Dizi, The Narration of Persian Family Ceremonies
Every nation has its comfort and social foods. Dishes play an influential role as a social object that interacts with people at the table. These recipes are more than just something to eat.
Abgoosht or dizi is a unique, national, and comfort course in Persia. Relatively new, but shows the best of the culinary art in this land. In a word, abgoosht means meat and stock and is the general name for the mixture of meat, legumes, vegetables, and herbs with its own traditional eating habits, tools, side dishes, drinks, and even special dessert. It’s Persian folklore eating habits and a meal prescribed to cure illness.
Abgoosht is a new dish in the Persian kitchen, but it descends from the mighty Safavid kitchen. Cooking a fine cut of lamb with spices between four to six and even ten hours is a subtle oriental cooking technique. The key to a good abgoosht is not losing any water during cooking so, chefs use many methods to keep the moisture locked into the pot. There are around eighty well-known types of this food in Persia, and the ingredients vary from region to region. Ingredients vary, even seasonal, and it follows today guidelines of sustainable food eating habits, and the meat can be substituted with the goat, veal, mutton, chicken, duck, etc.
This existing dish also has a special custom and tricky habit that would make this recipe even more interesting to try. First of all, you must strain the solid parts of the dish into a bowl and mash them with a mortar until it turns into a soft texture. The name of this part is Goosht-Koubideh eaten with warm oriental bread, herbs, and raw onion; the liquid portion is eaten with cracked and soaked bread like a soup. Abgoosht well developed after the Persian famines to not lose even one calorie of ingredients. So, when the “Goosht-Koubideh” is leftover, some cooks mixed it with eggs and fried the dough in a shallow pan to preserve the food even longer.
Some unique Persian side dishes make the taste unforgettable, side dishes like torshi (pickled vegetables), fresh herbs (mostly reddish and basil), strained yogurt with shallots, etc. Dizi, is accompanied with a drink, a fermented savory yogurt-based beverage usually mixed with dried herbs like thyme or mint. And as the last course of the meal, it’s tradition to have a cup of hot black tea served with rock candy or some other Persian sweets to make the pleasure of trying a rich and nutritious Persian meal.
Abgoosht is one of the most famous Persian dishes among the people, and it is enjoyed on busy days for lunch or after work. There are places around the bazaars in big cities that only serve dizi; these establishments are called dizi-sara (the house of dizi). People get together on big social tables, the floor, or even on beds in restaurants to enjoy this hearty meal.
In the past, four or even eight people shared a big pot of dizi without knowing each other, and that was a fun way to talk about politics, society, and work. Dizi is also served in ghahve-khane (coffee house) as a lunch that ends with two or three cups of tea with hookah for smoking as a dessert and listening to some ancient folklore narrations from the famous Shahnameh.
The name of ‘dizi’ itself reflects the pot that the food is cooked in. In Khorasan, artisans make dizi pots from unique stones that keep the heat long and effectively, which is it is one of the best pots for making dizi. The food is traditionally eaten on holiday lunches with the whole family gathered in elders’ houses. It is a social recipe that brings family members together around the table.
You can have dizi in many other countries around Persia, as culinary cultures with varied recipes have inherited it. Dizi traveled to many neighboring countries and mixed with their own kitchen. Piti is a kind of abgoosht famous in south Caucasian countries like Azerbaijan and parts of Georgia. Also, Iraqi people enjoy tashreeb, the same cooking pattern of dizi making and eating that assimilated in Iraqi culinary traditions.