In Athenaeus’ The Diepnosophists, one of the earliest fine living texts in the western world, the author remarks about “Persian luxury and extravagance.” This Greek author was merely mirroring what the then world knew as sophistication in gastronomy, rather than the Spartan concept that “hunger was the best sauce.” Persian cuisine is not something we often think about in this country, but there is a great deal of tradition and exchange throughout the eastern Mediterranean that owes a lot to this ancient cuisine. The number of cookbooks currently in print about this cuisine has never been greater. Persia is the historical name for what we know as Iran.
An Iranian couple living in Sacramento, Sima and Deen Rashidy, produce what has come to be recognized as exemplary versions of Iranian specialties. Under their “SIMA’S” label there are several delightful items, mainly condiments, that show off the intricacies of this ancient cuisine for modern times.
Sima makes several different flavors of rice mixtures which just need to be cooked. One is made with smoked Basmati rice. Another with normal Basmati, but both have dillweed and Iranian saffron. Another blend is Basmati rice with lentils which are cooked together making “Adaspolo.” All three are excellent, easy to prepare versions of vegetarian or meatless dishes that are tasty and satisfying. In Persian, a dish of rice is said to bring families together, secure friendships, and solve arguments. If tasty also, what more can we ask?