I always love it when a publisher (thanks Bloomsbury) sends me a new cookbook, and I was delighted when ‘The Saffron Tales: Recipes from the Persian Kitchen‘ dropped on my doormat. From the short stories dotted throughout the book, alongside the recipes, Yasmin Khan opens up her world to the reader. It takes you on a journey from her childhood, painting a unique picture of a landscape making the most of a land of amazing flavours and food, often dismissed or overlooked by many in today’s current climate.
Yasmin is a 35-year-old writer and cook from Hackney in East London. She was born in London to Iranian (or Persian) parents and her love affair with food began as a small girl when she spent summer on her grandparent’s rice farm in Iran.
With the help of 300 Kickstarter backers from around the world, she set about researching and documenting food around Iran with Tehran-based photographer Shahrzad Darafsheh. All the stories, recipes, and images she captured are now in her debut cookbook Saffron Tales. Not content with changing the world of food, she is a human rights campaigner and works with her local community teaching food growth and cookery skills.
But now you’ve a little background, here’s what I thought of the book. I thoroughly enjoy the flavours of Persian cookery and having waded through a few books – both ancient and modern – I loved her stories of Persian mythology and folklore and felt I was on the journey of the Old Silk Road with her. Most of all I liked that her recipes were sumptuous but made with ingredients accessible to any home cook.
One of my favourite dishes, and I’ve cooked it a few times now is the Loobia Polo or Rice with lamb, tomatoes, and green beans.
It’s simple, relatively cheap to make and is better, in my humble opinion, a few days later. Minced beef can replace the lamb. It’s just one of many recipes; I will enjoy recreating.
The Carrot & Pistachio Salad is simple, tasty and lasts a few days stored in the fridge. It made its way into the book via a yoga teacher in Tehran
350g grated carrots
15g finely chopped mint
15g finely chopped parsley
2 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
20g roughly chopped pistachios
salt and pepper
Combine the carrots, mint, and parsley in a large bowl. Make the dressing by whisking the lemon juice, olive oil, pomegranate molasses, ½ tsp salt and ½ tsp pepper together. Pour the dressing over the vegetables and stir well. Toast the pistachios by placing them in a dry frying pan over a medium heat for a minute. Sprinkle the nuts over the salad just before serving.