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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As a Persian saying goes “My eyes sees, my soul desires”, I initially just saw a picture of someone’s platter of eggplant wraps posted on her fb page.
The picture, posted from Tehran, did not contain any recipe and I was not personal enough with the owner to ask for one. So, I started looking into Persian food sites and blogs for the recipe without much success. Although the food itself is not Persian, the method of wrapping looked quite “Persianized”, pretty much in grape leaf dolemh fashion. I did however come up with a lot of scattered info, which coupled with my impression of the initial picture and some culinary creativity resulted in what you see and read below. It was my first experiment with eggplant wraps and I am delighted to say it turned just perfect – both physically and sensually.
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Okay, there is no secret about this tasty fast sandwich – ideal for brunch if you ask me. I recently made a fuss over it and just had to share the pic and recipe!
Ingredients, let’s say for three: Bagels of your choice, 3, split and toasted inside. Cream cheese, 2 tbsp. Sliced smoked salmon, 300 gr. Caper, or caper berries, 7-8, sliced. Few slices of red onions.
Method: Everything is pretty much prepared if you followed the ingredients part! Just spread cream cheese, cover with salmon and top with onion and caper. It is great with fresh apple or orange juice!
Do you remember my version of kookoo sabzi, or herb-omelette? Here it is if you don’t. There are many versions, of course- and this video and article posted at Radio Free Europe and the references that the article makes are among my favorites. The rule, however, is to always spoon or pour the whole mixture into the frying pan or in an oven-safe dish at once, and then fry, cook or bake it in whole. This time round, I felt like breaking the rules a bit just for the heck of it! I used the exact same ingredients and method as indicated in my initial recipe. Only when it came to frying, I spooned the mixture in to the frying pan in small circles, as we do with potato-based kookkoo, or kookkoo sibzamini. The result? Same taste, more time and oil consuming and more gorgeous looking!
By the way, these are barberries, or zereshk, spread on kookoo. Some cooks add barberries to the mix before frying or baking, which adds a pleasant sour taste to the dish. Berries usually loose their red hue though after being fried or cooked.
[This post contains excerpts from my culinary memoir]
Kotlet, an Iranian version of cutlet, is a perfect candidate for supper which also falls somewhere between an elaborate, home-made food and a delicious fast food for people of all walks of life, and is-always linked to community, intimacy and fun. It is the food one always chooses as a companion to a family picnic, as an on-the-road meal, and the food of choice on back-breaking days (Pizza just would not measure up!) Indeed kotlet has a great cultural significance- in my eyes anyway.
Ingredients: Ground beef, half kg. Potatoes, 5 medium to large, boiled and grated. Eggs, 2 small or 1 large. Onion, 1 medium, grated. Turmeric, ½ tea spoon. All-purpose flour OR bread-crumb, as coating. 3 tbs. Salt and powdered black pepper to taste, and LOTS of oil! Note: The proportion of ground meat to boiled potatoes is not fixed, although the standard is to have slightly more meat than potatoes in the mix. More meat makes the kotlet a bit more difficult to handle during the frying process, but results in a crispier final product (not necessarily more delicious though)
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This simple and pretty breakfast is called naregsi in Persian, alluding to narcissus flower or narges.
Ingredients (1 Serving): Fresh spinach, 100-120 grams, washed, drained and chopped. Egg, 1. Small Onion, ½, thinly sliced. Olive oil, 2 tbsp. Salt and pepper to taste.
Method: In a small pot, cook spinach over low heat for 2-4 minutes, until slightly smaller in volume. Do not add water, it will steam cook itself, just be careful not to lose the green colour of the leave by overcooking it. Use the back of a spoon to squeeze the spinach and drain the water.
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When I was growing up in Shiraz, we had a house on Hedayat Street with several fruit trees in its backyard. Most vividly, I remember our grapevine. My mother planted it at a cozy corner as soon as we purchased the house and in a couple of years it grew into a tall, wide tent of green grapes, providing Mom the supplies to cook stuffed grape leaves (dolmeh barg-e mo) at least twice a year. She did it once in spring when the grape leaves were so small and tender she had to stack two leaves to cover the cracks and wrap one tiny dolmeh – the way she shaped them in squares, rather than rolling them up like cigar. Before the end of the season in late summer, she also picked another round of leaves for freshly made dolmeh.
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Basically, any vegetable that can be filled (eggplants, bell peppers, tomatoes, squash, onions) or can be wrapped (grape leaf, cabbage) with specific filling makes the gorgeous looking and savory dolmeh. This dish is not specific to Iran, but Iranians have their own ways of preparing it. The filling for all types of dolmeh is the same and the preparation methods are quite similar. The cooking time for different vegetables is different though. The point is that once you prepare the filling, it is a good idea to make plenty of it and make a little bit of extra effort to use a diverse set of vegetables. The result will be quite impressive I assure you 🙂
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[In Persian here]
Ingredients: Parsley and scallions, chopped (1 big bunch each); cilantro and dill, chopped (1/2 bunch, each); fenugreek, dry or chopped (1 tablespoon); lettuce, chopped (two leave), eggs (5-6); red onion, thinly sliced (1 medium); cooking oil, turmeric, salt and black pepper
Get into action! Fry onions in a little oil until golden add turmeric and fry one more minute. Add eggs, fried onion, salt and pepper to a large bowl and beat at least 10 minutes or until whitish and foamy. Add all chopped vegetables and beat more until smooth. In a pan, warm oil and pour the contents of the bowl. Cover with a lid, and cook it over medium-low for half an hour, or until the bottom is set. Then carefully flip it to cook the other side for about 15 minutes.
Cut and serve hot or cold with grated cucumber and yogurt or your favourite salad.