Tag Archive | Persia

More adventures in Iran

I will soon be able to resurrect my other Blog “Persian Posts”  as we have now booked our tickets for our next visit to Iran. This time we are taking William with us and I am relieved that his Visa came through just this week so we can plan properly.

It will be an amazing experience for him especially as it is his first time in Iran but we will try and prepare him as best we can. Of course, nothing can prepare him fully for the different culture, food, weather, family, customs etc but there are certain things we do need to go through with him before we land in Esfahan.

William is looking forward to his trip, as am I, and I hope he loves the country and its people as much as I do. There are not many Western boys of his age that get this opportunity and we will try and show him as much of the country as is possible in the 3 weeks we are there and in temperatures up into the 90’s.

The good thing is that Feri’s nephew is exactly the same age and they will be housed together on the self-contained second floor-God help us! I have packed a spare English-Farsi vocabulary book so here’s hoping they manage to communicate! We will be there during the World Cup and as both love football I am sure that we will witness the evidence that football is a truly global language!

In the meantime, Will has his A Level exams to finish and his last school Prom to navigate so he is going to be busy. I have marked out a few things and places that I would like to see this year so look out for more Persian Posts coming soon!




Edinburgh Iranian Festival 2011

I’m not sure how I managed it, but the week that I was working in Scotland was the week of the Edinburgh Iranian Festival. Being as my husband is Iranian I wanted to partake in some way but time was very limited.

So after work on a wet and wild windy evening, I made my way to Blackwell’s bookstore in the University part of town, feeling very old, to a book reading by Dr. Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones on Ctesias at the Court of the Great King. Dr Jones (unfortunately(!)  not the original Indiana) was an interesting and engaging speaker and held my attention on a subject I knew nothing about for a full 45 minutes.

What I hadn’t appreciated is that the ancient Persians do not have a tradition for writing narrative histories to document their progress instead preferring an oral tradition of communicating by song, muse, epic tales, story-telling and poetry. This means that our knowledge of Persian history is provided mainly by arch-enemy Greek sources which is deemed to be unreliable at worst and biased at the very least.

Ctesias, a Dr, was born a Greek but was commissioned to the Persian Court and spent two decades in Iran in the service of the King. Whilst he is known for being more of a story-teller than a narrator, Ctesias probably provides the most illuminating stories of intrigue that are known about the Persian court and I’m sure that Dr Jones’ book makes fascinating reading for enthusiasts.

Overall, a very nice way to spend a spare 60 minutes in Edinburgh but I will plan better next time, visit more events and connect with my Iranian tribe!

Edinburgh Iranian Festival 2011

Christmas in Iran

Today, 28 November 2010, is the first Sunday in Advent. This is when Christians start the annual wait for the “coming” of Christ celebrated on Christmas Day. Children all over will have their Advent Calendars at the ready and will begin opening the doors on 1 December. For me, Advent is when I start thinking about Christmas, a good 2-3 months behind Mr Tesco.

In Iran too, the 1 December, marks the beginning if the “Little Fast” carried out by some of  the sizeable yet minority population of Christians for the 25 days leading up to Christmas Day known as “Little Feast”.  Christians in Iran include Catholics, Protestants and Orthodox Christians who are mostly Armenian-Iranians and have their own religious rituals.  Although Iran is predominantly an Islamic nation, there are also some Moslems who celebrate Christmas as a non-religious festival. Christmas trees and decorations are bought, turkeys ordered and sometimes gifts are exchanged in the same way as we do here in the UK.

During the 25 day “Little Fast” which is meant to purify body and mind, Orthodox Christians follow a diet free of meat and dairy products only breaking their fast when Communion is received early on Christmas morning. To break their fast, the traditional dish of Harissa is eaten. This meal is also the national dish of Armenia, and like many recipes handed down from generation to generation, there will be regional variations. I have managed to find a recipe for the chicken and barley stew which sounds just the sort of meal perfect during the current big freeze! 


Armenian Harissa
  • 1 whole chicken
  • 8 cups water
  • 2 cups whole wheat kernels, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tsp. salt, or to taste
  • cumin
  • paprika
  • butter
How to cook it
Rinse chicken and place in large pot with 8 cups water and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium. Cook for about 45 minutes to 1 hour, with the pot partially covered until chicken is cooked.
Remove chicken from liquid; place on platter and allow to cool enough to handle. Discard skin, bones and fat. Shred chicken; cut into smaller pieces, if necessary.
Strain broth. Measure broth, and add enough water to make a total of 8 cups
Place broth in large pot. Add wheat, shredded chicken, and salt if necessary. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low. Remove any foam which rises to the surface.
Simmer on a very low heat, without stirring, covered, for about 4 hours
Beat vigorously with a sturdy, long-handled, wooden spoon, mashing the wheat and chicken until they resemble thick oatmeal. Adjust salt, if needed.
To serve: place in bowls. Add a pat of butter, if desired. Sprinkle with a dash of cumin or paprika to taste.