After our third and hopefully final course, we were already absolutely stuffed. But from around the corner came Agda, the mother, the creator and the chef with a hot sizzling dish called Tadik; which is a crispy, sticky rice with a sweet and tart sauce of tomatoes, saffron and lentils melting through the cracks. It was hard to put the fork down as she sat starring at our every bite with a proud smile of sharing her spices with our senses. Standing no more than 5 feet tall with piercing dark eyes and the most serene smile and elegant style, Agda had quite a story to tell. And though her English was not always clear, she communicated her journey from Iran to America in a profound way….through her food. “What you taste in this sauce is dried lime, only from Iran” she boasted as she told us of her latest journey back to her homeland of Tehran to purchase more spices. Still owning property in the ancient and tumultuous city of Tehran, she happily has lived in Boston for over 20 years. Her husband was a minister of Education with the Shah before the revolution, but after 1978 she came to America for her own son’s education. Starting all over in the steadfast city of Boston, she came over with nothing but saffron, rose water and sumac. Not even English was in her bag of hopeful enterprising. Cooking was her talent and her children, who both graduated from acclaimed universities in Boston, knew that her recipes must be shared. With only her hands and a knife, she showed the Mexican chef how to create her great grandmothers secrets of cooking, with herbs and seasoning not found in the west and no common language between the two. But just like every grandchild learns their families trade through lessons and instincts, the aspiring chef learning through watching, doing and feeling. Proving that all hands all over the world are the same, the word for that which the hand touches is the only difference.
Now a widow, mother and restaurateur, Agda resembles what she talks to fondly about, the matriarchal queens of Iran 2,000 years ago. Today, she is the queen of her own kingdom, enticing all visitors to come on a voyage of tastes through the spices of Iran in Boston. La La Rokh is her kingdom of Iranian spices that awaits our senses.
Salam a ti!