My journey begins in the chaotic, mysterious, and beautiful city of Tehran, where culinary traditions date back 7,000 years. Some of my earliest memories are of my grandmother, my mother and I, together in a palatial kitchen with a high ceiling and blue- tiled walls, where they taught me the fundamentals of Iranian cuisine.
They entrusted me with their secrets; they told me how to get the most flavour out of ingredients and I learnt that rigour and respect for their methods were inescapable. They taught me that Persian food is at once complex, demanding and incredibly delicate.
They told me that leaving a stew to simmer overnight would give it an incomparable flavour and that it is impossible to cook Persian food in haste. Ask any Iranian mother and they’ll tell you ingredients must never be substituted.
As fond as I am of my mother and grandmother, when I moved to Holland, I had to stray from tradition: given how expensive energy is and how little time I could spend cooking on any given day, it was that or kiss Persian cuisine goodbye.
The methods I developed made cooking fast and simple, using few ingredients. I realised that there is nothing wrong with replacing the ingredients I couldn’t buy outside of Iran and that there is no need to waste time soaking beans and chickpeas overnight.