December 17, 2013

Persian Saffron Butternut Squash Dessert and My 5 Year Blogging Anniversary

Five years ago, on a typical cold day in December, I created my little blog. The whole idea of a Persian food blog- its name and format swept over me like a Fall breeze and snowballed into a heightened sense of urgency and passion and that's when "Turmeric and Saffron" was born. I began my new blog with borani esfenaj, a favorite of mine, followed by other amazing Persian recipes such as ash reshteh, loobia polow, and ghormeh sabzi, in that month alone. All I wanted to do was write my mother's recipes and about my memories of growing up in Iran. Now, five years later, my blog has an archive of more than one hundred and seventy Persian recipes that are not only my mother's but from all over the country. I am utterly surprised and deeply grateful that I have continued blogging this far. I am grateful that through blogging I found solace and was able to hone my cooking skills in the kitchen and through this experience I have developed my own culinary style. I came to appreciate Persian cuisine more than I ever have and I have become a firm believer that the true and authentic Persian cuisine must be preserved and remain as intact as possible. Now, I am an enthusiastic cook who has discovered the joy of photography as well. Throughout this process I have also had the great pleasure of getting to know many wonderful and supportive blog readers and fellow bloggers.

I write so much about my mother and so in order to balance the attention I give to the memories of my parents on this blog I am going to share one of my favorite photos of Baba. The image below is of his bicycle license that was issued in the city of Abadan, Iran more than seventy years ago. I remember him saying that one of the tests required him to ride his bike over a large figure 8 that was drawn on the ground without getting out of line!

To celebrate my fifth year of blogging I chose to make دسر کدو حلوایی - butternut squash dessert, which is great to make while they are still in season. For this dessert you'll need to buy butternut squash with a long neck. I have grown to know this recipe as a dessert from Hamedan which is where my mother was from. However, she lived most of her adult life in Khuzestan and I am not certain which culinary experience was more dominant in her cooking or if both had influenced her equally. While I too have moved away from my birthplace, my roots remain where I was born. I traveled, moved to a different continent, went about my life and started my own family but my roots remain intact and have reached the water level in the dried lands of Khuzestan where it was planted.

For an added flavor and a southern touch you may make this dessert with شیره خرما - date syrup or for a Hamedani-style pumpkin dessert you may use شیره انگور - grape syrup as sweetener instead of using the regular sugar.

Saffron Butternut Squash Dessert

Serves 4-6

1 large butternut squash with long-neck, peeled and sliced 1/2 inch thick (will yield approximately 15 slices)
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 cup sugar (adjust to your liking)
1/2 teaspoon crushed saffron dissolved in 2-3 tablespoons of hot water


1 tablespoon pistachios, slivered or chopped
2 tablespoons walnut halves or crushed


  1. In a large frying pan, heat butter and oil, over medium heat. Add the butternut squash slices to the pan. Cook for 5-7 minutes or until just tender.
  2. In a small pot, over medium heat combine sugar and a cup of water. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for another 5 minutes. 
  3. Arrange the butternut squash slices in a large pan, pour the syrup and saffron evenly over them. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, leave lid ajar and cook 20-30 minutes or until the butternut squash is tender and all syrup is absorbed.
Serve on the platter and garnish with walnuts and pistachios.



  1. Happy anniversary, Azita! I hope you will celebrate many more to come. I've tried many of your recipes and always enjoy the accompanying stories. Thanks so much for sharing this special cuisine with the world!

  2. It looks so delicious I remember when I was a private chef in austin texas, one of our costumer use to order like this... Thanks for remembering me back. God Bless!

  3. This looks absolutely beautiful! I have never had butternut squash as a sweet dish before. What a marvelous idea!

  4. what a lovely coincidence, I just bought a butternut squash! Congrats on the 5 years and thank you. :)

  5. Hi Azita. Happy birthday to your blog! It's simply amazing - the food, the stories, the pictures.
    I just wish I had more time to try all these recipes :)

  6. Greetings Azita

    Congratulations on the anniversary of five years of your lovely blog! Thank you for the wonderful stories and recipes that feature and share your ancestral culture.


  7. Great blog. Happy 5th Anniversary. I have used your recipes many times and have recommended it to many friends. I live in the States but found your blog via a friend living in Germany who had posted one of your recipes. I immediately became a fan of yours. Love also the stories and pictures. Your recipes are also very easy to follow. THANK YOU.

  8. G'dayAzita! What a special blog post today, true!
    Happy blog anniversary and always good reading the stories behind the blog about family too!
    Cheers! Joanne

  9. Congratulations!!! I love your site, thank you for your delicious recipes...All the best to you and your family!
    Joanne and Sirous

  10. Congratulations on the 5th anniversary of your beautiful, inspiring and heartfelt blog and all the wonderful recipes and stories! Great photo of your father who looks like an old Hollywood star. I had NO IDEA that they used to require/give a bicycling license in Iran. How very very interesting!

    1. Azita jan, Mamnoonam for your kind words!

    2. Love your recipes. :)

      azita, the date on the licence 1319 (1940/1) would suggest the Brits had something to do with the licensing of the bikes in Abadan. .

  11. mmmmm...can't wait to try it out. Many congratulations on your 5 year blogging anniversary.

  12. I just located your blog when looking up a Persian recipe for tas kabab. It's on the stove right now. My husband is also from Ahwaz and I'm American. We have been married for over 28 years now and I am still learning new dishes to cook. Thanks for all your recipes and stories from Iran, they are an inspiration.

  13. I just found your blog when looking for an adas polo recipe online and I'm so glad I did because there are so many different variations of the recipe and yours looks exactly what my parents make a home. New follower for sure, looking forward to trying out your recipes!
    Thanks for sharing!

  14. Dear Azita,

    Congrats on your great blog. Simple but super recipes. My husband is Iranian living like you far from his family so I have tried to learn to cook Persian food without the guidance of the women in his family. I've made a number of your recipes and I like that they are often variations and not the 100% fare that is the basic take on the daily recipes. My husband has enjoyed all that I've made, and we prefer your sabzi kookoo recipe better than our family one. I am now going to try the sweet pumpkin, which is a dish that brings lots of childhood memories back for him too. Thanks again!!

  15. The butternut looks absolutely delicious! It's going onto my holiday menu for sure. I was wondering how one would say the Persian name of this dish?

    1. It's called دسر کدو حلوایی Deser-e Kadoo Halvaie (Kadoo Halvaie Dessert)