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Archive for January, 2009

This page has been moved: My Persian Kitchen: Kashkeh Bademjan

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So this post is for Mely who left a comment wanting to know how to make advieh. Sorry it took me a while but this turned out to be quite the research. I have always purchase Advieh from the Persian Stores.  I will be honest, in the past I contemplated the idea of making my own, but that never happened.  Interestingly, while Advieh is used a lot in Persian food no one seems to know the ratios, or the exact ingredients used for that matter.  I finally found a recipe for it in The New Food for Life, but to be honest it lacks a couple of key ingredients.

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So after some  research and experimenting which included using the Sous Chef to sniff and taste my advieh verses the purchased one, I have the recipe.  The rise petals may be left out if you don’t have them.

Ingredients

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon ground rose petals

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

Mix together and keep in an airtight container.

Now, let me warn you about something. You may be tempted to taste this blend of spices because it is going to smell really good.  Do your self a favor, DON”T! It is not going to taste good, as a matte of fact it is bitter.  Let me tell ya, it was not fun tasting it over and over.  I had to keep on drinking water in between.

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I am all cuckoo for Kuku (pronounced kookoo)!

I always like saying that about Kuku. For those of you who have not had this particular Persian dish, it is somewhat comparable to the Italian  Frittata or the French  Quiche. I say somewhat comparable because while it is considered an egg dish, unlike in a Frittata or Quiche the eggs are not necessarily the main stars of Kuku.  In this dish the veggies that are used play the primary role and the eggs keep it all together.

There are several different Kukus in Persian cooking.  I would like to start with this one because I only had it for the first time a few years back and it was delicious.  I got the idea for this dish from the cookbook New Food of Life. I have changed the amount of the ingredients used in it, because I am a rebel and consequently, it made the dish much better.  🙂

All right let’s get started here…to think of it, you might want to pour yourself a glass of wine here…you’ll see why as we proceed!

Ingredients

1lb lima beans

4 eggs

1 onion diced

6 garlic cloves, minced

1 bunch of fresh dill

1/2 tsp backing powder

2 tbsp of olive oil

2 tbsp  butter

salt & pepper

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Aaaww look at the beauty in the picture above! I have to tell you a little secret. In theory you could make this dish with dried dill, but do me a favor, don’t! Fresh dill does wonders to this dish and the smell of it while it cooks will tease your nose to no end and make you hungry!  You see this whole bunch? I used it all, oh happiness!

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Sauté  onions and garlic in olive oil until nice and golden.  In the mean time cook lima beans per the package’s instructions.  Don’t forget to add a little pinch of salt! I used frozen lima beans but wished that I had fresh ones.   During this time give your dill a nice rough chop and set aside.

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Once the lima beans are ready drain them in a colander and gather all of your ingredients around you.  First crack your eggs in a mixing bowl, add salt, pepper, and baking powder.

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Give it all a nice mix to incorporate and break the yolks.

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Now add the rest of your ingredients making sure that it is all mixed well

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Warm up your pan and melt 1 tbsp of butter and throw in your mixture.  From this point forward the name of the game is patience. Cover the pan and cook on low for about 15 to 20 minutes.

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Once you notice that the mixture is firming up make a cross dividing the mixture into four pieces. This is going to help with the flipping process.

Now  I have to tell you that in my kitchen all was going well. It was a nice and sunny day outside, the birds were singing, the woodpeckers were pecking in the trees across the street ( no joke we have them around here!), and the smell of the Kuku was totally flirting with my nose.  I flipped the Kuku and….

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This happened. Now I can only attribute the disaster above to 2 specific reasons: 1) over confidence/ ambition, and 2) khareeat, which in Farsi means being or acting stupid! You see I was being all snazzy and cool and I decided to make the kuku in a cast iron pan whereas I should have used a non-stick pan.  Just as this was happening Sleeping Beauty The Sous Chef walked it and said: “Wow what happened?!” “Um, yeah, disaster happened.” Suffice to say though that while the result looks pretty pathetic, the taste was delicious –it was gone as soon as it left the pan! I made sure to take a picture of it for you so that you won’t make the same silly mistake.

When I was much younger I was terrified of failure. I am not saying that I am no longer afraid of  failing, but what I am saying is that life is all about winning some and losing some.  It is also true that the taste of success is THAT much sweeter when you have failed before.  You see, I am stubborn and resilient –bent me out of shape and I will spring right back up and fight back.  So after the disaster I purchased the necessary ingredients and went at it again.  All was going well until I was taking the chopped onion and garlic to the pan to dump it in there as the oil was ready.

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Then somehow my flexible cutting board gave out and half of the onions fell off onto the floor.  Some explosive words may have flown in the air while I looked at the mess on the floor in bewilderment.  Is this damn recipe cursed???? Remember the comment about resilience? I said screw it, I am taking a picture and I am going forward.  I cut up some more onions to replace the ones I lost and went back to work.

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Backing up a little to when you warm up your pan. Please use a non-stick pan.  Put in a tablespoon of butter and let it melt. Then add the egg mixture, cover and cook on low for about 15-20 minutes.

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Divide the mixture into four portions and carefully flip each section while at the same time slipping a little butter in the pan.  Your first slice is not going to be easy, that’s for sure.  As you can see above mine got a little messy with some of the mixture flying onto the stove.  Cook this side for another 15 minutes or so.

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Remove from the pan, place in a plate and serve warm.

Phew, I am so glad this recipe is done and over with! We almost didn’t make it, twice! Kuku can be served either as an appetizer or side dish.

This is a gluten free dish –simply make sure that your baking powder is gluten free.

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As of today we are exactly 56 days away from the Persian New Year known as Norouz.  The front plant that you see in the picture above is a purple hyacinth that I bought last year from our Haft Seen.  I decided to keep it and cut down the leaves once the flower was gone to see if the bulb would re-sprout this year.

With this said, I have to confess to you that I have a brown thumb, yes, I am really good at killing plants even though I really love plants and flowers. So after Norouz I placed the pot outside and sure enough, out of sight out of mind.  Then about a month go I noticed that it started sprouting.  I wonder if the flowers are going to be as big as last year. This  is what it looked like last year:

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I think the leaves look much fuller and better this year…I am so excited about this, I can’t even begin to tell you. I can’t wait to see the flowers!

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I would totally lie to you if I told you that I have always loved Khoresht Karafs.  As a child I didn’t,  it didn’t do much for me.  Then one day during a two year stint as a pesco-vegetarian I decided that it was the easiest thing to convert to a vegetarian meal. I won’t get into the details of it all because you might be horrified if I told you what I substituted the meat for; suffice to say that the results were good and I would do it again need there be. Anyway, I remember calling one of my cousins to ask her for the recipe.  She told me how to make it and she advised me to put plenty of onion and mint in it because, well celery doesn’t taste like much and I was not going to use any type of meat in it, so my stew would basically be tasteless.   A good ten years later I have figured out a way to make this recipe and it tastes delicious.

There are three simple steps in making this recipe a masterpiece. 1) I have learned that  cooking the meat first with water allows it to turn into the broth that the veggies are going to be cooked in later. Basically you are building your first layer of flavor. 2) I don’t like it when celery is overcooked and mushy like.  3) The celery itself should be the star, meaning that you are better off buying your celery at the farmer’s market instead of a grocery store.  Simply put they just taste much better,  consequently,  your dish is going to be much better tasting! While my cousin’s advice to put plenty of onion and mint was good, I think what truly makes this dish is the celery itself.

Ingredients

1 lb of meat

1 head of celery cut in about 2 inches long

1 onion diced

4 cloves  garlic minced

1 bunch  green onions, chopped

2 bunches  of mint

1 bunch  of parsley

3 dried Persian lemons

2 tsp advieh

1/2 tsp turmeric

5 tbsp olive oil

salt & pepper

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Loot at the beauty above, they all came from our local Farmer’s Market in Torrance.  Look at the celery, it still has its leaves and this is truly a blessing to anyone who wants to make Khoresht Karafs because the leaves add a whole other layer of delicious flavor.

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In a Dutch oven sauté onion, green onions, and garlic in 4 tbsp of oil until translucent.  Add meat, in this case I am using lamb, but you can use any type of meat you want, brown a bit and then add turmeric. Give it a few stirs in order for the spice to release its flavors.

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Season with salt and pepper, punctuate the dried Persian lemons or give them a light crush, throw them in, add 3 cups of water.  Cover and cook for 1 hour.

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In the mean time rough chop your herbs

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In a separate pan add 1 tbsp of olive oil, add celery, and give it a quick sauté

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Once your meat is ready add celery to it

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Add chopped herbs, advieh, 2 cups of water, and adjust seasoning.  Cover and cook on medium for 1 1/2 hours.

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Once done your khoresht should look like this and your kitchen should smell heavenly! Place in a dish and serve over rice.

On a last note, this dish falls under gluten-free when served over gluten-free rice.  🙂

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In Persian borani is an appetizer which is made with yogurt and some type of vegetable. Today’s recipe is Borani Esfanaj, which is yogurt with spinach. I love this version of this recipe because it is not only very easy to make, but it is healthy for a variety of reasons. Firstly, both yogurt and spinach are considered to be SuperFoods.  Secondly, this recipe is made simply with the two ingredients without the addition of any type of fat. You can choose to make this dish with either plain, low fat, or non fat yogurt. The only exception is that it is best to use yogurt that is firm. You will usually find these at Persian or ethnic stores. It is my finding that most yogurts purchased from regular stores are a bit too thin for this dish.

In terms of SuperFood yogurt, which is essentially curdled milk,  is a good source of calcium as well as vitamin B-12, B2, magnesium, and potassium.  Additionally, yogurt contains probiotics which are live microorganisms that can help the digestive system. Probiotics are commonly known to be “the live and active cultures” reference that is usually seen on yogurt labels.  It is also believed that yogurt boosts the immune system through bacterias which are actually good for our intestines. In fact, all my life I have always been told to eat plenty of yogurt when taking antibiotics which not only kill the bacteria that is making you sick but also the bacteria that helps with your digestion. What yogurt does in such cases in balance the bacteria in our body. Remember that a good digestive and immune systems are an important component to good health.

Spinach on the other hand is a green leaf vegetable which for years has been associated with providing an energy boost.  As a child I never liked spinach. Not even Popeye’s love for it could fool me into eating it! Perhaps, there was a lesson to be learned for us through this cartoon! It took me a few years, but now I absolutely love it.  We are often told about the great benefits of any type of veggie with green leaves which have antioxidant and cancer fighting benefits.  Additionally, spinach is known to be a good source of iron for those who are anemic and also helps fight cardiovascular disease. I personally highly recommend to buy fresh spinach instead of the frozen type for this recipe. I know it takes a little more work, but it makes the dish taste much better!
Basically, with this recipe for Borani you are getting  one hell of a nutritional synergy! Don’t ever say I am not good to you! 🙂
So let’s get started here!

Ingredients
5 cups of fresh spinach
2 cups of yogurt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
salt & pepper

borani-2-smallSteam the spinach for a few minutes until wilted.

borani-3-smallThen place in a colander to drain liquid. It is very important that all the liquid is removed from the spinach. Just take it between your hands and squeeze the liquid out

borani-4-smallGive it all a nice chop chop ensuring that it will be more manageable when eating

borani-5-smallPlace yogurt and spinach in a dish. Season with garlic powder, salt and pepper

borani-6-smallMix the ingridients well. Cover and refrigerate for at least a couple of hours before serving. This not only will chill the dish but it will also allow for the flavors to incorporate. You can serve Borani Esfanaj with pita bread, pita chips, potato chips, or naan. Additionally, it can also be used as a dip for veggies.

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The first dish that I would like to talk about is by far one of my most favorites: Khoresht Ghaimeh. This is a delicious blend of meat, split peas, tomatoes, and spices topped with French Fries.  Not only this dish is really good, it is also a very easy one to make.  What I also love about this dish is the simplicity of the ingredients and how well they go together.  I have made this recipe a few times a it has been a hit with our guests.

Without any further ado here is the recipe:

1 lb of meat – this can be any kind you may like, during this cooking demo I used lamb

2 medium onions diced

4 cloves of garlic minced

3 Persian Lemons

2 cans (14.5oz) of stewed tomatoes diced

1/2 cup of split peas

1 tbls of tomato paste

4 tbsp of olive oil

1/2 tsp turmeric

2 tsp advieh

Salt & Pepper to taste

1 cup of French Fries

Let’s start cooking now!

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Warm a Dutch-oven on medium flame and once hot add oil. Make sure that the oil is well distributed and then add onion and garlic

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Cook onion and garlic until translucent. In my opinion this is a very important step because you are allowing the the onion and garlic to release their inner goodness. Persians call this step “taft”

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Throw in the meat and let it brown for a few moments. This is an important step because you are sealing in the meat flavor

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Once the meat has been browned add the turmeric. Look at the color, so vibrant! Give it all a few stirs allowing for the turmeric to release its flavor once it hits the oil and heat.

Now also add the Persian Lemons, add 5 cups of water, throw in some salt and pepper for seasoning, cover and cook for 1 hour. During this step you are essentially making your own meat broth for this stew.

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Add tomato cans, split peas, tomato paste, and advieh. Cook for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

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While your stew cooks give it a stir every so often to make sure that the bottom does not stick. Also adjust for seasoning as you cook. One thing is sure though, by now your kitchen smells heavenly!

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About 15 minutes before you are planning to serve your food cook the French Fries. Now, you can totally be ambitious and make your own French Fries from scratch. More power to you if you do. Your other option is to buy a bag of frozen French Fries and go to town with it. I like to bake mine which always come out very good.

Take a cookie sheet and spray it with some olive oil and place French Fries on top –you might want to add a few extra than necessary because you will be tempted to take a few and eat them! Bake at 400 ° for about 7 minutes on each side.  Take out of the oven and sprinkle with salt.

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Once the Khoresht is done place it in a serving bowl and top with French Fries. Serve over rice.

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