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)
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.
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
Once again Norooz, “new day”, spring, the Persian New Year is upon us; so is the earth’s rejuvenation and the hope! Hope for more sun, more warmth, more kindness, more peace – hope for better days. It is that time of the year we prepare for our new year by doing a lot of things including baking delicacies for our new year sofreh.
This year I decided to try my hands on a rather complicated homemade sweet, called baghlava, باقلوا in Persian – an extremely delicious walnut-almond rich layers brought together by fragrant honey-rosewater syrup.
Once again Yalda, one of Iranian’s much loved and cherished celestial moments and rituals is round the corner. We celebrate Yalda on winter solstice on Dec. 20th as the longest and darkest night of the year by getting together, reciting poetry and feasting over a colorful spread of dried fruits and nuts, aajil, specific fruits namely pomegranate, persimmon and watermelon, cozy heartwarming dishes and lots of light, hope and energy to get through the long but increasingly brighter winter ahead. See my precious posts for Yalda night here and here.
The Persian “Pomegranate Soup” or ash-e anar آش انار, will forever resonate with me the excellent culinary fiction by the same name written by Marsha Mehran, an eloquent Iranian-Irish author who passed too soon but whose novels depicted Persian cuisine enchanting as a fairy-tale full of texture, fragrance and mystery always ready to haut, charm and welcome those unfamiliar with it. Read the rest of this entry »
Tahchin تهچین is a traditional Persian dish which is very unique in its taste and texture – a dense dish flavored with yogurt, saffron and thick yogurt and typically layered with chicken chunks. The delicious thick golden rice crust (tahdig) formed at the bottom and around the cooked tahchin is its shining feature.
An original tahchin is stem-cooked in a pot (a non-stick one in this case) over gas or electric stove just like any other Persian mix rice; however since the amount of liquid in the rice makes its cooking behaviour a bit different and complicated, a lot of recipes advise you to “bake” the dish instead using Pyrex dishes in the oven. Well, I never went with baking style and after many years of trying and failing the traditional pot style, last summer I finally succeeded in getting it right – thanks to my beloved auntie visiting form my old hometown Shiraz. Read the rest of this entry »
I ran into this gluten free, vegan recipe for carrot-banana-apple-walnuts muffins on Minimalist Baker and absolutely loved it. The list of ingredients may look long, but the preparation is much easier than your average cake or muffin and the result is tender, fruity sweet muffins with the added chewiness of walnuts and oats.
I tried both non-vegan (with 1 egg) and vegan (with flax eggs) versions and both turned equally nice. Actually, I was very excited to have found a substitute for egg and quite impressed by how well flax eggs worked to stick everything together in these muffins. Read the rest of this entry »
My non Iranian friends may already be familiar with Persian aash, especially from my post on Aash-e reshteh. Nevertheless, I am going to take you through some fun introductory notes on aash in general and aash sabzi Shirazi آش سبزی شیرازی in particular, using experts from e-book, A sip, A bite, A mouthful: A memoir of food & rowing up in Shiraz.
As reluctant as I am to use the term “soup” to describe aash, for fear of undermining its significant position within Iranian cuisine and culture, I nevertheless find a comparison between the two the most efficient way to describe the dish to new appetites. To this end, aash could be said to be an “honorable soup”–rich, thick and laborious to prepare. Depending on the type of aash, it is made of specific varieties of herbs, vegetables, fruits, grains and dairy products; with or without beef or lamb. Read the rest of this entry »