The recipes below are a sampling from Najmieh’s cookbooks. Use them to explore Persian cuisine, which has one of the oldest and most refined cooking schools. You will find inspiration from a great age-old cuisine presented for today’s cook.
Making good rice with a perfect golden crust is all about the combination of the temperature and the cooking time. Traditionally, Iranians use a ready-made padded lid (damkoni) to cover the rice pot to prevent steam from escaping during long-term steaming. view, print, or download this recipe
Traditionally this recipe is made with duck: the affinity between pomegranate and duck in Persian cooking goes back to ancient times. However, this dish is equally delicious—and nutritious—made without meat, which is what I am giving you here. For those who’d like meat, I suggest serving it with chicken kabab. view, print, or download this recipe
Whenever the sofreh (cloth) is spread for a meal, you will find a variety of pickles (torshis) accompanying the main course. Most torshis consist of vegetables or fruits and spices preserved in vinegar.
Torshis are usually made by women; my mother used to say that some women have a special touch for making torshis. She herself was especially particular about the vinegar she used and who had made it. When I think back, it makes sense because good vinegar is the foundation of a good pickle.
Some pickles, such as garlic pickles, age very well. After about 7 years a good garlic pickle turns black and sweet, and becomes more like a preserve. view, print, or download this recipe
Georgia’s position between the Caucasus Mountains and the Black Sea made it an important part of the Silk Road routes; this and its rich land also drew the attention of a number of conquerors, including Arabs, Mongols, Turks, and Persians, during its long history. Georgian cuisine often combines walnuts (for its nutty taste) with fruit (to counteract the oiliness of the nuts). I have adapted this wonderful rice salad from a Georgian pilaf. view, print, or download this recipe
To prepare the filling, in a mixing bowl, combine the cream, sugar, rose water, and orange zest, and whip at high speed until soft peaks form. Cover and keep chilled. For the dough, in a heavy-based medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the water, salt, and butter, and bring to a boil, stirring well with a wooden spoon. Add the vanilla and rose water. view, print, or download this recipe
What I love about this salad is that it’s so easy to make, so classically Persian in taste, and yet so modern. What’s more, it’s a complete meal for vegetarians. I prefer to use thick Persian yogurt or labneh. view, print, or download this recipe
Eggplant and pomegranate go very well together. This simple and delicious dish from the Caspian region can be made 24 hours in advance and served warm or at room temperature. view, print, or download this recipe
Belgian chef Lucien Olivier of the Hermitage in Moscow made the original version of this salad back in the 1860s. It was immensely popular and copied all over the world. Iranians quickly adopted it as their own, and most Iranians of my generation have very fond memories of it as one of their favorite dishes, served both at home and in sandwich shops and restaurants. Here, I have replaced the mayonnaise of the original with yogurt and made a short cut for cooking the chicken. view, print, or download this recipe
This kuku brings back golden memories of my childhood in Iran. On the eve of the Persian New Year, our kitchen would be buzzing with activity as my mother and other members of the family were busy preparing kuku sabzi, an essential dish for the New Year feast. The tantalizing aroma of the herbs floating around the house would drive us children crazy with the desire to have some of the kuku—but we had to wait until the festivities began. view, print, or download this recipe
This delicious osh (thick soup) with meatballs, herbs and dried fruit makes a healthy winter meal by itself. If using dried herbs, place a sieve in a bowl of lukewarm water and soak the dried herbs for 20 minutes. Remove the sieve from the bowl and use the herbs. view, print, or download this recipe
The quantity of onion to meat is an essential factor in preventing the meat from falling off the skewer while cooking. view, print, or download this recipe
Years ago I was inspired by a sixteenth-century Persian cookbook to create this recipe and combine a mixture of pomegranate and grape molasses for the sauce. To my surprise, last year in Kerman, where they have the best of both pomegranates and pistachios, a local cook served me pistachio meatballs with a pomegranate sauce. view, print, or download this recipe
In the Mazandaran region of the Caspian Sea, where my inspiration for this recipe originated, the locals love to combine lots of fresh herbs with barberries. view, print, or download this recipe
This famous dish from the Persian Gulf is one of my all-time favorite ways to cook fish. A young man from Bandar Abbas showed me how his mother made it. The Persian Gulf is known for several varieties of fish and shrimp that are exceptionally good—Jean Chardin, the jeweler and keen observer also mentions this in the seventeenth century. You can replace the fish with shrimp and follow the recipe exactly as below, except in step 5 sear the shrimp for only a few minutes, shaking the pan back and forth, just until they change color. Take care not to overcook or they will lose their tenderness. view, print, or download this recipe
Chinese eggplants (purple) are not bitter, but regular eggplants (black) need to have their bitterness removed. Place slices in a container, cover with water, sprinkle with 1 tablespoon salt, let stand for 20 minutes, drain, and rinse with cold water. Blot dry thoroughly. view, print, or download this recipe
This dish is popular by the Caspian. view, print, or download this recipe
Barbari bread is a flat oval or round 1 to 1V-inch- thick loaf. It is at its best eaten fresh, as you would a French baguette. You can also cook this bread without a baking stone by using a baking sheet. view, print, or download this recipe
This sweet, nutritional, and comforting dish is associated with the Winter Festival, Shab-e Yalda. view, print, or download this recipe
Iran has some of the finest sundried raisins in the world. And this simple raisin cookie recipe is simple to make and delicious. view, print, or download this recipe
This batter will also make an excellent cake: Butter an 8-inch spring form cake pan and line the base with parchment paper. Butter the parchment paper and dust it with flour. Gently pour the batter into the cake pan and bake in a 350˚F (180˚C) preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. view, print, or download this recipe
Quince jam is a favorite in Iran. My mother would always make her own. I have sweet memories of wonderful morning breakfasts with fresh barbari bread (similar to focaccia), butter, quince jam and hot tea. view, print, or download this recipe