'Tarof' on This American Life

One of the most important traditions in Iranian culture is the tradition of ‘Tarof.’ Tarof can be described as a specific form of Iranian etiquette or politeness, and comes with a very specific set of rules of how to interact with other people. Sometimes it can be extremely frustrating and seem disingenuous, but at other times, it provides a nice framework of how to interact with other people in an extremely polite and respectful way. A good example of tarof is that when you visit someone’s house, they must offer you something to eat or drink.

A Delicious Persian New Year Dish

Najmieh Batmanglij made a guest appearance on the Martha Stewart Show to share a recipe for a homemade meal of lamb shanks made with rice and fava beans (baghali polo). Batmanglij has been the most influential voice for Persian cooking (or as the Washington Post put it “the guru of Persian Cuisine”) for the past 30 years.

Happy Norooz to all!

It’s almost time for Norooz, the most important holiday in the Iranian culture. This holiday marks the beginning of the Persian calendar and occurs every year at the exact moment that spring starts. This year, it will occur on March 20, 2011 at exactly 6:21 central time in the United States, and the corresponding times around the world. It occurs at the same moment everywhere on earth, at the exact moment the earth enters the vernal equinox.

Our Theme Music

So many people have written us asking about our wonderful theme music. It’s a great little piece, an original composition by Fared Shafinury, one of the most talented musicians in the Iranian community. You can check out his music on his webpage. He will be providing more music for the podcast in the future, and is releasing his first full length album sometime this year. We will keep you posted!

Why ‘Persian’, Not ‘Farsi’?

There is an ongoing debate in the Iranian and academic communities as to whether you should use ‘Persian’ or ‘Farsi’ to refer to the language in English. It’s not a simple issue of To-may-to vs. To-mah-to: the reasons for using the term ‘Persian’ when speaking in English are based on history and precedent.

Salaam, Welcome to the site!

Welcome to Learn Persian with Chai and Conversation, the podcast for anyone trying to learn conversational Persian.

With Chai and Conversation you will be learning conversational Persian in weekly lessons of about 15 minutes each.  If you’ve been trying to learn Persian, you will have noticed that there is a such a lack of effective learning materials, especially if your goal is to learn informal Persian.  The point of this podcast is to teach you Persian in a fun and casual manner so that you can quickly begin using it in conversation.