Persian cuisine is surely one of the master cuisines of the world. It is unique, with is origins more than 3000 years old. The survival of the cuisine is due largely to its enduring appeal of delicate blends of flavours. Today the inferences can be seen from Morocco through to the eastern Mediterranean, most of the middle east and on to India. The Persians have always believed in satisfying both the eye and the palate when it comes to food. When Alexander the Great defeated Persia, he was one of the first to succumb to the refinements of Persian food. It is a highly fragrant cuisine, a mix of delicate spices and fragrances from saffron and cardamom to rosewater, pomegranates, nuts and fruit. At the center of Persian cooking is its blend of meets with fruits and nuts, variety of dips and condiments, and its method of cooking rice which is the centerpiece on most tables.
It is with this background that we headed to Kuhestan Farm in Magoebaskloof for a weekend of Persian indulgence. The farm is perched on the mountaintop, with spectacular views of the forests and valleys below. Cottages are all beautifully appointed with large bath rooms, fireplace and fully fitted kitchen, so ideal for self catering. But we were here for a Persian cooking weekend.
Shahrzad, our instructor and co-owner of the farm with her husband Brett, had a real feast in store. On the first evening we enjoyed a Persian feast of slow braised whole chickens as well as the variety of signature rice dishes, followed by a fascinating slide show on Persia – Shahrzad is Persian by birth.
The following day, joined by a couple that had traveled all the way from Cape Town, we started our Persian cooking class. First we were introduced to the basic spices and techniques – for instance Persians soak the rice for between 2 and 24 hours. This gives the delicate long grain of rice once cooked. Through the day we peeled, chopped and cooked, blending the delicate flavors and coaxing them in ten delicious dishes that we enjoyed for dinner.
By the end of the weekend we had a true understanding of this complex cuisine, and are will be able to reproduce a number of the dishes for a lavish dinner party with friends. And to add to the enjoyment we received a beautiful pack of spice blends, preserves and pickles, produced on the farm. For more information on cooking weekends contact
Shahrzad and Brett Hone
082 903 7593/082 887 8029
Ancient Persian and Modern Iranian Cooking – for mouthwatering book on Persian cooking
Pomegranate Khoresh with Chicken – A delicious Persian recipe
Wickedfood Cooking School runs cooking classes throughout the year at its purpose-built cooking studios. We offer a variety of Johannesburg Cooking Classes. Cooking lessons are run in the mornings and evenings 7 days a week (subject to a minimum of 12 people). The venue is also popular for corporate events and private functions – team building cooking classes, birthdays, kitchen teas, and dinner parties with a difference.
Our classes are hands-on, where every person gets to participate in the preparation of the dishes. They are also a lot of fun where you not only learn new skills, but get to meet people with similar interests. For corporate groups and teambuilding cooking classes these classes are a novel way of creating staff interaction or entertaining clients.