To help us learn more about Persian (a.k.a. Iranian) food, we turned to culinary authority Najmieh Batmanglij. In addition to insight on Persian culinary traditions, she provided us with recipes from her book New Food of Life.
What to buy: Angelica is frequently used in Persian cooking. Ground angelica can be found at Middle Eastern markets, in spice stores, or online.
Verjus is the pressed, unfermented juice of unripe wine grapes. It can be found at specialty markets or online.
- Yields: 4 servings
- 3 medium eggplants
- 2 medium onions, peeled and grated
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 4 medium tomatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons pomegranate paste or 1/2 cup verjus
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon angelica powder (gol-par)
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh mint or 2 teaspoons dried mint
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Prick eggplants with a fork to prevent bursting, and place on oven rack. Bake for 1 hour. Be sure to put a tray under the eggplants to catch drips.
- Place the eggplant on a cutting board and let stand until cool enough to handle. Peel and chop.
- In a deep skillet, fry the onions and garlic in 3 tablespoons oil. Add tomatoes, pomegranate paste, or verjus, cook for 10 minutes over medium heat, add the eggplant, and sprinkle with salt, pepper, angelica powder, and mint. Stirring occasionally, simmer over low heat for another 35 minutes, and adjust seasoning.
- Transfer to a serving dish and serve hot or cold with lavash bread as an appetizer. Nush-e Jan!
© 2007 From New Food of Life by Najmieh Batmanglij by permission of Mage Publishers