Among the many gifts my husband gave me when we were first married was a stack of 20 cookbooks. All were from different cuisines: Afghani, Persian, Moroccan, Turkish, Caribbean, Japanese, Chinese, South American, Cajun, Somali… well, you get the picture. I’m still trying to figure out what the take-away message is. He claims I’m the MacGyver of cooking. He thinks that if I were given a ruler, a tape measurer, and a pencil, I could create a four-course meal. I wish that were true.

I love cookbooks; one or two would have been nice. But 20, I hope he wasn’t making a comment on my cooking ability… I’m not sure if he gave me them for my enjoyment or his.

I have slowly been working my way through them. I feel privileged to discover, explore, and experience new cultures through their food. I love discovering new spices, new techniques, and exotic ingredients. Each time I do, I feel as though I have found a precious gem and I can’t believe I have lived so long without its beauty. I love the way the books look on the shelf. I love the smells permeating my kitchen and wafting through the halls. I love knowing my neighbors are probably jealous.

Most of the time, I create my own recipes or adapt recipes from other chefs to fit my cooking style. But sometimes, I need the security that comes from a recipe. It feels safe and comfortable to cook “alongside” an accomplished chef. I admit to knowing nothing of Persian cooking; there is no reason for me to bumble through it on my own. Enter Najmieh Batmanglij’s Persian Cooking for a Healthy Kitchen.

Flipping through the cookbook it is easy to see that I am in the hands of a master. I wrote to the publisher to see if I could share my favorite recipes of hers with you. They graciously granted me permission. This recipe takes almost 2 hours start to finish (most of that will be cooking time) so plan well; it’s worth it. Fair warning, I don’t recommend inviting guests over the night you cook this because you’ll want to eat it all by yourself.