It’s been a while since you’ve seen Farzad Mashhood’s name in the paper.
Up until a little more than a year ago, Mashhood was covering county government for the American-Statesman, but he left to pursue a master’s degree in community and regional planning at the University of Texas.
He’s loving life in academia, but after years running around Central Texas as a reporter, being stuck at home reading books for class left him a little restless. Mashhood, whose parents are from Iran, grew up in Southern California eating all kinds of Persian food.
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What a fun night at @farzadskitchen pop-up dinner! I learned about fesenjoon and ásh, two traditional Persian dishes that @farzadmash and @asiago are making to pay for a Baha'i pilgrimage next year. We'll have the ásh (barley soup) recipe in next week's #austin360cooks. #tweetme #relishaustin #oshtober
Traditional dishes such as fesenjoon and ásh aren’t so easy to come by in Austin; so earlier this year, he started making big batches of both — fesenjoon is a thick stew made with chicken, walnuts and pomegranate syrup; and ásh is a barley stew — for his friends and fellow Persians in town.
Throughout the month of October, he’s hosting mini pop-up dinners with his friend Daniel Heron. Together, they are planning a trip to Israel in May to participate in the Baha’i pilgrimage to Haifa. These dinners and to-go orders of fesenjoon and ásh are a way to help raise money to get them there.
They are calling the event Oshtober. You can buy tickets ($15 per person for fesenjoon, ásh, tea and dates) and find out more at farzadskitchen.com. This month’s dinners are scheduled for 7 p.m. tonight (Oct. 6), Oct. 14, 20 and 28 at a residence in North Austin. To get a behind-the-scenes look at their process, check out the Instagram at @farzadskitchen.
Ásh-e-jo (Barley Soup)
“Ásh” — pronounced like the a in “awesome” — is Persian for soup, and “jo” means barley. Mashhood’s mom used to make this soup with regular potatoes, but he has put his own spin on it with sweet potatoes.
1 cup dried barley
2 cups water
2 small onions, chopped
3 carrots, grated
1 sweet potato, grated
3 cups vegetable broth
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
1 bunch parsley, chopped
2 cups milk
Salt and pepper
In a medium saucepan, soak the barley in water for 30 minutes and then bring to a boil. Adding more water if necessary, boil the barley for about 30 minutes, with a lid over the pan that is slightly tipped to release some of the steam.
In a large skillet, saute the onions in a little bit of olive oil until they are translucent. Add the grated carrots and sweet potato and cook for 5 minutes. Combine the barley and vegetables in a large soup pot and season with salt and pepper. Add the vegetable broth and bring to a simmer. Add herbs and simmer for 10 minutes. Add milk and adjust seasoning to taste. Serves 4-6.
— Farzad Mashhood