Sour orange juice, a unique seasoning taste

Sour orange نارنج also referred to as bitter orange is a variety of citrus tree native of Southeast Asia but widely used in the Middle East, parts of Europe and US.  In my hometown Shiraz, almost every house with a backyard used to have a couple of sour orange trees which wore perfumed, white robe of blossoms in the spring and orange robe of fruit in early summer.  The blossoms of sour orange, bahaar-e naaranj, were used to make sherbet and jams, or sundried to be mixed with loose, black tea.  The fruit itself, too, has many culinary usages including for seasoning.

Here in Montreal, Iranian supermarkets carry sour orange right on time before the official spring season starts.  Right on time I said because sour orange has a special spot both on our Norooz table as well as with the herbed-rice and fish that we serve on the first day of the Persian New Year, Norooz. Read the rest of this entry »

Torshi in the making: From Shiraz to Montreal

At any full and happy Persian sofreh or table, several side dishes should be present to complement the main dish, especially at supper time and most certainly with specific types of meals such as kotlet and any kind of mixed rice dishes. The most crucial and common sides to go with these dishes are small bowls of torshi, assortment of seasonal fresh herbs, radishes and scallions, and Shirazi salad.

Now, Torshi, ترشی, or torsu as it is called in Balkan and Middle Eastern cuisine, is basically diced fruits, vegetables and herbs marinated in vinegar and spices to be eaten with food in small portions as an appetizer and counterbalance to the greasy components of a meal. Read the rest of this entry »

A Food Trip in Iran

That time of the year again, around spring and Persian New year, Norooz –   the perfect time to find the motivation to write, to post, and to cherish and share the wonderful moments where people, plants and beautiful customs come to a renewed life one more time.  Below is a selection of pictures taken by my sister, in several Iranian cities, including Shiraz, Yazd, Booshehr, Dargahan and Tehran,  during the months of March to April 2016.

A Food Trip in Iran from Afsaneh Hojabri on Vimeo.

Shirazi Salad with everything

What is renown among Iranians everywhere as “salad-e Shirazi” is, in fact, a common and popular green salad everywhere in Iran.  It is simply considered more authentic when made by a Shirazi or consumed in Shiraz.

It is refreshing, tasty and goes with almost all types of Iranian dish, especially with mixed-rice verities, such as cabbage-mixed polow.

Ingredients: It only takes three vegetables to make it: Read the rest of this entry »

Shrimp-mixed rice (maygoo polow)

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, 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.


Yogurt soup

This is yet another Shiraz speciality, although in other Iranian cities we have “aash maast” (yogurt soup) which follow completely different ingredients and cooking methods.

Ingredients (serving 4) Read the rest of this entry »

Cabbage-mixed polow

This is one of the most gorgeous looking and aromatic Persian mixed polows, requiring extra time and effort, but absolutely rewarding when prepared in authentic (Shirazi) way.


Ingredients (serving 4-6):

Read the rest of this entry »