Episode 1: Transcript

Welcome to my first episode of In My Kitchen with Paula. Today, I'm chatting with Leila Nabizadeh. talented home cook, artists, host at In My Kitchen and owner of Saffron Catering. Leila is from Rasht Iran, and now living in Vancouver with her husband and two teenage children. This is an episode you need to listen to. We talk about the women's movement in Iran, hope, life in Rasht, travel.

The famous Tahdig. And of course the food of Rasht, Iran, if you're at all interested in an insider's view of what's happening in Iran, if you're curious about the cuisine, the culture, the people of Rasht, you're going to learn so much from Leila today. I learn something from her every time we chat together. So let's jump right in and get started.

Hi, Leila welcome to the show.

Hi, how are you?

I'm great. I am so excited to introduce you to our listeners. Leila is from a beautiful city called Rasht, which is in the northern province of Iran and is currently living here in Vancouver, British Columbia. Leila is a very passionate, and I know personally talented home cook who loves to cook for friends and family and gather them around the table every moment she can.

Leila also has a catering business called Saffron Catering, and I am so happy to say Leila is a host with In My Kitchen. Leila has done numerous online cooking classes with me, sharing family recipes and lots of great info about the culture and cuisine . of Rasht Leila, just to start us off, because I know you well now after we've been doing these online, classes together, but can you just share with our listeners a little bit of your story, how you came from Rasht Iran and found yourself here in Vancouver?

Hi everybody. I'm very happy to be here. It's always a pleasure to talk to Paula and now, to you guys. I always say, I am gonna say that for a million times I was very lucky to meet Paula because, she helped me, you know, to, bring, what I really, really love to, your home

I came to Canada around, 2006, with my husband and our daughter. Now we have two kids. We have a son too. First I did go to Montreal, but I, then I came here to Vancouver and then I noticed that there is actually lots of, Persian restaurants here, but not many. That they cook, traditional foods, like the foods that your moms and grandma cook, they have food that, you know, like kabobs and, everything but not the one that you make memory.

So, then I decided to do little step about that, and then I met Paula and then here we are

leila. You've been in Vancouver since 2012. That's a long time to be away from your home. Do you get a chance to go back to Rasht?

I did go to Iran, spring of 2022, and I had a plan to go every spring we didn't go, four or five years before that because of the covid and the kids and the life, everything. But then when the kids was, they were a little older and my parents are getting older, I decided to go every year.

So they get to know, or, you know, their country better. And then, to be with family, cousins grandparents and friends. But, unfortunately with what's happening now, I don't know when I will be able to go back, uh, hopefully soon. We'll see.

It's a special gift as a child, to be able back to the country where our parents came from. I have such fond memories of visiting the family farm in New Zealand, from when I was a little kid. And then we did end up eventually moving there, so I know how special that time is. We have talked quite a bit about the women's movement happening in, Iran right now, and, uh, the atrocities that are taking place there.

I also know how much you love your city of Rasht. How has it been for you watching what is happening from afar and how has it been for your family in Rasht?

Uh, it's really, really hard. I think it's even harder for us that who lives here because I think we are far and we don't really know exactly what's happening. Especially when it started. Uh, there was no internet. There was like, we couldn't even call our family, so it was hard. It's getting think a little bit better.

They still have problem with their internet, so it's not like before I could, you know, grab my phone and FaceTime my mom. No. Like they have to, um, use something so they can have access to internet. It, it's very complicated, but I am still thankful that I can talk to them once or twice a week. It's not easy.

It's so many unknowns. But still the girls, especially the young girls, they're fighting really, really. And the beautiful way they can, so they're not wearing their hijabs and it's, they're not being harmful or anything. They just like, they wanna live their free life. It's very hard for everybody, my family, my friends, but there is hope, so that makes it easier.

What does that hope look like? When you say that there is hope.

Uh, the big change will come. A good change will come, but, it's not gonna be easy because it's many, many years past. And, there are, many problems, but now the world knows. What's the reality and, not the media shows. You know, people, they always ask me that what they can do to help. Do not listen to media, to just, there are many, many of us living here.

I know in Vancouver, I'm sure you have neighbor, you have coworker, you have classmate, you have friends, you have somebody. Just ask them, ask them what's happening and what. The, you know, real stuff over there, not the things that media is showing us. That will be the biggest help.

I'm so glad you said that cause I wanted to ask you about that. When we do our online cooking classes, often it ends up Leila, you and I having a conversation and, we fall into a, a rhythm of, chatting and asking questions I often ask the questions that I feel our guests. are shy to ask and maybe perhaps our listeners wanna know answers too, but don't know if it's culturally appropriate to ask.

So what you just said there is to learn more about what's happening in Iran. Talk to people that you know who are from Iran. One thing I've learned from spending so much time with you, Leila, is how hospitable people are from Iran and open about talking about their culture and, and things that are happening there.

We also have talked about sharing the dishes that you've taught many of us to make. What are your thoughts around that? The conversation that happens around food and how learning how to make traditional dishes from different cultures and countries can help us learn about those places and what's happening.

My suggestion is do not be shy. Always ask question. In our culture, it's okay to ask question. I work with many people and they always ask me, and, the way they ask me, they always apologize. There's no need to apologize. They always tell me, oh, I'm sorry if I, I'm asking you this question, but no, I think I'm, I'm saying that from like my, uh, side and I know from people that I know.

We would actually love to talk about, our culture or, you know, what's happening because, it's completely different now, I think, you know, and the people they work with me, they know. So, uh, yes, I love to do these cookings this classes because I can talk about, you know, our culture or, um, A girl lives in Iran or how they grow up or how a woman works, these things.

You can never learn it in any books or any news or any movies. Mostly you can learn it from real people. So yes, when you are having a meal, it's like when you are having a meal with your family, you, there are always some subjects will come up. You will ask about their day, you'll ask about their works I don't know.

Something is about food. It will bring love in the table. It's the happy time. So gather around and uh, talk, talk about everything, your daily life and whatever you like.

I love that. And on that note, one of the things that we're talking about today is a dish that you want to share with our listeners. Can you tell us, and we'll have the recipe, I'll put the recipe in the show notes, but can you tell us what this dish is and why you chose this dish to share today?

Yes, I was actually debating about choosing this dish because it has a very difficult name to pronounce. I was talking to my children because they're my, language advisors. They, and they're, you know, they're, they're not shy. They always tell me, oh, this is very wrong, or this is right, and they ask me, why did you choose that?

But both of them, they really like this food. But I chose this because this is actually the signature of my city. And the other reason is, uh, New York Times, published an article about this food a month ago. So I thought, okay, now it's out there so probably many English speaking, they can pronounce it, or if even if they can't, you know, they will learn it.

So that's. Yes, this is a signature and, the ingredients, it's actually, only grows in Northern Irans, but we, we use fava bean here, so yes, I chose Baghali Ghatough

it's um, or fava bean stew. So Baghali it's bean. It's a kind of bean. It's a smaller than fava bean. I think I did show it to you, one time. It's a small bean and, uh, Ghatough. It's stew so it's the stew of fava beans. It's, um, people, they travel to Rasht. Only for this food. It's really funny because when you travel to other cities, if you ask them in, in Iran, I mean, if you ask them, what do you want me to bring for you?

They will tell you, I need the Baghali . Uh, the fa the bean. And the other funny thing is they, even if I am a Rashti in ano living in another city, for example, even Tehran, if I cook that food in Tehran, they will tell you, oh, it's not the same that we had in Rasht I don't know if something is about the weather, it's about the water.

What's about, but it's, it tastes different in Rasht. So yes, people, they travel to Rasht. One of their main reason is to have the stew. And I'm really happy that now we do have so many traditional restaurants that they do serve. The is stew it's a very simple stew, it's, um, beans. So if you wanna make it here, you can use fava bean.

It's bean, lots of garlic butter dill, and turmeric of course, and then, you will add a little bit of water. It's really quick. And then at the end you will break, it depends on how much bean you're using. You would break an egg or two in it, and you will let the egg cook in the stew and you will have it over rice.

It's really delicious. The tricky part about this stew is it's like avocado. You know, you have a perfect avocado and then one hour later you cannot eat it. It's like rotten. This is, stew is the same. You have to master this stew because it can be really watery. Or the beans they can melt. So you have to make sure you would finish it in that moment.

Yeah, it's very simple. And then, uh, something that makes it tastier is, um we will have a small piece of a smoked fish with that stew and rice of.

So backing up to the name of the stew, I'm going to attempt to pronounce it. Can you say it again for me? Slowly.

Maybe I'll just stick to that. I'll stick to fava beans stew. So when would this dish be served? Is it a dinner, lunchtime?

It's a lunchtime. It's a lunchtime, or lunch is mostly some kind of a stew and a steamed rice. Of course, if you're in Rasht, will be a smoked, steamed rice. It's, a lunch.

So typically the larger meals at lunchtime, and then you have a lighter meal at dinnertime.


When you talk about, of course, in Rasht, you would have smoked rice. Can you tell us a little bit about the significance of rice in Rasht and also perhaps a little bit of the location of Rasht?

So there are two provinces, but Northern Iran. One is Gilan, one is Mazandaran. So our province is Gilan, basically. There are one thing, I really don't know why we have like two province in like Northern Iran. Both of them are very beautiful, very green. It's really funny because. It really looks like Vancouver.

We have sea, we have forests, we have mountains. So it's really green. It's really beautiful. It's by Caspian Sea and, one of our, main product, it's, the rice. So agriculture is really important in so many part of Iran and, Gilan or province. It has fish, it has rice, it has many things and all different kind of herbs.

If you drive even 15 minutes outside of the city, you would see both side of the roads, rice field, and they're very beautiful, very green. And I don't know if you've seen any rice field you'll know it's in the water. It's green, it's water. It's, it's really beautiful. So rice, yes, it's very important in our meal.

In northern Iran, there are factories that they do, buy the, rice from the farmers and they smoke them. There are some things that, what, that they say, it might not be really healthy, but there are so many things we eat and they're not healthy. And how many, how many you gonna eat that?

It's okay. It's very delicious. So close your eyes and eat it. It's okay.

Leila. I'm really curious to know what it was like growing up as a young girl in Rasht.

For me it was really fun. You know, it, um, I, grew up in a family of five. I have two older brothers, the door of our home, It's always open. It's so funny, even yesterday I was talking to my mom and it was like around 9, 9 30, like, 10 and she said, oh my God, I think somebody's on the door.

And they don't even lock their door. I don't know how they, how they do it, but, uh, they only lock the door when they're sleeping. So there have been many times you're eating, you're watching TV or doing somebody maybe do a small knock, but then they would just open the door and come in. That's why my, uh, my mom or many, many other ladies, they're always ready. A neighbor will come in to just have a cup of tea or they, maybe they bake something, they wanna bring it for you. So it's very different. It's very different. Um, I, I can, I'm living in Canada for 11 years. Yeah. Now straight, so I'm not sure if it's still the same. I just assume because every time I go it's the same.

I don't know if, because I'm traveling, it looks like that. For me, it was fun. We always, all the weekends, we were somewhere or we had people coming over and the day the school would end, the day after we would go. We had a, a summer home by the sea, even though only the drive is 20 minutes, but we would've stayed there.

So I grew up by the sea for the whole summer, and we would go back to our home just a day before school. And that was a very sad day because even though all your friends, your cousins, they would go to same school you would see them. But just imagine girl like waking up every morning and be able to, play on the beach, you know, in the sand and, but I have to tell you that when your, kid is different, but when you're older, we had a different, Swimming area.

So it's en enclosed for ladies. Uh, you can swim freely. Um, I heard it's even better now. So they really, because you have to pay to get inside, so it's clean, it's nice, but it's limited, so you cannot really swim away. It's mostly if you wanna get like, suntan or you know, do socializing and you are not allowed, of course, to take your phone or take any pictures.

Many people maybe they don't like it, but for me it was fun and it was a. I, I like busy life. I like socializing. So in Rasht was like that because it's a smaller city. When I was growing up, it was only to high school. Now it's many, many more. So everybody knew each other. You knew all the boys, you knew all the girls.

You had like cousins, friends, neighbors, uh, for me was very fun

I can hear in your voice and watching you, Leila how much you miss it. I have to say


from my experiences, uh, living in New Zealand and visiting family there and just through travels, it's one thing about Vancouver anyway, cause I don't think it's necessarily true for all of Canada. But I think hospitality in the way that you're speaking of it, we don't practice it in the same way here.

And I know, it's something that I would love to see and do more of. I find it interesting in a country and for in Rasht where there's so much, um, there's so many rules, right? And, and I, I wanna use the word oppression to a certain degree. Yet, there's so much openness and happy happiness and sharing and generosity and visiting.

How does that, how does that work? Like, what does it look like, uh, in the evenings when you're visiting with friends? In your homes versus what you show when you're out of your homes in terms of behavior and, uh, ha we've talked about Persian vodka, for example, but you know, the homemade vodka, but yet alcohol's illegal.

So how do you, how do you do that dance when you're living in Rasht and visiting?

Uh, yes. It's very different. That's why so many people, they, they don't like it because you live actually two different lives. That's why many people, they don't want their kids. Uh, one of them, my own husband, they don't want to grow up there because, you basically have to lie outside and because.

Many things is banned. It's a Muslim country. That's why people are, you know, they're fighting so they wanna have their normal, normal freedom, right? What, whatever they wanna eat, whatever they wanna drink, whatever they wanna wear. When you go to school, you have to be quiet about your, you know, home, what you are eating or drinking, or you are wearing.

And when you're home with your friends, with your family, it's a different story. And everybody else is like that. That makes it harder because you can talk to your friends, but you cannot not talk to your teacher about that e even though you know that they're the same. It's a little complicated. I hope things get better and I think it will.

Uh, yes. You go home, you're like a, a, a girl, 16, 15 years old girl in Iran, it's, the same girl here. You know, they listen to the same music, they wear the same dresses, they watch the same movies. It's just a little harder. So, and, but I have to tell you, I always say that, Growing up in Rasht is a little different.

We were, uh, we are actually one of the most secular cities in Iran. It was always like that, even in villages, ladies are main moneymakers because they work at the rice field and in rice field, you cannot really cover up because you're in the water. So, uh, the culture comes from.

Even the not educated ones. So it's a different culture. We are very different. I'm not saying which one is good, which one is bad. It's just very different. If you grew up in South, they might have a different experience. I have to say something. I was listening to a podcast about Rasht and then they said people why people are of Rasht are happy and The guy was saying because Rasht is a very green city, and it's, food grows everywhere, everywhere in the trees, in the land, everywhere.

So many food money will come to the province. So maybe that's why you grow up. You know, you, this the way he said it was really, exciting. He said, you just uh, pull your hand and you can grab something. You can go to the water, grab a fish. You can grab an apple, you can grab a orange, you can grab rice.

It depends, you know, you just like have your hand out and you can catch something. So maybe it's different when you grow up in a dry city. So it's not much happiness, maybe.

It's these interviews and having the chance to cook and chat with you, Leila, that bring a little sunshine in my world these days. I have to say, speaking of Rasht, so I never really knew too much about Rasht. I certainly hadn't thought about traveling to Iran, and I've traveled a lot on my own. I have teenage boys now and a family, so it's a little bit different.

But prior to starting a family, I did a lot of traveling on my own. I would love to come to Rasht one day and then show up on your mother's door and, uh, have tea with her. What are some things that I should be aware of, or is there anything, uh, you know, this is hoping that sooner than later we'll be able to start doing this again.

But as a woman traveling to Rasht, what would you say to me? Or what should I expect?

So the, the same thing to, uh, many, many different things as if you can get to Iran easily and pass the border, then you can just. You know, let it happen. Because I'm sure many people in the street, they don't even know you. They're gonna ask you to go over and have tea with them, and you have to go. You just have to trust them.

That that's, you know, that's how it is. Especially because we don't get many tourists. And people they want to tourists and uh, that's what I told you before that, to just like talk to real people. So, because people, they wanna show the world that, um, how nice we are. So they really wanna be nice to you. They would, uh, people that they speak English, they will come to you.

They, they'll help you and, uh, uh, they would invite you to their home. I can tell you, if you go to Rasht uh, first of all, you have to go to the, uh, local market. That's beautiful. It's really, really nice to see. And yes, just go knock on you. Or even don't knock. That's just like, uh, turn the handle and go in and say that.

You know me. I'm sure she has her red lips thing on and she would, you know, cook for you and have tea. The tea is always ready, you know, and I have tea always ready here. So the tea is ready. There's always some cookies on the table. Uh, many people are always ready for guests. It's, uh, I, I hope that happens really soon.

So, um, the doors will be, uh, open and safer so you can travel. I, I will take you. No worries about that.

I can't wait. I can't wait. And what should I leave room in my suitcase to bring home?

Okay. If you wanna go, uh, uh, spend good, so for sure. Persian carpet and, uh, then just food. Just bring the dried herbs, the, uh, dried fish, uh, uh, rice, of course. And, uh, nuts, fruit, saffron, all of those things that we don't have here. We, we are lucky in Vancouver, we have so many good things, but there are, oh, Baghali you have to bring the special, uh, bean lima bean for the special stew.

I can't wait one day. One day soon. Hopefully. Leila, I know that you're a very talented home cook. I also know that you're also a very talented artist and a beautiful Persian treats baking with hand painted art on them. How did this start? How did you develop this love and passion for cooking and baking?

Uh, I always, uh, loved cooking. I, I enjoyed cooking. I, um, my mom, she always cooked. We always had home, you know, home baked goods, home meals every day, three times a day. Breakfast, lunch, dinner. And on top of that, the parties on the weekend and, um, When I came to Canada, I felt lonely, uh, even though I have like friends and some cousins here, but, uh, it's different.

It was very different for me. So I decided to do something that makes me really happy and I, and I wanted my kids to grow up with that feeling, you know, to, and even though you. their teenagers sometimes they wanna just eat junk food, but I know they would appreciate that when they're older. I want to, uh, make that memories for them, you know, oh, we had that meals and around the table, or I always tell them to bring their friends home.

Um, I, it's just, uh, it's like a therapy for me. And, uh, the baking actually, uh, I, I loved the baking even when I was very young, like 12, 13. I, I loved that. But, uh, the baking more seriously, I started during covid as, uh, like every other people. And, uh, it really helps me. It really helped me to focus on something and, uh, Bring a little bit of culture and tradition to other people's home.

And I'm curious to know, does your husband enjoy cooking? Do men do much of the cooking or any of the cooking in Rasht?

Uh, some mens do, but, uh, Especially the younger generation. But no, my husband does not do any cooking. And, um, every time I tell him that, okay, do you wanna do, I, I don't actually ask because I love cooking, so I don't mind. But, uh, he will tell me, oh no, because you cook. Perfect. So I will let you cook.

Flattery gets you everywhere and anywhere

I know. No, I don't mind. I love it. And I, uh, so many people they some, oh my God, I hate cooking. I don't wanna, I don't blame them. It's something, uh, you cannot force yourself to do that. But I really enjoy it. It's my, uh, my therapy

I have to say, one thing that I've noticed when I've cooked with you, Leila, and other people comment on as well, is you have perfected the art of imperfection. You, you cook and. Things happen and things come together. Sometimes it's as expected, sometimes it's not. But you always have this sense of calm when you're in the kitchen cooking.

So I think to your point that it's like therapy and, and calming for you. I often tell people who say they don't like cooking. When you delve down into why they don't like it, it's because they're following a recipe to the dot right dotted like perfectly. And they're afraid to move away from that recipe.

And I always think recipes are there, but then you've gotta make it your own, you know, add, add what you want to it or try changing something, or mistakes or failures usually end up being some of the, the best dishes.

Uh, it's exactly what it is. You know, you shouldn't be stressed. It's not a surgery, it's just a food. What, what can go wrong? The worst thing is, okay, you don't like this taste, who cares? You. Change it next time. Especially with traditional cooking, there is no right or wrong. You can add anything that you like.

You can change it, or it's different with baking because it's more chemistry, so you have to follow some recipe. But even with that, I substitute, um, cardamom with vanilla so many times, even in. shortbread, cookies, you know, shortbread, it's a very non Persian cookie, but I add, you know, or many, many other like bakers or cook saffron, you know, cardamom, many other ingredients.

It doesn't go wrong. Maybe somebody doesn't like it. But, uh, it's, you have to let it go and you have to feel comfortable in it. And, uh, then it'll be fun

and you carry that same philosophy when you're cooking for large celebrations, and also your Tahdig. We've talked about Tahdig. So perhaps instead of me explaining what Tai is, you can explain it. And I'll just say that Leila said to me once and very seriously with the edge of competitiveness that a woman.

Judged on her Tahdig. Could that be the right word?

Yes, it can be the right. And it's fights. Fights. Even, uh, if you talk to any, uh, Persian people or the people they've been to Persian parties, they know what I mean. It's always fight over Tahdig so the pots will get bigger and bigger so you can have bigger Tahdig. So Tahdig is the crispy part of the rice.

There's actually a book, a very good book, uh, uh, Bottom of the Pot. Uh, it has the Tahdig recipe in it too. So, uh, you can make many, many different Tahdig, but the most famous one is just the plain rice with saffron and lots of oil. You can make Tahdig with any different type of rice, mixed rice, any kind. Uh, it's crunchy.

It's. Delicious. It's oily. So yes, Tahdig. It's the, uh, main part of, uh, our parties. And somebody said, uh, once I read it somewhere, it's uh, they say Tahdig, it's, uh, you know, because it's yellow and it's mostly like, um, round, so they say it, the sun, uh, of the table of the Persian parties.

Oh, I love that. The sun of the table of the Persian parties, and speaking of Persian parties and celebrations and Tahdig, there has just been one of. Your largest celebrations, holidays, Nowruz has just finished a few weeks ago, I believe. Is that right?

Yes, it's, yes. So Nowruz, it's. A very sensitive subject for me. I'm very biased about Nowruz and I am not shy to talk about that. I think Nowruz, it's uh, one of the most beautiful New Year's, and I think it's a very real new year. I don't know, maybe because I grew up with that, but. Really think about that many times, especially when we are around that time.

So Nowruz, it's Persian New Year. Uh, it's the first day of spring our calendar is different. We have a different calendar and I think only Iran and some, some, uh, Some other part. I think Afghanistan or Tajikistan maybe, I'm not sure. They have the same calendar. So our calendar start of the, the, equinox uh, first day of spring.

So it'll be, I think it, um, changes every year here. It'll be March 20th or March 21st, and we celebrate. Exactly the time that we go to spring. So every year is different. It's uh, the, they look at the stars and the sun and everything, and they would tell you, you know, okay, like this, this year for example, was two something like pm uh, and then you would gather around the table and you celebrate.

So for me, Nowruz, it means New Day. So, uh, everything is renewing is, we would say, is the rebirth of the mother Earth. So you are, uh, putting all the, you know, dark days. Behind yourself, and you are celebrating the, not in Vancouver unfortunately, but you're celebrating the, uh, you know, the blossom, the greenery, the, uh, beautiful weather.

So it comes with the happiness, to be honest with you, as a child, for the first time when I, uh, you know, you know, sometimes when you don't, you hear things, but you cannot put it together. When I thought about. Uh, New Year. The January 1st, I was like, why It's in the middle of winter, because for me, the New Year, it would come with the greenery, with blossoms, with sun, with longer days.

But you know, it's, uh, so I really hope soon everybody will celebrate Persian New Year too. You know, it'll be, what's wrong with celebrating more Celebrations?

I've learned a lot about Nowruz from you over the last couple of years, and I love this celebration. It's non-religious, if I'm correct, and there's certain. That take place that are all about getting ready for fresh beginnings, mentally, physically, in your environment. Can you tell us a little bit about the table with the seven Ss?

Nowruz 13 days. So, uh, it will, um, start at the first day of spring and we do set up that table. That table, uh, it has, uh, seven, uh, different things in it. And they all start with s. Seven. It's, uh, it was always a lucky number for us. And all of those different things re represent, um, different meanings. So it has apple, it has, uh, vinegar, it has garlic, um, puddings, uh, we that we did this year.

Uh, we're gonna do it more seriously next year. We do grow sprouts. So that's beautiful. You know, uh, it's actually, it's really positive feeling. I suggest that everybody do that, you know, uh, it's, um, it'll bring lots of happiness and light and, you know, life in, into your, you know, daily routines. And, uh, yeah, all of them, mostly they represent health, wealth, prosperity, and everything is for good luck and, uh, Letting the good feelings come to your life.

Letting the good feeling come to your life. I love that. Allowing it to come. because often we do put up, it's our own decision to be in a bad mood. So


how was Nowruz for you this year? I imagine it was bittersweet.

It was bittersweet. It was really hard, especially that I really planned to spend it with my family in Iran, but it didn't happen. And, uh, uh, it's always bittersweet. It's always a really, um, difficult time when you're not home because, um, It's when you are back in Iran, you can see the city changing. You can see, you know, the, it's like near year here.

Everybody's happy, everyone is running around. It's a last moment thing. Uh, it's difficult. So we usually try to make it really fun and I always tell my family to bear with me, uh, this like, Usually I started two weeks even before that when I'm here. So I always, uh, listen to the Persian music, the the one at about the Nowruz, and we hang out with our friends even more.

I try to start baking earlier, so I, the kids, they will remember the smell of, you know, cardamom and saffron and, you know, uh, all of those things. And, uh, I try to make it a little bit extreme when I'm here. So, uh, and they, they usually bear with me and, uh, we try to have even more parties. You know, I try to go to Persian stores every day because I wanna see other Persians.

They, they're shopping and, uh, yeah. And as I told you, we are lucky to have many Persian stores and I try to go to as many as I can, like in NorthVan, in Vancouver, here, in Coquitlam. So, um, yeah, just to see the flowers, the sweets, the, the people. Yeah.

To immerse yourself in it as much as you can.


What was it like for your family in Rasht this year? Did they celebrate the same way?

No, nobody could celebrate the same way. When I was talking to everybody, they said it's not the same at all. You know, deep inside nobody's happy. They're very sad with what happened. Especially that many, uh, you know. Uh, life was taken and, uh, uh, no, they were not happy, but they decided to do something because we had eight years of war.

And they said even when it was war, we did try to celebrate our new year. And let's do that to keep our hopes high, and then go for it after.

I was interested in asking you, Leila, about your parents' perspective on what's happening in Iran right now, because they would have been, as you mentioned, through the revolution in 78, 79, which brought in this current, um, leadership. So they come at it with a perspective, I guess, of. Having seen what's happened before and what can come after, what are their thoughts about what might happen or what this future of Iran might look like?

Uh, as many people around that age, they say it is, they say it's time. It'll happen eventually, but unfortunately it'll not happen easily. It'll be many, many, you know, problems. But, uh, no revolution will happen, you know, with peace and quiet. Uh, so it's difficult, but they're hopeful.

Leila, thank you so much for joining me today and our listeners. You always bring, a ray of sunshine into any room that you come into a twinkle in your eye, a little mischievous, and I always enjoy being with you.

So, to share this first podcast with you has been, um, well, it's been a privilege and just always super fun. You can learn more about Leila at inmykitchen.Ca and if you do wanna cook with Leila, uh, and hear more stories, I mean, Leila, I don't know how many times we've talked like this and I'm still have questions and I'm still learning more and it's just, uh, it is just wonderful.

I could just sit around a table and cook and eat and chat with you for hours. I will put a link in our show notes to some upcoming classes, online classes that Leila is doing. And Leila, outside of In My Kitchen. If people are interested in Saffron Catering, where can they learn more about you and your catering business?

Thank you, Paula. You always make me blush, uh, after all of these classes and every time. Thank you. Uh, it's always nice to talk to you and spend time with you and, uh, yes. So I hope, uh, see everybody in classes, even the in-person one. Uh, the door is open and, uh, we can talk even more about Iran and the food and everything.

And yes, uh, if, uh, they want the catering service, uh, I do that too. And, uh, they can contact me with my, um, Instagram page. It's Safferon Catering, uh, or even through, uh, In My Kitchen with Paula. Uh, we will be happy to spend time with you.

Thank you, Leila.

Thank you, Paula.