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Food of Life: Ancient Persian and Modern Iranian Cooking and Ceremonies Hardcover – Deluxe Edition, March 3, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Batmanglij, an Iranian emigre who is a culinary historian, effectively weaves Iranian cookery with ancient Persian legends and poetry (unfortunately, many appear sans attributions or dates), and descriptions of traditional ceremonies and holidays. The author serves up a variety of delicacies, such as an eggplant with pomegranate appetizer; stuffed fruits or vegetables, or dolmeh, like grape leaves or apples stuffed with peas and meat; lamb's head and feet soup; omeletskookoofilled with meat, vegetables or herbs; lamb brochettes; stuffed fish with tamarind; sauteed brains; rice with sour cherries; rhubarb stew; mango pickles; carrot preserves; baklava; and hot and cold drinks. The uncomplicated recipes feature preparation and cooking times; lists of Iranian specialty stores in the U.S., and necessary kitchen equipment and ingredients for a Persian pantry, and a Persian-English glossary are included. Illustrations.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


One of the most exciting cookbooks I've seen in a while…I highly recommend it to anyone with an interest in Iran's glorious food culture.

--Yotam Ottolenghi, The Guardian

Praise for the 25th Anniversary Edition

"A classic cookbook made even better...Gorgeous expanded edition."
--Russ Parsons, Los Angeles Times

"This summer's most coveted tome...the saffron-scented pages of which are guaranteed to create luscious new sense memories--and inspire future dinner invitations."

"Divine cookbook...stunningly beautiful..."
--Alice Waters

"Chefs across the country are at the forefront of Najmieh's fan base. They know what's good, and they are inspired by the ingredients and techniques she brings to the table."
--Bonnie S. Benwick, The Washington Post

"I love Persian Food....Exceptional cookbook, full, heavy, and good."
--Martha Stewart

Praise for past editions of this book:

The definitive book on Iranian cooking.
--Los Angeles Times

A stunning cookbook!
--Chicago Sun-Times

A jewel of a book, rich in photography as well as recipes.
--The Washington Post

A beautiful introduction to Persian cuisine & culture.
--USA Today

Too delightful to miss. -- --The New York Times


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 640 pages
  • Publisher: Mage Publishers; 25th Anniversary Edition edition (March 3, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 193382347X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933823478
  • Product Dimensions: 9.7 x 8.8 x 1.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (276 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,308 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Najmieh Batmanglij was born and raised in Iran. During her childhood, her mother wouldn't allow her in the kitchen. "Concentrate on your education," she would say. "There will be plenty of time for you to cook later in life."

Najmieh came to America in the 1960s to study at university and would cook Persian food with fresh local produce using recipes sent by her mother in letters. Her housemates loved the food she made and encouraged her to cook all the more. Little did she know that the American food revolution had just begun. Later, when Najmieh returned to Iran with her master's degree in education in hand, her mother welcomed her into the kitchen and started to work with her.

At the end of 1979, as the Iranian Revolution took a more fundamentalist turn, Najmieh and her husband fled to France, where their first son Zal was born.

It was in France that Najmieh decided to follow her passion for cooking. With the help of her friends and neighbors, she wrote her first cookbook, Ma Cuisine d'Iran.

In 1983 she and her husband emigrated to America, where she gave birth to their second son, Rostam, and wrote her first book in English, Food of Life.

Najmieh has spent the past 35 years cooking, traveling, and adapting authentic Persian recipes to tastes and techniques in the West. She has been hailed as "the guru of Persian cuisine" by The Washington Post. Her Food of Life was called "the definitive book on Iranian cooking" by the Los Angeles Times. Her Silk Road Cooking was selected as one of the 10 best vegetarian cookbooks of 2004 by The New York Times; and her book From Persia to Napa: Wine at the Persian Table won the Gourmand Cookbook Award for the best wine history book of 2007.

Najmieh is a member of Les Dames d'Escoffier and lives in Washington, DC, where she teaches Persian cooking, and consults with restaurants around the world.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

84 of 85 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 15, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I am an American who loves many kinds of ethnic cuisine. When I married my husband (who is from Iran), we received this book as a wedding gift. The first dish I made was the fresh herb stew, which is my husband's favorite. He was so delighted with how it turned out, he said, "It tastes very much like what my Mom used to make!"
The directions for each recipe are clearly written. There are beautiful pictures, interesting tidbits and cultural info scattered throughout. It is THE book I turn to when we have Persian gatherings at our house, not only for the recipes but also for learning about the culture.
I have made many of the recipes in this book and they have all turned out wonderful. I recently made Halva (saffron brownie) which is served in memorial of the passing of a loved one. Our guests could not believe the American wife could make great tasting Halva! Many of the Persian wives either don't know how to make it well or say it's too difficult to bother with. Thanks to the author for helping me to impress our guests!
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72 of 73 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 31, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I was first introduced to Iranian cooking in college while living with an Iranian roommate and fell in love with Persian cuisine. Every dish I have prepared out of New Food of Life has become a favorite in my repertoire of recipes. Many recipes are time-consuming, but well worth the effort, similar to the philosophy of French cooking. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who loves good food and loves cooking. This book is also filled with beautiful photographs, artwork and interesting information about Iranian culture and traditions (esp the last section of the book, which details traditional ceremonies and holidays), which also makes this a nice reference for people interested in Iran's rich culture and history. This is one of my favorite cookbooks. Highly recommended.
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38 of 38 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 9, 2000
Format: Hardcover
The food of Iran is rich and varied and embraces some of the most sophisticated dishes to be found anywhere. This beautifully produced cookbook provides recipes for a wide range of mouthwatering creations for every occasion, from quick appetizers and snacks to slowly cooked, robust stews and exotic desserts. Readers may find some of the ingredients called for, such as angelica, barberries, unripe grape powder, sahlab, and quince blossoms, hard to find, but most staples are readily available at Middle Eastern groceries and well stocked supermarkets. There is much pleasure to be derived from merely looking at the stunning illustrations, which is reason enough to want to own this book.
I also wish to recommend "Recipes and Remembrances from an Eastern Mediterranean Kitchen," by Sonia Uvezian. This is a cookbook unlike any other and indispensable reading for lovers of Middle Eastern cuisine.
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52 of 54 people found the following review helpful By Sh8un on August 14, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I bought this book for my wife 8 years ago (1997). since my wife is not an iranian, she uses this book to cook persian food and i must say that every dish she make using this book is a master piece, because it is very easy to underestand even to someone that is not an iranian. instruction is very easy to underestant and the dishes are not greasy like other cook books (rosa montazami).
The color pictures of all dishes is included so you'll have an idea what is going to look like. we bought it for $45.00 but now you can have it for much cheaper price. there are many persian deserts also included in this book. this is the best persian cooking book i have ever seen or heard in my life.

Update Nov, 21, 2010:
We are still using this book and despite of publication of other cook books , This one remain the best of what we have. And to make the dishes more healthy, now we are using Olive Oil instead of Corn or canola. Of course the problem of Olive oil is, Olive oil can Not take so much tempreture. But we love using this book and Extra Virgin Olive oil. It has been over 13 years that we're using this cook book.

Update April 13, 2012:
Still after about 15 years of having this cook book, this is our most favorite cookBook out there. I just LOVE this cook book.:)
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Cheshire Cat on June 27, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This has become the most consulted cookbook in our household. My Iranian partner loves to cook and he regularly spoils our guests with beautiful Persian dishes overwhelming them with the variety of colours and flavours of his home country. The beauty of Iranian food is in the diversity of flavours. Fresh herbs, aka sabzi are served with most meals. The ways of cooking eggplant are stupendous and once you serve the eggplant dip to your friends or enjoy a fresh herb kuku - an omelette made with an amazing amount of fresh herbs you will wonder why you haven't always eaten persian food. Iranian cooks don't use djheera, chiles or other spices often used in Middle Eastern/Arabian food - ie if you own books on Moroccan/Lebanese/Egyptian, Israeli/Turkish/Greek cuisine some of which are closely related buying this book will add a totally new dimension to your collection, with few overlapping recipes. Iranian food is not hot the spices bring out aspects of the single dish components that will wow you. Saffron is used a lot and fresh herbs find their way into everything, I recommend you plant your own if you plan on cooking a lot of Iranian food.

This exquisite book celebrates Iranian culture and food, it contains many recipes, beautiful pictures and information on ceremonies, poems and lists of herbs and vegetables, listing both the farsi and English names, which is helpful when seeking ingredients. There is only one problem

- the times given to prepare the meals are generally wildly optimistic, ie where the author states 40 min preparation time, you will need A LOT MORE, but then cooking Iranian food the Iranian way (my partner makes 5 different dishes when we have one couple over.........) is time consuming and not for the hurried, ie tie your apron and prepare to relax in the kitchen.
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