Shoorba-ye Yazdi (Lentil and Beet Soup with Tiny Dumplings)


What could be better on a cold winter day than a hot bowl of tasty, healthy and sumptuous soup? This beautiful and nutritious soup is from the region of Yazd, Iran and is called شوربا - shoorba. "Shoor" means salty and "ba" generally refers to soups/stews. This shoorba is made by combining sauteed golden brown onions, brown lentils, small cubed beets, chopped young beet greens and fresh dill simmering gently over low heat until the lentils and beets are tender and soft. To make the shoorba more tasty and to increase the thickness of the soup, small flour dumplings are added about thirty minutes before serving. This delightful recipe was given to me by my wonderful friend of many years, Sohaila khanoum, and I am very thankful and grateful to her for sharing her beloved mother's Yazdi shoorba recipe.


P.S. I would have written a post specifically for my 2nd blogging anniversary on December 4th had it not been a hectic month for me. However, I would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you, my wonderful and super kind readers and Facebook fans, for your support and sweet comments for the past two years. It always means a lot to me! Here's to hoping that I'll be able to keep my blog running steadily and continue to share as many Iranian recipes for as long as I can! I guess I make that my New Year's resolution! Once again thanks to all my readers!!


Shoorba-ye Yazdi (Lentil and Beet Soup with Tiny Dumplings)

Ingredients:
Serves 4-6

1 cup lentils, picked over and rinsed
3 small beetroots, trimmed off  and cubed
Use whole or chop any young and tender beetroot greens
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 bunch fresh dill, washed and chopped
1 (14-ounce) can chicken broth  or vegetable broth *optional
Vegetable oil
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
Salt and pepper to taste
Water

Dumplings:

1/2 cup flour
Pinch of salt
Water (lukewarm) as needed

You may substitute dumplings with small pasta shapes.

Method:
  1. Combine the flour and salt, add water little by little, one tablespoon at a time and mix well. Add more flour and water as needed until a soft dough forms. Make small size balls out of the flour dough. Set aside.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a stock pot on medium heat. Saute onions until golden brown, add turmeric and stir.
  3. Add lentils, beets, broth and 4-5 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and cook for 50 minutes.
  4. Gently place the dumplings into the soup. Add the vegetables, salt and pepper. Add more water if necessary. Cook for another 30 minutes. Carefully turn the dumplings once or twice until they are well cooked.
  5. Add 2 tablespoons of vinegar during the last ten minutes of simmering.
Serve the shoorba hot with warm lavash or pita bread.

Enjoy! Wish you all a very happy, healthy, prosperous and glorious New Year!
Love, Peace and Blessings!

Yalda 2010! Celebrating the Longest Night of the Year (Winter Solstice)

The sight of you each morning is a New Year
any night of your departure is the eve of Yalda

~Saadi


شب یلدا Shab-e Yalda refers to the longest night of the year which has been celebrated ever since the ancient times in Persian history. The word یلدا  "Yalda" means birth in Syriac and is marked as the birthday of Mithra, the ancient Persian god of light and cosmic order, also called the son of Ahura Mazda, dating back as early as 5000 B.C.    

The winter solstice occurs on Tuesday, December 21, 2010. On the eve of the longest night, Iranians celebrate the birth of the sun, Mithra or Mehr, by family and friends gathering together reading poetry, story telling, feasting on pomegranate seeds, slices of sweet watermelons, fall fruit of persimmon, grapes, dried fruits of apricots and figs, ajil, and drinking tea into late hours of the night. Reading poetry from our renowned Persian poet Hafez has become an integral part of our Yalda tradition and is my favorite part of the Yalda celebrations.


On this shab-e yalda I'll sit around the table with my family celebrating the birth of the sun and the victory of light over darkness. May the spark of light illuminate us from within and bring joy to all of our hearts.

Winter Solstice, December 21, 2010, Danilo Pivato, APOD

Solstice Celebration, December 21, 2002, APOD

Happy Yalda! Yalda Mobarak!

Naan Berenji - Persian Rice Flour Cookies


نان برنجی Naan Berenji Kermanshahi is one of my favorite Persian sweets which is traditionally made for Nowruz (Persian New Year). Naan berenji cookies are rich with flavor and not too sweet. They are great to eat all year around and are most delicious when served with a freshly brewed cup of hot tea or coffee, especially on a cold day.


 I have wanted to write about naan berenji in the past but I must say that having bought them from different bakeries and trying several recipes myself over the years, the results were always kind of disappointing and never tasted quite like the authentic naan berenji from Kermanshah. I don't know if I'll ever get to make these cookies taste and smell like how they tasted and smelled the first time I ate them when I visited the city of Kermanshah with my family years ago. I remember our summer trip to that region vividly. I recall the day that we approached the Bisotoon  mountain area as the sun was setting and my father was exhausted from driving for such a long time. We stopped by a قهوه خانه ghaveh-khaneh (coffee shop), a rest area in the middle of nowhere. My father inquired about the nearest hotels or anywhere that we could spend the night and get some rest. But the given address seemed too far to to get to so the owner offered us the roof top of the ghahveh-khaneh and that's where we spent the night. The memory of us six kids going up an old and flimsy ladder one by one, laying down on just a blanket with no pillows or any sheets, staring at the sky, the moon and stars until I fell asleep is still etched in my mind. Not to mention, glancing at the nearby بیستون Bisotoon, which seemed so close towering over our heads as if it was going to fall down on us at any moment!  As a child, those family summer trips zigzagging across the country seemed exhausting, dreadful and pointless. Now, however, I am most grateful for having visited many parts of my beautiful country.


In my recent attempt,  I gave Najmieh Batmangelij's naan berenji recipe, in her A Taste of Persia cookbook, a try and I was pleased with the results. Let's just say that when I went to do a count the next day to see how many cookies the batch of dough makes and also take some photos, there were only a few left on the plate!

Naan Berenji - Persian Rice Flour Cookies

Ingredients:
Makes about 25 cookies

3 cups rice flour
3 egg yolks
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons fine sugar
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract *optional

For Topping:

2 tablespoons poppy seeds or crushed pistachios

For Syrup:

1 1/2  cup white sugar
1/2 cup of water
1 tablespoon rose water

Method:
  1. Combine the sugar and water in a small pot over medium heat, bring to a boil, stir well to dissolve the sugar for about 5 minutes. Reduce heat and simmer for another 7-10 minutes or until the mixture thickens to one cup . Remove from heat, add the rose water and set aside to cool.
  2. In a bowl mix rice flour with powdered cardamom. Set aside.
  3. In a mixing bowl whisk the eggs with fine sugar until smooth and creamy. Add the butter and oil and beat well until fluffy.
  4. Add the vanilla extract and the flour. Gradually add in one cup of the sugar syrup and beat well with an electric mixer/hand mixer.
  5. Place the dough in a container, cover with a plastic wrap and refrigerate for about six hours.
  6. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line two baking sheets with parchment papers.
  7. Take a tablespoon of the dough, flatten into round shapes into palm of your hand and shape the surface with a cookie stamp or a teaspoon. Sprinkle some poppy seeds on top of each cookie. Place on the cookie sheet and put it in the middle rack of the oven.
  8. Bake for 12-15 minutes. Remove from the oven and gently place on the cooling racks.
Transfer the cookies on a serving platter and serve with tea or coffee.

Enjoy!

Torshi Anbeh - Pickled Mango


This is a quick, simple and sumptuous torshi (pickle) that is served as a side for any rice and stew dishes. Serving a variety of pickles and relishes with main courses is a major part of the Iranian cuisine. In our home torshi making was an annual summer ritual for my mother and our hayat (yard) would be filled with fresh fruits, vegetables, tomatoes, limes and unripe sour grapes to juice. Years later, when I met my husband, I was happy to find out that in their home his father was in charge of making torshi and that he had designated a special place in the basement of his home to place the large clay jars used to preserve the pickles!  I knew then that I'd met someone who also has the love of torshi in his genes! There's nothing like homemade pickles where you use fresh ingredients and favorite spices and adjust the seasonings to your liking. There are the common and popular pickles such as the eggplant pickle, mixed vegetable pickle and the garlic pickle, not to mention my favorite fruit pickle that I have written about in the past.




Today's recipe is ترشی انبه  torshi anbeh (pickled mango) which I've grown to adore mostly in recent years. Mangoes make great pickles. They are soft, smooth, juicy and quite tasty. I like to maintain the color and the texture of mango while it gently simmers in tamarind infused sauce, spices, dried red pepper and garlic cloves and vinegar, until all the complex and different flavors come together nicely. I didn't chop the garlic and the peppers into pieces and chose to leave them whole. We don't want them to overpower the taste and also this way they would be easier to take out when serving.



Torshi Anbeh - Pickled Mango

Ingredients:

4 firm ripe mangoes, peeled and cubed
4-5 whole garlic cloves, peeled
Juice of a lemon/lime
3 tablespoons tamarind sauce
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon golpar (angelica), crushed
1/2 teaspoon siah daneh (nigella seeds)
1/2 teaspoon crushed coriander seeds
1-2 dried red peppers
2 cups white vinegar
Salt to taste

Method:
  1. Place the mangoes in a bowl, sprinkle with fresh lemon juice and set aside.
  2. In a medium-sized heavy pot bring vinegar to a gentle boil over medium-low heat. Add the tomato paste and the tamarind sauce. Stir well.
  3. Add the garlic, red pepper and the spices, simmer for 5 minutes over low heat for the flavors to come together. 
  4. Add the mangoes to the pot, add salt and cook for 5-7 minutes over medium-low heat, taste and adjust the seasoning if needed, turn off the heat.
  5. When cool, place the torshi in a washed and clean glass jar. Make sure all ingredients are covered by vinegar. Add more vinegar if needed. Refrigerate or keep in a cool and dry place. This pickle is ready to serve the next day.
 This is a delicious side to serve with your favorite food.

Enjoy!

Saffron Rice with Cranberries


کرنبری پلو  Cranberry Polow (rice with cranberries) is an aesthetically pleasing and tasty side dish. The tartness of cranberries are similar to the tartness of barberries and can be a good variation to our traditional rice with barberries (zereshk polow). This is my new favorite rice dish for my favorite time of the year and will be one of my contributions to Thanksgiving dinner with my family. Celebrating Thanksgiving has become a tradition since moving to America and raising a family. I would love to celebrate every occasion that gives us a chance to get together with our loved ones and express our gratitude for what we have and count our blessings.


I love cranberries fresh or dried all year round. I like freezing fresh cranberries for later on when they are not in season but we would need a gigantic freezer for the amount of cranberries that we'd like to freeze! Cranberries freeze well and all you need to do is defrost, rinse and use them while cooking. I usually sprinkle dried cranberries in salads, make a relish for poultry dishes or just eat them as snacks. For this recipe, I used dried cranberries and prepared the rice the same way I do for zereshk polow-- it's essentially the same recipe but with a different ingredient!


Saffron Rice with Cranberries

Ingredients:
Serves 4-6

2 cups rice
2 cups dried cranberries
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon saffron dissolved in 3-4 tablespoons of hot water
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons butter
Vegetable oil
Salt
Water

Method:
  1. Wash rice with cool water and soak in 4-5 cups of water with 2 tablespoons of salt and set aside for at least a couple of hours.
  2. Soak cranberries in 2 cups of water for about ten minutes to plump up. Drain.
  3. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter and a tablespoon of oil in a skillet over medium heat and saute sliced onion until golden brown. Add turmeric and stir well, then add cranberries and saute for about 2-3 minutes. Add a tablespoon of dissolved saffron, 2 tablespoons of sugar and a pinch of salt, combine well and cook for 5-7 minutes on low heat. Set aside.
  4. In a large non-stick pot, bring 6 cups of water to a rapid boil, pour rice into boiling water. Bring water back to boil and wait for 10-15 minutes. Test to see if rice is ready-- the grain of rice should still be firm on the inside and have a bite to it.
  5. Drain and rinse with cold water.
  6. Wash the pot and put it back on the burner. Add 3 tablespoons of oil to the pot, add a layer of rice into the pot, a layer of cranberry and onion mixture, then another layer of rice and continue building into a pyramid shape. Cover and cook for 10-15 minutes on medium-high heat until rice is steaming, pour 1/4 a cup of water evenly over the rice and add the remaining saffron. Make 2-3 holes in the rice to let the steam out. Lower the heat, cover and cook the rice for 50 minutes on low heat.
Scoop the rice onto a platter and serve warm.

Enjoy! Peace and blessings.

Zeytoon Parvardeh-Persian Olive, Pomegranate and Walnut Salad



This is a tasty side dish made with green olives, pomegranate seeds and walnuts combined and marinated with pomegranate molasses, fresh herbs and garlic. زیتون پرورده Zeytoon Parvardeh is a well-liked appetizer from the north western region of Gilan province. The authentic zeytoon parvardeh is prepared with aromatic fresh herbs from the region. However, I've learned that I can substitute fresh or dried mint instead. I love the combination of  these ingredients coming together so wonderfully in one dish with all their different flavors and textures, making this a unique and quite delectable appetizer. I've been wanting to write about zeytoon parvardeh for the past several months, ever since I got the recipe from a very dear Rashti friend of mine, Monir khanoum. However, since pomegranates weren't in season at the time, I've waited until now since pomegranate season is in full bloom!


I had posted my first Gilani recipe for Mirza Ghasemi a while ago and I am so glad to write another recipe from that beautiful region. Many of my childhood summer vacations were spent by the northern Caspian Sea, escaping the southern heat and enjoying the cooler northern weather with its beautiful beaches and scenery.



Zeytoon Parvardeh

Ingredients:
 Serves 4-6

1 pound firm green olives, pitted
1 cup walnuts, grated
1/2 cup pomegranate molasses
5-7 garlic cloves, minced
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
A handful of fresh mint, chopped or 1-2 tablespoons, dried
Salt and pepper

Optional garnish: 2-3 tablespoons pomegranate seeds *(a personal touch to add a burst of color)

Method:
  1. In a medium-sized bowl combine olives, minced garlic, pomegranate seeds, and grated walnuts. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Pour in the syrup and the olive oil. Add fresh mint and mix thoroughly. Refrigerate for a couple of hours.
Transfer to a serving platter and serve cold or room temperature.

Enjoy!

Dal Adas-Southern Iranian-Style Red Lentil Soup With Tamarind Sauce



دال عدس Dal Adas is a popular and very tasty dish in southern Iran and in our home it happened to be one of my father's favorite dishes. Every time he would come here to visit he would ask me to make it for him but my dal adas was always a milder version of what my grandmother used to make. He liked the way his mother made this soup, hot and spicy with lots of sauteed garlic and onions, simmering to perfection in tamarind sauce. My paternal grandmother was a gifted cook who could make anything for any number of  people and her recipes were known to be full of flavor and very delicious. This dal adas was my grandmother's recipe that was passed down to my father and the rest of the family. This is a perfect soup to have after a long walk in the park where the fall foliage is at its peak and the walkway of your favorite trail is covered with dry leaves that crackle under your feet. This is a rather thick and delicious soup that is typically eaten with flat bread or served over a bed of rice.

Autumn in NY

Dal Adas

Ingredients:
 Serves 4-6

2 cups red lentils, rinsed well
1 large onion, thinly sliced
5-7 garlic cloves, finely minced
2-3 tablespoons tamarind paste
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon red pepper powder, or to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
Vegetable oil
Water

Method:
  1. Heat 3 tablespoons vegetable oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions and saute until soft and light brown. Add minced garlic and saute for another 2-3 minutes.
  2. Add a teaspoon of turmeric, stir well. 
  3. Stir in a tablespoon of tomato paste and saute for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently. 
  4. Add red lentils, fill with enough water to cover by 2 inches above the lentils. 
  5. Add salt, pepper and cumin, bring to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
  6. Add the tamarind paste and red pepper, stir and simmer for another 10-15 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning, add a little bit of water if necessary. 
  7. Red lentils cook quite fast, if you prefer a smoother dal adas cook it a bit longer or add more water if you like it thinner. 
Serve hot with warm bread or rice.

Enjoy!

Omelette Khorma & Tokhm-e Morgh - Date & Egg Omelet


This is a simple and sweet omelet that's perfect for a relaxing breakfast. The combination of eggs and dates is so filling that I'd rather make it later in the day for brunch or for a light lunch. Sometimes there's nothing better than a super simple, quick and tasty omelet when hungry or when you don't want to cook an elaborate dish with too many ingredients. I find the sizzling sound of the egg mixture gently pouring into the hot frying pan on a Sunday morning to be quite soothing. I cook eggs in moderation but it still remains a favorite ever since my childhood, when serving omelet on Fridays was a ritual in our home. املت خرما و تخم مرغ Date and egg omelet can be served to friends and family for a great brunch or when alone at home and you want to make something delicious but fast that can be both lunch and dessert combined! Nothing beats an easy and quick delicious omelet! Any kind of dates will do for this recipe -- I used Medjool dates this time. However, I would like to point out that the best dates, in terms of the texture and taste, are the silky dark-colored dates from the city of Bam in Iran but unfortunately it's often hard to find them in Persian grocery stores around where I live.




Omelete Khorma & Tokhm-e Morgh

Ingredients:
Serves 2

4 large eggs
A handful of seedless dates, cut each date into halves or quarters
1-2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon water
Salt and pepper to taste
Honey

Method:
  1. Heat butter in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Swirl the pan to coat the bottom evenly.
  2. Add the dates and cook lightly until they soften for a couple of minutes.
  3. In a bowl lightly beat the eggs with a fork until the yolks and whites are well blended.
  4. Add water and season with salt and pepper. Mix well and add to the frying pan.
  5. Stir the eggs using a wooden spoon or a rubber spatula and arrange the dates evenly in the pan. Cook the eggs until the whites are set. Using a spatula, loosen the edges and transfer the omelet onto a serving platter. Serve immediately.
Serve warm with flat bread. Add a drizzle of honey on top, if you like.

Enjoy!

Yazdi Cupcakes (Cake Yazdi)


This is a no frosting, mildly sweet cupcake with rosewater aroma, cardamom flavor and chopped pistachios sprinkled on top. کیک یزدی Cake Yazdi takes its name after the city of Yazd, the capital of Yazd province in central Iran. This delicious cupcake is truly a delightful dessert that can be enjoyed during any time of the day. These cupcakes can be packed for your kid's lunch, family picnics or taken on a road trip or on a plane. That's how I remember having my last Yazdi cake from back home -- on the plane en route to New York many years ago. The memory is still fresh in my mind. One of our relatives handed me a brown bag filled with freshly baked yazdi cakes amidst the tears and goodbyes as I was about to board the plane early morning at Tehran's Mehrabad Airport. Sometimes, a kind gesture leaves you with an everlasting sweet memory.



This recipe is adapted from M.R. Ghanoonparvar's "Colucheh Yazdi" recipe in his Persian Cuisine cookbook.

Cake Yazdi -Yazdi Cupcakes 

Ingredients:
Makes 20-22 cupcakes

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup rice flour
1 2/3 cups sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1 cup of plain yogurt, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cardamom powder
2 tablespoons rosewater
2 tablespoons finely chopped pistachios

Method:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  2. In a large bowl beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  3. Add eggs one at a time, beating each egg for a minute before adding the next one. Add rosewater, mix well.
  4. Beat in the yogurt one scoop at a time.
  5. Sift all the dry ingredients. In a mixing bowl combine, flour, rice flour, baking powder, baking soda and cardamom powder. Mix well
  6. Line two cupcake trays with cupcake liners and spoon the batter into the cupcake liners until 2/3 full.
  7. Garnish with chopped pistachios.
  8. Bake for 20-25 minutes until light golden brown or when the inserted toothpick comes out clean. Remove the pans from the oven and allow to cool.
Serve these cupcakes on a tray with a freshly brewed hot cup of tea.


Enjoy!

Shirazi Rice With Tiny Meatballs, Herbs & Kohlrabi Fries (Kalam Polow Shirazi)


This is a most flavorful and aromatic rice that is called کلم پلوبا کلم قمری وگوشت قلقلی  kalam polow Shirazi in Persian, and it is a wonderful dish from the beautiful ancient city of Shiraz, Iran. This delicious rice is layered with tiny and tasty meatballs, a combination of fragrant fresh herbs such as basil, tarragon and savory and then topped with kohlrabi fries. I heard about this recipe from a very kind and generous Shirazi friend of mine, Shahla khanoum, back in the spring and since then not only have I enjoyed making and serving kalam polow but I have also learned to love kohlrabi and it's now my new favorite vegetable. This rice can be made with cabbage as well but the flavor and texture of kohlrabi turns this dish into a more delightful blend of aromas, flavors and textures.





Kalam Polow Shirazi - Shirazi Rice with Meatballs, Herbs and Kohlrabi Fries 

Ingredients:
Serves 4-6

2 cups long grain rice
1 pound ground beef
3-4 medium kohlrabi (kalam ghomri), peeled and sliced into french-fry strips
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 large bunch of fresh basil (raihan), chopped
1 large bunch of fresh tarragon (tarkhoon), chopped
1 bunch of fresh مرزه marzeh (savory), chopped, I couldn't find it fresh so I used 1/3 cup dried savory
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon chickpea flour (optional)
A pinch of cayenne pepper
A pinch of cumin powder (zireh)
Salt and pepper to taste
Oil
Water

Method:

Meatballs:
  1. In a medium-sized bowl combine ground beef, chickpea flour, salt and pepper, mixing well. Shape into small meatballs.
  2. In a frying pan, heat 3-4 tablespoons of oil and saute sliced onions over medium heat until golden brown, add turmeric, a pinch of cayenne and cumin, stir well. Place meatballs in the pan, spread them out and brown on all sides. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of  chopped herbs over the meatballs, reduce heat and cook for 15-20 minutes.

Herb Mixture:
  1. In a skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and lightly saute the herbs together over moderately low heat for 2-3 minutes, just enough for the flavors to come together. Don't fry these herbs and, if you prefer, you can skip this step altogether and layer the rice with fresh herbs.
  2. If you are using dried herbs, soak them in a bowl of water for about 20 minutes, discard water, towel dry any excess water before sauteing them.


Kohlrabi Fries:

  1. In a large frying pan, heat 5-7 tablespoons of oil on medium-high heat. When hot, add the kohlrabi fries and cook for 4-5 minutes, turning them a few times until golden brown. Remove them with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel. Sprinkle salt to taste. Add a pinch of cayenne pepper if you like.
Rice:
  1. Wash rice with cool water a few times and soak rice in 4 cups of water and some salt for 2 hours.
  2. In a large pot bring 6 cups of water to a boil on high heat . Drain rice and gently pour into the boiling water. Bring water back to boil for 10-15 minutes. Test the rice to see if it's done -- rice grains should be soft on the outside and firm on the inside. Drain and rinse with cool water.
  3. Clean out the pot and return to the stove, add 2-3 tablespoons oil to the pot on medium to high heat. With a spatula, place rice in the pot, layer it with herbs, meatballs and some of the fries, building it into a pyramid shape. Make 2-3 holes in the rice to let the steam out. Cook for about ten minutes or until the steam starts to come out, pour 2 tablespoons oil, 1/4 cup of water over the rice, lower the heat, cover and cook for 50 minutes.

  4. Serve rice on a platter, top with the rest of the kohlrabi fries and garnish with chopped fresh herbs. It may be served with yogurt, salad, pickles (eggplant torshi).

Enjoy!

Joojeh Kabab, Persian Grilled Saffron Chicken


جوجه کباب Joojeh kabab is a simple, easy to make and popular dish in Iran and is most delicious when made with fresh and tender young chicken. Joojeh kabab is usually made with skinless and boneless chicken breast. However, it could be made with the whole chicken cut into small pieces, allowing ample marinating time,  which is an important step in the cooking process. It's best to let the chicken marinate overnight for the best result. For a moist, juicy and flavorful joojeh kabob, marinate the pieces in a yogurt-based sauce with olive oil, lemon juice, grated onion, saffron and salt and pepper. Typical Persian joojeh kabab is not spicy at all and a little bit on the tangy side. In our home, we like our joojeh kabab more lemony and zesty. Grilled saffron chicken is usually served right off the grill with aromatic rice, grilled tomatoes and onions. Also, grilled corn soaked in salted water would make a great side dish.

I know it took me a long time to blog about this most delicious and well-known joojeh kabab recipe but I tend to mostly blog about the everyday kinds of foods I make for my family of four. The only reason for this long over-due post might be the fact that I am more of a savory soup and stew (ash and khoresh) kind of person and I don't make kababs frequently even though I do enjoy them very much. They are a taste from my childhood.




Joojeh Kabab

Ingredients:
Serves 4

2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts, preferably fresh, never frozen, cut into cubes
1 medium onion, grated
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3-4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1 teaspoon powdered saffron dissolved in 2-3 tablespoons of hot water
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
A pinch of red pepper powder *optional

Method:
  1. In a bowl combine the yogurt, onion, olive oil, lime juice, liquid saffron, salt and pepper. Blend well into a smooth mixture, adjust the seasoning with lime juice and salt and pepper.
  2. Pour the mixture over the chicken in a large bowl, making sure that all the pieces are fully covered with the sauce. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 6-8 hours.
  3. Thread the chicken pieces onto metal skewers, place the skewers on the hot grill and continue grilling until chicken pieces are well cooked.  
Serve warm with rice, yogurt, salad, fresh herbs and pickles. Or, you can make a joojeh kabab sandwich with warm bread, lettuce, tomato and onion slices with a dollop of yogurt and cucumber dressing.

Enjoy!

Eshkeneh, Persian Onion Soup With Fenugreek



With the cool and crisp days of Autumn weather just around the corner, اشکنه eshkeneh, this creamy and delicious onion and fenugreek (shanbalileh) soup, seems to be the best choice of food to serve your family and friends. Eshkeneh is a traditional soup made with gold brown caramelized onions, fresh aromatic fenugreek and the last-minute addition of eggs. The result is a fantastic soup that warms your soul as well as your body. Fenugreek has high nutritional and medicinal values and is used in Persian cooking, for instance in our very popular Ghormeh Sabzi dish. Eshkeneh was the dish that my mother would make whenever she felt homesick while visiting us and the rich aroma and the familiar flavor would ease her longings. However, for me, the slightly bitter taste of fenugreek took some getting used to but it eventually grew on me and now I just love the taste and I grow it in my garden whenever I get my hands on some fenugreek seeds. I have heard that in some parts of Iran eshkeneh is made without fenugreek and another variation is to add small potato cubes to the soup.


Ingredients:
Serves 4

1 cup fresh fenugreek leaves, chopped
2 large yellow onions, thinly sliced
2 eggs, use more if you prefer
1-2 tablespoons flour, *optional
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
Salt and pepper to taste
Water
Oil

Method:

  1. Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a pot, add the onions and saute over medium heat until golden brown.
  2. Add turmeric, stir and cook for a minute or two. Stir in the flour and mix well with onion and turmeric which will help thicken the soup. If you prefer a thinner soup, omit this part.
  3. Then add the chopped fenugreek and saute for 5 minutes, stir well to mix all the ingredients.
  4. Add 4 cups of water, salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook for 30-40 minutes on medium-low heat.
  5. Break the eggs into a small bowl and beat well with a fork or whisk until well blended, add to the soup and mix well. Add additional water if necessary and adjust the seasoning before serving.
Serve hot with warm bread and yogurt.


Enjoy!

Ranginak, Persian Date Dessert



رنگینک Ranginak is a healthy, nutritious and wonderful tasty dessert from the southern region of Iran. The history of dates in Iran goes back to the ancient times and the beautiful dates and palm trees are a part of our southern landscape. I was lucky enough to grow up having palm trees in our yard and a tall and healthy date tree with red colored dates in our last home before we left Khuzestan. The date trees stand tall and strong against the brutal heat and the hot summer sun and with only  little water and care they produce the sweetest fruits. Dates are the most healthy, satisfying and nutritious snacks when you have no time to cook and are in a hurry. 


Ranginak is best when made with freshly picked and soft dates and that's how my mother used to make it back home. She wouldn't stuff dates with walnuts as it seems to be common now a days. The ranginak she made was soft and sweet and was covered with toasted wheat flour which would easily melt in your mouth.
Ranginak is traditionally served with a freshly brewed cup of tea. I've used my mother's ranginak recipe with a little twist of adding crushed walnuts and some garnish for presentation.

Ranginak - Persian Date Dessert

Ingredients:
Serving 6-8

1 lb dates (preferably fresh and soft), pitted and cut in half
1 1/2 cups walnuts, coarsely chopped
2 cups flour (whole wheat or all purpose), sifted
2 tablespoons fine sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 teaspoon ground cardamom
Butter
Oil

Garnish:

Pistachios, coarsely chopped
Slivered almonds *optional
Shredded coconuts *optional

Method:
  1. Toast walnuts in a dry skillet for 3-5 minutes on medium-low heat. Set aside.
  2. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large pan over medium-low heat. Add the dates and cook them for 3 minutes until softened, stirring frequently.
  3. Add the toasted walnuts and ground cardamom. Stir well and cook for another 2 minutes on low heat, stirring frequently. Set aside.
  4. In large pan, toast the sifted flour over medium heat until the edges turn a light golden brown. Add 4 tablespoons of butter to the flour, stirring constantly. Gradually add a cup of oil to make a smooth and creamy paste.
  5. Add the cinnamon, cardamon and a tablespoon of sugar.
  6. On a serving platter spread half of the flour mixture, top with the dates and walnut mixture, press them down packed. Spread the remaining flour over the dates.
  7. Sprinkle a tablespoon of fine sugar and garnish with chopped pistachios, slivered almonds and shredded coconuts.
  8. Serve with fresh brewed hot tea and warm bread. 
Enjoy!

Khoresh-e Khalal Badam & Zereshk - Slivered Almonds & Barberry Stew


I've been wanting to make this nutty and tangy saffron flavored lamb stew for a long time. You must try this gorgeous, flavorful and aromatic stew -- you will be very pleased with the taste. I generally use barberries to make the rice with barberries dish (zereshk polow), which has been a staple in our family, but another great use is to make this delicious stew with it. Barberries/Berberis (Zereshk) is widely grown in the north eastern part of Iran, in the region of Khorasan.


I like خورش خلال بادام khalal badam stew to be filled with slivered almonds and barberries. The more common version of  this stew is usually made without any yellow split peas but I like the addition of its flavor. If you prefer a thinner khoresh you may omit or the yellow split peas. 

Khoresh-e Khalal Badam- Slivered Almonds & Barberry Stew

Ingredients:
Serves 4-6

1 1/2 pound meat (lamb, beef ), washed and cubed
1 cup slivered almonds, lightly toasted
1 cup dried barberries, picked over, rinsed, can be found in most Persian grocery stores
1 cup yellow split peas, picked over, rinsed *optional
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/3 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 teaspoon crushed saffron dissolved in 2 tablespoons of hot water
1-2 tablespoons rose water (optional)
 Oil
Water 
Salt and pepper to taste

Method:
  1. Lightly toast the almond slivers in a dry pan for 3-5 minutes over medium to low heat. Set aside
  2. In a small frying pan lightly saute the barberries in 1-2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat for a few minutes. Set aside.
  3. In a small pan saute the tomato paste in a tablespoon of oil for 2-3 minutes over medium heat. Set aside. This step is optional but it improves the taste of the stew.
  4. Heat 2-3 tablespoons of oil in a large pot, saute the sliced onion over medium heat until translucent, add the garlic and saute for another 2-3 minutes then add the turmeric. Stir well to blend every bit of onion and garlic with turmeric powder.
  5. Add the meat and brown on all sides. Add cinnamon, salt and pepper to taste, blend well.  
  6. Make some room in the center of the pot by pushing the meat and onion mixture to the side of the pot and place the split peas in the center and fry them for a few minutes. This will harden the peas and gets rid of their raw smell. You may also cook the split peas separately with two cups of water and add them to the stew half way through cooking if you prefer. 
  7. Scoop in the tomato paste and pour in enough water to cover meat and to come about two inches above. 
  8. Cover and cook for 30 minutes on medium to low heat, add the almond slivers, mix well, cook and cover for another 20 minutes. Add water if needed.
  9. Add barberries and saffron, stir well, taste and adjust seasoning. Cook for another 20-30 minutes until meat is tender and the flavors are well blended. Pour rose water in the last 10 minutes of cooking. 
Serve warm with rice, pickles (torshi), fresh herbs and yogurt.

Enjoy!

Doogh - Persian Yogurt-Drink and Homemade Yogurt


Homemade yogurt is refreshing and healthy. Yogurt is so versatile and is used in many Persian recipes and is usually served as a side dish for lunch and dinner.

Mast-e Khanegi - Homemade Yogurt

Making homemade ماست yogurt is easy and while the whole process does take some time it is usually ready by the next day. You can use any kind of milk available. I like to use reduced-fat (2%)       milk. You can use a few tablespoons of the store-bought plain yogurt if this is the first time you're making your own yogurt. Save and put aside some of this yogurt for the next batch of yogurt you make. Also, it's helpful to have a thermometer. Since I bought a candy thermometer a while back, I no longer use the old-fashioned method of  using the tip of my finger to tell if the milk is at the right temperature before adding the yogurt.

Ingredients:

1 gallon of milk (whole milk, 2% fat or 1% fat)
1/2 cup whole-milk plain yogurt 

Method:
  1. Pour the milk into a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium to low heat, stirring frequently to avoid the scorching.
  2. Place a candy thermometer on the side of the pot.
  3. Milk is heated till it reaches 185-190 degrees Fahrenheit.  Remove from heat and let it cool down to 110-112 degrees Fahrenheit.
  4. Place the yogurt (with live culture) in the container that you will be storing it in. Pour a cup of milk over the yogurt and stir well. Slowly add the remaining warm milk and stir. 
  5. If you are making the yogurt in the same pot that you were boiling the milk then add a cup of milk to the yogurt, stir and gently add the mix to the pot and stir well.
  6. Cover the container or the pot tightly, wrap it with kitchen cloth and store in a warm place. It should be left untouched for up to seven hours for the yogurt to ferment till it sets.
  7. Refrigerate the yogurt overnight or for at least 8 hours. 
Serve cool, plain or combined with chopped Persian cucumbers or steamed spinach.

Yogurt Drink (Doogh)


دوغ Doogh is a popular refreshing drink in Iran that is made with yogurt, water and salt. However, another variation is to add club soda instead of water for a tastier doogh. Yogurt soda is usually served with any kind of kabab dishes, any chicken and meat meals or just served as a cooling and healthy drink. The best kind of yogurt soda is a homemade one where you can adjust the amount of club soda, salt and yogurt to your liking. I find the store bought doogh somewhat harsh and hard to swallow. This is very easy and takes little time and effort to make. I like to add almost equal parts of both yogurt and water, considering that the added ice will melt quickly, especially in hot weather, therefore it will dilute the content.


Doogh

Ingredients:
Serves 4

1 1/2 cups whole-milk plain yogurt, whisk well to make it smooth
2 cups of water
1 cup (8 oz) club soda *optional
Salt to taste
A good pinch of dried mint or Persian herbs for doogh *optional
Lots of ice cubes

Method:
  1. Gradually combine yogurt and water. Mix well using a hand mixer, blender or a whisk.
  2. Add salt to taste, dried mint and ice cubes, stir till it blends well.
Serve chilled.


Persian Herbs For Doogh is a wonderful and aromatic combination of the following herbs:
Dried mint, dried wild mint, dried rose petals, dried wild mountain celery, thyme and a herb called "tigh daroogh" in Persian which is native to the Alvand mountain of Hamadan, Iran


Enjoy!