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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An end-of-summer favorite, sour cherries mixed rice is among the long list of Iranian polow — that is, plain rice layered with cooked or fried grains and herbs, vegetables, prunes or fruits. Sour cherries rice tastes- well, obviously, sweet-sour, it is dark-red in color, and is often served in large gathering either along with fried chicken on the side or with meat balls in the dish. Most importantly, just around this time of the year in Iran, an authentic albaloo polow is made with fresh, hand-pitted and home-processed sour-cherries.
Having been deprived of fresh sour cherries here in Montreal, I had been only dreaming about the good old days albaloo polow for the past couple of decades. I did embark on making this delicious dish with frozen and canned sour cherries more than once, but failed miserably each time, for the mix turned too mushy for the cherries to be even recognizable in the platter. Read more »
Once in a while I try at home one of those fragrant and tasty types of rice that one usually indulges in Indian restaurants along with tandoori chicken or barbecued ribs. Of course I am used to preparing rice Iranian style, whether it is plain or mixed, which I maintain is unbeatable!
Meanwhile, the kinds of spices found in Indian cuisine are rarely or never used in Persian rice and for that reason alone the taste and experience is quite exciting. Here is my favorite Indian rice – with fried onions, clove, cumin & cinnamon. I initially came across this recipe in All recipes.com and modified it a little bit. Read more »
Loobia Polow is another of popular mixed rice, typically made with cut green beans and diced meat (often beat or lamb, and less frequently with chicken breast).
Developing a dislike for meat family over the past years, I have been trying to skip or replace the meat component of Persian foods – with much success, I must boast! As for the dish at hand, I have replaced meat with potatoes which makes it quite similar to another Persian dish called estamboli polow. This version is much faster to prepare and just as delicious in my opinion. Please read through, as I will be explaining, for the first time in this blog, a simple method of preparing rice which is half way between two methods of preparing rice Iranian style: soaked & drained (saaf kardeh) and not drained (kateh).
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This is one of the easiest yet among the most colorful and appetizing Persian foods which usually finds its way in to big formal parties and gatherings. The two main ingredients – barberries and saffron are relatively expensive, therefore the food is considered prestigious, if simple in making.
Ingredients (serving 4-5): Rice (ideally, any type of Basmati), 3 cups. Barberries, 1 ½ cups. Sugar, 2 tbsp. Saffron powder, 2 teaspoons. Salt, 2 tbsp. (this is for soaking the rice). Cooking oil and water.
Start with picking over barberries. Sometime you need to be extra careful with solid particles of grit. Place the barberries in a small colander and soak it in a bowl of cold water for an hour. Change the water and repeat the process if necessary. Rinse thoroughly and drain.
Make your rice, as you would with plain rice – by soaking it in advance in salted water for at least a few hours in advance, semi-cook it in boiled water and steam-cook it for an hour. See here for the full instruction. Read more »
What can I say? I have already posted three different dishes with shrimp (ghalyeh, shrimp-onion dish, and shrimp fettuccine). This is indicative of something, isn’t it!? And count this mixed rice as two because I have included two different methods of preparing it thanks to my friend Koroush.
Ingredients (for 2-3): Defrosted or fresh half-cooked shrimp, 450 gr. ( I recommend “Marbel”). Onion, 2 small to medium, thinly sliced. Dried seedless raisin, rinsed, ½ cup. Dried walnuts, rinsed and chopped, ½ cup. (If you have time, it is a good idea to soak walnuts, change the water a few times before using them for this or any other recipe) Olive oil: 4 tbsp. Turmeric, 2 tea spoon. Saffron, ground, 1/2 teaspoon (soaked in1 tbsp of warm water for an hour). Salt and pepper as needed. And of course rice: 2 or 3 cups, depending how rich you want the mix to be. What you see in this picture is made with 2 cups of rice. Read more »
I promised to post Iranian norooz-specific traditional dish, mixed herb rice and fish (sabzi polow mahi), since traditionally it is prepared and served on the first day of spring (often, along with kookoo sabzi). Well, better late than never! The good news is that the recipe I have here is the easiest AND the most delicious one – cross my heart! Special thanks to my sister, the chef!
Ingredients (6 serving): Rice, 4 cups. Total of 2 cups of dried herbs consisting of: parsley and scallions 6 tbsp. each; dill 3 tbsp.; fenugreek 1 tbsp. (all powdered dried, remember!). Garlic, 3-4 cloves, finely chopped. Ground saffron, 1 tea spoon. Water, salt and oil as needed.
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The Persian name of the above dish is “shevid baghali polow” with “goosht” 🙂 It is considered a festive dish, with so many variations in different Iranian cities. My culinary adventure in this case includes preparing the meat component of the dish in “pot roast” style. I strongly recommend it over the more traditional way of “cooking’ the meat in water.
Part 1: Pot Roast
Ingredients: Veal (or beef) boneless chunks appropriate for roast (loin, or fillet), 500-600 grams, washed and patted dry. One medium carrots and two medium onions, thickly sliced lengthwise. Garlic, 3 cloves. Olive oil, 2 tbsp. Turmeric and Iranian all spice (advieh) for mixed rice, ½ tbsp. each. Saffron 1 tea spoon. Salt and pepper to taste.
Method: In a medium size thick-bottomed pot, heat oil. Rob salt, pepper, and advieh all over meat’s chunks and brown each side for a few minutes over medium heat. Transfer the roasts into a platter. Add onions and garlic to the pan and cook for two minutes, then add carrots on the top. Sit the roast on top of onions and carrot. Turn the heat to minimum, cover with a tight lid and slow cook for at least two hours. You will not need to add any water at all! The roast will release its liquid and cooks itself at the core in the water produced by onions and carrots. You will see that at the end of cooking process (two hours or so) you will get a thick tasty broth and an extremely tender and savoury roast meat.
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This is another popular and hearty “mixed polow” usually served with fried or roasted chicken (or ground beef) and considered a casual and convenient dish. Well, I make it in a quite presentable (read fancy) way, without any kind of. Even before I realized how protein rich and nutritious lentil was, I always thought the dish is a perfect vegetarian meal and found it quite hearty on its own. So, my version of “adas polow” is meatless yet simply fancy!
Ingredients (serving 4): Rice, 3 cups. Green lentil” 1 ½ . Onion, 1 big, thinly sliced. Dried seedless raisin ½ cup, washed and dried. Oil: 4-5 tbsp. Turmeric, ¼ tbsp. Ground saffron, 2 teaspoon (1 soaked in 1 tbsp. of hot water for half an hour) salt, pepper and water as needed.
Method: 1. Pick over the lentil, wash and cook in a small pot over medium heat with fresh water and pinch of salt until done but not too soft – this is a key factor: you don’t want mushy lentils. Adjust the cooking time and water so at the end of the cooking process you would not have too much water left. However, if you do get some left, simply drain your lentil, set aside, and keep the water for cooking your rice.
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I can eat this mix-polow as a complete main dish, but it is very common to have it with fried fish in the southern part of Iran. It might also be served with large chunks of boiled or baked beef or even fried and steam-cooked chicken.
Ingredients (serving 3): Rice, 2 cups. Black eye beans, 1 cup. Dill, 1 bunch washed and chopped + 2. tbsp. dried dill (combination of fresh and dried herbs works best, but you can also use one or the other). Cooking oil. Salt. Saffron, 1 tea spoon. For fish: a few pieces of fillets from any type of fish you like: preferably white meat not red meat such as Salmon. White flour and turmeric, 1 tbsp. Each. Oil and salt. (see below for method)
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