Portrait – Hamaira, a chef in Iran

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Hamaira, a chef in Iran, working with her husband in Yazd

Hamaira is the chef of a”family” restaurant in a guesthouse in Yazd in Iran

She created the menu based on the Iranian specialities, she orders, cooks, prepares and finally tidies up, washes and… start over. In Kohan hostel, Hamaiara has all the power in the kitchen where she works with Zoreh, a young woman who cooks with her and serves the plates to the guests when food is ready and her husband, Javad, who takes care of the kebabs and dizys as both these dishes are cooked on a barbecue.

In the kitchen, she’s always very concentrated and concerned about her guests. Everything has to be perfect for them which is why she tastes everything before sending it to the table. Using spices is not a joke for her, this is the one important thing that she’s the only one to do and she’s an expert on that matter. She knows exactly how to mix them and the quantity she needs to make the perfect combination to enhance the dishes. She actullay doesn’t buy any spices directly from the market but she buys what she needs (vegetables, seeds, herbs, plants etc) and creates the spices herself. When I was cooking there with her she was making some dry lime powder… So good, so intense and so useful to make the iranian recipes.

She also has two sons who already left the house. On this topic, she told me “Emma, look at me, two is enough, ok?”. She loves her two sons and when she talks about them, you can easily see that she’s very proud of them. But as she explained in a mix of farsi and english “They are amazing, my babies, but I like to be free too”… Freedom, such a big topic I would have loved to talk about with her but unfortunately my Farsi and her english didn’t gave us the chance to do so. Anyway she taught me two of my favorite recipes “Gorecht Badenjan” and “Yazdi Gheyme“… Iranian food is so delicious.

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The courtyard of Kohan hostel

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Hamaira, checking if the yazdi Gheyme is sour enough

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The spices cupboard… Where all the magic happens

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Kohan hostel kitchen

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The gorecht Badenjan, slowly getting ready for diner

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Zohreh preparing the meat for the “yadzi Gheyme