John and I were very excited to come over to Tara's house for a special Persian New Year feast. Tara spared no expense: she made two kinds of rice, two meat dishes, two salads, and my new favourite dessert.
Tara's Haft Chin sat at the end of the table - with beautiful flowers, Persian poetry and all of the symbols for the sky, the earth, fire, water, plants, animals and fertility.
I absolutely loved the rice with barberries. Sweet, salty, and crunchy - this is by far the best rice I've had. I love how beautifully she presented the rice dishes and how she got the outside of the rice perfectly crispy. I could happily eat this with every meal of the day.
The chicken dish Tara made was incredibly moist chicken (Zereshk Polow) in a gorgeous bright yellow turmeric sauce. I always tell Tara she must be so gorgeous because of all the turmeric she eats (it is an incredible anti-inflammatory).
In the big pot was a standout meat and eggplant stew. Tara knows I love eggplant, so she combined a recipe for Khoresh Bademjan (eggplant stew) and Khoresh Gheimeh (a meat stew traditionally topped with French fries).
What a feast. We enjoyed it all with a traditional tomato and cucumber salad and a salty cucumber yogurt salad that enhanced every dish. I cleaned my plate and couldn't keep my fork out of any dish. I can't believe Tara, an incredibly talented actress, is also a secret Persian Top Chef. I told her we should open a restaurant, and she said "well let's not go that far..."
The night was topped off with my new favourite dessert. Saffron rice pudding. I am a rice pudding lover to begin with, but add some saffron, pistachios and a whole new flavour palette and I am weak in the knees. I can't tell you how happy I was when Tara said she made a whole extra dish for me to take home (and even though I was full, I did have an extra serving before bed, because I could).
I will never forget this meal and the beautiful celebration we had to celebrate the Persian New Year and the arrival of Spring. I feel very blessed to have such wonderful friends and to get to eat such amazing food!
I'd say the new year is off to a very good start.
Here are some of the recipes Tara made (she learned them from her mom, so pointed me to similar recipes on her favourite Persian food blog - which I am now also in love with):