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“What is it?" Her interest piqued by the heavenly aroma."Delicious," I said ...

In the preface to the book that this recipe comes from the author discusses the importance of food to life and how some ingredients are used as metaphors for beauty. She quotes from Veil and Words (1992) by Farzaneh Milani;

"Moon-faced beauties have almond-shaped eyes, peachy complexions, pistachio-like mouths, jujube coloured lips, hazelnut-like noses, red apple cheeks and lemon or pomegranate-like breasts"!

There was no cooking yesterday so a a challenge this time - I had to have a lay-down simply typing it out! This will feed two of you for a week and you could research some Iranian salads to accompany it.


Ash-e anar – Pomegranate Soup

Serves 6 Iranians – about 12 English


3 tbsp olive oil

4 onions, 3 thinly sliced and I onion grated

3 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed

½ cup of yellow split peas

10-12 cups of water

1¼ tsp salt

½ tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 tsp turmeric

2 cups freshly chopped parsley (or ½ cup dried*)

2 cups freshly chopped coriander (or ½ cup dried*)

1 cup freshly chopped mint (or ¼ cup dried*)

1 beet, peeled and chopped

2 cups freshly chopped chives (or ¼ cup dried*) or spring onions

1 lb of mince beef, veal or lamb

1 cup of rice

⅔ cup pomegranate paste** (not molasses) diluted in 2 cups of water or 4 cups of pomegranate juice*** or 4 cups fresh pomegranate seeds

⅓ cup of sugar

2tbsp angelica seeds or powder (this is the one ingredient I have struggled to find in supermarkets)

For the garnish:

2tbsp olive oil

5 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed

1tsp dried mint

½tsp of turmeric

A handful of fresh pomegranate seeds


1. Heat 3 tbsp of olive oil in a large heavy pan and brown the 3 sliced onions. Add the split peas then 10 cups of water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, partially cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

2. Add 1 tsp salt, ¼ tsp pepper, the turmeric, chopped parsley, coriander, mint, beet and chives (or spring onions) and continue cooking for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.

3. Combine the grated onion and the meat in a bowl. Season with ¼ tsp salt, ¼tsp pepper. Mix thoroughly and shape into chestnut-sized meatballs and add to the pot.

4. Add the rice, half cover and cook for a further 30 minutes.

5. Stir in the pomegranate paste, sugar, angelica and simmer over a low heat for 35 minutes.

6. Check that the meatballs are cooked through and taste for seasoning. It should be sweet and sour. Add warm water if the soup is too thick.

7. Just before serving, heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a skillet and brown the garlic. Remove from the heat and crumble the dried mint in your hand and add to the garlic. Add ½tsp of turmeric and mix well.

8. Pour the soup into a tureen or bowls and add the garnish and sprinkle over the pomegranate seeds.


*If using dried herbs place them in a fine sieve and sit in luke-warm water for 20 minutes.

For best results make the day before and add the garnish at the last minute before serving.

**Pomegranate paste not molasses – I can buy 1&1 in a Mediterranean store in Norwich and it is available online at that Brazilian river company among other places.

***If using pomegranate juice reduce the water by 2 cups. You can always add more later if the soup is too thick.

Remember, this is not a soup in the Heinz tomato sense. Ash (pronounced arsh) is really a stew.

Seriously, fills my large casserole pan so make, eat, freeze, eat some more and repeat!

Never cooked it but I assume Quorn mince could be used to make a vegetarian version. Maybe, would also work if you just left the meat out?

Robert Macfarlane's Word of the Day is ...

"pipe-tree - common name for the Elder, blossoming now, its flowers held in saucer-like "corymbs" of cream; its hollowed stems used for whistles & pipes. Untidy, straggly, easily overlooked, elder is truly a tree of gifts: music, cordial, wine, medicine... Katayoun tells me you can hollow it out to make a holder for charcoal.

we also discovered the flowers of Black Lace Sambucus (Sambucus Nigra, a member of the elder family) that grows in our garden makes a lovely pink cordial.

ps: this recipe is adapted from New Food of Life by Najmieh Batmasnglij - Image Publishers 2005 ISBN 0-934211-34-5

pps: Ziziphus jujuba is a member of the buckthorn family commonly called jujube or jujuba, red date, and Chinese date. The freshly harvested fruit, as well as the candied dried fruit, are often eaten as a snack, or with coffee across the Far and Middle East. The 19th-century English explorer, Sir Richard Burton, described its taste as ... "like a bad plum, an unrepentant cherry and an insipid apple." He's really selling it!

ppps: the full quote of the title is :

“What is it?" Her interest piqued by the heavenly aroma.

"Delicious," I said. I could have told her it was soup made up of parsley, spinach, dill, sautéed onions, thin noodles, chickpeas, kidney beans, dried yogurt, dried mint, garlic, oil, and salt, but why spoil the surprise?”


Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength. “ - Corrie ten Boom
"The best portion of a good man’s life is his little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and of love." - William Wordsworth
"Cling tight to your sense of humour. You will need it every day." T E Lawrence
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3 comentarios

23 may 2020

Must admit we had a good chuckle of your description of how many Iranians the recipe can feed. Babak agreed!

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21 may 2020

George was obviously slightly fluent in Persian language as a toddler as he pronounced Ash in the same way! Remember Uncle Arsh and Auntie Dit’s?

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Anoush Dowlatshahi
Anoush Dowlatshahi
21 may 2020

Hi Martin

I have to confess, that despite my passion for Persian food, and having consumed much of it during my formative years, I have never tried nor knew the existence of the Pomegranate soup.

Post lock down, I will look forward to trying it when we head over to Norfolk! In fact you have so many mouth watering recipes, I think we will have to plan for a one month stay just to try them all.

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