Batmanglij was born in Tehran but received her undergraduate and master's degrees in the United States. She returned to Iran after her time in America but was soon forced into exile because of the Iranian Revolution. She and her husband fled to Vence, France where she studied cooking and began translating her mother's recipes into French resulting in her first cookbook Ma Cuisine D'Iran. In the 1980s Batmanglij permanently relocated to Washington, DC where she wrote her most celebrated book Food of Life, after the success of that book she went on to write five more cookbooks including From Persia to Napa: Wine at the Persian Table, which won a Gourmand Cookbook Award. and Silk Road Cooking: A Vegetarian Journey, which was compared by The New York Times to reading, "a good novel — once you start, it's hard to put down." Batmanglij has appeared on The Martha Stewart Show and also teaches Persian cooking. On February 15, 2013, in his weekly article for the Guardian newspaper, Yotam Ottolenghi included a recipe that was inspired by a recipe in Food of Life, about which he said, "One of the most exciting cookbooks I've seen in a while, Food Of Life: Ancient Persian And Modern Iranian Cooking And Ceremonies, by Najmieh Batmanglij – I highly recommend it to anyone with an interest in Iran's glorious food culture." She is a member of Les Dames d'Escoffier.