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Cooking in Iran:
Regional Recipes & Kitchen Secrets

Published Date: November 2, 2018

Not in Stock


8.5” x 9.5
728, 250 recipes

About the Book

Najmieh Batmanglij was exiled from Iran 39 years ago. She was living in France where she did not speak the language or have proper documents—and above all, she was pregnant. Out of a nostalgia and yearning to connect with her roots, she wrote her first cookbook, Food of Life, as a kind of love letter to her children. She wanted to share with them all the good things she had experienced growing up in a traditional family in Iran.


Over the years, Food of Life has been called “the definitive book on Persian cooking” by the Los Angeles Times and “the Persian cookbook Bible” by Iranians and others. Food of Life was followed by six more cookbooks including Silk Road Cooking, which according to the New York Times, read like “a good novel—once you start it’s hard to put down.” But as she worked on these books at home in America, a fantastical dream took hold—a craving to revisit Iran and celebrate the specialties and traditional dishes of each region.


The challenges that faced her—emotional, political, and logistical—were daunting, but she felt she had to do it. She knew from her Silk Road research trip to China twenty years earlier that, under the bulldozer of modernity, Iran too would soon lose many of its traditional ways, special cooking techniques, and small artisanal workshops. Najmieh was determined to capture and preserve them before that happened.


After five years of overcoming obstacles, meticulous planning, and ten thousand miles of traveling the length and breadth of Iran—cooking with local cooks, visiting workshops, and developing recipes—Najmieh’s dream has been realized with the creation of Cooking in Iran: Regional Recipes and Cooking Secrets. This book is a distillation of those past five years. It is an authoritative exploration of a cuisine whose cultural roots are among the deepest of any in the world.


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.


With more than 250 recipes and 400 photographs, Cooking in Iran is packed with inspiring ideas and practical tips—everything you’ll need for recreating these glorious dishes so that you can embark on a culinary journey of your own.


“Najmieh is the goddess of Iranian cooking”
Yotam Ottolenghi, The Guardian


“Chefs Across the country are at the forefront of Najmieh’s fan base. They know what’s good, and they are Inspired by the ingredients and techniques she brings to the table.“
 —Bonnie S. Benwick, The Washington Post



A Geography of Iran 11

Preface 13

Tehran 14

Arrival 17

Climate 18

A Little History 21

The Tajrish Bazaar 25

Downtown Tehran  33

Iranian Soups and the Kitchen 37

Ladies’ Lunch 40

Tehran in the 1900s 42

Darband 50

Darakeh 56



A Little History 71

A Caspian Story 73

Cooking in Rasht 80

Masouleh 103

Harvesting Tea 166



A Little History 175

Ardabil 177

Tabriz 178

Cooking in Tabriz 183

The Story of Omaj 193

The National Dish:

Chelow Kabab 208

The Story of Minced Kabab 215

Wine in an Ancient Kitchen 227


QOM 228

A Little History 229



A Little History 233

Dessert 241



A Little History 245

Iranian Jews 253


ARAK 268

A Little History 269



A Flat Bread Story 287



A Little History 313



A Little History 354

Iranian Armenians 379



A Little History 383

Do Not Despair 385



A Little History 391

Saffron 393

Barberries 417


YAZD 428

A Little History 431

The Cypress at Abarkuh 435

Iranian Zoroastrians 437

Pomegranates 443

A Pastry Workshop 452



A Little History 463

The Pistachio Journey 465

The Persian Garden 509



A Little History  518

Hafez 520

Sesame 555

Fill the Glass with Wine 559



A Little History 565



A Little History 577

Bushehr 579

The Bounty of the Sea 581

The Date Palm 585

A Conversation Between a Date Palm and a Goat 593



A Little History 682

A Visual Glossary of an Iranian Pantry 702

Acknowledgements 704

Credits 706



Index 714

About the Author

NAJMIEH BATMANGLIJ, hailed as “the guru of Persian cuisine” by The Washington Post, has spent the past 30 years cooking, traveling, and adapting authentic Persian recipes to tastes and techniques in the West. The 25th Anniversary Edition of her book Food of Life: Ancient Persian and Modern Iranian Cooking and Ceremonies was called “This summer’s most coveted tome” by Vogue. Her Silk Road Cooking: A Vegetarian Journey was selected as “One of the 10 best vegetarian cookbooks of the year” by the New York Times; and her From Persia to Napa: Wine at the Persian Table won the Gourmand Cookbook Award for the world’s best wine history book of 2007. Happy Nowruz: Cooking with Children to Celebrate the Persian New Year is a guide to customs thousands of years old yet as vital as ever – enjoyable for families no matter where they live or what their beliefs. She 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. Her most recent book is Joon: Persian Cooking Made Simple. Her web site is