Nancy Leson was just over the moon about the Persian cooking class she'd recently taken from cookbook author and teacher Najmieh Batmanglij. I took one look at Batmanglij's site and immediately found recipes I had to try.
Batmanglij's name was new to me, but she's been a favorite of Nancy's for 30 years.
"I've been cooking out of her book Food of Life for nearly 30 years. Najmieh is, to my way of thinking, the Julia Child of Persian cooking," she said.
Batmanglij was in town to talk about and cook from her new book Joon: Persian Cooking Made Simple. Joon, meaning "life, is a term of endearment in Farsi," Nance told me. "Like I might call you Stein Joon or you call me Nancy Joon."
After reading the recipe for Persian Gulf style shrimp I had to try it. The recipe has 20-plus ingredients, including cinnamon and ground cloves, which seemed a strange combination with shrimp.
What I got was a dish full of unexpected flavors that worked perfectly. This is definitely not a weeknight recipe but one of those wonderful discoveries you know you'll be making again and again.
While I was cooking up the shrimp, Leson was busy at her house with Batmanglij's Skewered Lamb Kabobs, a mixture of ground lamb, sumac powder, lime zest, garlic, saffron and plenty more.
She served them with this chelow -- saffron steamed rice with golden crust.
"A wise man sits on the hole in his carpet" – Persian Proverb