Esmat and her Iranian Recipes


Meet Esmat

“When I think of food, I think of happiness: my mum, and my country.”

Esmat’s enthusiasm for Iranian cuisine is infectious. Her passion for cooking has seen her qualify as a chef, start her own catering business, and teach masterclasses in Kurdish cooking to the wider Melbourne community.

Esmat, an Iranian Kurd, arrived in Australia with her daughter in 2013. Like thousands of others failed by the Morrison Government’s so-called “fast-track” system, they are both still waiting for a permanent visa.

Esmat beams with pride when she speaks of her daughter’s journey as a healthcare worker – from training as a midwife in Iran, to undertaking challenging work in aged care in Australia, before receiving a scholarship and studying a further two years to qualify as a nurse.

But she yearns to be reunited with her son. “I’ve spent ten years far from my son – it’s a big problem, especially for my mental health. But this is not just a problem for me. It’s a problem for 31,000 refugees, who are far from their wife, husband, mum, dad. It’s like half my body is not here.”

“Australia is a good country, a safe country. But a mother separated from her child cannot be truly happy. I hope this problem comes to an end for all refugees – not just me, but for all 31,000 refugees living with uncertainty, far from their family.”

For Esmat, the ASRC has been a source of hope and opportunity. “For all refugees, ASRC means hope. When I came to Australia, I only knew a few words of English: yes, no, hello. I started English classes at the ASRC, and since then I have been volunteering for more than 7 years, first in the kitchen, then in the food bank. I know that this place is so helpful for refugees.”

It was through the ASRC that Esmat, along with 10 of her peers, were empowered to attend Melbourne Polytechnic and get a qualification in cooking. Since then, she has opened a small catering business with her daughter, serving Iranian finger food at events and celebrations.

In the near future, Esmat wants to expand her small business into a shop front. She dreams of supporting refugees to find work. Cooking is Esmat’s way of giving back.

Esmat’s Recipes

Register to host your Feast to access all of Esmat's recipesYou will receive the full recipe booklet in your Host Kit and will also get a link to the recipes in your registration confirmation email.

Sharbat e Khakeshir
  • Complexity
  •  (Medium)


    • ½ cup sugar
    • ½ cup rosewater
    • 1 lemon
    • 3 tbsp khakeshir
    • 6 tbsp saffron infusion
    • Ice cubes
    • 2 cups water
    • Saffron infusion
    • 100mg pure saffron
    • 1 tsp sugar
    • 1½ cups boiling water
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Kashke Bademjan
  • Complexity
  •  (Complex)


    • 2 eggplants, peeled and cut lengthways in 1cm slices
    • 2 small onions
    • 2 large cloves of garlic (or 4 small ones)
    • 1 heaped tsp turmeric
    • 1 ½ tbsp dried mint
    • ½ cup kashk (or Greek yoghurt)
    • ½ cup ground walnuts
    • Oil
    • Salt
    • Pepper
    • Lavosh or Persian bread (to serve)
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Zereshk Polo Morgh
  • Complexity
  •  (Complex)


    • 6 pieces of chicken maryland supreme
    • 3 cups basmati rice
    • 1 cup barberries
    • 2 heaped tbsp tomato paste
    • 2 large onions (or 4 small)
    • Saffron infusion
    • Vegetable oil
    • Water
    • ½ tsp turmeric
    • Salt and pepper to taste
Register your Feast and be emailed these delicious recipes
  • Complexity
  •  (Medium)


    • 1 cup sugar
    • 2 cups water
    • ½ cup rosewater
    • 1 ½ cups flour
    • 250g chilled, unsalted butter
    • 3 tbsp saffron infusion
    • 1 tbsp ground pistachio
    • 1 tbsp slivered pistachio
    • 1 tbsp slivered almonds

About Esmat’s Recipes

For Esmat, making food is intertwined with memories from Iran: of her mother, and of Eid celebrations in the park, with friends. Esmat learned a lot of what she knows about cooking from her mum. “Slowly, slowly, I started thinking about food. Every day I asked my mum for ideas of what to cook. She taught me what to do, what to add. Now, I am a chef.”

Esmat’s recipes are infused with a festive spirit: “I know that anyone who tries it, will like it.” From the jewelled rice and flavoursome chicken of Zereshk Polo Morgh, to the sweet, indulgent halva, suffused with saffron and rosewater – these Kurdish Iranian dishes will reward adventurous cooks with a crowd-pleasing banquet packed with exciting flavours.

“I am happy that you’re cooking my recipes, because they are so delicious. Don’t be scared by new ingredients or methods... for sure, you can do it!”