Ash E Anar: Pomegranate Soup

  • Servings: 6-8
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Pomegranate soup is an important recipe for the Yadegar family. One of Noor’s favorites, her father makes it when he learns about her homecoming. Zod also makes himself the fragrant soup in order to help nurse himself back to health. Pomegranate soup is the first dish Zod can bring himself to make after he learns of Pari’s death. It is a dish filled deeply with nostalgia and the feelings of home and family for Noor and Zod, bringing them together after tragedy after tragedy across generations, oceans, and time itself. Recipe courtesy of Louisa Shafia


    For the soup:

  • 3 tablespoons grapeseed oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup split peas
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 8 cups vegetable stock or water
  • 1/2 cup of pomegranate molasses
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Seeds of one pomegranate
  • 1 cup Greek-style yogurt

    For the meatballs:

  • 1/2 yellow onion minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound lean ground lamb
  • 2 teaspoons rosemary
  • 2 heaping tablespoons minced flat leaf parsley
  • 2 heaping tablespoons minced cilantro
  • 2 heaping tablespoons minced spearmint
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt


  1. To make the soup, heat the oil in a large stockpot over medium heat and cook the onion for about 10 minutes, until it starts to brown. Add the garlic, split peas, turmeric, cumin, and stock and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, partially covered, for about 1 1/2 hours, until the peas are tender and the soup is slightly thickened.
  2. To make the meatballs, in a large bowl, combine the lamb with the onion, garlic, and herbs. Add the salt and mix. Wet your hands and form the lamb into walnut-size balls.
  3. When the split peas are tender, add the pomegranate molasses to the soup. Drop in the meatballs and simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes, until they’re cooked through.
  4. Season with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls and garnish with the pomegranate seeds. Top with yogurt and serve.

Vegetarian Option: Follow the recipe as directed, omitting the meatballs. Along with the split peas, add 1/2 cup lentils, 1/2 cup dried mung beans, 1/2 cup pearled barley, and 1 large beet, peeled and diced small. Use 12 cups stock or water. When the beans and barley are tender, add the pomegranate molasses and 1 bunch chopped cilantro.

Piroshki Stuffed with Ground Beef

  • Servings: 12
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Piroshki are Cafe Leila’s speciality. People come from all over to get the delicate stuffed pastries whose scent fill the cafe every morning. Tehranians come from all over the city to buy them. Learning to make them is a right of passage which Zod learns from his mother Nina and Noor only feels comfortable attempting to make them at the very end of the novel. Originally from Russia, these stuffed rolls also show the family’s history and heritage. Recipe courtesy of My Persian Kitchen


    For the dough:

  • 1 package yeast
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 1 cup yogurt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2-3 cups flour

    For the filling:

  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 cup parsley
  • Oil
  • Salt & pepper


  1. Combine warm water (100°) with sugar and mix well.  Add yeast and let stand for 5 minutes. Add salt, oil, yogurt and eggs. Mix them all well together. Add 1 cup of flour at a time.  Add more flour if needed. Kneed for a few minutes. The dough should be smooth and not stick to your hand.  Cover and let rest for one hour.
  2. In the meantime, dice the small onion and mince the garlic.  Sauté in oil until translucent.  Add turmeric and let cook for about one more minute. Add ground beef and season with salt and pepper. Once the meat is browned, add tomato paste and small chopped parsley.  Mix well and cook uncovered until all the juices are absorbed. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  3. Divide up your dough in small even balls the size of a small orange. Place each dough ball on your hand and carefully expand. Add a couple of tablespoons of the filling and wrap the dough around the filling making sure that there are no holes.  Place back on the cutting board seam side down. Warm some vegetable oil in a pot and fry dough on both sides until golden brown.

Russians call these stuffed pastries piroshki and usually stuff them with meat. Persians (including Iranians) call them pirashki and fill them with everything from meat to custard to apples. Russians believe there is no such thing as sweet piroshki such as those made in The Last Days of Cafe Leila.


The Last Days of Café Leila’s Homepage

Jessica Jenkins ’19

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