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Holiday cookie traditions, plus Roya Shariat and Gita Sadeh’s ‘Maman and Me’

The "old school" Norwegian krumkake iron (left) and the "new school" iron (right) rest beside the hand-written cookie recipe and cone-rolling tools belonging to Joyce Biolzi and Janice Papuga.
Tagan Engel
Connecticut Public
The "old school" Norwegian krumkake iron (left) and the "new school" iron (right) rest beside the hand-written cookie recipe and cone-rolling tools belonging to Joyce Biolzi and Janice Papuga.
Farrah Skeiky

Roya Shariat and her mother, Gita Sadeh (pictured), are co-authors of the new cookbook, Maman and Me: Recipes from Our Iranian American Family.

You’ve likely seen Gita on Roya’s TikTok and Instagram, where she’s famous for flipping the most gorgeous tahdigs and picking the right-sized container for leftovers 100% of the time (there are some nail-biters and you will root for her ‘til the end).

In our conversation, Roya explains why it was important for her to document her mother’s recipes in a book, and together, they talk about the ways their culture is so deeply rooted in food and feeding one another.

Plus, some Connecticut residents talk about the cookies that are special to them, either because of a cultural tradition, holiday or just because they love it.

You’ll hear about treasured alfajores, anisette cookies, gingerbread, rugelach, Norwegian krumkake and more. We also learn about the cookies (and the bakers) of Sanctuary Kitchen in New Haven.



  • Joyce Thompsen Biolzi and Janice Papuga: Mother and daughter. Special cookie - Norwegian krumkake
  • Leyla Dam Jenkins: Owner of Lorca Coffee Bar in Stamford, Conn. Special cookie - alfajores
  • Lori Dalton: Mom of Seasoned’s Director of Storytelling. Special cookie – Italian anisette
  • Ramin Ganeshram: Executive Director of Westport Museum for History & Culture. Special cookie - gingerbread
  • Noah Baerman: Jazz musician and educator. Special cookie - chocolate chip
  • Parvine Toorawa: Baker at Sanctuary Kitchen. Special cookie - naankataj
  • Azar Ahmed: Chef at Sanctuary Kitchen. Special cookie - kaak juz hind
  • Rawaa Ghazi: Program Associate at Sanctuary Kitchen in New Haven, Conn. Special cookie - ma'amoul
  • Tagan Engel: Producer of Seasoned. Special cookie – rugelach and Lego® gingerbread (adapted from Tartine's soft glazed gingerbread)

Soft Almond Flour Cookies (Toots)
Crispy Egg Yolk and Walnut Cookies (Noon Tokhmorghi)
Sweet Yogurt Fritters (Noon Masti)
Tagan's Rugelach
Tagan's Lego® Gingerbread Cookies

This show was produced by Robyn Doyon-Aitken, Meg Dalton, Tagan Engel, Stephanie Stender, Katrice Claudio, and Meg Fitzgerald, with help from our Social team Sabrina Herrera and Francesca Fontanez.

Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and email: seasoned@ctpublic.org.

Seasoned is available as a podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music, TuneIn, Listen Notes, or wherever you get your podcasts. Subscribe and never miss an episode.

Robyn is the host and senior producer of Seasoned.
Meg Dalton is the deputy director of storytelling for Connecticut Public. She previously worked for The Takeaway from WNYC, in collaboration with GBH and PRX, and Mobituaries with Mo Rocca. She's also reported and edited for the Columbia Journalism Review, PBS NewsHour, Slate, MediaShift, Hearst Connecticut newspapers, and more. Her audio work has appeared on ‎WNYC, WSHU, Marketplace, WBAI, and NPR. She earned her master's degree from Columbia Journalism School in 2017, where she specialized in audio storytelling and narrative writing, and has taught audio storytelling at Columbia Journalism School, UnionDocs, and public libraries.
Tagan Engel is a producer/contributor and guest co-host of Seasoned. She is the founder of The Table Underground radio show, podcast, and website, and is a social justice organizer and trained chef.
Stephanie Stender is a producer of Seasoned.
Katrice Claudio is a producer of Seasoned.
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