Najmieh Batmanglij, hailed as “The Grande Dame of Iranian Cooking” by The Washington Post, has spent the past 40 years cooking, traveling, and adapting authentic Persian recipes to tastes and techniques in the West. Her celebrated cook books include Food of Life: Ancient Persian and Modern Iranian Cooking and Ceremonies, Silk Road Cooking: A Vegetarian Journey, and her most recent book Cooking in Iran: Regional Recipes and Kitchen Secrets. Najmieh is a member of Les Dames d’Escoffier and lives in Washington, DC, where she teaches Persian and Silk Road cooking, and consults with restaurants around the world.
In this talk, Najmieh discusses her most recent cookbook, selected as one of the 19 best cookbooks of Autumn 2018 by The New York Times.
Description of the book: “Najmieh takes us with her on an extraordinary culinary journey: from the daily fish market in Bushehr, on the Persian Gulf, where she and her host buy and cook a 14-pound grouper in a tamarind, cilantro, and garlic sauce, to the heart of historical Isfahan, in central Iran, where she prepares lamb necks in a yogurt, saffron, and candied orange peel sauce topped with caramelized barberries. Traveling north to the Caspian Sea, she introduces us to the authentic Gilaki version of slow-cooked duck in a pomegranate and walnut sauce, served over smoked rice; and the unique flavors of a duck-egg omelet with smoked eggplant and baby garlic. Lingering in the north, in tribal Kurdistan, she treats us to lamb-and-bulgur meatballs filled with caramelized onions and raisins in a saffron sauce. Dropping south, to Bandar Abbas on the coast, she teases our palate with rice cooked in date juice and served with spicy fish, while in Baluchistan she cooks spiced goat in a pit overnight and celebrates the age-old method of making bread in hot ashes.
At every village and off-the-beaten-track community, Najmieh unearths traditional recipes and makes surprising new discoveries, giving us a glimpse along the way of the places where many of the ingredients for the recipes are grown. She treks through the fields and orchards of Iran, showing us saffron being picked in Khorasan and pomegranates in Yazd, dates harvested by the Persian Gulf, pistachios in Kerman, and tea and rice by the Caspian.”
Part of the Stanford Festival of Iranian Arts