This recipe requires a proper introduction. First of all, I’d like to borrow some words from a book that I just finished reading. Trust me, there’s a point to this!

„Our soup is fluorescent yellow from turmeric, and the tongue and brains are sprinkled with cinnamon and lemon juice.“

„He favours guts and organs we can throw on charcoal and eat with raw onions, I prefer slow, complex wedding recipes. Heart kebabs versus rice with chicken and candied orange peel. Tongue in yorhurt sauce or a whole fish stuffed with pomegranate and herbs.“

„We eat hollowed-out quince stuffed with ground lamb and almonds, and hunks of meat with chickpeas and dried limes baked in the oven overnight in the stone pots.“

These words are from The Temporary Bride, by Jennifer Klinec. A book about a journey to Iran, a lot of exotic food, and a complicated love in a country where it’s illegal to hold hands before marriage.

The novel holds a special place on my bookshelf not only because of its subject, but because I know Jennifer personally. When I was launching my culinary get-togethers, i.e. cooking classes held in my home, I found out that one Jennifer was already doing something like that in London. So I set out on a trip. I signed up for her course and found out that it was a lot of fun. Held in a cosy yet spacious apartment in the industrial setting of a former warehouse, the course accommodated about eight people. Gathered around a large kitchen table, we kneaded dough and ate as a family.

Jennifer is an extraordinary woman. Surprisingly introverted and melancholy. And when we went out together for tea, we discovered that we had quite a lot in common. She, too, had left a well-paid profession in order to pursue her passion for cooking. She, too, likes to travel. I knew that she’d been to Iran, but I had no idea what she’d experienced there. It was according to her recipe that I made carrot marmalade with orange blossom water. It was so uncommon that many people with conservative palates didn’t like it. Are you sure there’s no soap in it? Someone once asked me. Some, however, were totally blown away by it, and that made me happy. Nevertheless, I stopped making it after a while, because it was completely alien in the Czech Republic. But I’ve always had a crazy palate and I’m sure I’d love the food in Iran. They sprinkle cinnamon and almonds on meat, add orange blossom water to milk puddings, and use a lot of fresh herbs and vegetables.

Gradually, I forgot about Jennifer. Until I received an e-mail several years later, in the autumn. From Jennifer? What Jennifer? And then it dawned on me. THE Jennifer! She was telling me that her book was being published. And I wasn’t even surprised that we both had our biographical novels published in the same year… So, dear Jennifer, I wish you much success in your unplanned life. And to you, dear readers, I heartily recommend the book that makes even unsightly innards tempting with amazing flavour combinations!


Iranian Carrot Marmalade with Orange Blossom Water

Ingredients

Preparation 1.5 hours

1kg carrots, peeled
600ml water
300g light cane sugar
1 tbsp orange blossom water (try a shop with Middle Eastern goods, such as Farah in Prague)
1 piece fresh ginger
2cm piece cinnamon stick
juice of 1 lemon

Method

Coarsely grate the carrots, finely grate the ginger. Place everything in a thick-bottomed pot and cover with water.

Add the cinnamon, and bring to a boil. Cook, covered, on low heat (but so that everything bubbles nicely) and stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes.

Add the sugar, and cook for a further 45 minutes, until the liquid evaporates and the mixture thickens.

Scoop out the cinnamon and add the lemon juice and orange blossom water. Stir thoroughly.

Fill into sterilised jars while still hot. Let cool for at least 30 minutes at room temperature.

The marmalade will keep in the fridge for up to 6 months.

Tip: I like this marmalade over muesli, with rice porridge, or on a slice of buttered challah. Jennifer recommends serving the marmalade on a slice of bread with salted butter or feta cheese.

Inspiration: The recipe was adapted from that of Jennifer Klinec. I left out almond slices, saffron, and citric acid and added cinnamon and lemon.