Traditional Persian jams are made with whole or cut fruits rather than crushed fruits; they usually have no additive to make them jelly like and as a result any kind of fruit jam preserves that fruit’s look to a large extent. It is hard to find this type of fruit jam in the market in Montreal, giving me one more incentive to make them at home from scratch.
For this particular jam, I used the four berries currently in season in Montreal: Strawberries, black berries, blue berries and raspberries. You could certainly go with your own choices. Also for this particular jam, I have deviated from traditional Persian jams by making it less sugary/sweet. I have used brown sugar instead of white sugar and only to a much less degree, and used maple syrup to get to the desirable thickness and sweetness. I am pretty happy with the result: Not as thick as a traditional Persian jam but much tastier! Give it a try to see for yourself! Read the rest of this entry »
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 the rest of this entry »
Among the wide range of vegetables, herbs and plants used in Persian stews or khoresh, in combination with chopped lamp or veal and usual suspects for spice, kangar falls in to the category of a region-specific and less known type – even among Iranians inside the country.
Kangar or acanthus, according to English and Persian Wikipedia, is a genus of about 30 species of flowering plants in native to tropical and warm temperate regions, and originated in Mediterranean, Basin and Asia. It has thick, spiny leaves, stalks not dissimilar to celery and flower spikes bearing white or purplish flowers. Kangar grows in central and southern Iran in mountains and in dry climate for a short period in March-April.
In Iran the most common type of pasta dish is made by steam-cooking macaroni, mixed with a thick meaty sauce. The method is basically the same as cooking mixed rice, or polow. Back in Shiraz, my mom, my sisters, and later myself used to make “macaroni” at least once a week for dinner, and I used to love it.
For some reason, thought, I quite cooking it once I learned to cook pasta varieties served with sauce on the side. Just a couple of nights ago, I made a nostalgic “trip” and cooked Iranian style macaroni after what seems like ages! It turned so good that I thought it is worth sharing. Read the rest of this entry »
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, 1 tea spoon.
- Saffron, ground, 1/2 teaspoon (soaked in 1 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.
Method: remove the entire shelf and devein the shrimp. Wash and drain, then cut them all in half or smaller. In a frying pan, heat 2 tbsp. oil and fry onions over medium heat till translucent. Add shrimp, turmeric, salt and pepper and fry for about five minutes over high heat. Once the shrimp is slightly golden, turn the heat back to medium and add walnuts, raisins and diluted saffron. Continue stirring and frying for another 1-2 minutes, but not longer. Set aside.
Prepare the rice in usual way (soaked in salted water, drained, boiled in lots of water, drained, and steamed cooked for at least one hour). Just before mounting the rice back into the pot (after you have poured some oil in the bottom of the pot, warmed it up, and put sliced potatoes, flat bread or rice at the bottom to make your “tah dig”), mix the rice with the contents of your frying pan. As is always the case with any type of Iranian style plain or mixed rice, you cover the lead and turn the heat to minimum till you get enough steam accumulated inside the pot. That’s when you wrap the lid in a clean cloth and let it steam cook for at least an hour. You could also transfer rice and the frying pan’s contents into the pot in layers: one layer of drained, plain rice and one layer of shrimp mix, and repeat till the end. If you choose to transfer them back to the pot in layers, you would need to mix the two more thoroughly once the dish is ready to be served.
Variation: You can skip dried raisins, walnuts and saffron, and use potato, and dried lime powder instead. This latter version is the one I learned from my parents who were brought up in Iran’s Southern cities of Bushehr and Shiraz. This Method is not that different from the first one, but the taste certainly is: more seafood like, if you will. Here it is:
- Shrimp, onion, turmeric, oil, salt and pepper the same as above.
- Plus: Potatoes, 1 medium, peeled, rinsed, patted dry and cut in small cubes.
- Dried lime powder, 1 tbsp.
Method: In a frying pan, heat half your oil and fry cubed potatoes until slightly golden. Transfer them into a bowl. Use the same pan and heat the rest of your oil. Add shrimp, turmeric and fry on high heat for a few minutes until shrimps change colour. Stir constantly. Add fried potatoes, dried lime powder, salt and pepper and fry for 5-6 minutes on medium heat until all ingredients are thoroughly mixed. This is your shrimp mix. Follow the exact same rest of the instruction given above.
This past winter (hopefully passed!) I had my sister in law over for a week or so. One day she volunteered to make celery stew for lunch while my husband and I had a long rough day out. I happily approved and we came home to a dizzying fragrance of steamed rice and perfectly settled hot stew with remotely detectable sent of fresh herbs and saffron.
At first I thought the thrill I felt upon sensing this welcoming food had to do with not having to cook when you are hungry, but rather coming to a homey and ready to be served meal. But when we started the meal I discovered that her method for making this particular stew was completely different than mine) which I have already shared here), and I must admit far too superior to it – to my taste anyway. The proof to this last claim is that I followed her recipe and came up with the exact same delight.