A tweet that took me back to Iran in search of tah dig

Last evening I followed a tweet by Nandita Iyer (@saffrontrail) and reached the Twitter feed of @pedestrian who tweets from Iran.

As I went through @pedestrian 's timeline, I saw a beautiful picture of rice cooking on a coal fire.

I was lying in bed then with a week long backache when Nandita's tweet took me back in time to Iran. 

I have been off the lap top and work for a week because of the back pain sparked off by an ill advised road trip. Last night as I popped in a pill I felt that blogging would be the best pain killer. So here I am this morning typing into my phone after physiotherapy followed by a Candies breakfast.

The picture put up by @pedestrian took me back to my time in Iran as a fat, chubby kid and brought back memories of something that I remembered as 'takeed'.

Takeed was the crust of the pulao my mother used to make in Iran when we used to live at Rasht on the Caspian Sea. My mom used to make the pulao in a rice cooker that she bought there. 

This was during '77 - 79 in the Shah years. We managed to later escape just when the Revolution happened. You can read more about that in this blog post by my mom: http://www.finelychopped.net/2011/01/mas-iran-memoirs-77-79-islamic.html?m=1

I asked @pedestrian about takeed and he/ she (I suspect she) replied saying that it is called 'tah deeg' and is indeed much sought after.

I remember Takeed or tah deeg as the crust that used to form in the base of the pulao my mom would cook. I loved the fried, crunchy, buttery, rich taste of the rice in the crust.

 I was a pampered only child then and had first rights on the tah deeg.

As @pedestrian agreed that's the only way to guarantee oneself a share of the cherished tah deeg.

I think mom used to make it occasionally after we came to Kolkata too.

I was a bit above 5 yrs old when I was in Iran so don't remember much from then barring what I have seen in photo albums. I know I was the first in the family to pick up Farsi. First to forget it too when we left. I remember a bit of the excitement when the Revolution happened which seemed like quite an adventure to such a young kid. I remember the toy battle tank my mom got me on Christmas which she bought with the money she earned by teaching spoken English. I remember it snowing one winter. And the tortoise we had in our yard. I thought it was dead as it didn't move in winter till someone told me about hibernation. I remember watching the Hindi movie Sangam and falling in love with Vijanthimala even though my dad said told me that was much older than me. I remember watching Jaws and getting so scared that I told my mother to cover my eyes through the screening. I was scared to enter the sea after that. The films used to be dubbed in Farsi and then shown in Rasht.

I don't remember much else of the food barring the tah dig. 

I do remember cans of grape juice and shoe box tins of caviar. And being given spaghetti and meatballs in school with the seniors once when I had stayed back possibly because my parents were late to pick me up. I also remember taking an orange to a school picnic and being showed how to peel it by a teacher. I am not sure if that was in Iran or in Calcutta though. And there were the chelo kebabs mom used to make with meat kebabs skewered on sheekhs and buttered rice (chelo). A dish I found years later in Kolkata's Peter Cat. 

But above all I remember the indulgent taste of the tah dig. 

It's a quirk of fate that years after I came to India from Iran I married a Parsi whose forefathers had come to India from Iran!

Ironically K, her immediate family and ancestors have not been to Iran yet.

Maybe someday K and I will go there together and I will find my tah dig and feel like a five year old again.

That day my back won't pain.

PS My twitter handle is @finelychopped

Link to mother's Iran posts


Gia Fernandes said…
Wonderful! I didn't even know there was a name for the divine crust from my leftover biryani back in the day! I always reheated it with a bit of ghee to ensure I got the "tah deeg". I didn't even care if there was no meat for me, I was happy with just the crust and always took it all for myself :)

Love the memories... I guess I will think of you each time I see someone peeling an orange. It's such an endearing image. I love posts like this especially since I am such a nostalgia freak. And the best part about food is the memories.
Kalyan Karmakar said…
Gia, I am so glad you liked it. I have been wondering for a while about what I should write on the blog and the long chat we had on this resulted in this post.

I still remember the orange incident vividly. I was wondering what to do when the teacher taught me to a puncture a hole at the top and then peel it. I just am not sure whether it was in Kolkata or in Rasht
Zenia Irani said…
I cannot tell you how happy reading this post has made me. My foregathers hail from Iran, which explains my last name. It is my dream to visit the land my forefathers walked on, and eat the food they did. This post has made me want to go there even more now.
Kalyan Karmakar said…
So glad you liked it Zenia and thanks for taking the time out comment. I really hope I can take K and go back to Iran some days. My mother has lot of happy memories of our time in Iran. It is a lovely country