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Cookbook review: 'Food of Life'

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Evan Bryant

(Read caption) Pomegranate khoresh with chicken, a braised meat dish (foreground), and jeweled rice are two of the Iranian recipes found in 'Food of Life.'

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Persian cuisine has survived Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, and the conquest of Islam. So I figured I couldn’t do too much damage by trying out a recipe or two myself.

Armed with Najmieh Batmanglij’s gorgeous cookbook, “Food of Life,” I marched into the supermarket to find pomegranate molasses, saffron, and barberries.

Alas, I was in Vermont. In the winter. Nary a pomegranate seed to be found. I did find saffron – in the Mexican aisle. The featherweight package cost almost as much as an upscale lunch in Boston.

Barberries? I didn’t even know what those were. (It wasn’t until later that I discovered the helpful appendices Batmanglij provides, which include a glossary and a list of Persian grocery suppliers around the US and Canada. There you can read that barberries are a small, tart red fruit.)

But I was undeterred – and hungry to know something about Iran besides its controversial nuclear program, which I deal with frequently as the Monitor’s Middle East editor.

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