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Baghali Polow1 (Medium)

Let me start this post by saying that I have always had trouble with making rice that is mixed with anything.  I have always found that making khoresht with white rice is the easiest thing for me to do.  I have made mixed rice a number of times but what I have always found difficult is finding the right balance between the rice and the other ingredients.  Here comes the truth, I have had some serious disasters with mixed rice. The very first time that I made Estamboli Polow, rice with green beans, it was a pathetic, pathetic sight. Here is the thing though, I am stubborn and I have not been known to back down a challenge.  So I keep trying until practice makes perfect, at the expense of my wonderful and supporting husband! 🙂

A couple of weeks ago I craved Baghali Polow and decided that it was time to roll up my sleeves and give it my best try. Additionally, I had also realized that in my repertoire of posted recipes, I had not yet graced my readers with a Polow. I am such a giver ain’t I??

You asked what Polow is? Persians refer to rice that is mixed with other ingredients as Polow. White rice is simply refered to as Chelow.

So I consulted three cookbooks for ratios for this recipe. I also decided to go all out and make lamb shank to go with it. All was good until the end. I ended up under cooking the tahdig, and and and wait for this, the rice was not flavorful enough, in my opinion.  But the lamb shank was fabulous! I will post that recipe next. I felt somewhat defeated about the polow and figured that I would have to practice some more.

Then we flew out to Seattle and the night that we got there we wanted to cook dinner for our friend Winford and his roommate/landlord Dirk as they were hosting us at their house.  We were walking through Pike Place Market trying to figure out what to make after we took a fun guided tour of the market.

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Winford suggested making something different that would “wow” Dirk.  He soon declared that we should make Persian food. Who am I to turn down “wowing” someone with Persian food??? After all I am the one who has a blog solely dedicated to Perisan food.  We did some brain storming and I was persuaded  into making Baghali Polow.  My resistance to the idea went to deaf ears.  I started sweating at the idea that this was going to be too much pressure. It had been a long day already. I was surviving completely on coffee as we had left our house at 5:30am to catch our plane to Seattle.  I was forced to go to Starbucks to get coffee in the morning because there was nothing else in the terminal close to gate and when I came to pour the half and half the whole lid of the flask just fell into my coffee splashing all over my pretty green linen shirt and the counter. As that was not enough once we landed in Seattle I came to use my phone and it didn’t work.  Fortunately, The Sous Chef’s phone worked so we called our friend to tell him we had landed. But I ended spending 45 minutes on the phone with Verizon until they got my phone working out of state. It is a good thing that we have a national plan…yeah. So did I really want to end the day by making a fool out of myself and my cooking skills? Hell NO!

We went shopping and bought all the necessary ingredients including the spices necessary to make Advieh along with some delicious sounding tea mixes for me!

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I went to work once we got home. AND ladies and gentleman, I DID IT! I decided to do a couple of things differently and the results were awesome.  I lost count of how many times Winford went back for more. And the best part of it all, he asked for the recipe. Score!

So here it is, this one is for you Winford!

Ingredients

3 cups of basmati rice

1 (14 oz) package of Fava beans (lima beans can be substituted), must be peeled

3 large bunches of fresh dill (equivalent to about 5-6 cups)

3 cloves of garlic, minced

2 tbsp of yogurt

1 pinch of saffron

3-4 tsp of advieh

canola or vegetable oil

salt & pepper

The first thing to do for this recipe is prepare the rice the same way you would for white rice or chelow.  Once you have placed the rice in a strainer stop and pick up from here.

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Clean and chop the dill in batches.

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Here is my added step that made a huge difference. The first time around I didn’t saute the fava beans, I just added them to the rice.  SO, saute fava beans and garlic in some oil for about 5-6 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.

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Add saffron water to yogurt as you would for the white rice recipe.

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Mix a couple of spatulas of rice with yogurt.

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Add enough water to cover the bottom of the pot. This should be a thin layer. Add 3 tbsp of  Canola Oil. Give it a shaking so that water and oil mix a little.

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Layer the bottom of the pot with rice and yogurt mixture.

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Add a generous amount of dill and then cover with a small layer of rice.

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Sprinkle 1 tsp of advieh over the rice. On top of it add a generous layer of fava beans.

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Then add a very generous layer of dill. Every recipe that you will read, will tell you to just layer. My grandma always used to mix the rice and ingredients a little bit. Very gently with a spoon mix the rice, fava beans, and dill. Continue layering until you are out of both rice and the rest of the ingredients.

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Your last layer should always be rice. I like to sprinkle a little advieh on top.

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With the back of your spatula create some hole making sure that you don’t go past the yogurt and rice mix.

Baghali Polow11 (Small) Cover and cook on high for 10 minutes. Then place a towel over the lid, as shown above, and cook on medium-low for 1 hour.

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For this type of rice I suggest adding some butter or oil half way through the cooking process. Just melt 2-3 table spoons of butter and pour over the rice. You can also add some saffron to the butter. This will not only add a layer of flavor, but it will also give some of the rice a deep yellow color.

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As a bonus here are two pictures of our first dinner in Seattle. Instead of using yogurt the boys requested potatoes as part of the tahdig. This is rather easy to make. Instead of using yogurt and saffron you can layer the bottom of the pot with potatoes. All you have to do is go ahead and place water and oil to the bottom of the pan, I added 2 extra tbsp of oil because of the potatoes. Layer the top with rice making sure that you fill up the gaps between the potatoes with rice. Continue layering as shown above. The cooking process remains the same. If your tagdig doesn’t come out easily, just fill up your sink with a couple of inches of water and place the pot in there for a couple of minutes. Then try again. It should come out tout suite!

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We had ourselves a fabulous evening eating al fresco. Here are the boys setting up our dinner table. The Sous Chef was busy de-boning the fish in this picture.

Which reminds me, we bought some fish from Pike Place Market to have with our Baghali Polow. Now look at them studs below: the fine men who work at the fish market at Pike Place Market.  Have you seen this month’s (June 2009) Sunset Magazine? There is a picture of the hottie on the left in there. And I,  little nobody that I am, got to go behind the counter and take a picture with all three of them!!! Good Times!

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More on the fish that we made and ate will be shared in another post along with more pictures of the hot fishermen.  As a last note, I would like to add that generally the rice dish that accompanies fish in Persian food is Sabzi Polow, Herbed Rice. But I personally, think that Baghali Polow is also a nice complement to fish.  Enjoy!!!!

This dish can qualify as a vegan dish by omitting yogurt and butter and subsituting with canola or vegetable oil.

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This page has been moved to My Persian Kitchen: Rice Cooking Method

White Rice1 (Medium)

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Pita Chips Salt & Pepper1 (Medium)

My last post featured Mast-o-musir, and if you look at the picture you will notice that I serve mine with pita chips.  Because I was ever so ambitious that day, believe it or not by the end of the day I had four different recipes for posting, I decided to experiment with pita chips making, which is something that I had never done before.

I love pita bread. When you step into any Persian Market you will notice that there are a variety of brands and sizes of pita breads.  I especially love pita bread when it is fresh and very soft. I have to tell you all a little secret, I was introduced to pita bread when I moved to the US.  You wonder why? Because Pita is originally Arabic and I had never seen it in Iran back in the days.

I can’t begin to tell you how fascinated and blown away I was the first time I had a pita chip. I was immediately a fan! You should know that I am chipsaholic. I love chips, they make me happy, period.

Now that I told you one of my deepest secrets, let’s get back to the scope of this post. I have been thinking about experimenting on my own with the homemade type.  I found that for me it is the best thing to do with left over bread that is no longer soft.  It is super easy to make as you will see below.

This recipe make 24 wedges of pita chips.

Ingredients

3 slices  of pita bread

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Sea Salt

Fresh Ground Pepper

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Preheat your oven to 370 degrees. Place your pita slices on a cutting board.  Cut each round into quarters.

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Then cut the quarters in half.

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You may be very detail oriented, and perhaps thrive to make sure that all of your slices are the same exact size. Me? Nop, as you can see above, mine vary in size, some are skinnier than others!!!!

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Place the slices on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil.  That’s how clever/lazy people do things, so that they don’t have to wash the baking sheet afterwards! That’s how I roll, folks!

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Pour some olive oil into a small bowl.

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Brush the top of each pita with olive oil.

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Grind some sea salt on top of each slice. You can use Kosher salt, but please, please, please, don’t use regular salt. It makes such a huge difference to use fancy salt!

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Next step is to grind some pepper on the slices.

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Then put them in the oven and bake them for 15 minutes.

Pita Chips Salt & Pepper11 (Small)

Once they come out, they should look like this! YUM!

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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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lima-bean-kuku13-medium1

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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borani-7-medium1

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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