Posted by: Lisa Hill | December 4, 2018

Pomegranates and Roses, My Persian Family Recipes, by Ariana Bundy

We’re lucky here in Melbourne that we can eat almost any cuisine in the world: there are Iranian restaurants serving Persian cuisine all over the city, and that’s probably true of the other Australian capital cities too.  But if you like the cuisine it’s not so easy to find a good recipe book to try making your own at home.

Pomegranates and Roses: My Persian Family Recipes (2012) is an ideal introduction to Persian cuisine.  Published in the UK, it is based on the premise that Persian cooking is unfamiliar, so there are explanations about unfamiliar ingredients and techniques, and there are suggestions for substitutes if some of the more exotic items are unavailable.  (Cranberries, for example, can be substituted for barberries, but they are available online from Herbies).

The book includes the family story that seems obligatory for recipe books these days, and there are B&W photos of the author’s family.  What’s missing, however, is photos of some of the recipes, which is a pity.  Although there are plenty of full page, full colour photos, there’s not much point IMO in having a photo of a rose next to a recipe for Pale rice cookies sprinkled with poppy seeds.  Likewise, a photo of a bottle of rose water beside the recipe for Halva; or some sliced radishes next to a recipe for a salad.  And while I understand the sentiment behind the photo of the author’s mother next to her recipe for barley soup, I’d rather have a photo of the soup to see if it looks appetising.  Besides, with an unfamiliar cuisine, it’s good to see a recipe presented with serving suggestions…

Leaving that aside, there are some appealing recipes.  I always have a uselessly small quantity of raisins left over after making the Christmas pudding, so I’ll be trying Biscuiteh Keshmeshi which are delicate raisin cookies; among the other sweet things there are Noon Nokhodchi which are shortbreads made with chickpea flour and cardamom, and a delicious-looking Cakeh Mamani (a yoghurt cake simply flavoured with lemon and vanilla).  Another useful recipe is the exotic-sounding Omeletteh Khorma which is a buttery sweet date omelette, perfect for using up the rest of the dates after making date muffins.  Tomorrow night I might try Sholeh Zard (saffron rice pudding with pistachios) for the weekly Girls Dinner & TV Night with my neighbour from across the road.  (I have another rice pudding recipe which uses blood oranges which is scrumptious but blood oranges aren’t always available. Nothing at all like the rice pudding we had for school lunches in Britain, I can tell you!)


I’m not keen on many of the meat dishes, but I like the sound of Khoreshteh Morgh Va Porteghal which is Chicken with Oranges and Saffron, and there is also a scrumptious-looking Taachin which is chicken marinated in yoghurt and garlic, in a saffron rice cake.  And yay, there is a photo of it which is just as well because you’d never guess how nice it looks from the recipe.

Something I have never tried is Seer Torshi (aged pickled garlic).  Apparently it’s best eaten when it’s six or seven years old when the bulbs are black, soft and sweet, and taste a little like aged balsamic vinegar. You can buy it, says Bundy, but it will be young and crunchy.   And though I may be unduly optimistic about the eggplant crop because the possums got to it last year, Morabayeh Bademjoon(aubergine conserve with rose water, lime juice and cardamom) sounds divine, eh?

I will try to remember to take photos when I try these recipes and come back to this page to show off my prowess with Persian!

Pomegranates and Roses: My Persian Family Recipes is not a new title, so although it would be a nice gift for the foodie in your life, you’ll be disappointed if you go searching in the usual places. But if you’re in Melbourne you could try Books for Cooks near the Vic Market, and your local op shop might have a copy if you’re lucky. It’s a lovely book, so it’s worth looking out for it…

Author: Ariana Bundy
Title: Pomegranates and Roses, My Persian Family Recipes
Publisher: Simon & Schuster,  UK, 2012, 225 pages
ISBN: 9780857206909
Source: Kingston Library

Out of print, try an Op Shop or AbeBooks.



  1. Reblogged this on The Logical Place.


  2. I love Middle Eastern cuisine and often refer to Ottolenghi and Persiana by Sabrina Ghayour. Azande & Mousaei’s ‘Syria’ is also excellent. No Iranian restaurants in Cornwall, sadly


    • No, but there’s a great ploughman’s lunch at the St Agnes pub:)

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I love pomegranates and love Persian food too. I have a recipe I make sometimes called Chicken Khoresh – the trouble is I think I love it more than the rest of the family did. It has saffron, but dried apricots, prunes and while garlic. I can’t remember where I got it from now, but probably it was a newspaper recipe.

    So, what do you watch on your Girls Dinner and TV Night?


    • Well, the author makes the point that Persian food is more subtle than some other cuisines, so maybe that’s the reason that other folks might prefer stronger flavours. I have to say that there are a few beef recipes makes with crushed walnuts, and we’ve made something with walnuts in it before and it was not an appetising colour, not at all. (But yours was chicken, so that can’t be the reason.)

      G and I started our Girls Night when I discovered (because she came to Australia as an adult) that she had never seen the BBC production of The Pallisers. You know, with the young Susan Hampshire as Lady Glencora. So we watched it together over weeks and weeks, and that was her introduction to British pomp and circumstance. And then, because she knew nothing about the domestic side of Britain’s war, we started watching the 1970s BBC/ITV series A Family at War. We’re about half way through now and will probably finish in the new year. The Spouse usually cooks up something splendid for dinner, but every now and again when he’s out doing something else, we have Indian because G and I both love it, the spicier the better, and he doesn’t.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh this is great. I remember The Palliser series. I’d watch it again. (And I like spicy curries too.) But, I’m in Canberra, not across the road!!


  4. Oh and from the sounds of the recipe and the photo of that Taachin, I’m sure I would go for that. It’s fussy to make though.


    • I think so too, but hopefully The Spouse will think it’s worth it. (I may bribe him by making the cake….)


  5. I enjoy Middle Eastern food. Only three Persian restaurants in Perth according to google (I assume ““Avoid like the plague…rat we saw running.” is bogus) and none nearby. Definitely like the sound of some of the cakes – chickpea shortbread and yoghurt cake – but bread and cake is my downfall (“Can you imagine a bigger disgrace than a man in the gutter with yeast on his face”).


    • Actually, there wasn’t much in this book in the way of vegetarian recipes. That may have been a commercial decision but it surprises me. It’s like when you go to a restaurant and they have only one vegetarian choice. I eat meat, but not much and very rarely at lunchtime, and I think that a capable chef ought to have more than one recipe in the repertoire.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. the beauty of living in cosmopolitan Western cities is that you can enjoy the beauty of only western foods but also other cultres food and music


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