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.
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 »
Yalda, the Persian celebration of winter solstice, is around the corner. Hence the occasion for a special food blog entry – something representing red and orange colors of Yalda, something made with passion, and maybe pomegranate, to serve along with sweet-nuts mix, watermelon and persimmon as we get together with friends and family to bring to dawn the longest night of the year – the night before the beginning of winter, or the Yalda night.
For most Iranians, smoked white fish resonates with the Persian new year, Norooz, especially when it is prepared long with mixed herb rice. And of course, as an Iranian food blogger I have already posted the full recipe for this delicious Norooz related meal right here.
However, first off, in the mentioned blog entry I did not devote enough attention to preparing smoked fish component of the meal. Secondly, I absolutely feel the need to share with you my new discovery: Smoked fish can be found in most supermarkets in my city (and am pretty sure in many others) ALL YEAR Long!! So, why wait till the New Year? Why have it only once a year? In fact, the type of smoked fish I find here is quite moderate in terms of taste intensity (not too salty, not too smoky) and can be served on its own along with either plain white or herb mixed rice. Read the rest of this entry »
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
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 the rest of this entry »
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 the rest of this entry »