Assistant Director & Cultural Consultant Hamid Dehghani shares his insight into the recipes and terms of endearment from his native Iran that are mentioned in A Distinct Society.
A traditional Persian stew that is popular in Iran, considered by some to be the country’s national dish. It is made with a variety of vegetables, herbs, and meat (usually lamb or beef) that are slow-cooked in a flavorful broth. The vegetables used in ghormeh sabzi typically include spinach, parsley, cilantro, leeks, and green onions, which are finely chopped and sautéed in oil before being added to the stew. Other key ingredients include kidney beans, dried lime (limoo amani), turmeric, and fenugreek. The dish is typically served with Persian rice, which is a type of basmati rice that is steamed and fluffy.
An Persian stew made from diced meat (beef, lamb, or mutton) with yellow split peas and saffron potatoes. The meat and onions are sautéed in oil, and then the tomato paste, spices, and split peas are added. Water is then added to form the stew, and it is simmered until the meat and split peas are tender. The dried limes are added during the cooking process to infuse the stew with their tangy flavor. The dish is typically served with white rice, and the fried or baked potatoes are placed on top as a garnish.
A Persian chicken stew made with chicken breasts or thighs that are slowly cooked with ground toasted walnuts and pomegranate molasses.
A thick Persian soup made with greens, beans, noodles, and kashk (a type of yogurt). The exact ingredients and preparation method for Ash Reshte can vary depending on the region and family tradition. However, some common ingredients include chickpeas, kidney beans, lentils, noodles, onions, garlic, parsley, cilantro, and sometimes beef or lamb. The beans and lentils are first soaked and cooked until tender, and then blended together to create a thick base for the soup. The noodles are also cooked separately and are added to the soup along with the herbs and spices. The soup is then simmered until all the flavors have melded together, and is often garnished with additional herbs or a dollop of yogurt before serving. Ash Reshteh is a hearty and flavorful soup that is beloved by many Iranians and is often served as a main course or as a starter for a larger meal. It is also a popular dish during the Iranian New Year (Nowruz) celebrations and is often enjoyed with family and friends during this time.
A Persian dish that is made by cooking rice until it forms a crispy golden crust on the bottom of the pot. The word “tahdig” literally means “bottom of the pot” in Farsi. A layer of rice is first placed in the bottom of a pot or pan and is then covered with a layer of thinly sliced potatoes or lavash bread. More rice is then added on top of the potatoes or bread, and the mixture is cooked over low heat until the rice forms a crispy crust on the bottom. Tahdig can be made with different types of rice and can be flavored with a variety of ingredients such as saffron, cumin, or dried fruit. It is often served as a side dish or as part of a larger meal and is considered a delicacy in Persian cuisine. Tahdig is a popular dish in Iran and among Persian communities around the world and is often enjoyed with stews, grilled meats, or other traditional Persian dishes.
In Persian, “joon” (جان) or (جون) is a term of endearment that is often added to the end of a name or a noun as a way of expressing affection or fondness. Therefore, “Shirin joon” (شیرین جون) would be an endearing way of referring Shirin, with “joon” adding a sense of warmth and closeness to the name. It issimilar to adding “dear” or “sweet” before someone’s name in English.
In Persian, “Baba” (بابا) is a term used to refer to one’s father or as an affectionate term for an older male figure. It is similar to the English word “Dad” or “Daddy.”
“Joonam” (جونم) is a Persian term that is used as a term of endearment, especially among close friends and family members. It translates to “my dear” or “my life” in English. The word “joon” (جون) means “life” or “soul” in Persian, and the “am” (م) suffix indicates possession, so “joonam” essentially means “my life” or “my soul.” It is often used to convey warmth, affection, and closeness.