Saturday, December 31, 2011

Persian Love Cake

Persian Love Cake

This is how it looks on

This is Mariah's was so pretty, and it was delicious. It has a very delicate taste, with crushed cardamom (which I had on hand, whole cardamom seeds, I'm happy to say) and rose water (which I also had on hand, direct from Kashan, Iran, the rose water capital of the world).

Friday, December 30, 2011

Best Blog Ever!

Go there, quick!

Here's a sample, Mariah and I are making this for Birthday dinner for Mark and Manochehr tonight:

Slivered Almonds & Barberry Stew 

(Khoresh Khalal Badam & Zereshk

Serves 4-6

1 1/2 pound meat (lamb, beef ), washed and cubed
1 cup slivered almonds, lightly toasted
1 cup dried barberries, picked over, rinsed, can be found in most Persian grocery stores
1 cup yellow split peas, picked over, rinsed (optional)
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/3 teaspoon cinnamon 
1/3 teaspoon crushed saffron dissolved in 2 tablespoons of hot water
1-2 tablespoons rose water (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Lightly toast the almond slivers in a dry pan for 3-5 minutes over medium to low heat. Set aside
  2. In a small frying pan lightly saute the barberries in 1-2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat for a few minutes. Set aside.
  3. In a small pan saute the tomato paste in a tablespoon of oil for 2-3 minutes over medium heat. Set aside. This step is optional but it improves the taste of the stew.
  4. Heat 2-3 tablespoons of oil in a large pot, saute the sliced onion over medium heat until translucent, add the garlic and saute for another 2-3 minutes then add the turmeric. Stir well to blend every bit of onion and garlic with turmeric powder.
  5. Add the meat and brown on all sides. Add cinnamon, salt and pepper to taste, blend well.  
  6. Make some room in the center of the pot by pushing the meat and onion mixture to the side of the pot and place the split peas in the center and fry them for a few minutes. This will harden the peas and gets rid of their raw smell. You may also cook the split peas separately with two cups of water and add them to the stew half way through cooking if you prefer. 
  7. Scoop in the tomato paste and pour in enough water to cover meat and to come about two inches above. 
  8. Cover and cook for 30 minutes on medium to low heat, add the almond slivers, mix well, cook and cover for another 20 minutes. Add water if needed.
  9. Add barberries and saffron, stir well, taste and adjust seasoning. Cook for another 20-30 minutes until meat is tender and the flavors are well blended. Pour rose water in the last 10 minutes of cooking. 
Serve warm with rice, pickles (torshi), fresh herbs and yogurt.

A Seperation

                              A House Divided by Exasperation

“A Separation,” a tightly structured, emotionally astute new film from Iran, begins with a couple, at odds and in distress, arguing in front of a judge. Simin (Leila Hatami) wants to leave the country with her daughter, Termeh (Sarina Farhadi), and Simin’s husband, Nader (Peyman Moadi), insists on staying at home in Tehran to care for his frail and elderly father, who suffers from dementia and needs constant attention. Quite possibly there is more at issue than practical domestic arrangements — there are hints of suppressed anger in Nader’s demeanor, of long-simmering exasperation in Simin’s — but an Iranian courtroom may not be the best place to discuss intimate marital matters.

More About This Movie

Habib Madjidi/Sony Pictures Classics
Kimia Hosseini, left, and Sareh Bayat in "A Separation."
Nor, given that country’s strict censorship codes, is an Iranian film. But “A Separation,”written and directed by Asghar Farhadi (and Iran’s official Oscar submission), does not feel especially constrained. It is a rigorously honest movie about the difficulties of being honest, a film that tries to be truthful about the slipperiness of truth. It also sketches a portrait — perhaps an unnervingly familiar picture for American audiences — of a society divided by sex, generation, religion and class.
The partial split between Nader and Simin is only one of the schisms revealed in the course of a story that quietly and shrewdly combines elements of family melodrama and legal thriller. Because Nader refuses to agree to a divorce or to give the legally required permission for his daughter to travel abroad, he and Simin find themselves at an impasse. She goes to live with her parents, and he hires a young woman named Razieh (Sareh Bayat) to help look after his father.
Razieh, who arrives with her young daughter, has an anxious, plaintive manner, and her apparent unreliability brings minor irritation and then outright chaos into Nader’s life. Before long — and as a result of events I will leave for you to discover — Nader is back in court, embroiled in long arguments with Razieh and her husband, Hodjat (Shahab Hosseini), an unemployed shoemaker laden with debt and seething with resentment, humiliation and angry piety.
The conflict between the two families, which often turns on forensic details and uncertain recollections, is inflamed by social tension. In Hodjat’s eyes Nader and Simin are part of a corrupt and entitled elite, arrogant and irreligious and full of contempt for an ordinary working man like him. And their attempts to be reasonable, compassionate and polite betray an unmistakable condescension, which Mr. Farhadi tacitly endorses by making Hodjat such a brute.
There are moments when the humanism of “A Separation” feels a bit schematic, as if the characters were pulled from a box of available types rather than painted in the shades of life. But there are also scenes that draw power from the subtlety of the performances, in particular the quiet, watchful portrayal by Ms. Farhadi (the director’s daughter) of a girl who is at once central and peripheral to the drama unfolding around her. Termeh, shy and studious, is desperate to please her parents and terrified that her family will collapse. Her parents, and the audience, continually overlook the intensity of her feelings, which nonetheless pervade the film, along with her unspoken hope that everything will work out in the end.
The outcome is less important to Mr. Farhadi than what leads up to it, and the film is remarkably deft in capturing the petty, cumulative frustrations of modern city life. In addition to their weekly quota of quarrels and brooding silences, Simin and Nader must contend with work (she is a doctor, he has a job in a bank), their daughter’s schooling, Tehran traffic (a touchstone of recent Iranian cinema) and an officious and sometimes chaotic government bureaucracy. Daily life is a cycle of waiting, nagging, negotiating and looking for a place to park, much of it carried out with frayed and weary decorum. Even when everything seems to be falling apart, people try to mind their manners.
Because self-control seems to be, in this setting, both a deeply ingrained habit and a public virtue, eruptions of feeling — some of which come close to physical violence — arrive with special force in “A Separation.” And they leave a knot of ethical and philosophical questions that may make the walk home from the theater as argumentative as the film itself. Most of the characters’ behavior is viewed with sympathy and skepticism, and the frequent bouts of legal wrangling invite endless interpretation of every aspect of the story. Somehow it is all perfectly clear, and yet at the same time tantalizingly and heartbreakingly mysterious.
“A Separation” is rated PG-13 (Parents strongly cautioned). A lot of difficult grown-up stuff.
Opens on Friday in New York and Los Angeles.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Change Your Words

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Frothing Happiness

Wow, this gizmo really froths! It's wonderful! I microwaved the froth afterwards for 30 warm it up. Delicious! Mine is red; it also comes in orange. Tonight I made myself a wonderful herbal latte with warmed froth and Chai latte topping from Steeps. Available at The Bay.