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Salamati – Hamed’s Persian Kitchen, recipes and stories from Iran to the other side of the world. By Hamed Allahyari with Dani Valent

Synopsis

In Iran Hamed was a chef and restaurateur but he was also frequently in trouble with the religious police. When a crisis of faith imperilled his life, Hamed was forced to flee to Australia by boat with his pregnant girlfriend for his own safety. They travelled to Indonesia and then to Australia where they were detained for five months, shortly after their release their daughter was born.

It was natural for Hamed to gravitate towards food after his perilous escape and journey to Australia. His first dream was to find work: without English or local experience, that was hard enough. His next ambition was to open a business: his heartfelt cafe and restaurant SalamaTea launched in 2019. As soon as he could, Hamed employed fellow refugees and asylum seekers at SalamaTea, giving them the work experience that he found so hard to come by himself.

In Salamati Hamed melds Persian culinary culture and an understanding of different flavours to create recipes that are truly his – and now ours – to share. Hamed’s food is anchored in tradition but with recipes which are accessible to all, celebratory and appealing. With every swipe of warm lavash through herbed dadami dip, every bite of braised lamb with dried lime and saffron rice, Hamed shines a light on his Persian past as he continues to build an optimistic future.

Packed with beautiful recipes and gorgeous photography throughout, Salamati is full of authentic and accessible dishes:

• Ghahve Khunee Omelette (Street Food Tomato Omelette)

• Halim Bademjan (Lamb, Lentil and Eggplant Casserole)

• Fesenjun (Walnut and Pomegranate Chicken Stew)

• Sabzi Polow Ba Mahi (Fish with Herb Pilaf)

• Khoresh Bamieh (Slow-cooked Beef and Okra)

• Lubia Polow (Green Bean Pilaf)

• Persian Love cake

• Bastani Sonnati (Persian Ice Cream)

Wherever you live and whatever your background, you are invited to join the feast.

‘It’s my dream that every[one] tries Persian food. And with my food, they come into my family. They are sitting with me, with my grandparents, parents, brothers and sister and cousins, talking, sharing and enjoying the feeling of being together.’ – Hamed

Review

Oh wow, can I just start with saying don’t go into this on an empty stomach, just the pictures are enough to make you drool, never mind reading how to make them and the ingredients involved.

However this isn’t just a cook book, in Hamed’s Persian kitchen he shares his story with us, of his home and life in Iran, how he had to leave and flee with his pregnant partner Dani, it adds so much more to the recipes and food he shares with us, you can really feel the love of his food, culture and obviously Dani’s too as it’s part of her story and recipes too. You definitely do feel like Hamed and Dani in sharing their recipes and life, are welcoming you.

The recipes are wonderful, I have only made two so far, but they have been wonderful, the instructions are easy to follow, explained well and not overly complicated. I will definitely be working my way through the book and adding plenty of new favourites to our family meals. I definitely recommend this to everyone who likes to cook, try new food and wants real Persian food that they can make themselves and you can !

Thanks to Murdoch Books, Hamed Allahyari, Dani Valent and Random Things Tours for a free copy in exchange for an honest review, all opinions are my own and freely given.

About the Author

Hamed Allahyari was born in Iran and arrived in Australia as a refugee in 2012. His modest Melbourne restaurant SalamaTea is a hard-won sanctuary, a business that fuels his immigrant dream as well as a place for sharing pride in Persian cooking.

Hamed continues to work closely with organisations that help Asylum Seekers. He is much loved in Melbourne food circles for his advocacy for other refugees as well as support for food service operators during the pandemic.

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