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Valentine abgoosht
Saltanat entered the apartment with her nose first sniffing like a Bassett hound on the trail

Kaveh Aminian, Seattle
February 16, 2005

I knew Saltanat loved abgoosht. This Valentine's Day was my opportunity to show her how much I loved her, but it had to be just right. I had never made abgoosht. I didn't even have a Dizi. Then, suddenly I thought of Asghar. If someone knew about abgoosht it had to be him.

Asghar's family ran a Kaleh Pazi in Salsabil and I assumed he would be the one to know how to make the perfect abgoosht. I called Asghar at work: "Hi, can I talk to Oscar?" Asghar had his own business now. He had continued the family tradition and opened a Kaleh Pazi in LA. To be more in tune with the West he had named it Kaleh Pazi Chopan.

Asghar, like always, was very helpful when it came to matters of the stomach. He explained the A-Zs of abgoosht making with all its trimmings, like a Bolbol. He gave me his secret recipe. "It's all about how much dombeh (fat) you put in it," he explained. He talked about types of torshee, the sangak, the chashnees, and the whole enchilada. I was totally ready to begin my abgoosht love affair of the heart.

Saltanat arrived on time and hungry (as usual). She was wearing a floral chador that brought out the honey in her eyes. She entered the apartment with her nose first sniffing like a Bassett hound on the trail of something good to eat. She screamed in delight and turned to me with such love saying, "Am I smelling abgoosht?" (You could actually smell it all the way in the parking lot.) Then she followed her keen sense of smell (remember the nose) into the kitchen.

I knew I had her when she saw the Gooshtkoob. I offered to mash the meat but she wanted to do it her own way. She wrapped her chador around her waist, set the bowl in the middle of the kitchen floor and got to work. If someone knew how to handle the Gooshtkoob, it was Saltanat.

I had already set the table with fresh, hot onion, torshee seer, fresh garlic, sabzijat and doogh, of course. Looking lovingly into my eyes, she ladled the abgoosht into my bowl and added pieces of sangak to perfection. Then, she made her own teeleet. She watched me take the first bite before shoving a piece of onion into my mouth. After taking care of me, she slurped abgoosht with such relish it brought a tear to my eye -- or it might have been the onion. It was totally romantic!

Years have gone by, Saltanat married a fat butcher from the burbs, but every time I have Abgoosht I remember Saltanat and my special valentine of 199...

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New Food of Life
Ancient Persian and Modern Iranian Cooking and Ceremonies
by Najmieh Khalili Batmanglij

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