To help us learn more about Persian (a.k.a. Iranian) food, we turned to culinary authority Najmieh Batmanglij. In addition to insight on Persian culinary traditions, she provided us with recipes from her book New Food of Life.
What to buy: Angelica is frequently used in Persian cooking. Ground angelica can be found at Middle Eastern markets, in spice stores, or online.
Verjus is the pressed, unfermented juice of unripe wine grapes. It can be found at specialty markets or online.
1Preheat oven to 350°F. Prick eggplants with a fork to prevent bursting, and place on oven rack. Bake for 1 hour. Be sure to put a tray under the eggplants to catch drips.
2Place the eggplant on a cutting board and let stand until cool enough to handle. Peel and chop.
3In a deep skillet, fry the onions and garlic in 3 tablespoons oil. Add tomatoes, pomegranate paste, or verjus, cook for 10 minutes over medium heat, add the eggplant, and sprinkle with salt, pepper, angelica powder, and mint. Stirring occasionally, simmer over low heat for another 35 minutes, and adjust seasoning.
4Transfer to a serving dish and serve hot or cold with lavash bread as an appetizer. Nush-e Jan!