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March 1998, Week 3

FarsiNet FarsiNews

World Court to Hear U.S.-Iran Cases Mar 20
Persian Recipes That Keep Memories Alive Mar 18
Iran convicts editor for publishing photos of Lewinsky, Jones Mar 17
Iran to Wrestle in U.S. Next Month Mar 15
Aftershocks Jolt Iran After Quake Mar 15

 

World Court to Hear U.S.-Iran Cases
THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) -- The World Court announced Thursday it will admit a U.S. counter-claim against Iran filed in a dispute over the U.S. Navy's destruction of three Persian Gulf oil platforms during the Iran-Iraq war.

The United States filed the counterclaim last June after Iran sought reparations for oil platforms destroyed in 1987 and 1988.

U.S. authorities want unspecified damages for U.S.-flagged ships allegedly attacked by Iran. It did not offer details on the attacks.

The attacks were ``dangerous and detrimental to maritime commerce'' and were a violation to the 1955 Treaty of Amity between the United States and Iran, the United States said in papers filed with the U.N.'s highest judicial body.

Despite objections from Iran, the 15-judge panel ruled the U.S. counter-claim falls within its jurisdiction because the alleged attacks may have violated the freedoms guaranteed by a 1955 treaty, which regulates commerce and navigation.

Iran's case is based on the treaty, claiming U.S. attacks damaged Iranian oil exports, and consequently the country's freedom of commerce.

Both sides have two years to submit further written pleadings. No date was set for oral hearings.

The Iranian oil platforms were destroyed when the United States was protecting oil shipments in the Persian Gulf. The United States says it retaliated after U.S. crewmen were injured in missile and mine attacks it blamed on Iran.

Formally known as the International Court of Justice, the World Court has no enforcement powers and has to rely on voluntary compliance with its rulings.

Persian Recipes That Keep Memories Alive
Special to The Washington Post
On Friday, when Iranian Americans celebrate the Persian New Year, they will also mark 20 years of migration by Iranians to the United States -- more than 250,000 -- following the Iranian Revolution.

Many of us expatriates have found it important to carry on our traditions away from our homeland. In my case the traditions include a culinary diary I have kept since the 1950s, which now contains more than 400 recipes.

I came to the U.S. as a teenager in the 1940s and spent my last year of high school at Woodrow Wilson High in the District. In the afternoons it became a habit for me to follow my mother around the kitchen, grabbing and measuring whatever she was about to put into the pot. I did it because the old-fashioned Persian cooking of our ancestors, like other old forms of home cooking, lacked recipes with exact measurements, only a "dash" of this and a "pinch" of that.

It was then that my culinary diary got started, with my mother's recipes, and later my mother-in-law's, all written down in precise cupfuls and spoonfuls. Over the years I made a habit of keeping every recipe with the name of the person who gave it to me. It's a very special bond I have with old friends, many of whom I haven't seen in more than 30 years.

In December 1974, when my husband and I were living in Iran, my husband was appointed ambassador from Iran to Sweden. Again my growing recipe diary came in handy as we gave a dinner party each month in Stockholm, each one a chance to introduce our foreign friends to Persian cooking.

Of course, I like to share these recipes with young Iranians who are living their lives far from home for political reasons. But even better, years later, my mother, having returned to live in Tehran, would call and ask me to look up a certain recipe for her. She knew I'd be able to recount it precisely -- because I had recorded it in my handwritten cookbook.

Persian New Year (Now-Ruz actually means "new day") takes place on the first day of spring, this year Friday, March 20. Celebration of the New Year calls for thorough housecleaning -- fresh paint if necessary -- and new clothes. Some Iranians are superstitious, and although they may not have all new clothes for the occasion, they will insist on at least one item of new clothing (my husband will always wear a new shirt or pair of socks, even though the rest of his clothes may be old).

The celebration centers on the Haft-Seen table, displaying at least seven dishes, each beginning with the Persian letter seen. Sabzeh (sprouts) represents rebirth; samanu (a pudding from sprouted wheat) represents growth; seer (garlic) stands for healing power; serkeh (vinegar) symbolizes fermentation and patience; senjed (the sweet, dry fruit of the lotus family) means love; somagh (sumac) symbolizes the spice of life; sonbol (hyacinth) stands for spring rebirth; sekeh (gold or silver coins) stands for prosperity; sohan (a sweet made from honey and nuts) recalls the sweetness of life; and seeb (apple) is a sign of health and beauty.

All of these will not necessarily be on the Haft-Seen table, but the items will be drawn from the list. The table also holds a copy of the Holy Koran; a mirror to reflect life; goldfish in a bowl to signify life; sweets; colored eggs (more rebirth); greens, cheese and bread; and candles to signify the light of life. It is also customary to display photographs of loved ones who are not present.

Minutes before the arrival of the new year -- 2:55 p.m. this year -- family members gather around the ceremonial table. The family elder reads a passage from the Koran, and all exchange hugs, kisses and wishes for the brand new year.

Traditional to the Now-Ruz feast is this greens-filled frittata.

Kookoo Sabzi

(Persian Herb Frittata)

(8 servings)

I usually add 2 tablespoons of barberries (zereshk), similar to dried cranberries, and 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts to this dish.

6 tablespoons oil

4 cups chopped fresh parsley

4 cups chopped scallions, white and green parts

1 cup chopped fresh Chinese parsley

1 cup chopped fresh dill

4 green lettuce leaves, chopped

7 eggs

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 tablespoon flour

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Heat 3 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet. Add the chopped parsley, scallions, Chinese parsley, dill and lettuce and saute until the greens are wilted. Remove from the heat. When the greens are cool, mix them with the eggs, baking soda, flour, salt, pepper, turmeric and cinnamon in a large bowl. Add the barberries and walnuts if using. Beat with an electric hand mixer for 3 minutes.

Pour 2 tablespoons of the remaining oil into a 10-inch round ovenproof dish and place in the oven. When the oil is hot, remove the dish and fill with the greens mixture, smoothing the top. Bake, uncovered, for 35 to 45 minutes.

Remove the kookoo from the oven and slice into 8 wedges. To give the sides an even color, heat the last tablespoon of oil and fry the wedges on all sides before serving.

Per serving: 161 calories, 8 gm protein, 7 gm carbohydrates, 12 gm fat, 186 mg cholesterol, 2 gm saturated fat, 441 mg sodium

Khoresh Fessenjan

(Walnut Stew)

(8 servings)

Khoresh Fessanjan is traditionally made with duck meat, but any meat can be used. For a Northern Iranian variation on this recipe, fry strips or slices of 2 eggplants or 3 zucchini separately and add to the walnut sauce about 15 minutes before serving. Both versions get served with traditional chelo rice (recipe follows).

5 cups finely ground walnuts

3/4 cup pomegranate concentrated juice*

2 tablespoons tomato paste

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs

4 tablespoons oil

1 large onion, grated

1 teaspoon turmeric

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

In a nonstick pot, briefly toast the ground walnuts. Lower the heat and add enough water to cover the nuts by 1 inch. Add the pomegranate juice and tomato paste and cook over low heat for about 45 minutes until the surface gets oily, stirring occasionally to prevent the walnuts from forming a crust.

Meanwhile, remove the excess fat from the chicken, then cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes. Wash and drain the meat, pat dry with paper towels.

In a nonstick pan, heat the oil over medium heat, add the chicken, and cook just to sear the outside of the cubes. Add the grated onion and continue cooking. When the onion becomes soft, add the turmeric, salt and pepper and stir. Add 3 cups water, stir, cover and cook over medium heat until the meat is almost done, about 45 minutes.

Add the meat to the walnut mixture and cook over low heat for 15 minutes. The sauce should be thick, with a sweet-and-sour taste.

* Note: Concentrated pomegranate juice can be found in Middle Eastern stores.

Per serving: 563 calories, 38 gm protein, 23 gm carbohydrates, 38 gm fat, 69 mg cholesterol, 3 gm saturated fat, 234 mg sodium

Chelo

(Basic White Rice)

(12 to 14 servings)

Since cooking the rice until a crust forms on the bottom of the pot is an essential step in this recipe, it is almost a requirement that you use a nonstick pot. If you don't, line the bottom of your pot with two layers of heavy aluminum foil.

5 cups dry rice, preferably Basmati

2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons salt

1 cup butter

1 tablespoon plain yogurt

1/2 teaspoon powdered saffron mixed with 2 teaspoons boiling water

In a bowl, wash the rice 5 times and then soak for 2 hours in lukewarm water to cover mixed with 2 tablespoons of the salt.

Pour 10 cups water in a nonstick pot, add the remaining 2 teaspoons salt and bring to a vigorous boil. Drain the water from the presoaked rice and add the rice to the boiling water. Stir, cover and bring back to a boil, boiling for 3 to 4 minutes. The rice should move freely and float to the top of the pot. Drain the rice in a colander, rinse with lukewarm water and taste; if the rice is salty, rinse with more water.

In a large nonstick pot, melt the butter, add 1/2 cup water and stir. Set aside half of this mixture. Add the yogurt to the butter remaining in the pot and stir well. Gently spoon the rice on top of this mixture, forming a cone. Cover. Cook on medium heat until steam is visible, about 15 minutes. Cook for 15 minutes more, then turn the heat down to low and pour the remaining butter mixture over the rice. Wrap the lid of the pot tightly with a kitchen towel to prevent the steam from escaping and cook for another 45 minutes.

Spoon 1 cup of rice from the top of the pot onto a plate and mix gently with the saffron mixture. Set aside.

Mound the rice in the shape of a cone on a serving platter. Add saffron rice to the top before serving. Remove the crust from the bottom of the pan and serve separately, cut into squares or wedges.

Per serving (based on 14 servings): 362 calories, 5 gm protein, 54 gm carbohydrates, 14 gm fat, 36 mg cholesterol, 8 gm saturated fat, 310 mg sodium

Pari Malek is working on a book of traditional Iranian recipes.

Iran convicts editor for publishing photos of Lewinsky, Jones
TEHRAN (Reuters) - An Iranian court on Tuesday fined a magazine director one million rials ($330) and temporarily banned him from his job for publishing photos of U.S. President Bill Clinton's alleged lovers, a newspaper said.

The evening daily Kayhan said the court found Reza Ghanilu, director of Fakour weekly, guilty of publishing "obscene pictures" after his magazine ran photos of former White House intern Monica Lewinsky, former Arkansas state employee Paula Jones and other alleged Clinton lovers on its front page.

The court in Tehran banned Ghanilu from running the paper for six months. The one million rial fine is equivalent to about one month's salary for a senior journalist.

Authorities last month seized copies of the magazine, apparently because the women's clothes in the pictures did not meet Iran's Moslem standards of modesty.

Iran enforces a strict Islamic dress code requiring women to wear a loose garment covering their body and hair, allowing only their face and hands to be shown. The few photographs of foreign women that Iranian magazines print often show them wearing hats and long dresses.

Iranian media have widely commented on Clinton's sex scandals, saying they were proof of moral decay in the United States. Some papers said the Monica Lewinsky scandal was the result of a plot by "Zionists" against Clinton.

Iran's President Mohammad Khatami, a relative moderate, has promised greater press freedom. His government has licensed dozens of new publications since taking office in August.

A group of conservative parliament members have demanded a toughening of the country's rules on the publication of women's pictures after the Fakour case and other cases of magazines publishing photographs of attractive women, most of them in full Islamic dress, in an apparent effort to boost circulation.

Iran to Wrestle in U.S. Next Month
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- Iran will take part in the World Cup Freestyle Wrestling championships in the United States next month, the Islamic Republic News Agency reported Sunday.

Iranian sports teams have visited the United States before, but such exchanges have been boosted by the success of the visit by U.S. wrestlers to Iran last month.

The wrestlers, who participated in an international tournament in Tehran, were the first American sportsmen to go to Iran since the Islamic revolution in 1979.

In April, the Iranian wrestling team will take part in the World Cup at Oklahoma State University, IRNA quoted the Iranian Olympic Committee as saying.

Iranian-U.S. relations have been hostile since the revolution overthrew the U.S.-backed shah. But Iran's President Mohammad Khatami, who took office in August, has been trying to engineer a detente.

Aftershocks Jolt Iran After Quake
By Afshin Valinejad
GOLBAF, Iran (AP) -- Several aftershocks shook this southeast Iranian town Sunday, forcing frightened residents to sleep outside their homes after a powerful earthquake killed five people and injured 50.

The magnitude-6.4 quake Saturday night destroyed about 2,000 homes and left 10,000 people homeless, said Yadollah Qorbani of the Red Crescent Society, the Islamic equivalent of the Red Cross.

``It's a miracle that so few people died. We expected a lot, lot worse,'' Qorbani said.

Residents said the casualties were low because many buildings had been rebuilt to withstand earthquakes after a 1981 quake killed about 1,000 people in the region.

``Everyone ran out of their homes, and spent the night in the open because there were several aftershocks,'' resident Mohammad Ali Zakeri said.

Relief workers managed Sunday to restore electricity to Golbaf, the quake's epicenter about 600 miles southeast of Tehran, said Mohsen Salehi, of the Natural Disaster Office in Kerman province. Workers were trying to restore telephone lines and water supplies.

Fifteen villages around Golbaf were damaged, said Abbas Jazeri, head of the Natural Disaster Headquarters in Tehran.

Red Crescent official Mohammad Dabagh-Zadeh gave a final casualty toll of five dead and 50 injured.

Kerman province, with a population of more than 1 million people, is a largely desert land of few towns where the main livelihood is carpet-weaving.

``I was sleeping when I heard something that sounded like thunder,'' said Hassan Ali Zamanabadi, who lost a brother and cousin in the 1981 quake.

``I ran out, and the mountain looked like it was spitting rocks,'' said Zamanabadi, a 59-year-old carpet weaver. Iran is prone to devastating earthquakes.

In May 1997, an earthquake of magnitude 7.1 struck the northeastern province of Khorasan, killing about 1,500 people and injuring at least 6,000. It left about 60,000 people homeless.

In February 1997, a quake jolted about 100 villages in the northwestern province of Ardabil. Officials said it killed 965 people, but independent estimates put the death toll at about 3,000. Thousands were left homeless in freezing winter conditions.

 

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