Persian Food's Growing Popularity in Mainstream Culture

When Baaz Bites was founded, we set off on a mission to introduce Persian cuisine to the world. Unlike other ethnic cuisines, which had done a good job of modernizing their cuisines for the mainstream market, whether that was at farmer’s markets, food festivals or even the frozen food section of grocery stores, Persian food was always something that could only be enjoyed in old-school Persian restaurants. That posed a couple of issues. First, these Persian restaurants are concentrated in only a select number of cities throughout the United States, predominantly those with significant Persian populations post the 1979 Iranian Revolution. Secondly, all these Persian classics were presented an old-school way, in that you had to sit down for an almost two hour meals to get the true Persian food experience. As a result of these limited avenues towards a preliminary trial of Persian food, many individuals were left without any knowledge of the richness of this cuisine. 

In our post entitled “Persian Food: The Hidden Gem,” we list our thoughts as to why Persian food has remained relatively unknown compared to other ethnic cuisines despite people falling in love with the rich flavors their first time experiencing Persian cuisine. Whether it’s because of the concentrated nature of Persian immigrant pockets, leading to the limited availability of grocery stores that sell ingredients that are unique to but necessary for the preparation of Persian food; the time intensive nature of the cuisine and the hours of prep work needed to perfect the art of tadig or Persian basmati rice; or the tightness by which Persian chefs hold on to their generations-old recipes, there are multiple reasons why Persian food hasn’t gained as much notoriety as other ethnic cuisines, such as Mexican, Thai or Chinese food.

The Tipping Point

Fortunately, we’re at a tipping point, in which Persian food is gaining more and more mainstream recognition. This is a trend that in our opinion is long overdue, but one that we welcome with open arms. We have various individuals and outlets to thank for this tidal wave shift.

Samin Nosrat and Salt, Fire, Acid, Heat

Few chefs have been as instrumental in shining a spotlight on Persian cuisine as Samin Nosrat. Nosrat was born in the United States in 1979 after her parents emigrated from Iran in 1976 (prior to the Iranian Revolution). While Nosrat was raised eating Persian food (as most Persian children of immigrants are), she did not actually start cooking Persian food until she was an adult. Nosrat’s rise to fame (along with her greatest contribution to putting Persian food on the culinary roadmap), was her 2017 cookbook entitled Salt, Fire, Acid, Heat. The cookbook won various awards throughout 2017 and 2018. 

Salt Fire Acid Heat Persian Cookbook

Thanks to the success of the book, it was picked up as a Netflix docu-series, also called Salt, Fire, Acid, Heat. The docuseries was released in October 2018. While each episode talked about a different element in cooking (for example, episode 1 took place in Japan to talk about the use of salt in cooking), Persian food was a great focal point of episode four, in which Nosrat and her mother takes viewers through the preparation process of tahdig, the thin, crispy layer of basmati rice that individuals have come to associate Persian food with and to absolutely fall in love with. You can check out Samin Nosrat’s instructions for the preparation of Persian tahdig here. You can watch the full trailer for Samin’s docu-series below:

Samin Nosrat and The New York Times

In addition to the incredible impact Samin has had on spreading the magic of Persian cuisine through her book and documentary series, she is also a regular contributor to the New York Times Magazine’s Eat section. In May 2019, Nosrat, in collaboration with the New York Times Magazine, published Samin Nosrat’s 10 Essential Persian Recipes. Of course, recipe #1 is… you guessed it - tahdig! In her polo bah tahdig, or basmati rice with crispy rice, Nosrat walks readers through a step by step guide on preparing the perfect tahdig. While the preparation of this treasured dish takes expertise, focus and just the right amount of heat, getting the perfect tahdig is a feeling like no other. With Baaz Bites’ crispy tahdig cups, you can take the worry out of ensuring your get just the right amount of heat, as all you’ve got to do is pop your tahdig cups from the freezer into the oven for 20 minutes!

Persian Basmati Rice Tahdig

In addition to tahdig, Nosrat covers other Persian classics such as kuku sabzi (or a Persian herb frittata), ghormeh sabzi (also referred to us as the crown jewel of Persian cuisine), and fesenjoon, or the Pom Baaz, as we like to refer to it as. While Nosrat only covers 10 recipes, Persian cuisine is one of the most diverse and rich ethnic cuisines, offering a wide array of different basmati rice dishes, stews, salads, appetizers and kebabs. 

Baaz Bite’s Mission

As Nosrat mentions in the pre-blurb section of her 10 Essential Persian Recipes

“But certainly, the most powerful form of cultural immersion we experienced was culinary. My mom, who left Iran in 1976, steeped us in the smells, tastes and traditions of Persian cuisine. She spent hours upon hours each week traversing not just San Diego but also Orange County and Los Angeles, over 100 miles away, in search of the flavors that reminded her of Iran. She taught us that regardless of what was going on in the news, home is home, and nothing can transport you there like taste.”

Persian cuisine is a powerful tie that brings together generations of individuals, as they share their recipes with one another and sit down to enjoy long-prepared meals. In fact, as Anthony Bourdain mentions in the video below from his time in Iran, cuisine and culture were one of the aspects of his visit that he cherished most.

Baaz Bites set off on a mission to introduce these Persian classics, but in a modern way, to the mainstream market, and take out the difficulty of preparing Persian food, a factor which often prevents people from taking the first step. That’s why we decided to completely reinvent how tahdig is made. Instead of making an entire pot of basmati rice to simply get one thin layer of crispy rice, we re-invented the tahdig game. Now, you’re able to order tahdig and have it delivered straight to your door. All you’ve got to do is pop them in the oven for 20 minutes, and you’ve got crispy basmati rice ready to be served to all your guests (or to be enjoyed all by yourself...we’re not judging). And if these crispy basmati rice tahdig cups weren’t enough, Baaz Bites also takes the work out of preparing some of Persian cuisine’s most delicious stews, from ghormeh sabzi to fesenjan to gheymeh. The Baaz Bites party sampler is the perfect way for you to try all three of these vegetarian Persian stews, and top them on your crispy tahdig cups.

We’ve fortunately reached a tipping point in terms of Persian food’s recognition as one of the most delicious ethnic cuisines. While it is still not readily available, leaving most individuals only with the option of preparing it for themselves, we’re on a mission to change that. So why not place that order for those crispy basmati rice tahdig cups? You’ll thank us later.

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