Author Archives: Afsaneh

Rose Tea for this Norooz

Spring and the Persian new year is just a few days away; that, plus the company of good friends at Persian Food Bloggers ( #Persianfoodbloggers #PFBNowruz) give sufficient motivation to post again! Consider my reflection on Rose gardens and rose tea, a trip on memory line rather than a tea recipe, as I am sure everyone knows how to make tea 🙂

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Meymand is a village close to my old hometown Shiraz in Iran’s southern province of Fars; it is well-known for its rose gardens and rose-water produce.  The roses blossom around April when Rose Festival is held.  This is also the time when the main bulk of rose flowers are picked and prepared either for distillation or to be dried for culinary and medicinal purposes.  The rose gardens remain well and yielding till the end of the summer,  providing an ongoing source of rose flower extract , called golaab in Persian.

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Rose flowers are picked in mass from the village gardens on daily basis at dawn, when the petals were still heavy with dew and rich with fragrance.  The essence of this fragrant flower, golaab, is used in perfumery as well as in Persian cuisine namely for making jams, sweets and other desserts.

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The main bulk of rose petals and rose buds find their way to gigantic copper pots and distilled in traditional way to produce rosewater.  A smaller portion is dried and sold at spice shops for a variety of culinary and herbal medicine purposes.  Both rose water and dried rose are believed to have wonderful healing properties; specifically they are used in traditional herbal medicine as skin cleaner and lightener, as a mild tranquilizer, immune system booster , and as a mood enchanter.

Perhaps the most common use for dried rose is in making tea; I could tell you from experience drinking a small cup of warm and mildly aromatic pink rose tea has definitely an immediate enchanting effect  regardless of whether you believe in miracles of herbal medicine or not!

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To make rose tea, you could use fresh petals, if you know for sure that they are pesticide free, or you could go with dried rose petals – again making sure you purchase from a reputable supplier.  Most Middle Easter store carry dried rose petals and buds. I received mine handpicked from Meymand and even though they are dried they are still heavily and heavenly scented.

Dried Rose Tea

Here is how I make my rose tea Persian style (for two cups): bring to boil about 4 cups of water. Place 1 tbsp dried rose petals in a teapot. Cover dried tea with 2 cups of boil water.  Turn the heat down under the kettle and remove its lid.  Sit the teapot on top of the kettle for about five minutes. The idea here is to let tea seep without boiling it or without letting it go cool. The flavour comes out with hot water, no need to wait too long. After a few minutes, once the rose petals get pale strain into tea cups. I like to sip my rose tea with saffron rock candy. You could sweeten your tea with raw honey if you desire.

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Dried rose is also used as a blend – with green tea. The mixture doubles the health benefits and enhances the taste a bit. To give it a try, mix 1/2 tbsp. green tea and 1/2 tbsp. dried rose and follow the procedure above.

Please go to the following wonderful links from my Persian Food Bloggers for #Norooz1396 or #Norooz2017.  Have a wonderful Spring; Happy Norooz!!

Parisa’s Kitchen: Pichagh-Gheimeh
Coco in the Kitchen: Yakh dar Behesht
Lab Noon: Herby Pilaf and Turmeric Fried Fish (Sabzi Polo ba Mahi)

A Food Trip in Iran

That time of the year again, around spring and Persian New year, Norooz –   the perfect time to find the motivation to write, to post, and to cherish and share the wonderful moments where people, plants and beautiful customs come to a renewed life one more time.  Below is a selection of pictures taken by my sister, in several Iranian cities, including Shiraz, Yazd, Booshehr, Dargahan and Tehran,  during the months of March to April 2016.

A Food Trip in Iran from Afsaneh Hojabri on Vimeo.

Fish Ghalyeh, (ghlayeh maahi) for Norooz

With the spring just three days away, here I am again celebrating the arrival of the much cherished Persian New year, Norooz, along with some 187 million other people in 15 countries across the globe, including a handful of my good talented Persian Food Bloggers – this time with a rather sophisticated Persian dish, a Southern Iran’s specialty called ghlayeh mahi, a spicy, thick fish stew.  #PersianFoodBloggers, #PFBNorooz

Norooz which marks the beginning of the official calendar year in Iran and Afghanistan coincides with the Vernal Equinox, as you might know –  this spring on Sun 21 March 2016 at 8:00 AM Iran time ( 12:30 AM Montreal time, where I live).  Norooz is also the most cherished tradition observed and honored by people of different ethnic, religious and cultural backgrounds inside and outside Iran. If you are interested to get a bit more familiar with Norooz traditions from a personal point of view,  I urge you to visit my Norooz post from last year roundup, or watch a short colorful video clip from a few years back. Read more »

Holiday Sides with Quinoa and Lintel

Here are two absolutely healthy simple yet delicious sides/salads to go with any Holiday dishes. Let’s get into them without further ado

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Carrot Mixed Rice, Havij Polow, with Fried Chicken for Yalda Night

From the sunset in the last day of autumn (Dec 20th) till sunrise in the first day of winter (Dec 21st) we have practically the longest night of the year in the northern hemisphere. And from then on, very gradually, days get longer until we hit the summer solstice six months later

Iranians mark “the longest and darkest night of the year” as Yalda, and have special rituals for it as they often do with other major celestial moments, namely Norooz, Persian New year on Spring Equinox and Mehregan, Persian Thanksgiving Festival around Fall Equinox

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Three Vegetarian Blender Soups for Fall & Winter

Loving Fall-color vegetables? Feeling cozy with the promise of snow in the air and the desire of a steaming potage to go with it? Well then, let us get started with some inspirations (and instructions) for some hearty, easy, spicy blended thick soups. Remember, you could absolutely use your intuitions and creativity with the types and amount of vegetables and seasoning. Here is my take though.

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Butternut Squash Cake

What do you do with your left over squashes after each Halloween? Leaving them out there for the squirrels to nibble at their leisure I guess, if they have been sitting there for too long!? Or perhaps, if the squashes are not too old, you would make a good use of them by turning them into puree, freezing them and using them in cakes, desserts and soups in the cold months ahead. Well, the latter is what I did this year.

Making squash puree is so easy I wonder why anyone should buy store cans! And of course, depending on the type of squash you use they make different tasting puree – from light yellow to dark orange in color. Below I will give a super easy way to make butternut puree – my favorite type of squash. Read more »

Remembering scents

Sensory cues are powerful mediums for setting moods and evoking emotions because they possess within themselves the magical quality of carrying small pockets of memories across time and space -memories inhabited by peoples, places, and events; memories which might be pleasant or sad; familiar or rare.

To me, the scent of cinnamon and apple promises the prospect of baking in a cozy kitchen on a beautiful cool autumn day.  The scent of old vinegar, when trapped in a cabinet, always transports me back in time to my childhood when I visited my aunt’s old house and held my breath while playing seek and hide in her food storage lined with tens of “torshi” ceramic jugs. Read more »

Stuffed Cabbage Leaves (dolmeh barg kalam) for Mehregan

Here we are again with the King of all Seasons, Autumn; Autumn, a spring fallen in love, as Iranian poet ErfanPour describes it. پاییز بهاریست که عاشق شده ‌ست.  And here we are again, with the much loved and cherished Persian Fall Festival, Mehregan, the ancient Persian tradition to celebrate September Equinox, honor the god of justice, Mehr, and to be grateful for the harvest season and fall products.

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Apple & Dried Apricot Stew (khoresh Sib o aaloo)

What comes to your mind first, when you see or think of an apple? Eve? Newton?  Steve Jobs? Or Fall and pie ?? Amazing how omnipresent apple is, isn’t it? And how diversified, beneficial and of course delicious this “forbidden” fruit of wisdom is.

Iranian culture and literature is full of apple-related references as well, and culinary wise, we cook with apple not only in the Fall but also in spring when a particular type of small sour apple is in abundance in some of Iranian southern cities such as Shiraz. Read more »