Verjuice, home grown and made

After many years, this year with help of my sister we picked unripe grapes from my back garden and made verjuice – a taste all too familiar in Persian cuisine. See here for examples of its uses. The slide show below shows all the stages involved except a few very important ones:

  1. Unripe grapes must be separated from branches and washed thoroughly before passed through fruit juicer.
  2. You should add ½ tbsp. salt to each 750 ml bottle of verjuice before storing them.
  3. And most important of all beware that the pulp of this fruit could cause skin allergy. Wear long plastic gloves to be safe just in case.

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Sour cherries-mixed rice

Fresh sour cherries are really hard to find in my city Montreal. This year however I was lucky enough to get my hands on a sour cherry farm in the suburb and hand pick them for one of my favorite Persian dishes of all times: albaloo polow, آلبالو پلو a beautiful summary rice mixed with tasty meatballs, sweetened sour cherries and topped with silvered pistachio and almond.

In my old hometown, Shiraz, my family used to buy loads of fresh cherries each summer to make jams, drinks, fruit rolls, dried fruits and of course many meals of sour cherries mix rice. Here is how this delicious dish is made:

Ingredients (serves 4-5)

  • 700 gr. Fresh sour cherries washed and pitted.
  • 400 gr. ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, grated
  • 200 gr. raw sugar
  • 4 cups Basmati rice
  • ¼ teaspoon saffron powder mixed with 2 tbsp. lukewarm water
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric
  • Salt, black pepper, oil as required
  • Silvered pistachio and almond, 1 tbsp. each (for garnish)

Method:

Wash the rice a few times and soak with 2 tbsp. salt for at least 4 hours

In a medium pot, mix pitted sour cherries with sugar. Place on medium heat till it comes to a soft boil. Turn the heat to minimum and cook for 30 minutes. Pass the contents through a colander. For the rice you would only need the cherries. But you could use the juice for Sharbat drink. (All you need to do is let the juice cool before bottling it and placing it in a fridge.  Then mix it with water and ice and enjoy on hot summer days)

Mix the grated onion with ground meat, turmeric, salt and pepper. Use your hand and fingers (not a blender) to massage and mix them very well and make it into a large bowl. Take small portions off the large ball and make small balls. In a frying pan heat 1 tbsp. oil and fry the small meat balls till brownish. Put the frying pan aside.

Bring about three liters of water to a rolling boil in a big pot. Pour off the slated water from the top of your rice bowl and add the rice to the boiling water. Let the rice boil till it is tender under the bite. Drain in a fine-meshed colander. Wash the starch off the pot and put it back on the stove. Once it is completely dry, add 2 tbsp. oil then place either slices of potatoes, pieces of flat bread or simply a layer of rice.  Add meatballs, cooked sour cherries, and white rice in layers, finishing with a layer of rice. With a spatula push the rice away from the sides of the pot scraping it up into a mound. Make three holes in the center of the mound.  Turn the heat to minimum, close the lid and wait a few minutes to make sure you have lots of steam inside the pot. Now cover the lid in a paper towel and steam-cook for 45 minutes.

To serve, transfer a few tbsp. of rice from the top of the pot to a plate and mix it with the saffron liquid. Using the tip of the spatula gently mix small portions of the pot’s content and transfer to the serving dish. Top with the saffron mixed rice and slivered pistachio and almonds.

Enjoy!


Mint-vinegar syrup, شربت سکنجبین sharbat sekanjebin

If you are feeling the heat of the summer this year, this Iranian sweet-sour refreshing drink is for you! Try it and you will know how a soft drink could feel like a bite with no mark!

Ingredients – serves 2

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Shrimp-beans-quinoa with nasturtium

I am making the most of our short summer here in Montreal , making good use of my edible flowers grown in my beloved patio. Here is an idea if you fancy nasturtium in your shrimp dish as a beautiful summer side dish.

Ingredients (serves 4-6 as a side dish) Read the rest of this entry »


Celery Root, Green Apple and Pistachio Salad

This is an extremely easy, tasty and summery salad with lots of room for creativity! I serve this as a side when I have a small party: I also enjoy having it on hot summer days as a light lunch. 

Ingredients (serving 3-4 for a salad or side) Read the rest of this entry »


Loaf cake, with raisins and walnuts

A classic loaf cake is by far my favorite type of cake nice for breakfast, afternoon tea and easy to bake. I realize there are so many varieties out there but this one – with raisins and walnuts – is an extremely good combination and my recipe here makes a light and fluffy cake. I have tried a gluten-free version of this cake by replacing the regular flour with Bob’s Red Mill gluten free all-purpose flour. The cake did not get as fluffy but everything else was just about perfect! 

Ingredients Read the rest of this entry »


Fesenjoon Stew

I cannot believe I have not included khoresh fesenjoon خورشت فسنجون in my Iranian stews yet!  This traditional stew, made primarily with ground walnuts and pomegranate paste or molasses, with a sweet-sour taste, deep aroma and rich flavor is quite unique among other Iranian stews and is regarded a fancy dish served at special occasions and for special guests.

A specialty of Northern Iran, fesenjoon is traditionally cooked using duck meat. Nowadays people use chicken breast or tights instead. Or for a vegan version simply skip the meat step and still get a rich and flavorful stew.  There are certainly more than one method in making a good fesenjoon, but below is just one of them! Read the rest of this entry »