Tag Archives: Persia

Beautiful and useful – The Saffron Tales

11 May

unspecifiedIn the 1930s, a country made a PR faux pas – it asked the rest of the world to call it Iran, the name used by its people, and not what the Western World named it, Persia.

In English, Persia is the sound of exotic mystery, the Arabian nights. It sounds luxurious. Perrrsia, the noise a cat makes when it’s happy; Iran sounds like someone fleeing. The relationship the West – and certainly Britain – currently has with the country is undoubtedly problematic and unhelpful as to our associations with the newish name, especially after the revolution of 1978 and the rise of Islamic militancy. And the capital city of Tehran is not one that evokes history or millennia of culture, as this afternoon’s author Yasmin herself describes it, ‘one of those Middle Eastern cities thrown up without thought or design.’

So former Middle Eastern human rights campaigner, now cooker writer, Yasmin Khan, wanted to reclaim the Persian magic of her mother’s homeland. It happened by accident; in 2012, when the Western-imposed sanctions on Iran hit hard, her grandfather died and she went to stay with her grandmother in the lush lands of the Caspian Sea where she spent some of her childhood and holidays, away from her home in Birmingham. For something to do she asked to be shown some recipes, and while she cooked she heard the family memories that went with them. Continue reading