Beneath the holy
mountain Croagh Patrick, in damp and lovely County Mayo, sits the small,
sheltered village of Ballinacroagh. To the exotic Aminpour sisters, Ireland
looks like a much-needed safe haven. It has been seven years since Marjan
Aminpour fled Iran with her younger sisters, Bahar and Layla, and she hopes that
in Ballinacroagh, a land of "crazed sheep and dizzying roads," they might
finally find a home.
From the kitchen of an old pastry shop on Main Mall, the sisters set about creating a Persian oasis. Soon sensuous wafts of cardamom, cinnamon, and saffron float through the streetsan exotic aroma that announces the opening of the Babylon Café, and a shock to a town that generally subsists on boiled cabbage and Guinness served at the local tavern. And it is an affront to the senses of Ballinacroagh's uncrowned king, Thomas McGuire. After trying to buy the old pastry shop for years and failing, Thomas is enraged to find it occupied--and by foreigners, no less.
But the mysterious, spicy fragrances work their magic on the townsfolk, and soon, business is booming. Marjan is thrilled with the demand for her red lentil soup, abgusht stew, and rosewater baklava--and with the transformation in her sisters. Young Layla finds first love, and even tense, haunted Bahar seems to be less nervous.
And in the stand-up-comedian-turned-priest Father Fergal Mahoney, the gentle, lonely widow Estelle Delmonico, and the headstrong hairdresser Fiona Athey, the sisters find a merry band of supporters against the close-minded opposition of less welcoming villagers stuck in their ways. But the idyll is soon broken when the past rushes back to threaten the Amnipours once more, and the lives they left behind in revolution-era Iran bleed into the present.
Infused with the textures and scents, trials and triumphs of two distinct cultures, Pomegranate Soup is an infectious novel of magical realism. This richly detailed story, highlighted with delicious recipes, is a delectable journey into the heart of Persian cooking and Irish living.
Red Lentil Soup
2 cups dry red lentils
7 large onions, chopped
7 garlic cloves, crushed
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
4 teaspoons ground cumin
5 cups chicken broth
5 cups water
2 teaspoons nigella seeds*
* Ground black pepper may be substituted
Place lentils in a saucepan, cover with water, and bring to a boil. Cook, uncovered, for 9 minutes. Drain and place aside. In a large stockpot, fry 6 of the chopped onions, garlic, turmeric, and cumin in olive oil until golden. Transfer lentils, broth, and water to the pot. Add salt, nigella seed or pepper to taste. Bring soup to a boil. Lower heat, cover, and simmer for 40 minutes. Fry the remaining onion in olive oil until crisp but not blackened. Add as a garnish over individual bowls of soup.
From her bedroom window, in a flat above the Reek Relics shop, Dervla Quigley could see the universe. ...
If you liked Joanne Harris's Chocolat, you're going to love Pomegranate Soup - a tale as warm and vibrant as the bubbling samovar around which the cafe hums; but don't be mistaken into thinking that just because this first novel is as comforting as a good cup of tea that it is not without substance.
(Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
Full Review (449 words).
Marsha Mehran was born in Iran, on the eve of the Islamic Revolution. Amidst the increasing chaos her parents decided to emigrate to America - they were luckier than most as they had a modest nest egg and letters of acceptance from the University of Arizona, but they needed visas. On November 4, 1979, her father planned to file their visa applications with the American Embassy, but a band of revolutionary students bombarded the consulate and took the employees hostage. This momentous turn of events, known ...
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A timeless novel of a straitlaced village's awakening to joy and sensuality - every page offers a description of chocolate to melt in the mouths of chocoholics, francophiles, armchair gourmets, cookbook readers, and lovers of passion everywhere.
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