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New Food of Life: Ancient Persian & Modern Iranian Cooking & Ceremonies

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Presents 240 classical and regional Iranian recipes. This book describes ancient and modern ceremonies, poetry, folk tales, travelogue excerpts, and anecdotes. It helps you learn how to cook rice, the jewel of Persian cooking, simply yet deliciously.


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Presents 240 classical and regional Iranian recipes. This book describes ancient and modern ceremonies, poetry, folk tales, travelogue excerpts, and anecdotes. It helps you learn how to cook rice, the jewel of Persian cooking, simply yet deliciously.

30 review for New Food of Life: Ancient Persian & Modern Iranian Cooking & Ceremonies

  1. 5 out of 5

    Negin

    I'm editing this review to warn you that for the most part, the recipes are extremely time-consuming. Sadly, for me, there's often a huge dread factor. I get exhausted. So if you don't have all the time and energy, as well as all of the complicated ingredients, this book, gorgeous as it is, may not be for you. ---- It may be odd to review a cookbook, but whenever I do, trust me, I pretty much read the entire book cover-to-cover. If you want to make Persian food, this is the cookbook to get. I’m P I'm editing this review to warn you that for the most part, the recipes are extremely time-consuming. Sadly, for me, there's often a huge dread factor. I get exhausted. So if you don't have all the time and energy, as well as all of the complicated ingredients, this book, gorgeous as it is, may not be for you. ---- It may be odd to review a cookbook, but whenever I do, trust me, I pretty much read the entire book cover-to-cover. If you want to make Persian food, this is the cookbook to get. I’m Persian and have been blessed and spoiled to have a mother who’s a fabulous cook, especially with regards to Persian food. It’s always been so available to me that I had little reason to take the time to learn how to cook Persian food. I barely cooked in college, but once I was a newlywed and didn’t live close to my mother for that period of time, my husband and I craved the fabulous food from the old country. I had an older edition of this book and I made many of the recipes. They were pretty much all successes and easy to follow. That edition got destroyed and so after waiting for far too long, I decided to get a new copy. The photographs are gorgeous and the descriptions are just lovely. She’s also included poems, anecdotes, and art throughout. The only downsides to Persian food: I no longer live in a place where I can easily get most of the ingredients. I’ll have to order online and have them shipped. Persian cooking takes a long time. The recipes are certainly not quick! But trust me, the food is incredibly good. As a friend of mine (not Persian) once said, “It truly is one of the great cuisines of the world. The food is not ‘spicy’ (as in picante/hot) but it is deliciously well-spiced, and carries a complexity of flavors that are always in balance. Herbs, and nuts, and fruit (fresh and dried), and spices infuse the dishes. And delicious rice dishes are ever present. It is a cuisine for Kings (and Queens).” I couldn’t agree more.

  2. 5 out of 5

    da AL

    Batmanglij celebrates the past that brought about her marvelous food. Her book promises to keep Iran's most sensual art alive. She packs in love in all of its forms. Within these pages lie poetry, tapestry, childhood memories, and practical advice on how to make these recipes your own. Colorful ‘miniature’ style paintings and lyrical poetry are interspersed among photos vivid enough to make me feel the aromatic steam on my nostrils as I experience crunchy rice (tadig), mountains of grains, pots o Batmanglij celebrates the past that brought about her marvelous food. Her book promises to keep Iran's most sensual art alive. She packs in love in all of its forms. Within these pages lie poetry, tapestry, childhood memories, and practical advice on how to make these recipes your own. Colorful ‘miniature’ style paintings and lyrical poetry are interspersed among photos vivid enough to make me feel the aromatic steam on my nostrils as I experience crunchy rice (tadig), mountains of grains, pots of stews, platters of desserts, with all manner of drinks, staples including pickle and yogurt making instructions, and mixes for seasonings. Tea gets its own chapter — marvelous Persian tea that’s best appreciated by eyes and nose from clear glasses that highlight color and scent. Batmanglij accomplishes much in this singular book! There’s illustrated explanations of holidays and traditions. Even a list of her mother’s interpretation of ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ foods — hot and cold, not to be confused with the dictionary definition of these words. In this case, they’re more akin to Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine interpretations of how they affect the body, not merely the taste buds. This book is for anyone who loves globetrotting via food and anyone who loves a Persian. For a longer review that includes photos, visit my blog: HappinessBetweenTails.WordPress.com

  3. 5 out of 5

    Chrissy

    My boyfriend is from Tehran, Iran, and in an effort to learn more about his culture, I've read tons of books, but let's face it--one of the best (and most delicious!) ways to learn about a culture is to experience its foods. I really appreciate how many photographs are included in the book, which gives a Persian cooking novice like me an idea of what the finished product will look like. Not all the ingredients are easily accessible, but the author also gives you an idea of what some of the less f My boyfriend is from Tehran, Iran, and in an effort to learn more about his culture, I've read tons of books, but let's face it--one of the best (and most delicious!) ways to learn about a culture is to experience its foods. I really appreciate how many photographs are included in the book, which gives a Persian cooking novice like me an idea of what the finished product will look like. Not all the ingredients are easily accessible, but the author also gives you an idea of what some of the less familiar ingredients are like (such as verjuice being tart), so it's possible to swap out or determine what ingredients you might want to leave out, just as if you were working with a familiar recipe. I've already made barbari, and my boyfriend surprised me by making kebab and the yogurt saffron rice, and it was delicious. I look forward to making tons of khoresht (stew) over the impending winter!

  4. 5 out of 5

    K M

    I absolutely love this cookbook. It is as beautiful and educational as it is functional.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Sandra

    This is the best book on Persian cooking that I've found out there. It's sort of like a Persian "Joy of Cooking." Of course, I've only made a fraction of the recipes, but that's probably because the recipes I've used have been so good I want to make them over again. And over again. There's lots of Persian poetry and artwork throughout the book, and one section I really like is at the end, on Nowruz (Persian New Year): how it's celebrated, and how to make a good Haft Seen table (seven items that a This is the best book on Persian cooking that I've found out there. It's sort of like a Persian "Joy of Cooking." Of course, I've only made a fraction of the recipes, but that's probably because the recipes I've used have been so good I want to make them over again. And over again. There's lots of Persian poetry and artwork throughout the book, and one section I really like is at the end, on Nowruz (Persian New Year): how it's celebrated, and how to make a good Haft Seen table (seven items that all start with the letter "S" to bring in the new year properly and symbolize different things; sort of like their version of a Christmas tree). One side benefit: sometimes my husband is trying to describe a certain food to me but we aren't sure what the English name is. In the index of New Food of Life, different foods are listed in both English and transliterated Farsi, so I can look up "eggplant" or "bademjan." This is how we figured out the English for Quince. (It doesn't have "rutabaga," though, and we spent quite a long time figuring out what vegetable he was craving!) My favorite recipes are for the various khoreshes -- Persian stews that have all sorts of yummy ingredients, my favorites being prunes with almost anything (carrots, butternut squash esp.) and quince stew (quince is sort of like apple but deliciously tangy) served over saffron rice that has the lovely Tah Dig, or golden crust at the bottom (easiest to make in a special Persian rice cooker, which can be found at specialty Persian grocery places online, like Kalamala). Oh, and Barberry Rice -- sweet and sour and delicious -- with chicken legs. I haven't tried any of the desserts, but from the other reviews, maybe I'll get brave enough to make Paludah (sometimes confusingly called Faludah), which is Rice Stick Sorbet (which I prefer with lemon juice rather than sour cherry). It always looked too complicated to me. Pomegranate Jelly also sounds good (which I think is jello, not a jam/preserves kind of thing).

  6. 5 out of 5

    L'Artiste

    I have researched this, and this book is by far the BEST book about Persian food known to the Western World. The beauty of this book is that it has tons of recipes, and includes fabulous colorful artwork from the region, along with detailed explanations and pictures of all the Persian customs. I read this often.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Peggah Ghoreishi

    The iconic Persian Cookbook Bible. Almost every Iranian household in America has this cookbook. Interspersed between recipes are Persian art, poetry, and anecdotes. One of my favorite Sepehri lines "I asked him, 'How much an ounce for a happy heart?'" is featured on a page with watermelon, cheese and lavash. There are so many recipes, iconic (yogurt) to exotic (Sabzi polow) to questionable (brain patties). Going through this book without a proper kitchen or ingredients is a huge mistake if you hav The iconic Persian Cookbook Bible. Almost every Iranian household in America has this cookbook. Interspersed between recipes are Persian art, poetry, and anecdotes. One of my favorite Sepehri lines "I asked him, 'How much an ounce for a happy heart?'" is featured on a page with watermelon, cheese and lavash. There are so many recipes, iconic (yogurt) to exotic (Sabzi polow) to questionable (brain patties). Going through this book without a proper kitchen or ingredients is a huge mistake if you haven't eaten. There are vegetarian variation recommendations for many dishes. And in the back there is an in depth list of directions on how to prepare and store certain foods and dishes. The best part is the foolproof instruction on making an assortment of tahdig, which is always my favorite appetizer, entree, and dessert. The list of "useful kitchen ingredients" is helpful, if you're planning on making many Persian meals. A list of Persian restaurants and grocery stores, though possibly outdated, it seems more expansive than the first edition of this book Making a lot of these can be very pricey considering the amount of saffron used in so many dishes. Many of these are not for the novice cook to attempt in the kitchen alone. Though, make sure your help isn't starving and impatient like my mother was when I first attempted dolmeh. There is also a section explaining traditional Persian Ceremonies and traditions. For the Persian Wedding, Batmanglij gives the reader permission to photocopy recipes for javaher polow or shirin polow to give to the caterer. And "If your caterer has any questions on preparing the rice, you may have them contact me." I wonder if the same goes for nervous neophytes in home kitchens.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Lori

    If you're looking to enliven a geographically uninterested palate, seek out this text. Batmanglij's experience with Persian cooking proves that the Middle East and Central Asia has far more to offer than the usual rice and kebab. The foodways presented here demonstrate a culture lost to most Western palates since industrialization and the mass production of food. Elements reminiscent of the high Victorian period abound with the use of herbs most cooks have never heard of let alone can recognize If you're looking to enliven a geographically uninterested palate, seek out this text. Batmanglij's experience with Persian cooking proves that the Middle East and Central Asia has far more to offer than the usual rice and kebab. The foodways presented here demonstrate a culture lost to most Western palates since industrialization and the mass production of food. Elements reminiscent of the high Victorian period abound with the use of herbs most cooks have never heard of let alone can recognize by sight or smell. Yet these ingredients were prominent in American and European kitchens just over a century ago, amongst them angelica, unripened grapes, rose water and quince. Recommended: Pomegranate gelatin (a fantastic combination of textures!) Kuku or Persian omelettes Khoresh of rhubarb, peach, green beans, etc. Must-o-kheyar (a lovely yogurt salad similar to Indian raita) Warnings: take care to cook rice and khoresh dishes at shorter times than recommended. Some of the cooking times soften the vegetables well beyond my preference.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Tia

    Barberry Rice: 4 stars, finicky recipe but turned out delicious! Pomegranate Cucumber Salad: 5 stars, easy and delicious Pistachio Soup: 5 stars, easy and delicious yogurt with shallot dip: 4 stars, easy, but required a long time for soaking shallots.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Dee Kuijer-Watts

    I had the first edition and now have the latest. As a vegan there's some substitution involved, but it's fairly easy. This culturally enriched cookbook has become a coffee table staple in my home. I had the first edition and now have the latest. As a vegan there's some substitution involved, but it's fairly easy. This culturally enriched cookbook has become a coffee table staple in my home.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Bundt

    Najmieh Batmanglij, the "guru of Persian cuisine," wrote the first edition of Food of Life back in 1986 as a way for her to pass down Persian cooking (and culture) to her sons. More than twenty-five years later, "Food of Life" is still going strong and has been given a beautiful update. This anniversary edition includes 330 classical and regional Iranian recipes as well as an introduction to Persian art, history, and culture, new recipes adapted from sixteenth-century Persian cookbooks, added ve Najmieh Batmanglij, the "guru of Persian cuisine," wrote the first edition of Food of Life back in 1986 as a way for her to pass down Persian cooking (and culture) to her sons. More than twenty-five years later, "Food of Life" is still going strong and has been given a beautiful update. This anniversary edition includes 330 classical and regional Iranian recipes as well as an introduction to Persian art, history, and culture, new recipes adapted from sixteenth-century Persian cookbooks, added vegetarian options for most recipes, master recipes with photos illustrating the steps, an overview of the long legacy of Persian cooking, and color photos of most recipes with presentation suggestions. A beautiful green ribbon bookmark makes it easy to find your place. In Iran, cooking is not a solitary act meant only to put food on the table, but one that brings family and friends together to laugh, tell jokes and stories, and recite poetry. This expanded edition of "Food of Life" is rich with Persian poetry (written in Farsi as well as translated into English) that complements various ingredients, recipes, and lifecycle events. You'll find witty retellings of Mulla Nasruddin that combine food and humor, as well as excerpts from the Thousand and One Nights and early Persian literature. There are also detailed descriptions of various holidays in Iran, as well as the traditional Iranian wedding ceremony with suggestions on how to plan your own. Gorgeous illustrations including miniatures, manuscripts, and reproductions from bas-reliefs provide a glimpse of Persian culture throughout the ages, including lavish court feasts. The food photography is also beautiful, featuring traditional Persian sofrehs and accents. For those new to Persian cuisine, a wonderful list of sample menus is included that covers main meals, Persian holidays and lifecycle events (you'll even find a suggested Persian-American hybrid Thanksgiving menu featuring sweet and sour stuffed turkey and pumpkin khoresh). The recipes are clearly laid out (vegetarian substitutions are printed in green in the margins where applicable) and easy to follow, and I appreciated the thorough glossary of ingredients, terms and Persian cooking techniques, the bilingual English-Farsi list of ingredients and common trees, plants and flowers, as well as the updated list of Iranian stores and restaurants (including internet stores). Though there are certain ingredients that will have to be mail ordered (golpar, grape syrup, dried Persian limes, dried rose petals, mahlab, etc.), most recipes call for ingredients that should be readily available at your grocery store or butcher. Persian cuisine tends to use a large variety of fresh and dried herbs and seasonal vegetables, making it a great way to use up produce from your farmer's market or CSA. I particularly loved the opening chapter of appetizers and side dishes; I like to make two or three and serve them as a light dinner. There are many healthy, tasty yogurt-based dips and salads such as yogurt, cucumber and rose petal dip, yogurt and spinach dip, and yogurt and white broad bean salad as well as cheese, walnut and herb dip, olive salads, and light veggie salads. Stuffed vegetables also play an important role in Persian cooking; I loved the vegetarian version of the quinces with rice stuffing (delightfully sweet-tart from the grape molasses, balsamic vinegar, and lime juice), the stuffed eggplants with walnut and onion stuffing, and the potatoes stuffed with eggs and fresh herbs. Kukus, or open-face omelets, are another versatile staple that can be served as a snack, appetizer or main dish. They can be served hot or cold and hold in the fridge for several days, making them perfect for a quick leftover meal with a salad. I loved the apple, raisin, and date omelet: I used Fuji apples (but left out the optional cayenne), and I loved the hint of rosewater in the batter. I also tried the pistachio kuku with its side salad of heart of Romaine and dill; I would have never thought to make an omelet with nuts (you grind them with sugar in the food processor first, so there are no large chunks), but it was a very pleasant discovery. Instructions are also included for finishing the omelet in the oven rather than the stovetop (I found that my Le Creuset 10" cast iron skillet was perfect for this). Another revelation was the fish baked in yogurt with walnut and dill topping. The yogurt kept the fish wonderfully moist, while the walnut topping made with fresh herbs and bread crumbs added a wonderful crunch. There are numerous variations for kababs including lamb, veal, fish, and organ meats, as well as an incredibly thorough chapter on rice dishes, chelows and polows with fantastic step-by-step photos on how to prepare the tahdig, the golden crust at the bottom of the rice pot that is the most prized part, with no fewer than seven variations. There are even instructions on how to make Persian rice in a rice cooker, a handy touch for busy modern cooks. Polows are one of my favorite things to make as I regularly have many spices and dried fruits on hand, and the many variations using seasonal fruits such as apples and quince make for lots of happy exploring. As a baker, I particularly enjoyed the chapters on desserts, pastries and candies and breads. One of my favorite discoveries was the Armenian sweet bread; I found I had all the ingredients on hand (I used ghee in place of butter) and substituted cardamom for mahlab, and the three resulting loaves looked just like those pictured (see above for photo). Due to it being a very rich dough, the bread does not rise much, but the moist crumb was delicately scented with cardamom and just sweet enough (I used pearl sugar as a garnish). It also freezes well for last-minute company. Chapters on preserves and pickles, drinks (including tea, coffee, and flavored syrups), and snacks and street foods round out the offerings. This beautiful anniversary edition of "Food of Life" captures the essence of Iran both ancient and modern, and the book brims with poetry, grace, and the joy of a good meal with family and friends. This is a beautiful tribute to Persian cuisine and culture; the scent of saffron and rosewater seems to rise from its pages, and I find myself coming back to its recipes and stories again and again. "Food of Life" holds a place of honor in my cookbook collection, and I hope it becomes one of your favorites as well. Nush-e Jan! (Review copy courtesy of Mage Publishers)

  12. 5 out of 5

    Fatemah Alhusayni

    As a kid I spent lots of summers in Iran and I have really good memories of my time there, including the delicious food. I consider the Persian cuisine to be one of the top cuisines in the world and I was looking for good recipes that will allow me to recreate those delicious iranian dishes at home. I found this book on amazon and I did not look any further. I have tried a few of the recipes ( there are lots) and they all turned out good. I've tried Sholeh zard ( saffron pudding), Paludeh-ye shi As a kid I spent lots of summers in Iran and I have really good memories of my time there, including the delicious food. I consider the Persian cuisine to be one of the top cuisines in the world and I was looking for good recipes that will allow me to recreate those delicious iranian dishes at home. I found this book on amazon and I did not look any further. I have tried a few of the recipes ( there are lots) and they all turned out good. I've tried Sholeh zard ( saffron pudding), Paludeh-ye shirazi (rice stick sorbet with sour cherries) and Barbari bread and they all were delicious and authentic. Plus , the author's tips on cooking authentic Persian rice are very valuable. Aside from the good recipes I would have bought this book solely for the gorgeous photographs and the little poems that give such an insight into the culture. All I want to say is that this is a really really good cookbook, moreover it is a great coffee table book.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Bookfanatic

    Many of us know Iran from what we see in the news and it's not always a positive depiction of the country. This book will give you greater insight into a very ancient culture. The author makes Persian cuisine accessible to cooks in other parts of the world. I haven't made any Persian dishes before, but after reading this cookbook, I feel confident that I can pull off several dishes that caught my eye. There are gorgeous photographs of the recipes. I appreciate that for I liked to know ahead of Many of us know Iran from what we see in the news and it's not always a positive depiction of the country. This book will give you greater insight into a very ancient culture. The author makes Persian cuisine accessible to cooks in other parts of the world. I haven't made any Persian dishes before, but after reading this cookbook, I feel confident that I can pull off several dishes that caught my eye. There are gorgeous photographs of the recipes. I appreciate that for I liked to know ahead of time how the recipe is supposed to look. This is more than just a cookbook. Sprinkled in between the recipes are short stories from ancient Persia. Most are humorous and some are poignant. The author also spends a lot of time explaining customs related to food, especially the wedding customs. I learned far more about Iran/Persia than I expected to. This book is a keeper.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Zaynaz

    Here it is, my favorite and most used cookbook. Every recipe I've tried from this (bar one, the quince khoresh) has been delicious, and many grace my table regularly now. The Adas polow, albalu polow and khoresh karafs are some of my favorite dishes to cook and to eat and I learned them from this book. I make kuku sabzi for breakfast regularly. The instructions are very detailed and well explained and, once you get a feel for it, many dishes can be prepared relatively quickly too. I credit Ms Ba Here it is, my favorite and most used cookbook. Every recipe I've tried from this (bar one, the quince khoresh) has been delicious, and many grace my table regularly now. The Adas polow, albalu polow and khoresh karafs are some of my favorite dishes to cook and to eat and I learned them from this book. I make kuku sabzi for breakfast regularly. The instructions are very detailed and well explained and, once you get a feel for it, many dishes can be prepared relatively quickly too. I credit Ms Batmanglij for helping me cook rice to perfection- her chelou method has ensured I never get sludgy over cooked rice. It is the only method I use now. If you have any interest in Iranian cuisine or just good food buy this book- it's a pleasure to read, learn from and cook with.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Nicki Tarr

    I really love this book, my best friend/roomate is Persian and loves the food but doesn't know how to cook it. Luckily, I love to cook and learn new dishes, this book gives great detail and information. I love the newest edition because of the step-by-step pictures when cooking Chelo (persian rice)perfectly. It's quite the talent to have. I really love this book, my best friend/roomate is Persian and loves the food but doesn't know how to cook it. Luckily, I love to cook and learn new dishes, this book gives great detail and information. I love the newest edition because of the step-by-step pictures when cooking Chelo (persian rice)perfectly. It's quite the talent to have.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Marian

    Bought this for some of the amazing rice recipes, but there are more excellent recipes within! How I miss my favorite Kebab house in MD. My only concern now is trying to find the unusual ingredients while living here in TX!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Katy

    I was introduced to Persian food through my half-Iranian friend. She then bought me this cookbook which is now one of my greatest treasures. This book is stunning and beautiful. Not only are there recipes but festival descriptions and snippets of Persian culture. Fantastic.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Pantea

    My favorite cook book - some of the recipes are hard to tackle but it's the most comprehensive Persian cookbook out there. Great info on Persian culture and ceremonies too! My favorite cook book - some of the recipes are hard to tackle but it's the most comprehensive Persian cookbook out there. Great info on Persian culture and ceremonies too!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Greta

    Food is absolutely delicious and visually stunning! Personal favorites: peach stew with chicken, yogurt dip with nuts & herbs, walnut cheese dip, and saffron rice.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    Fantastic!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Oriana

    My Persian friend showed this book to me & my Persian boyfriend at dinner the other night and he freaked. Hopefully if I buy it for him, he'll cook for me! My Persian friend showed this book to me & my Persian boyfriend at dinner the other night and he freaked. Hopefully if I buy it for him, he'll cook for me!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Alexis

    New Food of Life: Ancient Persian and Modern Iranian Cooking and Ceremonies by Najmieh Batmanglij (1997)

  23. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    A must-have for those who appreciate cooking from this part of the world. The recipes are easy, the photographs are wonderful, and the food is YUMMY!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Rebekah

    I use this book weekly. The book has iranian traditions and myths written into each section. By far the best Juje kebob recipe ever. Makes a wonderful wedding present.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Sara Collins

    Best Persian cookbook in the market. Every recipe I have tried from this cookbook turned out wonderfully!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Beth Lequeuvre

    So many amazing rice recipes! Lots of different things that sound lovely but pretty much every recipe has at least one ingredient that would be hard to find outside a specialty grocery store.

  27. 5 out of 5

    SKN

    Mmm. Food.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Arya

    Having this book is almost as good as having my mum. That's extremely high praise. Having this book is almost as good as having my mum. That's extremely high praise.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Salvatore

    Yeah you need this cookbook.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Shane C

    this book was incredibly well-writhen!!

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