Monday, June 20, 2011
A Very Special Evening with Nahid Sanganian and her Family
Maybe six months ago, I got an email from her. She had just found my email address in an old notebook. I replied saying, “You won’t believe this but I’m coming to Iran in April.” We had a few exchanges and she invited me to her house in Tehran for dinner. We determined a possible date and time. I crossed my fingers that it would work out.
And what a fantastic time it was. Nahid, her mom Akram, dad Amir, and younger sister Niloufar live in a two bedroom apartment in east Tehran. Nahid had stayed home from work that day to help her mother cook. Her grandmother, Shokat Malekian, had come from south Tehran to be with us. Nahid came to my hotel in a taxi to pick me up. I think she was worried that I wouldn't be able to find my way. She was probably correct. Her father finished up his work as a driver in time to join the festivities. They invited me to remove my scarf. I felt as though I was being made an honorary member of the family. What a gracious welcome to their home.
This combination is more a palate-cleanser than a salad. It was served without salad dressing with many lunches and dinners.
This was one of my favorite dishes in Iran. Here's my version. Kashk is a yogurt product and is available in jars from a Persian deli.
Isn't that a beautiful arrangement?
Here is my recipe for this wonderful dish called Lamb Khoresht with Split Peas and Fried Potatoes. It is so good.
Mind you, this was dinner for six people. We lingered over dessert and even longer at the door as I was leaving. I felt so enriched by the experience; I knew even then at the beginning of my trip that this would be one of its major highlights. And so it has been.
When I think about Iran and its future, I see Nahid and her sister, Niloufar, and her dear mother and father and grandmother and wish so much for them. On the way home I asked Nahid about freedom. She said that she tries to create freedom inside her so that no matter what is going on in the outside world, in her outside world, she will still be free. A wise and thoughtful answer, given circumstances in Iran. I can't help but hope that the outside world will allow her more freedom in the years ahead.