Cook For Iran
A culinary movement aims to increase awareness and show solidarity
As some of you may know, I am half Persian; my family on my mother’s side are Persian Jews from Mashhad, a small village in the north of Iran. The Mashhadi Jews fled when forced conversions and killings of Jews were rampant in the the town in the 1800s and into early 1900s. My grandparents, Isaac and Sarah Djemshidoff, moved to Palestine, and then to London, before settling in Kew Gardens, Queens.
So I have a particular interest in what’s been happening in Iran, where 22-year-old Mahsa Amini was arrested by Iran’s morality police for allegedly not wearing hijab according to strict government standards. She was severely beaten and killed in custody. Her death sparked a movement.
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Since then, hundreds more, many of them children, have been killed during protests - highlighting the lack of basic human and women’s rights in Iran. Human rights organizations are now deeply concerned for the safety of Iranian rock climber Elnaz Rekabi who garnered international attention after competing without a hijab on Sunday during the International Federation of Sport Climbing’s Asian Championships in Seoul, South Korea.
The government has restricted internet service to stop content from being shared. It is of utmost importance for all of us to be the voice of the Iranian people, especially women, and demand their human rights through channels available to us. Which is where #CookforIran comes in.
Curated by Layla Yarjani, Omid Scheybani, Gemma Bell, ClerkenwellBoy, and Piers Zangana, #CookForIran aims to increase awareness of the humanitarian crisis in Iran through food, a language all people understand and love. Similar to #CookForSyria and #CookForUkraine, this campaign is built around culture, food and community – raising awareness and keeping the movement alive while Iranians find a path forward.
As part of the campaign, restaurateurs, chefs, bakers, café owners, and food lovers like you all are invited to take part in #CookForIran by sharing Iranian recipes, putting an ‘Iranian inspired twist’ on one of your favorite signature dishes, creating a new dish, or showing support via social media platforms.
The global campaign is live now, with major names from the hospitality world already pledging their support including Yotam Ottolenghi – Chef & Owner, Ottolenghi, Nasim Alikhani – Chef & Owner, Sofreh, Najmieh Batmanglij – Author, Food of Life, Kian Samyani – Chef & Owner, Berenjak, Nieves Barragán Mohacho – Chef & Owner, Sabor, Ayesha Nurdjaja – Chef & Owner, Shuka and Shukette, and many more.
But you don’t need to be a chef to participate! Free Recipes and ‘How to Host a Supper Club’ videos and toolkits are on the @CookForIran instagram page, and I’ve included one of my Bibi’s recipes below as well.
To host your own #CookForIran supper club;
Invite your friends and community to raise awareness and amplify the movement in Iran.
Cook and check the Recipes page for inspiration!
Share your pictures, recipes and stories on social media by adding #CookForIran to connect with the community!
If you choose to raise funds for women in Iran, email email@example.com how much you raised so we can share with our community!
If you’d like to raise money while raising awareness Cook for Iran is recommending donations to The Center for Mind-Body Medicine. This charity was chosen because of the difficulty of directly financially supporting folks on the ground, and there are political and legal complications (and potentially dangers) associated with overseas transactions. The Center for Mind-Body Medicine is training therapists in Iran to help folks cope with the trauma they are navigating (and they work in other crisis areas, too).
Email firstname.lastname@example.org for questions or more details! Tag @CookForIran when sharing your journey online and encourage others to join the movement!
Here’s my recipe, a foolproof Rice with Potato Crust (what you probably know as Tadig), that my Bibi taught me.
Bibi’s Rice with Potato Crust
Serves 4 as a side dish
2 cups long grain basmati rice, rinsed five times or until water runs clear
1/2 cup of kosher salt, plus a few tablespoons, divided
One large russet or Idaho potatoe, sliced thin
1/4 cup olive oil
Fill a large stock pot 3/4 of the way with water and the kosher salt. The water should be salty, this is how the rice gets its flavor. Don’t be alarmed!
Cover over medium-high heat and bring the water to a a rapid boil. Pour the rinsed rice directly into the boiling water, being careful not to splash and hurt yourself!
After about 5-6 minutes you should see the rice start to float up to the top of the boiling water. Take a few grains out and taste it. It should be al dente. It’s it’s crunchy, it needs more time, and if it’s mushy, you’ve cooked it too much and you’ll need to start over. Whoops. It’s okay. It happens.
Once it’s al dente, turn off the heat and strain the rice into a colander. Set it aside while you make the crust.
Pour the olive oil into that same pot you boiled the rice in (it’s ok if it still has some rice on the bottom.) Turn the heat to medium high, and sprinkle the last two tablespoons of salt over the oil. Lay the potato slices over the salted oil in the bottom of the pot, arranging them as tightly together as possible, overlapping is okay!
Let the potatoes sizzle there for about 10 minutes, being careful to see that they are not burning. If they start to burn, lower the heat! Once the potatoes seem crispy and golden on the bottom, turn the heat down to low, pour the rice back into the pot in a mound over the potatoes, and cover with paper towels and a tight fitting lid. Let the rice steam there on the stove over that low flame for another 10 minutes. Turn off the heat until you are ready to serve.
When you are ready to serve, ladle the rice onto a platter and then using a spatula to lift the potato crust off the bottom of the pot and on top of the rice. It will be golden and crispy and delicious. Enjoy! #CookForIran!
Obviously, I love this, cousin ❤️
Thanks Melanie! xx