The New Persian Kitchen
By Louisa Shafia
(Ten Speed Press, 2013)
In The New Persian Kitchen, Louisa Shafia draws on her Iranian heritage to create modern dishes that blend Old World Persian cuisine with contemporary farm-to-table cooking. The book’s 75 recipes combine time-honored Iranian ingredients like pomegranates and pistachios with non-traditional foods such as amaranth and quinoa.
The recipes in this strikingly photographed book range from soups to entrées to sweets. In lieu of an appetizer section, The New Persian Kitchen includes a chapter on starters and snacks. Traditionally, a Persian meal begins with dried nuts and small plates of fresh fruit and vegetables. Instead of a single appetizer, Shafia suggests serving light dishes such as Red Turkish Roasted Tomato and Red Pepper Dip, and Winter Squash Fritters with Rose Petals. The book also devotes an entire chapter to pickles and preserves, which figure heavily in Persian cuisine. The preserves, which feature fragrant ingredients such as sour cherry and rose, pair easily with the other dishes in the book.
The tome’s health-conscious recipes place an emphasis on flavor and seasonal ingredients and are relatively easy to whip up. Just because the dishes don’t require hours in the kitchen does not mean they are not dinner-party-worthy. Roasted Peach and Corn Salad in Tamarind Vinaigrette, Turmeric Chicken with Sumac and Lime, and Pomegranate Semifreddo with Blood Orange Compote won’t fail to impress.
Shafia’s dedication to demystifying Persian cuisine sets The New Persian Kitchen apart from the competition. The recipes are sprinkled with helpful tips and the book’s introduction includes a layman-friendly guide to Persian grocery shopping. Under her guidance, once-intimidating ingredients such as rose petals, dried limes and tamarind will soon become a part of your weekday repertoire.
Reviewed by Julia Mason
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