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FAITH KAPLAN: PERSIAN FOOD FROM THE NON-PERSIAN BRIDE

Faith Kaplan , September 28, 2011

 Adam, Hart, and I returned last week from Great Neck, NY, where the extended Linder clan attended my cousin Ronnie’s son’s bar mitzvah. Yael had a basketball commitment, but Ronnie has two more sons so she’ll join us next time. Most of my Silverman cousins have moved away, and it’s always great fun to reconnect, reminisce, and watch the next generation grow up. There’s nothing like a simchah when everyone is well-fed, well liquored, well turned out, and on their best behaviour to revel in the connection between people who likely would be strangers if not related by blood or marriage. It reminds me why family has pride of place in Judaism and why it’s so important in these busy modern times. And nothing ties family together like food. Food glorious food, which we enjoyed too much this trip. From high tea at the St. Regis, to dinner at Prime Grill (the kosher steakhouse) to real deli at the 2nd Avenue Deli on 3rd and 33rd to the three Shabbat meals bookending Aaron’s Bar Mitzvah. We returned home stuffed like kishkas.

There is a significant Persian Jewish community in Great Neck, and coincidentally, I have just come into a new cookbook: Persian Food from the Non-Persian Bride and other Kosher Sephardic Recipes You will Love by Reyna Simnegar. Though I’m often mistaken for Persian, (actually, that’s never happened), I haven’t attempted Persian cooking before. I am even more accomplished a cook than I am an oenophile, and was inspired to make a two course Persian meal to atone for Yael’s eating noodles for three days while we were eating like kings in New York and because the food would not resemble the upcoming Rosh Hashanah feasts styled in memory of our very Ashkenazi Baba Dolly and Baba Edith.
This cookbook is well- written, with lots of photos and clear instructions. I made roast chicken in tomato sauce and saffron, Kateh (sticky rice), fennel salad (hold the arak), Salad’e Chogondar (beets), and Moroccan carrot salad. Lime, saffron, and turmeric seem to be the distinguishing ingredients that differentiate Persian from Moroccan cooking. The recipes call for more salt and oil than I’m used to, but the emphasis on fresh ingredients and the uncomplicated cooking style ensures this cookbook will sit on my counter and not in the cupboard. The food was delicious and well received by those harshest of food critics, my family. After we’ve recovered from the Holidays,I will try some of the Shabbat recipes such as Code, Chale Bibi and Dafina and a more exotic rice dish – perhaps Istanbuli Polo or Polo Lapi. If you’ve come into a bookstore gift card, or are looking for an unusual hostess gift, I’d recommend Persian Food from the Non-Persian Bride.
Wishing you and yours a Happy and Healthy New Year, filled with laughter and adventure. Shana Tova!
 
 
 
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