Persian cookbooks to fall in love with
Persian foods understand the art of fragrance. It’s a cuisine that relies on subtle flavoring coming through in volumes. Good Persian recipes invoke a bundle of fresh herbs, a ribbon of pomegranate molasses (maybe), and notes of saffron.
Heavy portions. Pedal-pumps of aroma-rich spice. These Persian cookbooks sum up will-feed-the-family favorites. They’re all (except one) authored by Iranian chefs who’ve toyed with unabashedly traditional and boldly contemporary variations of Persian cuisine.
Without further ado, here are our top picks for Persian cookbooks!
A multi-award-winning Persian cookbook, The Saffron Tales is the brainchild of British-Iranian chef Yasmin Khan. It’s in-part a travel story and in-part a curation of recipes. The instructions are straight-forward. And Yasmin goes the extra mile of intertwining memories into the text.
Many of the recipes center around meat, but you’ll want to try the vegetarian dishes first, including tahchin (slightly crispy, saffron-baked rice) and ajil (Iranian-style granola).
Bottom Of The Pot contains over a hundred sumptuous recipes. It’s one of the most well-loved Persian cookbooks. And the ingredients (aside from a heap of saffron – you’ll want to order that) can be easily assembled in an American kitchen.
In a way, Bottom Of The Pot lies in nostalgia. The recipes are hand-me-downs – memories and meals melded together. Naz Deravian, herself, an actress and Iranian by birth, draws on the flavors of her mother’s cooking. And the result? A culinary treasure that makes a great read and with a little patience, creates a great bite.
Canadian author Naomi Duguid sweeps over the cuisine of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, and Kurdistan in Taste Of Persia. It’s not a traditional cookbook by any means. Instructional photos are sparse and the recipes themselves are loose.
But as a travel novel (that brings flavors alive through words and storytelling), Taste Of Persia is brilliantly executed. It’s a good late-night (or lunchtime) read.
Few names are as well known as Najmieh Batmanglij when it comes to Iranian cuisine (so it’s no surprise Cooking In Iran is included as one of our favorite Persian cookbooks). Najmieh has been hailed as “The Grande Dame Of Iranian Cooking” by the Washington Post. And we’re 100% on board with the hype.
Over 700 pages, Cooking In Iran is a thick book. It’s heavy in detail. You’ll find recipes so clear-cut, they’re hard to mess up (which, considering our personal culinary skills, is much needed). We love the depth and breadth of this book. Cooking In Iran is impressively comprehensive. In between the bound pages, you’ll find a satisfying array of regional recipes that feed both the heart and soul.
The Enchantingly Easy Persian Cookbook offers up exactly what its name suggests – simple to make recipes loaded on Persian style. Whilst the lack of photos can be off-putting (we recommend the Kindle version), the steps drill into techniques (so you won’t feel lost). And the recipes themselves are wholesome and light, neatly adapted for busy beginner chefs who want to dip their toes in Persian cooking. Shadi HasanzadeNemati’s cookbook covers all the mainstays (and fun variations) – stews, mixed rice, kukus, and of course, saffron water.
Chef Sabrina Ghayour is known for her experimental Iranian cuisine. As a result, Persiana is one of the best Persian cookbooks for those looking for a modern approach to longtime favorites. Whilst the cookbook itself doesn’t require a level of familiarity with Iranian cuisine (the recipes are very detailed and easy-to-follow), it’s nice to know the basics to see how Sabrina adds a fresh twist to timeless classics.
P.S. From the photography to the typography, this is one of the most visually stunning Persian cookbooks on this list (and would make for a cute coffee table book as well).
Pomegranates And Roses is Ariana Bundy’s curation of Persian family recipes. The book is delightfully authentic and perfect for home cooks who have a solid base-level understanding of Persian cuisine. It’s an intermediate cookbook – nuanced in nature. And you’ll learn a lot from it.
Ariana weaves in her family history throughout, adding a deeply personal layer to an already inspiring trove of recipes. Although complex, Ariana’s honest and intimate portrayal of Persian cuisine makes it easily one of the best Persian cookbooks of all time.
Tahdig can be intimidating for first-timers. But Atoosa Sepehr makes it accessible. It’s one of many recipes in her cookbook, From A Persian Kitchen.
Lush photography (that will make your mouth water). Easy to prep recipes. It’s hard to believe Atoosa Sepehr’s background wasn’t originally food writing and photography. But we’re glad she found her way into the industry because From A Persian Kitchen is one of the best all-around Persian cookbooks. The recipes have been adapted to heavy schedules, yet don’t sacrifice tradition. It’s a hard line to balance and From A Persian Kitchen does so beautifully.
I told myself that I would only include one Persian cookbook by Najmieh Batmanglij on this list but here we are. Whilst Cooking In Iran chronicles a saga of Persian recipes, Food Of Life offers a heartfelt 21st-century celebration of the cuisine. It’s a tome as well (over 600 pages) and an omnivores cookbook through-and-through. But as you slowly flip the pages, you’ll uncover many vegetarian (and even some vegan) recipes.
Najmieh Batmanglij creates yet another labor or love that is worth all the buzz.
Maryam Sinaiee’s recipe collection is just as poetic as the title implies. From The Land Of Nightingales And Roses is, like many Irani written Persian cookbooks, a love letter to Persian culture. And this book takes on the challenge of following Irani fare in its entirety.
Food from Iran varies border-to-border (as does the landscape). From The Land Of Nightingales And Roses is a patchwork quilt of dishes, inspired by the many regional cuisines of Maryam’s home.
Persian Pantry Essentials
My family originates from a part of India where zones of food have been heavily influenced by Persian cuisine. And my mother never shied away from trying to make something new and regional (I grew up on the taste of many countries). That included modern takes on classic Mughal-era recipes.
So for me, Persian cooking involves ingredients I feel familiar with. Here’s what you’ll need to stock up on to make traditional Persian cookbook recipes:
- Saffron (this is the most expensive ingredient on the list but only a little is needed per recipe. You can get it on Amazon but I highly recommend getting it at your local Middle Eastern store as it will be a fraction of the cost)
- Walnuts and Pistachios
- Pomegranate Molasses
- Basmati Rice (Authentic Royal is a brand my family and I have used for years)
- Rose Water (we use rose extract)
- Black Lime
Did you find this list of Persian cookbooks helpful? What are your favorite Persian cookbooks? Let me know in the comments below! As always, I love hearing from you.