“New Food of Life: Ancient Persian and Modern Iranian Cooking and Ceremonies,” by Najmieh Batmanglij: my review (by da-AL)

It’s the start of Spring and with it Persian New Year, the time of year that is among the happiest everywhere in the world. A time brilliant with hope, promise, and gratitude for overcoming the year behind us. Yeah! We have survived! All people can peacefully celebrate!

“New Food of Life: Ancient Persian and Modern Iranian Cooking and Ceremonies,” by Najmieh Batmanglij


“New Food of Life,” by Najimieh 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.

Persian 'tadig,' crunchy rice.
Persian ‘tadig,’ crunchy rice.
Persian 'miniature' style painting of picnickers.
Persian ‘miniature’ style painting of picnickers.

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.

Platter of fresh herbs, feta, and nuts.
Platter of fresh herbs, feta, and nuts.

Without my husband, I might never have tasted simple elegance at its most sublime. Here Batmanglij features a splendid heap of fresh herbs that can include mint, fennel, parsley, watercress, and sweet basil. Alongside it, real feta cheese (not the miserly crumbled sort), and nuts soaked in brine.

Persian 'Lubia Polo' green bean stew with rice.
Persian ‘Lubia Polo’ green bean stew with rice.

Tea gets its own chapter — marvelous Persian tea that’s best appreciated by eyes and nose from clear glasses that highlight color and scent.

Persian sweet fritters.
Persian sweet fritters.

Batmanglij accomplishes much in this singular book! There’s illustrated explanations of holidays and traditions.

Persian poetry and painting.
Persian poetry and painting.

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.

Batmanglij has other cookbooks for all ages.

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9 thoughts on ““New Food of Life: Ancient Persian and Modern Iranian Cooking and Ceremonies,” by Najmieh Batmanglij: my review (by da-AL)

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