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Food of Life: Ancient Persian and Modern Iranian Cooking and Ceremonies [Hardcover]

Najmieh Batmanglij
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
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Book Description

March 3 2011 9781933823478 978-1933823478 25th Anniversary (4th)
Completely redesigned for today’s generation of cooks and food enthusiasts, the 25th Anniversary Edition of Food of Life: Ancient Persian and Modern Iranian Cooking and Ceremonies by Najmieh Batmanglij (Mage; $54.95 640 pages); provides a treasure trove of recipes, along with an immersive cultural experience for those seeking to understand this ancient and timeless cuisine. This edition is a more user-friendly edition of the award-winning and critically acclaimed cookbook series which began in 1986. Food of Life provides 330 classical and regional Iranian recipes as well as an introduction to Persian art, history and culture. The book’s hundreds of full color photographs are intertwined with descriptions of ancient and modern Persian ceremonies, poetry, folktales, travelogue excerpts and anecdotes. The 2011 Edition of Food of Life is a labor of love. The book began in exile after the Iranian Revolution of 1979 as a love letter to Batmanglij’s children. Today, as accomplished adults in their own fields, her two sons, Zal and Rostam, encouraged her to redesign the book for their generation. Food of Life propels Persian cooking into the 21st Century, even as it honors venerable traditions and centuries of artistic expression. It is the result of 30 years of collecting, testing and adapting authentic and traditional Persian recipes for the American kitchen. Most of its ingredients are readily available throughout the U.S. enabling anyone from a master chef to a novice to reproduce the refined tastes, textures, and beauty of Persian cuisine. Food-related pieces from such classics as the 10th century Book of Kings, and 1,001 Nights to the miniatures of Mir Mosavvar and Aq Mirak, from the poetry of Omar Khayyam and Sohrab Sepehri to the humor of Mulla Nasruddin are all included. Each recipe is presented with steps that are logical and easy to follow. Readers learn how to simply yet deliciously cook rice, the jewel of Persian cooking, which, when combined with a little meat, fowl, or fish, vegetables, fruits, and herbs, provides the perfect balanced diet. The full-color Food of Life 25th Anniversary Edition contains 50% more pages than its 2009 predecessor and special added features: *New Recipes adapted from Sixteenth-Century Persian cookbooks *Added vegetarian section for most recipes *Comprehensive dictionary of all ingredients *A glance at a few thousand years of the history of Persian Cooking *Master recipes with photos illustrating the steps. *Color photos of most recipes with tips on presentation *Updated section on Persian stores and Internet suppliers *Fahrenheit and Centigrade temperatures for all recipes *Choices for cooking recipes such as “kuku” in oven or on stovetop. *Encourages use of seasonal and local ingredients from farmers markets, Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs) sources or one’s own backyard Batmanglij’s cookbooks reflect the tradition and culture of her Persian background and the multi-tasking demands of a busy mother and professional. She views preparing a meal not only as a culinary experience, but also as a means to bring family and friends together. She encourages her readers to do as she was taught in Iran: to cook, to laugh, to tell jokes and stories, and to recite poetry. Over the past quarter century, Batmanglij’s books have acted as both a beacon and a bible to Iranian-American and mixed-ethnicity families in the English-speaking world. Food of Life is one of the few volumes whose breadth ranges from the exacting measures that go into cooking a perfect bowl of rice to the intricacies of a traditional ancient Persian marriage ceremony. Her life and her work meet at the vortex of feminism, tradition, ceremony, and the nourishment of body and mind, proving that none of these concepts need be foreign to one another.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Batmanglij, an Iranian emigre who is a culinary historian, effectively weaves Iranian cookery with ancient Persian legends and poetry (unfortunately, many appear sans attributions or dates), and descriptions of traditional ceremonies and holidays. The author serves up a variety of delicacies, such as an eggplant with pomegranate appetizer; stuffed fruits or vegetables, or dolmeh, like grape leaves or apples stuffed with peas and meat; lamb's head and feet soup; omeletskookoofilled with meat, vegetables or herbs; lamb brochettes; stuffed fish with tamarind; sauteed brains; rice with sour cherries; rhubarb stew; mango pickles; carrot preserves; baklava; and hot and cold drinks. The uncomplicated recipes feature preparation and cooking times; lists of Iranian specialty stores in the U.S., and necessary kitchen equipment and ingredients for a Persian pantry, and a Persian-English glossary are included. Illustrations.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Najmieh Batmanglij was raised in a very traditional family in Iran. She has spent the last 20 years cooking, researching and collecting authentic Persian recipes. Her books include: Ma Cuisine d'Iran (Paris, 1984), Food of Life (Mage, 1986), and Persian Cooking For A Healthy Kitchen (Mage, 1994). She is currently working on a vegetarian cookbook. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You will impress your Persian friends! March 15 2004
By A Customer
I am an American who loves many kinds of ethnic cuisine. When I married my husband (who is from Iran), we received this book as a wedding gift. The first dish I made was the fresh herb stew, which is my husband's favorite. He was so delighted with how it turned out, he said, "It tastes very much like what my Mom used to make!"
The directions for each recipe are clearly written. There are beautiful pictures, interesting tidbits and cultural info scattered throughout. It is THE book I turn to when we have Persian gatherings at our house, not only for the recipes but also for learning about the culture.
I have made many of the recipes in this book and they have all turned out wonderful. I recently made Halva (saffron brownie) which is served in memorial of the passing of a loved one. Our guests could not believe the American wife could make great tasting Halva! Many of the Persian wives either don't know how to make it well or say it's too difficult to bother with. Thanks to the author for helping me to impress our guests!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent reference on Persian cuisine March 31 2000
By A Customer
I was first introduced to Iranian cooking in college while living with an Iranian roommate and fell in love with Persian cuisine. Every dish I have prepared out of New Food of Life has become a favorite in my repertoire of recipes. Many recipes are time-consuming, but well worth the effort, similar to the philosophy of French cooking. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who loves good food and loves cooking. This book is also filled with beautiful photographs, artwork and interesting information about Iranian culture and traditions (esp the last section of the book, which details traditional ceremonies and holidays), which also makes this a nice reference for people interested in Iran's rich culture and history. This is one of my favorite cookbooks. Highly recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Cook Book Around Aug. 10 1999
This is the best cookbook I own. Its layout is clear and simple. The recipies are easy to understand and clearly written. It is the most complete book I've ever seen. New food of life explains how to prepare fresh spice mixtures for it's own dishes, includes variants for different ways of preparing each dish, contains nice photos which help for presentation ideas, contains conversion tables for ovens, weights and measures as well as historical notes and even a list of Persian markets in the US. This is easily one of the most valuable cookbooks you will ever buy. It's definitely worth the money!!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars KHORESHT-E ZERESHK!!! June 12 2003
As past reviews indicate, this is a really reliable, thorough cookbook. Iranian friends have admired everything I've fixed. It's especially useful to compare recipes in this book with the different versions found in "Persian Cooking For A Healthy" Kitchen. The spicing is sometimes slightly different and you can learn a lot just by seeing the possible variations.
As a passing note, I would say that when preparing the chelo in a rice cooker you can easily omit the oil. Virtually all of the butter must remain, however. (You can safely reduce the amount by 2-3 tablespoons.) Where water is called for, in the various stews, I use stocks.
The little-known (in Iran) khoresht-e zereshk is one of the best dishes in the book. And VERY Persian. It's a stew version of the far more famous zereshk polo, and slightly similar to fessenjoon, as well. Even strangers who have fixed it for guests have told me that it received rave reviews. The invariable joke is "how does an American know about this dish and WE don't?"
This book has made me an expert at Iranian cuisine. (Now all I need is a recipe for baaghaali ghataagh!)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very accurate, very easy to follow Oct. 6 2002
I grew up in a persian household, watching my mom throw a pinch of this or a pinch of that and making these fabulous persian dishes - but could never replicate them. Every recipe I've tried in this book is so accurate and so easy to follow. The author really pays attention to detail and you will truly be amazed at what you can make. Buy it now - you will enjoy making all of these dishes.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy this book!!! Aug. 10 2000
My fiancee is Persian but has been living in the U.S. since she was 5. I bought this book so that we could enjoy some of the dishes that she fondly remembered from her childhood - dolmehs, khoreshes, and polows that her aunts and grandmother would make. When she opened the book and started reading, her eyes lit up! It was like she was reconnected to her past. And since then, we've been enjoying this book immensely! It's huge, it's complete, and it's awesome. Buy it!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful gift May 20 2000
By A Customer
My daughter-in-law was born in Iran. She often said she could not remember exactly was went into certain dishes her mother had cooked. She did not know what spices and herbs to use. I had purchased two smaller Persian cookbooks which she said were not very good. She loves this cookbook. Her Persian friends love this book. They say the recipes are wonderful. She also likes the the section on celebrations.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, Easy-to-follow recipies Aug. 23 1998
By A Customer
Having been raised in a Persian household in the US, I have been spoiled by my mother's virtuousity in the kitchen. Persian cuisine is at once powerfully exotic, subtle in its combinations of flavors and, on the whole, extremely healthy. I set out, about a year ago, to find the "definitive" persian cookbook and after trying more than I care to mention, I found "New Food of Life." I have faithfully followed Ms. Batmanglij's recipies and have been thrilled by the results. (Mom even gave it the thumbs up) The author gives terrific "troubleshooting" tips, provides a list of regional grocers where one can find certain hard-to-locate spices and enriches the cooking with insightful literary references from the culture. Merci Ms. Batmanglij!
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Most recent customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Excellent BUT
I appreciate the great effort invested in this great recipes book
The only bad thing is the historical content which is untrue !!! Read more
Published 26 days ago by System Builders
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
Saw on amazon. Good reviews. Lots of good recipes. Simple ingredients but tasty. She has a unique style to her food
Published 29 days ago by Babak Khodarahmi
5.0 out of 5 stars Three thumbs up!
An amazing wealth of information. Often two or three additional options are offered in case you want to try a different variation of the recipe.
Published 2 months ago by aaron gaffney
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing book
I was not born or raised in Iran but this book lets me connect to my heritage. I share it with all my guests.
Published 3 months ago by Shawn
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent
I have the first edition of this book which is a treasure.This one is the complete version of the first one.Instructions are clear and the outcome is excellent. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Sadie Nasseri
1.0 out of 5 stars Has she really tated her cooking?????
What on earth is this women doing calling herself a promoter of Persian cooking??? Rose water in Ghormeh Sabzi??? Read more
Published 12 months ago by Adrine
5.0 out of 5 stars Food of life
The book looks elegant and different from other cook books .It has beautiful pictures and poems which makes the book more interesting . Read more
Published 18 months ago by Shahla
5.0 out of 5 stars New Food
Fantastic book about Iranian dishes and culture. Full of pics. Must have. Iranian food is the best.
Published on Nov. 27 2009 by Nourai
1.0 out of 5 stars Very Disappointing
I left Iran when I was 14 in 1977. I have always been interested in cooking and have been looking for a good Persian cookery book for quite some time. Read more
Published on March 19 2007 by Mad As Hell Lou that was duped into buying this
5.0 out of 5 stars In the Top 10 Best Cookbooks of all Time
I consider this book as one of the best cookbooks of all time, and let me just say that I have read a lot of cookbooks in my day. Read more
Published on Nov. 10 2003
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