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  • Writer's pictureZia Khoshsirat

Kaleh Kabab: Is Hakim Dailami talking about a Gilanian dish?

One of my favorite mazzeh 'appetizer' is käl(ə) kəbäb (Kaleh Kabab). In spite of having the word kabab in this mazzeh, there is no meat in it. Actually it's vegan. The ingredients are: walnuts, eggplants, sour pomegranate paste, garlic, cilantro, mint, chuchagh, and khalvash (last two are native to Caspian region) and golpar/Persian hogweed. Sometimes we add dried sours pomegranate seeds. How my ancestors came up with this ingredients is a mystery but like other foods in Gilan they were genius. A few months ago, when I was inspecting Hakim Dailami's book (17th century; McGill University Library), I found a line which Dailami talks about mixing some stuff, better to say ingredients of a dish. He says:

"...and eating it [eggplant] with sour and sweet pomegranate paste?, närdän 'dried pomegranate seeds?', Persian hogweed..."

Adding the fact that Hakim Dailami was from old Dailam region (parts of Gilan and Mazandaran), it would be a plausible to assume that he is talking about Kaleh Kabab.


I believe foods are intellectual property which we should consider when we talk about them. Appropriating names and claiming them is what some pan movements in Iran, north and west neighbor countries, and non-Caspian people have been trying to do with our foods (among others). Respecting indigenous people of Caspian - Gil, Dailam, Tabarestan, Gorgan (and all other people) - their language and culture must be understood by others. P.S. Interestingly, Hakim Dailami writes golpar/hogweed with its Gilaki pronunciation kulə pər.

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