It’s practicably impossible for me to talk about Kalbas and not talk about Amoo Manuchehr, the person who introduced me to Persian Mortadella!
Amoo Manuchehr was one of my maternal grandmother’s first cousins. Both my mom and I grew up calling him amoo, uncle in Farsi.
My mom’s side of the family is made of this really interesting combination of characters. Some are extroverted, jovial, and total jokesters; while others are extremely serious. Out of all of Amoo Manuhcher’s siblings that I have met, it is safe to say that he was the most fun to be around because of his cheerful persona, in fact he always had smile on his face. I should also say that from a child’s point of view, what also made him so special was the fact that he always engaged with us kids and played with us. There are quite a few of us in our family who considered him our favorite uncle. My mom loved him and needless to say so did I, a lot!
Amoo Manuchehr often came to visit us in Tehran from Tabriz, the city in the north west portion of Iran where all of my mother’s side of the family is from. He always stayed with us at Maman Fakhri’s house. I always looked forward to his visits and we had a great time when he came over. In retrospect I am amazed and in awe of the person that he put forth during those days.
The first few years of the Iranian revolution were hard on everyone; not only had the regime changed, but we also found ourselves in the middle of a war. Amoo Manuchehr had plenty to be bitter about in life as he had lost a lot in the transition of governments. However the greatest loss to him was the fact that he was not allowed to leave Iran because his passport had been confiscated by the new regime. What made it unbearable for him was the fact that he was married to a lovely Swiss lady. At the time of the revolution she had been abroad with their three children. He missed his family immensely and he often spoke fondly of his children. Sadly, he passed away in 1990 without having the chance to see his wife and children for over a decade.
Amoo Manuchehr left a huge void in our lives and hearts.
His youngest son Mahyar, the same one who has been cooking my recipes and sending me the pictures, recently came for a visit to Los Angeles. Seeing him after decades was wonderful. There is something truly beautiful, yet nostalgic, about the uncanny resemblance that a son bears to his father. I was amazed at how much Mahyar’s profile is just like his father’s. But what was even more heartwarming was the fact that his personality is just as warm and “bubbly” as his father’s.
Now back to Kalbas, sometimes Amoo Manuchehr would take me along when he went out; one time he took me on an unforgettable culinary adventure.
We drove to a neighborhood that I had not been there before and we went into a market. There was some lowering of voices and some winking. He told the man behind the counter that he was there to get some of the “special.” Special Kalbas? What was going on?
Low and behold the special Kalbas was not the Halal kind, but it was made with pork. Mind you, this memory is from the early 80s during the very first post revolution years, so having anything that had pork in it was not permitted, at all! Amoo Manuchehr then picked up some tomatoes, Persian pickles, and bread. Off we went home and had the most delicious meal!
Needless to say that every time I eat Kalbas I think of him.
At the Persian markets there are usually three different types of Kalbas. The two lighter colored ones are made with pork. One has more garlic than the other. The one on the right, which is darker in color is the Halal kind.
I love love love Kalbas. When you purchase them from the Persian store, they always wrap the slices in a bag. The smell of garlic can be pretty strong! Here are the three types that I purchased.
Isn’t this an appetizing platter??!! This is a meal in itself! However, it can also be delicious appetizer to serve to your guests!
To serve Kalbas all you need is some sliced tomatoes, sliced Persian Pickles, and bread.
It’s up to you how you want your pickles to be sliced. I usually like them sliced vertically.
It’s also up to you what type of Persian bread you want to serve with it. On the day that I made this platter I chose Pita bread. I sliced each pita round in quarters for easy made sandwiches.
The best part is the eating part! Make a bundle and eat away. Now you can also add some Sabzi, Persian herbs to the mix too!