has to offer. Nothing fills my heart more when people have full tummies of great food. If love could be measured in how we feed people, this would be high on the list and simply if love was a cuisine, it would be Persian in my opinion.
As I continue to journey through life, feeding people has become high on my agenda to not only nourish the tummy, but the soul, through connection. There’s not much more in my opinion that brings people together and is an absolute leveller than food and in my house or in my world, Persian food will always be there at the forefront.
Not all loves last, but their intentions and memories will go on forever. I urge you to fall in love with Persian food at least once in this lifetime. You will be forever nourished for it.