I’m not sure what cultural tides are responsible for Iranian food not having more of a presence in the mainstream. Why are fesenjan, khoresht bademjan, and ghormeh sabzi not as well known here as tabbouleh, kibbeh, or biryani, their geographical cousins?
And in the United States, Persian cookbooks until recently have been intimidating affairs, frightening away all but the well-traveled, the expatriate, and the Persian-by-association. Maybe it’s because some of the most traditional recipes are elaborate or time-consuming. But “The New Persian Kitchen,” a second volume by cooking teacher and food writer Louisa Shafia, seeks to change all that. Shafia uses traditional ingredients — saffron, pistachios, pomegranates, dried limes — to powerful effect, but freely reinvents techniques for quicker, equally flavorful, results.