Nasrin grew up in Shiraz, a city renown for centuries for its poetry, wine and beautiful women. It is a city seeped in history and culture, where even today people can be heard quoting lines of 14 th century poetry to further an argument over a cup of tea.
When the Islamic Revolution broke the peace, Nasrin and her family immigrated to the United States with heavy hearts. Like most Iranian immigrants of that time, they worked hard to survive. Their former life of comfort, job security, and support from their large extended family was quickly replaced with a world of unknowns. While Nasrin’s husband worked long hours to put food on the table, Nasrin stayed home to care for her two young daughters and ensure some semblance of normalcy for them. As the years passed and life stabilized, Nasrin and her husband developed a passion for preserving and teaching Persian culture both for their children and in their community. Nasrin immersed herself in cooking, mastering the classics and teaching her daughters to appreciate the stories and flavors of her heritage.
When her oldest daughter went to college, Nasrin would regularly pack an entire suitcase of
prepared stews and rice to be carried by her younger daughter on a plane for regular visits. She thought this food should last her daughter at least a month. Inevitably, on the first night of arrival, stew would be heated in the dorm room microwave, smells would waft, and the room would be filled with dorm mates feasting on Persian delights. The food never lasted more than a day.Now that she has a grandson living on the opposite coast, Nasrin is back to preparing and packaging food. She prepares the base for the most labor intensive (and classic) stews, packages and freezes them, ready to fill a suitcase to be carried at the end of the next visit. She feels a special satisfaction watching her grandson revel in the foods of her own childhood.
The Fesenjan Nasrin prepares is perhaps the oldest recipe in the Persian cooking tradition.
Archeologists found vessels dating to 2500 BC with traces of its core ingredients, pomegranate and walnut. A tablet from 518 BC found at the site of Persepolis, the former capital of the Persian Empire in Shiraz, has the recipe inscribed.
Persian cooking is extremely labor intensive and Nasrin takes no shortcuts. To make her
Fesenjan, she picks pomegranates from the tree in her backyard, seeds them, turns the seeds into a juice, strains the juice and boils it to make a paste. This paste is the foundation for the sauce. Simmer with a protein, usually poultry (chicken or duck), and enjoy with rice.