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Khoresh Bademjan

Persian lamb & aubergine stew

Summer Kuku served with a Pea, Mint and Feta Dip

Kale and red pepper kuku with a pea, mint & feta dip

This recipe is pure summer on a plate! A light and easy meal – I often cook it the night before we want to eat it and store it in the fridge. It can be eaten warm or cold and it is a great way to get a hit of goodness into you.

Kuku (also spelled ‘kookoo’) is an egg-based, vegetarian dish from Iran made with beaten eggs, folding in various ingredients. It is similar to the Italian frittata, the French quiche or an open-faced omelette, but it typically has more vegetables than its Western counterparts. It is served either hot or cold as a starter, side dish or a main course, and is accompanied with bread and either yogurt, salad and / or rice. The two most well known kuku recipes are Kuku Sabzi (made with herbs and barberries and / or walnuts); and Kuku Sibzamini (made with potatoes). Ultimately, you can make kuku with any vegetables you like.

This kuku recipe materialised after an Oddbox delivery. Oddbox is a wonderful company that rescues surplus or imperfect vegetables and fruit, which would otherwise not make it to the shopper, and offers it by way of a home delivery subscription services. My medium-sized box of delights is delivered fortnightly. It’s a fantastic initiative that helps me to eat more vegetables and fruit, while helping to save our planet. It is also been great for challenging my recipe ideas as sometimes I can fall into the routine of buying the same ingredients and cooking the same recipes.

One of my Oddbox deliveries had some kale and red peppers, which lead me down the path of experimenting with the medium of kuku. Kale has become very popular in the UK due to the health benefits. Our supermarkets are always well-stocked with kale and red peppers, potatoes and red onions – the vegetables used to cook this dish. I use garlic, smoked paprika and chillies for the aromatic notes, which results in a smoky and gently warming feel to eating this even when eaten cold.

Traditionally kuku is fried and flipped over to brown on the other side, but I prefer to oven bake mine so the recipe below is geared towards baking but feel free to fry it if you prefer, either omelette-style or like fritters.

The beauty of kuku is that you can make a batch one evening and have it as a quick lunch on your working days. It is also a well-loved addition to a mezze-style meal or served with bowls filled with lots of antipasti (as pictured) in my family.

I have paired this kuku recipe with a pea, mint and feta dip, making the overall experience fresh, light and summery.


Summer Kuku served with a Pea and Mint Dip

Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Total Time1 hr 20 mins
Course: Main Course, lunch
Cuisine: Persian, Iranian, Fusion
Keyword: light lunch, mezze, frittata, kookoo
Servings: 2 (to 4 people)
Author: Mersedeh Prewer

Ingredients

Kuku

  • 2 tbsp olive oil (and a little to grease your tin)
  • 200 g potatoes (diced into 1 cm cubes)
  • 1 medium / large red onion (finely diced)
  • 1 red pepper (medium diced)
  • 75 g kale (removed from stalks, washed and roughly chopped)
  • 2 cloves garlic (crushed)
  • 1 tbsp tomatoe purée (dissolved in 100ml of water)
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 small red chilli (minced)
  • 6 large free range eggs (cracked and beaten in a bowl)
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)

Pea and mint dip

  • 2 cups peas (frozen is fine - blanch them in boiling water before blending into the dip)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 40 g feta
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (plus extra to drizzle on top)
  • 10 leaves fresh mint (plus extra to chop and garnish the dip with)
  • Salt and Pepper (to taste)

Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 160°C (fan) / 180°C (conventional) / Gas Mark 4.
  • Take a cake tin (20 cm diameter) (preferably one without a loose base as the egg is likely to seep out unless you properly cover the gaps with baking paper). Grease and line the tin with baking paper. Place the tin in the oven to heat up.
  • Take a frying pan, place on a medium / high heat and add 2 tbsp of oil.
  • Add the potatoes and cook until the potatoes start to turn golden and little crispy.
  • Add the peppers and onions and cook until they soften.
  • Add the garlic, smoked paprika, chilli and stir until evenly distributed.
  • Add the tomato purée and water to the mixture.
  • Then add the kale and cook until wilted and the mixture has little or no liquid. then turn off the heat and let cool for 10 mins.
  • Take the beaten egg mixture and add the vegetable mixture and stir. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Remove the tin from the oven and pour the mixture in. Then place in the oven to cook for about 30 to 40 mins (or until a knife poked into the middle of the kuku comes out clean)
  • To make the dip, blend all the dip ingredients in a food processor and pour into a serving bowl. Feel free to adjust seasoning and lemon juice to taste. Scatter a little finely chopped mint on top and drizzle with a little olive oil.
  • Serve the kuku warm or cold with the dip, flatbreads and other antipasti type dishes or as part of a mezze-style meal.

Sholeh Zard Overnight Oats

This healthy overnight oats recipe, inspired by a Persian dessert, is made with chia seeds, almonds, pistachios, strawberries and is flavoured with cinnamon, saffron and rose water.

Inspiration for this Recipe

Sholeh Zard is a Persian rice pudding dessert flavoured with saffron, rose water, sugar and decorated with almonds, pistachio and cinnamon. It is a delicious and comforting dessert and loved by Iranians.

After a light bulb moment, I decided to experiment with the flavours of Sholeh Zard with the concept of overnight oats. Overnight oats have become very popular over the last decade. A quick, healthy and delicious way of preparing rolled oats. With no cooking required, it is prepared by mixing rolled oats, liquids and other ingredients and leaving them in the fridge overnight.

How to Make this Breakfast Delight?

The process is simple. Soak oats and chia seeds in milk, Greek yogurt, saffron, rose water and honey. Leave in the fridge overnight. Add flaked almonds and some strawberries the next day and give it a good stir. Serve it in a bowl topped with more strawberries, crushed pistachios and a sprinkle of cinnamon. The resulting breakfast dish is fresh, light and delicious. My family love it and it is one of our regular breakfast options. It’s so low maintenance to knock up and washing up is easier than the mess cooked porridge creates!

I have included chia seeds in the recipe due to the nutritional benefits including adding fibre and protein. Feel free to leave them out if you are not a fan. You can also make this with non-dairy milk and yogurt and replace the honey with maple syrup if you are vegan. If you would prefer to substitute the honey / maple syrup with a wholesome way to sweeten the oats, then grate pear or apple into the oat mixture prior to leaving in the fridge overnight.

Other Breakfast Recipes


Sholeh Zard Overnight Oats

Overnight oats flavoured with saffron and rose water
Prep Time10 mins
Total Time10 mins
Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: Persian, Iranian, Cross-cultural
Servings: 1
Author: Mersedeh Prewer

Ingredients

  • 50 g rolled oats
  • 1 tsp chia seeds
  • 200 ml milk or non-dairy alternative
  • 1 tbsp Greek yoghurt or non-dairy alternative
  • 2 tbsp rose water (use only 1 tbsp if you want it less floral)
  • 1/8 tsp ground saffron
  • 2 tbsp honey or maple syrup
  • 2 tsp flaked almonds
  • Strawberries (to mix through and garnish when ready to serve)
  • Small pinch of cinnamon (to garnish)
  • 1 tsp ground pistachios (to garnish)

Instructions

  • Mix oats, chia seeds, milk, yoghurt, rose water, saffron and honey in a bowl. Cover and leave in fridge overnight to soak.
  • Prior to serving, add and stir through flaked almonds and some chopped strawberries. Spoon into your bowl and top with more chopped strawberries, a sprinkle of cinnamon and ground pistachios.

Sabzi Polo ba Mahi (Persian Herbed Rice with Salmon)

Commonly served during Norooz, rice is layered and steamed with fresh herbs, saffron and garlic butter to create a delightfully aromatic dish. Grilled salmon, marinated in saffron, lemon, garlic and honey, is served alongside the Sabzi Polo to create the ultimate Persian meal.

A Special Dish

This dish is synonymous with Norooz – Persian New Year. Rice is steamed with saffron, garlic and chopped herbs. It is usually served with fish and Kuku Sabzi (a herb and egg frittata).

In Persian, Sabzirefers to herbs or vegetables; ‘Polorefers to the fact that the rice is cooked with another element mixed in, in this case the fresh herbs. The herbs used in Sabzi Polo vary, but typically include dill, coriander, parsley, Persian chives or the green ends of spring onions and in some cases fenugreek.

Iranians traditionally eat Sabzi Polo with a fried or smoked ‘mahi sefid’ (‘white fish’, the Caspian kutum or Caspian white fish which inhabits the Caspian Sea). It’s usually served with pickled garlic, other traditional pickles, Salad Shirazi and ‘Naranj’ – a tart and slightly bitter orange, which we squeeze over the fish and rice like a lemon adding a citrus note to the dish. You can buy Naranj from your local Middle-Eastern supermarket. Sainsbury’s also stock Naranj (bitter Seville marmalade oranges) during the season. Kuku Sabzi is also served alongside the rice on the day, a great alternative should fish not be your thing.

What are the Ingredients?

Below is my family recipe for Sabzi Polo. We tend to use a greater amount of fresh herbs compared to others. The herbs use in this recipe are fresh coriander, parsley and dill. In Iran chives are also used but the chives available in the UK are not as spicy so we replace these with the green ends of spring onions. The herbs and greens are mixed in while the rice is parboiling. After draining the rice, it is steamed with garlic butter drizzled over with a little saffron to add further aromatics to this dish.

The accompanying fish is grilled salmon marinated in a simple saffron, honey, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil infusion and smoked sea salt. You can make the Sabzi Polo with any fish you want, including smoked fish like many in Iran will eat on the day. You can pan fry, BBQ, grill, oven bake, poach or steam your fish if you prefer.

Your Choice of Tahdig

Due to the herbs, the tahdig (crispy rice formed at the bottom of the pot) will come out a dark green-brown as you can see in the first picture so do not panic when you flip the crispy stuff out – it’s meant to be that dark!

However, should you prefer you can prepare the dish with a saffron layer of Tahdig as you can see in the pictures above and below. All you need to do is parboil the rice without adding the herbs, drain it and then take 2 cups of rice and add to a little saffron water (1/4 teaspoon ground saffron bloomed in 3 tablespoons water). Mix the rice until fully coated and then line the bottom of the pan, following the addition of the oil/butter, as set out at the step entitled ‘Preapre the Tahdig Layer’ below. Then pat it down and layer the cooked rice with the fresh herbs and the garlic butter layer by layer on top.

You can also have potato or bread tahdig as an alternative. Just replace the rice layer with slices of potato or flatbread.

Serving and Storing Sabzi Polo Ba Mahi

Serve this dish alongside all or one of the following.

  • Salad Shirazi (Persian chopped tomato, cucmber and red onion salad dressed with lime, olive oil and mint).
  • Borani Laboo (Persian beetroot and yoghurt dip).
  • Maast O’Moosir (yoghurt and Persian shallot dip).
Storing Leftovers

Store in an airtight container, once cooled down, and in the firdge. The rice will last up to 5 days. The salmon will last up to 3 days. you can reheat the rice and salmon in a microwave. Or you can reheat the rice in a saucepan. Remember to add a tablepoon or so of water to rehydrate the rice if reheating. The salmon can also be reaheated in a medium oven.

Norooz – Persian New Year and the First Day of Spring (Northern Hemisphere)

Norooz is the day of the vernal equinox and marks the beginning of spring in the Northern Hemisphere. It marks the first day of the first month of the Iranian calendar (Farvardin). The moment the Sun crosses the celestial equator and equalizes night and day is calculated exactly every year. Families gather together to observe the rituals. Due to this calculation, the day Persian New Year falls upon can vary but generally it is either on the 20th or 21st March. The Persian name translated means ‘New Day.’

The festivities and rituals we observe are focussed on letting go of the winter and all the negativity that may be associated with it. We look forward to new life, prosperity and have great optimism which is brought by spring and then the summer months.

In the lead up to the the New Year celebrations, many Iranians will undertake a ritual familiar to many – the ‘Spring Clean.’ I always do a major spring clean and this year was no exception. By day 3 into my efforts my house was messier than when I started, but by the end of the process I felt physically and mentally lighter from the purge of the clutter and the deep clean of the house.

The evening of the last Tuesday before Norooz is the night we celebrate Chaharshanbeh Soori – a festival of fire where we gather together and jump over bonfires. The tradition of jumping over the bonfire originates from people believing that the fire would take their problems, sickness and winter pallor and be replaced by energy and warmth, contributing towards their success for the upcoming year. As we jump, we chant the following words: ‘Zardiye man az toh (my pallor to you); Sorkhiye toh az man (your redness to me).’ See my post about Chaharshanbeh Soori and the dish we eat on that day here.

Haft-Seen

  1. Sabzeh (wheat, barley, mung bean, or lentil sprouts grown in a dish) – symbolising rebirth and growth.
  2. Samanu (sweet pudding made from wheat germ) – symbolising strength and power.
  3. Senjed (Persian Olive / oleaster) symbolising love.
  4. Serkeh (vinegar) symbolising patience.
  5. Sib (apple) – symbolising beauty.
  6. Seer (garlic) – symbolising health and medicine.
  7. Somagh (sumac) – symbolising sunrise.

The Haft-Seen may also include a mirror (self-reflection), candles (enlightenment), eggs (fertility),  goldfish (progress), coins (wealth), hyacinth (spring’s arrival), and traditional confectioneries. A “book of wisdom” such as the Quran (religious text of Islam), or the Book of Kings – the Shanameh of Ferdowsi (an epic and long poem on the Persian Empire), or the Divān of Hafez (an anthology of the famous Iranian poet Hafez’s poems) may also be included.

Music will play and we will eat Sabzi Polo ba Mahi and Kuku Sabzi. Many of us continue the celebrations by having a separate organised event for the wider family and friends at a hotel or restaurant where we dress up and dance the night away.

During the Norooz holidays, we make short visits to the homes of family and friends. Typically, young people will visit their elders first. Visitors are offered tea and pastries, cookies, fresh and dried fruits and mixed nuts or other snacks. Gifts are given from the elders to the younger members of the family.

On the 13th day of the Norooz celebrations we celebrate Sizdah Bedar. Iranians spend the day outdoors. Many will go out for a family picnic in a local park. Come rain or shine we will gather outdoors and celebrate this day – throwing our sabzeh into a nearby river or stream marking the end the Persian New Year celebrations.


Sabzi Polo ba Mahi

Herbed rice served with grilled salmon
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Course: Main Course, Rice Dish, Fish Dish
Cuisine: Persian, Iranian
Keyword: coriander, parsley, dill, salmon
Servings: 4 (to 6)
Author: Mersedeh Prewer

Ingredients

For the Sabzi Polo (herbed rice)

  • 1/4 tsp ground saffron (bloomed in 100mls of water)
  • 400 g white long grain basmati rice
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 80 g fresh coriander
  • 80 g fresh dill
  • 80 g fresh parsley
  • The green ends of 5 spring onions
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp melted butter mixed with 3 crushed or minced cloves of garlic

For the mahi (salmon)

  • 4 salmon fillets (or 1 side of salmon circa 600g to 800g)
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/8 Small pinch of ground saffron (bloomed in 2 tbsp of water)
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced or crushed)
  • Smoked Sea Salt and Pepper (to taste - you can use normal salt)

Instructions

Marinade the Salmon

  • Mix olive oil, lemon juice, bloomed saffron, honey, smoked sea salt, pepper and garlic and pour it over fish. Massage the marinade into the fish. then pleace fish flesh side down into marinade. Cover and place in fridge for a minimum of 12 hrs. I find the best results are to marinade the salmon for 2 nights.

Wash and Soak the Rice

  • Wash the rice in cold water until the water runs clear. Then place with 1 tbsp of salt in a bowl and pour in cold water to cover with 2 inches clear above the rice. Soak overnight.

Prepare the Herbs & Greens

  • Wash all the herbs and spring onions. Remove tough woody stems from the herbs and cut the spring onions to remove the green ends. In batches, pulse the herbs and spring onion ends in a food processor until they are finely chopped. Place in a bowl until ready to use.

Make the Garlic butter

  • Melt butter mixed with 3 crushed or minced cloves of garlic over medium heat in small pan. Put to one side until ready to use.

Parboil the Rice

  • Fill a large non-stick saucepan with approximately 1.5 litres of water and 1 tbsp of salt. Bring the water to boil. Drain rice and add to the saucepan. Gently stir the rice to make sure it does not stick to the pan. cook rice until al-dente.
  • Stir in herbs and greens, turn heat off and immediately drain rice in a colander or sieve. Sprinkle a little cold water on the rice to halt the cooking process. Taste the rice - if it is very salty then rinse the rice further with a little water.

Prepare Tahdig Layer

  • Place the empty saucepan on stove. Add 2 tbsp of oil. Add 1 tbsp of the bloomed saffron to the saucepan and mix with the oil to distribute evenly. To make rice tahdig spoon about a 1-inch layer of rice into the saucepan and gently stir to mix with the saffron oil to ensure colour is distributed evenly. Pat down flat with spoon.

Layer and Steam the Rice

  • Reserve 5 tbsp of rice and layer rest into a gentle sloping pyramid shape in the saucepan, drizzling garlic butter on each layer of rice spooned in. Mix reserved rice with remaining saffron water and then spread on top of the rice. Pour any remaining saffron water over the rice. Poke 5 holes, evenly distributed, into the rice to the bottom of the pan with the end of a spoon.
  • Place glass lid on saucepan over high heat. Once steam rises from rice lower heat to the minimum flame or equivalent. Cover the lid with a tea towel (making sure it is not a fire risk) and place on saucepan. Allow to steam for a minimum of 45 mins to get a crunchy and thick layer of tahdig.

Cook the Salmon

  • Remove salmon from fridge to come to room temperature prior to cooking.
  • Heat grill to high. Place the fish in a shallow baking dish, then grill for 5 to 7 mins until cooked through, but still a little pink in the centre, cover and set aside.

Serve the Sabzi Polo Ba Mahi

  • When the rice is cooked, spoon the saffron coloured rice separately in a bowl and reserve for the garnish. Spoon the rest of the Sabzi Polo on to your chosen dish and plate up your tahdig separately. Garnish with the saffron-coloured rice and serve with the grilled salmon, fresh naranj (or lemons or limes) to squeeze over the fish and rice, Salad Shirazi and torshi.

Ash Reshteh (Persian Noodle Soup with Herbs & Beans)

A hearty soup made with legumes, fresh herbs and noodles. This beloved Persian soup is one of the dishes eaten during Persian New Year celebrations (Norooz) and is basically a hug in a bowl!

What is Ash Reshteh?

Although we have translated this dish to be described as a soup, Persian ash (pronounced ‘aash’) recipes tend to be a hearty bowl of goodness. Ash Reshteh is no exception to the rule. A wholesome bowl packed full of Persian noodles (‘reshteh’), kidney beans, chickpeas, green lentils, cooked with fresh herbs and greens and flavoured with kashk (a fermented / preserved food made with the whey left over from cheese-making). The texture of this ash is less soup and more like a chilli.

My version of this recipe differs to my maman’s recipe. I don’t use flour to thicken my ash. I also use slightly more herbs than her. The resulting ash feels fresher and lighter than the traditional recipe / method. If you cannot get your hands on Persian noodles, the closest alternative are udon noodles. You can also use spaghetti or linguine. If you are vegan, leave the kashk out and add some freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice to taste. You can also use a dairy-free yoghurt  in addition to the fresh citrus.

This dish is served during the winter time and at special Iranian events like Chaharshanbeh Soori; and Sizdah Bedar. The noodles in the ash are supposed to symbolize good fortune for the new year.

See my next post which is about Norooz and the dish Sabzi Polo ba Mahi (rice layered with herbs and served with fish) which we Persians eat on the day. This post focusses on Chaharshanbeh Soori and Sizdah Bedar, when my family come together to celebrate and eat Ash Reshteh.

Chaharshanbeh Soori

The first event in our Norooz festivities takes place on the evening of the last Tuesday before Persian New Year. It is a Festival of Fire. People in all parts of Iran and those of us who live outside of Iran celebrate this festival by setting up bonfires in almost all the public places in Iran – in our gardens or at organised events for the diaspora community.

We eat Ash Reshteh and other Persian delights and jump over the bonfires. The tradition of jumping over a bonfire originates from people believing that the fire would take their problems, sickness and winter pallor and be replaced by energy and warmth, contributing towards their success for the upcoming year. Therefore, jumping over fire on Chaharshanbeh Soori night is like a purification rite or a phrase familiar to the West  ‘out with old, in with the new.’

As we jump, we chant the following words: ‘Zardiye man az toh (my pallor to you); Sorkhiye toh az man (your redness to me).’

Another tradition is to bang on pots and pans with spoons that are named as ‘Ghashogh Zani,’ with the objective of beating out the last Wednesday of the year.

It is a celebration of good health and light – the end of winter and the beginning of Spring. It is believed that the ritual guarantees the dissipation of the misfortunes and evils and the materialization of hopes and desires for the next year.

Sizdah Bedar

Sizdah Bedar is considered the final day of the Persian new year celebration. It is celebrated on the thirteenth day of Norooz. The festival’s name translated means ‘getting rid of the thirteenth.’ As with many cultures, the number 13 was considered bad luck by Iranians and so they believed that by being outside with nature the bad luck would dissipate. Therefore, on Sizdah Bedar, Iranians spend the day outdoors. Many will go out for a family picnic in a local park. One family member will be entrusted with bringing a pot of Ash Reshteh and the rest of us the sandwiches and other Persian treats!

Come rain or shine we will gather outdoors and celebrate this day – throwing our sabzeh (sprouted lentils or wheat and one of the symbols of Norooz representing rejuvenation and new life) into a nearby river or stream. Other than eating, another ritual for the day is knotting greens. Usually, the young unmarried people knot the green of the sabzeh to find their soulmate prior to throwing it into the water.


See my how to Instagram Reel below:

 

 

 


Ash Reshteh

Persian noodle soup
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time2 hrs 30 mins
Total Time2 hrs 50 mins
Course: Soup, Main Course
Cuisine: Persian, Iranian
Keyword: spinach, coriander, parsley, dill, ashe reshteh, legumes
Servings: 6 (to 8)
Author: Mersedeh Prewer

Ingredients

For the ash

  • 125 g chickpeas (soaked overnight in a bowl with the other beans and lentils plus tsp of salt)*
  • 125 g red kidney beans (soaked overnight in a bowl with the other beans and lentils plus tsp of salt)*
  • 125 g green lentils (soaked overnight in a bowl with the other beans and lentils plus tsp of salt)*
  • 1 large bunch fresh coriander (between 100 and 150 g)
  • 1 large bunch fresh parsley (between 100 and 150 g)
  • 1 large bunch fresh dill (between 100 and 150 g)
  • 1 bunch spring onions (green ends only)
  • 200 g fresh spinach
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion (finely diced)
  • 3 cloves garlic (crushed or minced)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 2 litres vegetable stock (you can use water which is traditionally used but I like the extra depth of flavour stock brings to the dish)
  • 150 g Persian noodles - reshteh (you can use udon noodles, spaghetti or linguine as an alternative)
  • 3 tbsp kashk (mine are heaped tablespoons - add 1 tbsp at a time and mix and taste each time to see what amount suits your tastes)
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)

For the garnish

  • 100 ml vegetable oil
  • 1 to 2 large onions (finely sliced)
  • 2 tsp dried mint
  • 1 tbsp kashk (diluted with some water to make it runny for drizzling on the ash)

Instructions

For the Ash

  • Soak your beans, lentils and chickpeas in a bowl of salted water overnight. The morning after, cook the beans and lentils in water by bringing to the boil and then simmering for 30 mins (this aids with making them digestible). Drain and leave to one side until you are ready to cook the Ash Reshteh.
  • Wash all the herbs, spinach and spring onions. Remove all the tough woody stems from the herbs and spinach. Cut the spring onions to remove the green ends for the Ash.
  • In batches, pulse the herbs, spinach and spring onion ends in a food processor until they are finely chopped. Place the greens in a bowl until you are ready to add to the Ash.
  • Take a large stockpot or equivalent and place on a medium / high heat. Add 3 tbsp of vegetable oil. After a minute or so add the finely diced onion and fry until it is tender and turning golden brown.
  • Add the garlic and turmeric and stir until evenly distributed and you can smell the aroma.
  • Drain the bean and lentil mixture and add to the stockpot. Cook for about a minute, stirring gently to coat with the onions, oil and spice.
  • Add the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to allow the beans to simmer. Place the lid on the pot and cook for approximately 30 mins to 1 hr. Skim off any foam which may rise to the top and stir now and again. To check if the bean mixture is cooked test a chickpea, as they take the longest to cook. The chickpea should be tender with no grainy or chalky texture to it.
  • Once the bean mixture is cooked, add the chopped greens and allow the Ash to simmer for about 30 mins for the greens to wilt. If the Ash is too thick after the greens have wilted, add some water. The texture of the Ash should be thicker than soup like a chilli but not so thick it feels like there is no liquid in it.
  • Then add the noodles - you can snap these to the length you desire. I like mine fairly long so I snap mine in half, if at all. Allow the Ash to cook with the noodles for about 20 to 30 mins. Test a noodle to see if cooked to you preferred texture - we tend to have ours very soft.
  • Then add the kashk 1 spoonful at a time and mix it fully into the Ash. Taste as you go along. Some put less kashk into their Ash and add more to their liking by way of a garnish.
  • As kashk is salty, add any extra salt to your taste and a generous amount of pepper. Then give the Ash a gentle stir and simmer on a low heat until it is evenly heated through.

For the Garnish

  • You can prepare the mint oil and fried onions in advance of / or during the cooking of the Ash.
  • For the mint oil - place a frying pan on a low heat and add 2 tbsp of oil and 2 tsp of dried mint and let the mixture heat through for only 1 minute. Then pour it out into a bowl and set aside for when you are ready to garnish the Ash.
  • For the fried onions - wipe the frying pan used to make the mint oil and place it on a medium heat. Add the remaining oil and let it heat through for about 1 minute. Then add the finely sliced onion and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring regularly until it turns golden brown and caramelized - about 20 mins. Place the onions on a paper towel to absorb the oil and set aside for when you are ready to garnish the Ash.
  • When you are ready to serve, ladle into bowls, drizzle with some of the diluted kashk, the mint oil and a sprinkling of onions.

Notes

*You can use pre cooked tinned beans and lentils. Use 1 x 400 gram tin of each.

Zeytoon Parvardeh (Persian Marinated Olives)

Green olives are marinated in a herb, garlic, walnut and pomegranate paste to create an incredible and deliciously tangy appetiser.

Origins of Zeytoon Parvardeh

This delightful appetiser heralds from Gilan Province in the North of Iran, a region I visited in my mid twenties and one my family has become more familiar with over the last 20 years. Gilan Province lies along the Caspian Sea bordering Russia. The Province is lush and green with many delicious dishes, particularly vegetarian, originating from the Province, including Mirza Ghasemi (smoked aubergines and eggs) and Baghali Ghatogh (eggs with broad beans and dill).

What are the Ingredients?

The North of Iran loves walnuts and pomegranates and a number of their dishes use this combination including Zeytoon Parvardeh.

The ingredients are olives; pomegranate juice, molasses and arils; walnuts; garlic; and a herb called chuchagh. Chuchagh is a rare herb and is found in certain areas In Iran. In order to emulate its flavour for this dish we replace it with mint in the UK. I have also added a bit of coriander and parsley to my recipe.

I use large pitted green olives like gordal  or karyatis olives. By using pitted olives, it allows for the marinade to seep into the olives and also makes it easier to eat them.T he flavour profile of this dish is sweet and sour and incredibly moreish.

How to Serve Zeytoon Parvardeh

It is an easy and quick dish to prepare and ideally made the night before so that the flavours blend and intensify. I often make a small bowl of this appetiser and slowly work my way through it with cheese and crackers – I hasten to add that eating it as an accompaniment with cheese is not authentically Iranian but it works!

Zeytoon Parvardeh can be eaten with pre-dinner drinks (wine, cocktails or hard liquor – whatever you fancy), as part of a mezze-style platter or array of dishes, or with cheese and crackers which is my favourite way to eat it.


Zeytoon Parvardeh

Prep Time15 mins
Course: Appetiser
Cuisine: Persian, Iranian
Keyword: vegetarian, vegan
Servings: 4
Author: Mersedeh Prewer

Ingredients

  • 7 whole walnuts (or 14 halves)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 10 g fresh mint
  • 10 g fresh coriander
  • 10 g fresh parsley
  • 2 tbsp pomegranate molasses
  • 1 tbsp olive oil (extra virgin preferably)
  • 2 tbsp pomegranate juice (squeeze this out of the pomegranate or use 2 tbsp of the arils)
  • 350 g large pitted green olives (drained weight approx 160g)
  • 1 to 2 tbsp pomegranate arils (to stir through and garnish)
  • Ground walnuts (to sprinkle as a garnish)

Instructions

  • Add walnuts and garlic to a food processor and blitz until walnuts are finely ground.
  • Remove mint leaves from the stems. Remove the tougher parts of the stems from coriander and parsley. Then add herbs to walnut and garlic and pulse in the food processor until finely chopped.
  • Add pomegranate molasses, olive oil and the pomegranate juice. Pulse in the food processor until it is a coarse paste.
  • Mix the paste with the olives in a bowl. Stir through some pomegranate arils, reserving some for a garnish. Cover and leave in the fridge to marinate (preferably overnight).
  • Serve with ground walnuts and pomegranate arils sprinkled on top.

Kashke Bademjan (Persian Aubergine Dip with Kashk)

Deliciously moreish, you only need a few ingredients to make this traditional garlicky Persian aubergine dip. A great addition to a mezze or as an appetiser.

What is Kashke Bedemjan?

This dish literally translates as ‘kashk and aubergine.’ It is a dip make with aubergine, which is cooked and flavoured with turmeric, onion and lots of garlic. Kashk is mixed through to give a slightly tart and creamy flavour. The dip is then topped with mint oil, kashk, crushed walnuts and cispy onions. It is a unique tasting dip with its rich and earthy tones.

What is Kashk?

Kashk is a range of fermented dairy products used in Iranian, Turkish, Balkan and Arab cuisines. Kashk has been a staple in the Persian diet for thousands of years.

Persian “kashk” is a fermented / preserved food that comes in liquid or dried form. It is traditionally made with the whey left over from cheese-making. It is used in dishes like Ash Reshteh (a herb, lentil, bean and noodle soup) and Kaleh Joosh (a soup made with walnuts, onions and mint). In its dried form it needs to be soaked and softened before it can be used in cooking.

The taste of kashk is distinctive and almost indescribable. It is well worth purchasing and not substituting with an alternative, such as yoghurt. Kashk provides a sour, salty, creamy and slightly cheesy flavour to the dishes it is added to.

When I was growing up, my maman used dried balls of kashk which she would soak in a bowl before adding it to a recipe. Apparently before she knew she was pregnant with my sister, a relative surmised she was as she saw her sucking on kashk like they were sweets! Nowadays, you can buy kashk in liquid form in jars from Middle-Eastern food shops or online. I use Kambiz Kashk and buy it online here or by popping into a local Middle-Eastern supermarket.

Variation to the Recipe Below

I fry the aubergines, as do most Iranians when they cook this dish. But you can oven roast the aubergine, if you prefer. Brush them with a little oil and roast for 30 – 40 minutes or until they are cooked through and soft (oven temp – 180°C (fan) / 200°C (conventional) / Gas Mark 6). If you roast your aubergine, you will need to add a little oil to your frying pan to cook the garlic step 5 and 6 below).

How to Serve this Dish

In our family we tend to serve it as a starter with flatbread at our larger family gatherings. At home, as a family of 3, we eat it as a main course with a hearty salad like tabbouleh, Nan-e Barbari (Persian Flatbread) and some fruit for afters as pictured.

Other Delicious Dips

Check out these other great dip recipes.


Kashke Bademjan

Aubergine dip with kashk
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Total Time1 hr 30 mins
Course: Main Course, Appetiser
Cuisine: Persian, Iranian
Keyword: kashk-e bademjoon, kashke bademjan
Servings: 4
Author: Mersedeh Prewer

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Vegetable oil (plus more if required)
  • 3 large aubergines
  • 2 large onions (sliced very finely)
  • 5 cloves garlic (crushed or minced)
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 250 ml water
  • 2 tbsp kashk (plus a little more diluted in a little water for the garnish / topping design)
  • 1 tsp dried mint
  • 1 tbsp ground walnuts (for garnish)
  • 1/8 tsp ground saffron (bloomed in 2 tsp of water - for decorating the dish - optional)
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)

Instructions

Prepare the Aubergines

  • Peel the aubergines and cut them lengthwise (approximately 1 inch thick slices). Salt them and leave them in a colander for 30 minutes to remove some of the water content.

Make the Mint Oil & Crispy Onions

  • In the meantime, take 2 tsp vegetable oil and heat in a small pan on low heat with 1/2 tsp dried mint. Let it infuse on low heat for 10 seconds and then remove and leave until ready to garnish the dish. Be careful not to burn the mint.
  • Place a large frying pan on medium-low heat. Add 2 to 3 tbsp oil and add onions with a pinch of salt. Fry them gently until they caramelise and start to turn a little crispy. Be careful not to burn them otherwise they will be bitter. Once cooked, remove them and place them on an absorbent paper towel for use later.

Cook the Aubergines

  • Add half of the remaining oil to the frying pan and fry aubergines in batches until they are golden brown. Top up the oil in the pan, if required. Using the back of a fork press down on the aubergine while it is frying to aid the process. When cooked, remove the aubergines from the pan and place them on an absorbent paper towel on a plate for use later.
  • You can re-use the pan you fried the aubergines in for cooking the next stages but if you do, make sure you give it a wash. Place pan on medium-low heat. Some oil will have formed on the top of your aubergine, drip this into the pan - just enough to sauté the garlic.
  • Add the garlic and let it sauté for only 10 seconds. Then add aubergines and stir until it has mixed with all the garlic. Add turmeric and 125 ml of water and stir. Then mash the aubergines using a fork or potato masher. Add the rest of the water (125ml) and mash and stir further until it has a stringy texture.
  • Add 1/2 tsp dried mint, half of the onions (reserve some of the fried onions for the topping / garnish) and 2 tbsp kashk. Mix until everything is fully incorporated. Taste the mixture and then season further with salt (if required) and pepper. Let mixture gently heat through and stir occasionally. The dish only needs to be warm for serving.

Garnish & Serve the Dish

  • Turn heat off and spoon aubergine mixture into a serving dish. Spoon off any extra oil which may have formed on top before garnishing. Garnish with fried onions, diluted kashk, saffron water (you can mix some of the kashk with the saffron water to make a yellow kashk as I have in the picture above), mint oil and ground walnuts in any design you like. Serve with flatbreads and salad.

Kateh-e Estamboli (Persian Easy Cook Tomato Rice)

A simple and comforting vegetarian dish made by steaming rice layered with an aromatic tomato, onion and potato mixture. A great mid-week meal option when served with fried eggs and yoghurt.

What is Kateh-e Estamboli?

This recipe is an adaptation of the dish ‘Estamboli Polo.’ A rice dish that comes in many different iterations. Some do a vegetarian version. Others include meat. Some include green beans. Some don’t use potatoes. My version is a vegetarian version with onions, potatoes and tomatoes layered through the rice. In addition, as found in most Persian cooking, turmeric and saffron provide the rich flavour to this rice dish. I have added some extras to my version including garlic, parsley and coriander for extra flavour.

I wanted a quick version of this dish for my family. Instead of using the traditional method of cooking Estamboli Polo by draining the rice after par-boiling, I used the kateh method. Simply boiling and steaming the rice without draining the water. The resulting rice is delicious, quick and involves less washing up. Also it still creates tahdig – the crispy rice at the bottom of the pot.

How to Serve this Dish

Perfect when accompanied with a salad like Salad Shirazi, or Maast O’Khiar (Persian yoghurt, mint and cucumber dip), or torshi and/or fried eggs.

How to Store Leftovers

Make sure the rice has completely cooled down, then store in an airtight container in the fridge up to 5 days.


Kateh-e Estamboli

An easy-cook vegetarian rice with potatoes, tomatoes, onions
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time1 hr 15 mins
Total Time1 hr 30 mins
Course: Side Dish, Rice Dish, Accompaniment
Cuisine: Persian, Iranian
Keyword: vegetarian, vegan option
Servings: 4
Author: Mersedeh Prewer

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 200 g potatoes (peeled and diced into small cubes)
  • 1 medium onion (finely diced)
  • 2 cloves garlic (crushed) (optional)
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 350 g fresh tomatoes (chopped)
  • 1/8 tsp ground saffron (bloomed in 2 tbsp of water)
  • 15 g each of fresh chopped parsley and coriander (optional)
  • Salt and pepper (to season potato and tomato mixture)
  • 2 cups white long grain basmati rice (approximately 400g of rice)
  • 650 ml vegetable stock
  • 1 tsp salt (for the rice)
  • 1 tbsp butter / ghee / vegetable oil

Instructions

  • Gently wash rice in cold water until water runs clear. Place in a bowl and fill with cold water to 2 inches above the rice. Let the rice soak for a minimum of 30 mins (preferably overnight).
  • Take a saucepan and add 2 tbsp vegetable oil and place on a medium / high heat. Add diced potatoes and fry until they turn golden and a little crispy. Then add onions and fry until they soften and turn translucent.
  • Then add the garlic, turmeric and tomato purée and stir until evenly distributed in the mixture. Add chopped fresh tomatoes, the bloomed saffron, fresh herbs and seasoning. Stir and cook for a few minutes. Turn heat off and leave mixture until you are ready to add to rice.
  • Drain and put rice in a saucepan and add vegetable stock and 1 tsp salt (I use a standard UK 20 cm saucepan with a glass lid, 2.5 litre capacity).
  • Put the saucepan on high heat until water starts to boil. Once water comes up to the boil, turn heat to medium and add butter /ghee / oil and stir gently to mix. 
  • Once you start to see holes forming in the rice (as the water is evaporating), take the temperature down to the lowest setting. Take potato and tomato mixture and pour into the rice. Gently stir into the rice mix whilst trying to avoid breaking the rice grains.
  • Take a clean tea towel and wrap the lid of the saucepan, making sure it is not a fire hazard. Place the lid on the saucepan. The tea towel will help the steaming process and soak up the water, preventing it from falling back into the rice and making it mushy. Leave the rice cooking for 45 mins or more. The longer you leave it, the better the crispy layer that forms at the bottom of the pot (tahdig).
  • Once you have come to the end of the cooking time (45 mins or more with the lid on), turn off heat and dish up the rice on to your plates or serving dish. Plate up your tahdig as well. Serve with salad or yoghurt, and / or eggs.

Borani Laboo (Beetroot, Yoghurt and Feta Dip)

A delicious and vibrant pink Persian dip made with cooked beetroot, grated into yoghurt with crumbled feta and flavoured with garlic. Serve with flatbread as part of a Mezze offering or as a side to a Persian feast.

What is Borani?

Borani is an Iranian appetiser, which is a dip made with yoghurt. The most well-know of these dips are Borani Esfenaj (spinach, garlic and yoghurt dip) and Borani Laboo. But you can make borani with any vegetable you want including roasted aubergines and courgettes.

Borani Laboo Ingredients

This dip is made using cooked beetroot, Greek yoghurt, garlic, nigella seeds, dried mint, feta, toasted argan oil and red wine vinegar. My go-to Greek Yoghurt is Total by Fage – 5%. It is thick and creamy which is perfect for Persian dips.

Beetroot is of exceptional nutritional value with it being an excellent source of folic acid and a very good source of fibre, manganese and potassium. But it can taste too earthy to some or as my husband puts it – ‘It’s like eating soil.’ In fact, beetroot isn’t the most loved vegetable in my family unless I make it into this dip. Then it gets devoured at a rate of knots with me barely getting a look in! The combination of ingredients brings out the best in beetroot.

I recommend buying raw beetroot and boiling them yourself. But if you do want to use pre-boiled ones then avoid the ones cooked in vinegar. Otherwise your borani will be too tart. You can make a vegan version by substituting the yoghurt and feta below with a plant-based alternative.

How to Serve Borani Laboo

The recipe for Borani Laboo below is an add-on recipe to my Kuku Sabzi post (seen pictured around the borani dip bowl). You can, of course, make and eat this dip without Kuku Sabzi. It is delicious with crisps or flatbread and makes a great addition to a mezze-style meal. The colour of the borani is stunning and has an eye-catching presence on your table of appetisers or other Persian delights.

Storing Leftovers

Keep leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge and this dip can last up to 5 days.


Borani Laboo

Betroot Borani
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Total Time50 mins
Course: Dip, Appetiser
Cuisine: Persian, Iranian
Keyword: vegetarian, beetroot, yoghurt, vegan option
Servings: 4
Author: Mersedeh Prewer

Ingredients

  • 4 small raw beetroot
  • 5 tbsp Greek yoghurt (heaped tablespoon)
  • 1 clove garlic (crushed)
  • 50 g feta crumbled
  • 1 tsp dried mint
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp toasted argan oil or olive oil (plus extra for drizzling)
  • 1 tbsp nigella seeds (plus extra for sprinkling on top)
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)

Instructions

  • Wash beetroot, put in a pan (unpeeled), cover with water and bring to the boil. Cook until tender (approx. 40 mins), topping up water, if necessary. The beetroot is ready when a sharp knife goes through easily.
  • Drain and leave to cool. Peel beetroot and grate using the coarse side of a grater.
  • Transfer to a bowl, add yoghurt, garlic, oil, mint, vinegar, feta, nigella seeds, salt and pepper and mix well.
  • Top with a sprinkling of nigella seeds and a drizzle of oil. Serve with Flatbread.

Kuku Sabzi (Persian Herb Frittata )

A traditional Persian frittata dish, densely packed with fresh herbs with a crunch provided from walnuts and a little tartness from barberries in each mouthful. This delightful dish is commonly eaten during Persian New Year celebrations (Norooz).

What is Kuku Sabzi?

Kuku Sabzi is a frittata-style dish traditionally made with eggs, turmeric, coriander, parsley, dill, chives, barberries and crushed walnuts. It is usually fried and then sliced into triangles. You can serve it either hot or cold as a starter, side dish or a main course. It can be accompanied with bread or rice and either yogurt or salad.

The key difference between a kuku and a frittata is the egg to vegetable ratio, with the kuku favouring the latter.

Kuku Sabzi and Norooz

Kuku Sabzi is eaten during the celebrations for Persian New Year (‘Norooz’). Norooz is the day of the vernal equinox, and marks the beginning of spring in the Northern Hemisphere. It usually falls on 21 March each year. This festival dates back over 3000 years and is rooted in the ancient Persian religion of Zoroastrianism.

It is estimated that Norooz is celebrated by over 300 million people including communities in Afghanistan, the Kurdish regions of Iraq and Turkey, Parsis in India, and their related diaspora around the world.

The herbs in Kuku Sabzi symbolise rebirth, and the eggs symbolise fertility. We serve it alongside Sabzi Polo ba Mahi (Persian herbed rice and fish).

How this Recipe Differs

  • This version of Kuku Sabzi is baked, which makes for a healthier dish.
  • British chives are not as spicy as Iranian chives so replace these with the green ends of spring onions.
  • The addition of baby spinach leaves results in a bright green kuku.

As with the traditional recipe, barberries are added to the kuku mixture. This gives a tart burst of flavour from the berries with each bite. You can buy barberries from most Middle-Eastern food shops or, alternatively, buy them online. I also add coarsely ground walnuts to the mixture to give a little crunch to the kuku.

Some Tips for cooking Kuku Sabzi

To prepare the herbs, wash them and remove the toughest parts of the stems. There is no need to remove all the leaves from all the stems if you have a food-processor to chop the herbs finely for you. Dill and parsley will require a bit more time removing the tough stems unlike coriander which you can usually chuck in and blitz.

Silicon baking moulds are excellent for baking kuku but if you don’t have any, use a standard muffin tin but make sure you grease and line it properly.

How to serve Kuku Sabzi

Serve alongside vibrant Beetroot Borani (yoghurt and beetroot dip) as pictured. You can find the recipe for this delicious dip here.


Kuku Sabzi Instagram Reel

 

 

 


Kuku Sabzi

Persian herb frittata
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Total Time35 mins
Course: Main Course, Appetiser
Cuisine: Persian, Iranian
Keyword: vegetarian, egg recipes
Servings: 12 (mini kuku)
Author: Mersedeh Prewer

Ingredients

  • 100 g fresh parsley (washed and tough stems removed)
  • 100 g fresh coriander (washed and tough stems removed)
  • 100 g fresh dill (washed and tough stems removed)
  • 5 spring onions (green ends only)
  • 1 handful baby spinach leaves
  • 3 tbsp olive oil (1 tbsp for greasing your muffin tin, 2 tbsp for the kuku mixture)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Zest of 1 lime
  • 6 large free range eggs
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)
  • 1 tbsp self-raising flour (heaped tbsp)
  • 1 tbsp dried barberries (optional)
  • 1 tbsp ground walnuts (to garnish - optional)

Instructions

  • Pre-heat oven to 160°C (fan) / 180°C (conventional) / Gas Mark 4.
  • Take a 12-hole muffin tin, grease (using 1 tbsp olive oil) and line holes with baking paper. Brush a little olive oil into each recess after lining and leave to one side until ready to use.
  • Put herbs, spinach and spring onion ends into food processor and pulse until the herbs are finely chopped. Then add eggs, turmeric, garlic, lime zest, olive oil, self-raising flour, salt and pepper and pulse food processor until fully incorporated.
  • Add barberries and coarsely chopped walnuts (if using) to the mixture and stir.
  • Take muffin tin and spoon the mixture evenly between the 12 holes.
  • Place in oven for 25 mins. To check if  the kuku are done, use a thin skewer / tip of a knife to check one by gently poking to the bottom. It should come out clean.
  • Serve warm or cold, sprinkled with ground walnuts and barberries alongside a salad, dips and bread as part of a mezze-style meal.

 

Kuku Sibzamini ba Laboo (Potato & Beetroot Mini Frittatas)

These Persian mini frittatas made with potatoes, beetroot and feta are full of flavour and incredibly easy to make. Serve either warm or cold with flatbread and yoghurt as part of a mezze platter.

What is Kuku?

Kuku is a Persian frittata-style dish. Usually vegetarian, it is made with beaten eggs, herbs or vegetables folded in. The main difference between kuku and its western counterparts is the ratio of egg to vegetables, with kuku favouring the latter.

Types of Kuku

The two most well known kuku recipes are Kuku Sabzi (made with herbs, barberries and walnuts); and Kuku Sibzamini (made with potatoes). We also have Kuku Kadoo (made with courgettes). There are no hard and fast rules about what you should put in your kuku. I have made ones with curried mushrooms; kale and red pepper; cheese and tomatoes; and the list goes on.

What is in Kuku Sibzamini ba Laboo?

The traditional Kuku Sibzamini recipe is made using mashed potatoes, grated onion, turmeric, saffron, dried mint and egg. The mixture is then made into patties and fried.

This recipe is my variation to Kuku Sibzamini. I have added beetroot, garlic and feta to the recipe. The resulting kuku has a vibrant colour and delicious depth to the flavour. I also bake the kuku instead of frying.

Always use fresh and good quality ingredients. Make sure the feta you use is block feta in brine and not crumbled. My favourite brand is Aytac.

How to Serve Kuku Sibzamini ba Laboo

It is a great addition to a mezze platter or a sandwich filler. You can serve it either hot or cold; as a starter, side dish or a main course. Serve kuku with flatbread, yoghurt and/or salad. The picture below is one of our kuku platters.


Kuku Sibzamini ba Laboo

Potato & Beetroot Mini Frittatas
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time45 mins
Total Time1 hr
Course: Main Course, Appetiser
Cuisine: Persian, Iranian
Keyword: vegetarian, egg recipes
Servings: 12 (mini kuku)
Author: Mersedeh Prewer

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp olive oil (1 tbsp for greasing the muffin tin and 2 tbsp for the kuku mixture)
  • 500 to 600 g potatoes (peeled, boiled and mashed - use potatoes suitable for mashing such as Desiree or Maris Piper)
  • 1 medium / large beetroot (boiled, peeled and grated with excess water squeezed out)
  • 80 g feta or equivalent (crumbled or cut into small chunks)
  • 1 small / medium onion (grated with excess liquid squeezed out)
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 to 2 tsp dried mint
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 4 large free-range eggs
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)

Instructions

  • Pre-heat oven to 160°C (fan) / 180°C (conventional) / Gas Mark 4.
  • Take a 12-hole muffin tin, grease (using 1 tbsp of olive oil) and line holes with baking paper. Brush a little olive oil into each recess after lining and leave to one side until you are ready to use.
  • Mix all ingredients for the kuku (mashed potato, grated beetroot, grated onion, crumbled feta, garlic, mint, turmeric, eggs, remaining 2 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper) in a mixing bowl.
  • Take muffin tin and spoon mixture evenly between the 12 holes.
  • Place in oven for 25 mins. To check if kuku are done, use a thin skewer / tip of a knife to check one by gently poking to the bottom. It should come out clean.
  • Serve warm or cold with salad, dips and flatbread as part of a mezze platter / meal.

Khoresh Beh ba Aloo (Persian Chicken & Quince Stew)

A seasonal stew made with slow cooked chicken, quince, sour plums and apricots. Deliciously sweet and sour and warming from the saffron and cinnamon aromatics.

What is Khoresh Beh ba Aloo?

Chicken is slow-cooked in a saffron and turmeric-infused sauce with apricots, sour plums and quince to give an amazing sweet and sour flavour.

This khoresh (stew) is not as well-known as other stews from Iran such as Ghormeh Sabzi (lamb stew with herbs and dried limes) or Fesenjoon (chicken stew with pomegranate molasses and walnuts). This is probably due to the hero ingredient of the stew – quince. Quince is in season between October and January in the UK and during these months I suspect most Iranian households (like my family) will try to cook this dish a few times before the season ends.

What is Quince?

Quince is the fruit from a deciduous tree. It has a similar appearance to a pear but the fruit is generally not eaten raw but processed. Many of you may be familiar with quince being used to flavour gin, eaten as a paste with cheese or made into jam.

For those of you new to quince, let me tell you about this lovely fruit. It is a member of the apple and pear family. It has a yellow, lumpy hard flesh with a bitter flavour when raw. Due to the unpalatable flavour when raw, quince is generally consumed after cooking. When cooked, quince becomes soft and dense and develops a sweet, slightly tart flavour with hints of apple, pear, and citrus. Quince can last up to several weeks if stored in a fridge.

Origins of this Dish

The best quince is grown in Esfahan in Iran and unsurprisingly the dish originates from this beautiful city. There are a few variations of this khoresh  with some cooking it with lamb; using tomato purée; adding lentils. The recipe I have shared below results in a sweet and sour stunning golden stew, an unusual colour by comparison to the other stews we Iranians cook.

Ingredients in Khoresh Beh ba Aloo

This dish is delightfully easy to cook with minimal preparation. The final dish is comforting and loved by adults and children alike, so it is a great family recipe.

  • Butter / Ghee and Vegetable Oil: to cook various elements of the stew such as the quince and onions.
  • Quince: available at most South Asian or Middle Eastern supermarkets when in season.
  • Chicken Thighs: skinless chicken thighs on the bone are the best cut for stews.
  • Onion: used as the basis of most stews including meat.
  • Turmeric, Saffron and Cinnamon: provides a warming and earthy flavour profile to the stew. The turmeric and saffron also provide the golden hue to the dish.
  • Water: the cooking liquid. Vegetable or chicken stock can also be used.
  • Corn flour: to thicken the stew.
  • Honey: to sweeten and balance the tartness of the quince and sour plums.
  • Dried Apricots: available in local supermarkets. Soak them before adding them to the stew.
  • Dried Bukhara Sour Plums: deliciously tart and will need to be soaked overnight before adding to the stew. You can buy them online or from most South Asian or Middle Eastern supermarkets.
  • Salt and Pepper: to season the dish.

How to Serve Khoresh Beh ba Aloo

Serve this khoresh with Chelow (Persian steamed rice) and Salad Shirazi. Alternatively, serve it with a parsley mash and steamed green vegetables or just eat it with crusty bread.


Khoresh Beh ba Aloo

Chicken stew with quince, sour plums and apricots
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time1 hr 20 mins
Total Time1 hr 30 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Persian, Iranian
Keyword: chicken, quince, apricots, sour plums
Servings: 4
Author: Mersedeh Prewer

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp butter or ghee
  • 2 medium quince (halved, sliced 1.5 inch thick and with core taken out)
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 8 chicken thighs or a whole large chicken (approx. 2 kg - quartered) (on the bone, skin removed)
  • 1 onion (finely diced)
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp ground saffron (bloomed in 2 tbsp of water)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 500 ml water
  • 1 heaped tsp corn flour (dissolved in 1 tsp of cold water)
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 15 small dried apricots (soaked in hot water overnight)
  • 20 dried bukhara sour plums (soaked in hot water overnight)
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)

Instructions

  • Take a frying pan, add butter and place on medium-high heat. Once the butter has melted, fry quince until caramelised on each side. Place them on a plate and put to one side.
  • Season chicken. Add 1 tbsp oil to the same frying pan and seal the chicken. Then place on a plate and put to one side.
  • Take a large casserole dish with a lid (minimum 3.5 litre capacity). Add 2 tbsp of oil and place on a medium / high heat. Then add diced onions and fry until translucent.
  • Add turmeric and stir until evenly distributed. Add chicken thighs, then add water and bloomed saffron. Add the corn flour paste. Season sauce to taste. Add cinnamon stick.
  • Drain apricots and sour plums from the water they have soaked in and add to pan with honey. Stir gently and distribute the fruit evenly across pan.
  • Arrange quince in the saucepan. Quince cooks very quickly and can be quite mushy so arrange the quince so it partially rests on the thighs. Once the liquid starts to bubble, turn the heat down to low and place the lid on the pan. Let the stew simmer for 40 mins to 1 hr or until chicken is tender and falling off the bone. Prior to serving, taste the stew and season further if required.
  • Serve with chelow and Salad Shirazi; or mashed potatoes and some steamed green vegetables; or crusty bread.

 

Zereshk Polo ba Morgh (Barberry Rice & Saffron Chicken)

Steamed rice with a layer of sweetened barberries served with a saffron roasted chicken. This dish is a real Persian classic and one that most Iranians cherish!

It definitely tops my list of Persian comfort foods, reminding me of my childhood and the big family gatherings my mother would host.

What is Zereshk Polo ba Morgh?

Zereshk polo is Persian steamed rice, layered and/or topped with barberries. It is a sweet and sour dish. The barberries are gently sautéed on a low heat with sugar and bloomed saffron water before being added to the rice.

Where rice dishes are referred to as ‘polo’ (pronounced ‘pawlaw’) it usually indicates that the rice has been mixed with some other ingredient. Our plain white rice, served with our kebabs and khoresh (stews) is referred to as ‘chelow.‘ In the case of this dish, barberries are the additional ingredient. 

Barberries are edible red berries which grow in the wild in Europe and West Asia. They are rich in vitamin C and tart in flavour. They are called ‘zereshk’ in Persian and are bought and used in their dried form. You can buy zereshk from most Middle-Eastern food shops or online.

‘Morgh’ means ‘chicken’ in Persian and refers to the accompanying protein served with the rice. It is commonly served with poached saffron chicken or chicken stewed in a saffron sauce and either layered through the rice or on the side. Some Persian restaurants serve it with Jujeh Kabab (grilled chunks of chicken, marinated in onion, lemon juice and saffron). Either way, you must be getting a sense that some kind of saffron flavoured chicken complements this sweet and sour rice dish! 

My Version of Zereshk Polo ba Morgh

My mother and other members of our family would always poach chicken breast and layer it in the zereshk polo. I appreciate now that, when cooked for too long, this cut of meat can be quite dry. My recipe below uses chicken breast but the cooking method ensures it remains juicy. I generally source chicken from a butcher (online or the old-fashioned method of dropping into a local establishment).

For this recipe I bought chicken breasts with the skin left on and a partial wing (the drumette) in tact. I marinate the chicken overnight, pan fry them and then finish it off in the oven as per the recipe instructions below.

You can also eat this rice with saffron stewed chicken (see picture below). I will post a recipe for this in due course, but for now the recipe below is a homage to the dish I grew up with. The recipe below will also result in the delicious crispy rice formed at the bottom of the pot (tahdig). Tahdig adds a lovely crunchy texture to the dish.

How to Serve Zereshk Polo ba Morgh

Because of the layer of barberries and saffron rice, the key to serving this dish is to spoon the rice out on to a platter (as seen in the pics). The tahdig is usually served separately as a side dish.

Serve this dish with:
  • A mix of fresh herbs (coriander, parsley, mint, chives, tarragon and Thai basil).
  • Torshi (Persian pickles).
  • Maast O’Khiar (Persian yoghurt and cucumber dip).
  • Salad Shirazi (Persian chopped cucumber, tomato and onion salad).


Zereshk Polo ba Morgh

Barberry Rice and Saffron Chicken
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time1 hr 15 mins
Total Time1 hr 30 mins
Course: Main Course, Rice Dish
Cuisine: Persian, Iranian
Keyword: family recipes, chicken, saffron
Servings: 4
Author: Mersedeh Prewer

Ingredients

For the Saffron Chicken

  • 4 Chicken Breasts (with skin and drumette - see note above about cut)
  • 1 medium Onion (finely sliced)
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 tbsp Greek yoghurt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (for the marinade)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/8 tsp ground saffron (bloomed in 2 tbsp of water)
  • 1/2 lemon (juice squeezed)
  • Salt and Pepper (to season)
  • 25 g butter (to cook the chicken)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (to cook the chicken)

For the Rice

  • 2 cups white long grain Basmati rice (approx. 400g)
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp ghee or butter
  • 1/8 tsp ground saffron (bloomed in 2 tbsp of water for the tahdig - crispy rice formed at the bottom of the pot)
  • 1/4 tsp ground saffron (bloomed in 2 tsp of rose water and 2 tbsp of water for the saffron rice garnish)

For the Barberries

  • 5 tbsp barberries (washed)
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar (feel free to add more if you want it sweeter)
  • 1/8 tsp ground saffron (bloomed saffron in 2 tbsp of water)
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar

Instructions

Preparation

  • Chicken – take chicken breasts and place in large bowl. Add onion, tomato purée, yoghurt, olive oil, turmeric, saffron and fresh lemon juice. Mix until evenly coated. Cover and leave in fridge to marinate for minimum 8 hrs (preferably overnight).
  • Rice – gently wash rice in cold water until water runs clear. Then place rice with 1 tbsp salt in a bowl and pour in cold water to cover up to 2 inches above. Leave to soak for minimum 30 mins (preferably overnight).
  • Barberries – take a small saucepan, place it on low heat and add 1 tbsp butter. Once melted, add barberries, sugar and bloomed saffron water and stir for 30 secs. Turn heat off and set aside for later.

Cooking the Rice

  • No less than 1 hour before you want to serve this dish, fill a large non-stick saucepan (minimum capacity 2.5 litres) with approximately 1.5 litres water and 1 tbsp salt. Bring water to boil.
  • Drain rice and then add to saucepan. Gently stir rice to make sure it does not stick to the pan. Every minute give it a gentle stir and take a grain of rice and check the texture – either between your fingers or using your teeth. What you want is a soft outer layer but still firm in the centre i.e. al dente. It can take any time from 3 to 7 minutes with the quantity of rice in this recipe.
  • Once parboiled rice reaches the correct texture, turn heat off and drain in a colander or sieve. Sprinkle a little cold water to halt the cooking process. Taste the rice – if it is very salty then rinse further with a little water.
  • Place empty saucepan on stove. Add 2 tbsp oil to pan. Add bloomed saffron (1/8 tsp bloomed saffron in 2 tbsp water) to saucepan and mix with oil to distribute evenly (this will give a lovely golden colour to your tahdig).
  • To make tahdig, spoon 1-inch layer of rice into saucepan and gently stir to mix with saffron oil to ensure colour is distributed evenly. Then pat down flat with spoon. Then layer the rest of the rice, reserving 5 tbsp in a separate bowl, into a gentle sloping pyramid shape and poke a few holes in it. 
  • Take bloomed saffron (1/4 tsp of saffron bloomed in 2 tsp rose water and 2 tbsp water) and add to the bowl with the reserved rice. Mix gently to create a golden coloured rice. Then spoon the golden rice into the saucepan to one side of the white rice.  Do not mix it. This saffron coloured rice will be your garnish.
  • Pour 2 tbsp cold water evenly over and drizzle 2 tbsp melted ghee or butter over rice. Place glass lid on saucepan and turn heat to highest setting. Once steam starts to rise, lower heat to lowest setting. Cover the lid with a tea towel (making sure it is not a fire risk) and replace on saucepan.
  • Allow to steam for a minimum of 45 mins to get a crunchy layer of tahdig – the longer you steam the rice the thicker the tahdig.

Cooking the Chicken

  • Approximately an hour before you want to serve this dish and just before you launch into cooking your rice, remove chicken from fridge and bring up to room temperature.
  • Preheat the oven to 180˚C (fan) / 200˚C (conventional) / Gas mark 6.
  • Approximately 30 mins before the rice has completed the cooking process, take chicken and generously season both sides with salt and pepper. Discard the rest of the marinade including the onion.
  • Place a non-stick pan over high heat. Once smoking add a drizzle of olive oil and place chicken breasts skin down in pan. Cook on this side for 5 minutes or until the chicken skin is golden and crisp.
  • Flip over and add 25 grams of butter split into small knobs. Once melted, baste the chicken with the foaming butter for 1 min. Then flip so they are skin side up again.
  • Place in oven and cook for 15–20 mins. The flesh should be firm and white (not pink) and the juices should run clear. A temperature probe should read 75˚C when it is safe to eat. Rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Serving the Dish

  • Once rice has completed its cooking time, turn off heat and remove lid from saucepan. Spoon the saffron-coloured rice out first into a separate bowl and reserve until you are ready to garnish. Spoon the rest of the rice onto a serving dish and plate up your tahdig separately. Then sprinkle the saffron rice over the white rice.
  • Reheat your barberries for 30 seconds on low heat, remove from and turn off the heat, and then spoon over the rice.
  • Serve the rice with the chicken, tahdig, a side of fresh herbs and / or Salad Shirazi and / or Maast O'Khiar and/or torshi.

 

Garni Yarikh (Stuffed Aubergines in a Tomato Sauce)

A vegan version of a dish cooked by both the Turkish and Iranians. Aubergines stuffed with lentils cooked in a tomato and saffron sauce.

Origins of this Dish

Garni Yarikh comes from the Azerbaijani province of Iran (northwestern Iran bordering Iraq, Turkey, Armenia, and the Republic of Azerbaijan). The region is mostly populated by Azerbaijanis also known as Iranian Azeris, who tend to speak Azerbaijani (a Turkic language) as their first language.

Garni Yarikh translated is ‘torn belly’ with the Persian equivalent being ‘Shekam Pareh’. Traditionally the aubergine is stuffed with a mixture of mince meat and then simmered in a rich and tangy tomato-based sauce. The Turkish version, and where it originates from, is called ‘Karnıyarık.’

A Vegan Version

The recipe below is a vegan version, as Iranian food can be quite heavy on the meat. Where an opportunity presents itself, I like to adapt a recipe to be plant-based. To make the recipe vegan, I have replaced the mince meat with lentils and added vegetables to the stuffing mixture. You can use any lentils you want. I buy pre-cooked lentils as it reduces the preparation and cooking time.

My go-to lentils for this dish are Merchant Gourmet Beluga Lentils. They absorb the sauce brilliantly and have a lovely texture.

If you have time, I recommend salting and leaving the aubergines for 30 minutes to draw out some of the water. Aubergines can afford to lose a little water pre-cooking but it isn’t an issue if you just want to launch into the recipe as per the steps below.

What to Serve with this Dish

Eat Garni Yarikh with a salad like tabbouleh and hummus on the side. This dish can also be served with rice (kateh or chelow). Also flatbread is a great accompaniment. 


Garni Yarikh

Stuffed aubergines in a tomato sauce
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time1 hr 20 mins
Total Time1 hr 30 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Iranian
Keyword: tomatoes, vegetarian, vegan, aubergines
Servings: 4
Author: Mersedeh Prewer

Ingredients

  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 large aubergines
  • 1 onion (finely diced)
  • 1 carrot (grated)
  • 1 celery stick (finely sliced)
  • 4 garlic cloves (crushed)
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp dried red chilli flakes
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 pack Merchant Gourmet Beluga Lentils (250 grams cooked weight)
  • 250 ml water
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 150 g cherry tomatoes (halved)
  • 400 g tin of chopped tomatoes or passata
  • 1/8 tsp ground saffron bloomed in 2 tbsp of water (optional)
  • A few sprigs of fresh coriander (for garnish)
  • Salt and pepper to season

Instructions

Prepare and Roast the Aubergines

  • Pre-heat oven to 180°C (fan) / 200°C (conventional) / Gas Mark 6.
  • Slice aubergines lengthways. Then take a knife and criss-cross the flesh. Brush aubergines with olive oil and some of the crushed garlic and season well. Place on baking tray and roast in oven for 30 mins or until flesh is soft and cooked through.

Make the Lentil Stuffing Mixture

  • In the interim, take a frying pan, add 2 tbsp olive oil and place over medium-high heat.
  • Add onions and fry until they turn golden. Then add carrot, celery and garlic (reserve a little garlic for the tomato sauce) and cook until vegetables have softened.
  • Add turmeric, smoked paprika and chilli flakes. Follow with tomato purée and stir until evenly distributed in the mixture for a few minutes.
  • Add lentils, cherry tomatoes, water and maple syrup. Reduce the heat to low and let it cook for about 5 to 10 minutes until water has been absorbed and the cherry tomatoes have softened.
  • Remove aubergines from the oven. Scoop out some of the flesh, gently taking care not to tear the aubergine cases. Add flesh to the lentil mixture, stir and season to taste. Let the flavours of the mixture combine by gently cooking for a few minutes, stirring now and again.

Make the Tomato Sauce

  • Take a shallow casserole pan with a lid, place it on medium-low heat and add 1 tbsp olive oil and remaining garlic. Let it infuse with oil, being careful not to let it burn. Add chopped tomatoes / passata, the bloomed saffron and season. Let it simmer gently for 10 mins.

Assemble the Dish and Simmer

  • Take one aubergine half and gently place it on the tomato sauce. Fill it with half the lentil mixture and then place the other half of the aubergine on top. Repeat with the other 2 halves. Don't worry if some of the lentil mixture falls into the sauce - it will add to the overall flavour. Leave to simmer with the lid on the pan for approximately 20 mins.

Serve the Garni Yarikh

  • Serve aubergine garnished with fresh coriander accompanied by rice or bread and salad with a citrus dressing. If you feel confident serve the aubergine with the split facing upwards like I have in my picture so it looks like they have been stuffed.

A Baluchi-Style Breakfast (Chickpea Curry and Parathas)

This chickpea curry served with parathas and fried eggs is a great addition to your weekend brunch catalogue of recipes. Make this recipe the night before and just re-heat if you want a lie-in and a lazy morning.

Sistan and Baluchestan

My journey to discover more about the cuisine of Iran has led me to Sistan and Baluchestan in the South-East of Iran. It is the second largest province of the 31 provinces of Iran, after Kerman Province.

The province borders Pakistan and Afghanistan and has a population of 2.5 million, which the majority are Baloch. They mainly inhabit mountainous terrains which has allowed them to maintain a distinct cultural identity and resist domination by neighbouring rulers. Approximately 20-25% of the worldwide Baloch population live in Iran. The majority of the Baloch population reside in Pakistan, and a significant number (estimated at 600,000) reside in southern Afghanistan. Baluchestan of Iran has been regarded as the most underdeveloped, desolate, and poorest region of the country.

A Spicier Cuisine

The food from the Southern Provinces of Iran tends to be spicier. In light of its bordering countries, Sistan and Baluchistan has a cuisine similar to those countries. Street food vendors and restaurants offer a range of dishes from chickpea curry served with fried eggs and parathas for breakfast; to kebabs rubbed with spices referred to as ‘Baluchi Masala’ for dinner. Restaurants in the area also serve karahi (curry-style dishes) and biryanis, whilst also offering an array of traditional Persian dishes.

The recipe below seeks to re-create the breakfast dish of chickpea curry with parathas and fried eggs eaten in the hustle and bustle of Chabahar. The city is situated on the Makran Coast of the Iranian province of Sistan and Baluchestan. It is officially designated as a “Free Trade and Industrial Zone.” The name of the city translated means Four Springs as the climate feels like spring all year round.

What are Parathas?

Parathas are a type of flatbread commonly eaten in South Asian cuisine. The ingredients are simply plain flour, water, some oil and / or ghee and salt. Gently knead and rest the dough for 30 mins before cooking in a skillet or frying pan. Then butter before serving.

If you don’t want to make the paratha, by all means pop into your local Asian supermarket and purchase some or any other flatbread such as chapatis or roti. I am not a seasoned paratha maker but if you follow the recipe and steps below, the resulting breads are soft, flaky and perfect for dipping into the yolk of your fried egg and scooping up the chickpea curry.

Tips for Making this Dish

You may have eaten Channa Masala, Channay or Chole before as this curry is known in the Indian subcontinent. As with all aromatic food, the longer you cook/leave it the more intense the flavours. I often prepare the chickpea curry the night before and let it simmer for over an hour to intensify the flavours.

I also make the parathas the night before and just heat them up in a dry frying pan or skillet the next morning so all I am cooking are the eggs on the day we want to eat this meal.

If you are making this dish all in one go, then make the chickpea curry first. While the tomato sauce is simmering (before you add the chickpeas), prepare the paratha dough. Then, after you add the chickpeas to the sauce, just let the curry simmer gently as you roll out and cook the parathas. Fry the eggs as the final stage.

How to Serve this Dish

Serve this dish with fresh herbs such as coriander, mint, Thai basil and tarragon alongside the parathas, curry and fried eggs. My family and I often eat this breakfast/brunch dish washed down with a homemade mango lassie or Persian tea.

Other Breakfast Inspiration

Breakfast is probably my favourite meal of the day so I invest as much time in it as I would an evening meal. Check out my other breakfast recipes to enjoy for weekend family brunches.


 A Baluchi-Style Breakfast

Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Total Time1 hr 30 mins
Course: Breakfast, Brunch
Cuisine: Iranian
Keyword: vegetarian, egg recipes
Servings: 6
Author: Mersedeh Prewer

Ingredients

For the chickpea curry

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 onion (finely sliced)
  • 4 cloves garlic (crushed or minced)
  • Thumb-size piece fresh ginger (grated)
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp garam masala
  • 400 g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 x 400 g tins of chickpeas (drained)
  • 200 mls water
  • Fresh lime juice (half a lime)
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)
  • Chopped fresh coriander (to garnish)

For parathas

  • 3 cups plain flour (UK standard measuring cup plus extra to sprinkle on parathas)
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp salt
  • Water (as required to form a sticky dough in the region of 1.5 to 2 cups)
  • Oil or ghee to brush and cook the parathas 

For the eggs

  • 6 large free-range eggs
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)

Instructions

For the chickpea curry

  • Take a saucepan and place it on medium-high heat. Add 2 tbsp oil.
  • Add onion and cook until it softens and turns golden. Then add garlic and ginger and stir.
  • Once aroma of garlic and ginger starts to permeate, add cumin seeds, ground coriander, turmeric and garam masala and stir. Allow mixture to cook with spices for about 2 mins.
  • Add chopped tomatoes and once bubbling lower the heat to low- medium to allow the mixture to simmer. Simmer for 20 to 30 mins.
  • Then add chickpeas, water, lime juice, salt and pepper and stir. Leave to simmer for 20 mins minimum until you are ready to serve. Garnish with fresh chopped coriander before serving.

For the parathas

  • Add flour, oil, salt, to a large mixing bowl and mix until incorporated and only tiny lumps remain. Initially add about 1 cup water and mix into flour mixture. Then add more water in small increments to form a dough (I usually require 1.5 to 2 cups of water in total to make a dough). Knead dough for about 5 mins and then leave to rest for 30 mins.
  • After resting time, the texture should be soft and dough lighter. Take the dough and split into 6 equal amounts and roll into a ball.
  • Sprinkle some flour onto work surface. Take one ball of dough and roll to approximately 10cm in diameter with a rolling pin. Brush with a little oil / ghee, sprinkle with a little flour and then fold the dough like a fan. Take one end and roll it along the edge of the dough until it forms back into a ball (like a Catherine wheel). Leave to rest in fridge while you repeat the process with the other balls of dough. This will create the layered, flaky texture for the final cooked parathas.
  • After preparing the ‘Catherine wheel’ dough balls, take a frying pan or skillet and place it on high heat. Drizzle some oil / ghee into pan.
  • Take dough balls out of fridge. Take the first dough ball and roll it until it is approximately 1/2cm thick. Then cook it in the hot pan for 3 minutes on each side, or until nicely charred. While cooking, brush with a little bit more oil / ghee on each side. Repeat with the remaining dough balls.
  • Once the parathas are cooked, turn off the heat and leave cooked parathas to one side until you are ready to serve.

For the eggs

  • Add oil to frying pan / skillet and place on medium-high heat.
  • Crack eggs into pan, cover with a tight lid and cook for 3 mins or until white is set.
  • Season with salt and pepper and serve alongside chickpea curry and parathas.

Sosis Bandari (Spicy Sausage Sandwich with Saffron Roasties)

A famous street-food sandwich from the South of Iran made with beef sausages, peppers and onions cooked in a spicy and rich tomato sauce. This recipe comes with a side of saffron tatties served with harissa mayo!

What is Sosis Bandari?

This dish is basically the Persian equivalent of a sausage sandwich! Beef sausages are cooked with onions and peppers in spicy tomato sauce and it is commonly served in a baguette-style bread.

Sosis Bandari translated is sausage from the port or port-style sausage. ‘Sosis’ is the Persian word for sausage, and ‘Bandar’ means port. Apparently this dish was invented in one of the northern ports of Iran, called Bandar Anzali where the first sausages were introduced from Iran (probably from Turkey). However, it became trendy amongst southern port residents, and the dish is now associated with Southern Iran. Iranians who live in the south of Iran mostly eat spicy foods and this dish packs a punch due to their revisions to the original recipe. 

Ingredients in Sosis Bandari

I love this dish as it is so easy to cook and, other than the sausage, all other ingredients are available at your local supermarket.

You will need:
  • Sucuk / Sujuk: a Turkish fermented sausage consisting of ground beef, garlic and other spices. they are encased in a red skin, which you peel off before cooking. You can buy them from most Middle Eastern supermarkets or online. If you cannot find sujuk, then use any other sausage you fancy including vegetarian or vegan varieties. Sujuk has a fair bit of oil in it and the heat of the pan should release sufficient amounts to cook the sausage and other vegetables. Add a dash of olive oil to your pan if required.
  • Garlic, turmeric and red chilli flakes: aromatics to flavour the dish.
  • Red onion, yellow pepper and cherry tomatoes: vegetables used for the dish.
  • Tomato puree and water: used to make the sauce for the Sosis Bandari.
  • Salt & Pepper: to season the dish.
  • Parsley: added as a garnish.

If you are using your local supermarket raw sausages then cook them first (as per the instructions on the packet) before slicing them up and adding to the recipe below.



Ingredients in Saffron Roasties and Harissa Mayo

Traditionally Sosis Bandari includes potatoes in the mixture itself, however my recipe extracts the potatoes and cooks them separately by making them into saffron flavour roasties to be eaten as a side dish and dipped into harissa mayonnaise. 

You will need:
  • Olive Oil: used to roast the potatoes.
  • New Potatoes: you can use any potatoes suitable for roasting. I use this variety as they are small, no need to peel and they cook quickly.
  • Saffron: used to flavour and colour the roasties.
  • Water: used to boil the potatoes. 
  • Salt & Pepper: to season the tatties.
  • Mayonnaise, Harissa Paste and Lime Juice: combined to make the Harissa may to dip the roasties in. I use Belazu Harissa paste either the rose or the standard version is fine.

How to Serve this Dish

I serve this dish as a sandwich using a rustic roll with a side of saffron roasties. I also love to put pickled cucumbers and some fresh herbs in the Sosis Bandari Sandwich. A cousin of mine recently mooted adding cheese to the sandwich which would also be an excellent addition.

Other Handheld Pockets of Deliciousness

Check out our other recipes:


Sosis Bandari

Persian spicy sausage with saffron roasties
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time45 mins
Course: Main Course, lunch
Cuisine: Persian, Iranian
Keyword: easy recipe, sujuk, sucuk, spicy
Servings: 4
Author: Mersedeh Prewer

Ingredients

For the Saffron Roasties

  • 600 g new potatoes (halved – approx 150 grams per person)
  • 1/8 tsp ground saffron
  • Water to boil the potatoes
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)

For the Sosis Bandari

  • Approximately 300 grams of Sucuk Turkish sausages (remove outer skin / casing and slice diagonally) – see note above re: alternatives to sucuk
  • 2 cloves garlic (crushed)
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp dried red chilli flakes
  • 1 large red onion (finely sliced)
  • 1 yellow pepper or red or green (finely sliced)
  • 1 heaped tbsp tomato purée 
  • 100 g cherry tomatoes (halved)
  • 100 ml water
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)
  • Fresh chopped parsley (to garnish)

For the Harissa Mayonnaise

  • 8 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp Harissa paste
  • A squeeze of a fresh lime

To Serve

  • 4 crusty rolls / mini baguettes
  • sliced gherkins or Persian pickled cucumbers and / or cheese can also be included in the sandwich

Instructions

Harissa Mayo

  • Combine mayo, harissa paste and lime juice in a small bowl. Cover and place in fridge until you are ready to serve the dish.

Roasties

  • Take a saucepan and fill with water, add halved new potatoes and saffron. Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil. Boil potatoes for approximately 8 to 10 minutes - you want them cooked through but not too soft as they will fall apart in the roasting stage.
  • While potatoes are cooking in the saucepan, pre-heat oven to 180°C (fan) / 200°C (conventional) / Gas Mark 6.
  • Turn the stove off and drain potatoes. Take a baking tray and place potatoes on it. Add oil, salt and pepper and toss potatoes until evenly coated. Place tray in oven and roast the potatoes for 30 minutes or until crispy to your liking.

Sosis Bandari

  • While potatoes are roasting, take a frying pan (about 30 cm diameter) and place on medium-high heat.
  • Add sliced sausages to pan, cook until they release oil and start to curl. Then add garlic, turmeric and chilli and stir until evenly distributed. Add sliced onions and pepper and stir until they start to soften.
  • Add tomato purée and stir. Add halved cherry tomatoes. Then add water and stir and lower heat to let the sosis bandari cook gently for about 5 minutes. Season to taste and scatter some chopped fresh parsley over the top.

Serving the dish

  • Turn oven and stove off. Remove the potatoes from the oven and place them on a paper towel to soak up any excess oil.
  • Fill rolls / baguettes with the sosis bandari (sliced gherkins or Persian pickled cucumbers and / or cheese can also be included in the sandwich).
  • Serve the sosis bandari sandwiches with a side of roasties and some harissa mayo to dip them in.

Persian Delights (Rose Water & Pistachio Cupcakes)

Make these Persian inspired cupcakes flavoured with rose water and pistachios. Beautifully elegant whether serving at home to friends or as wedding cupcakes.

I first made these cupcakes over 10 years ago for a friend’s wedding and they have been a firm favourite ever since.

I experimented with many flavours but these were the favourite amongst my family. Not surprising really as they are flavoured with rose water and pistachio. Had I found a use for saffron in the recipe, then I would have had the holy trinity of Persian desserts! But I felt the pink and ivory tones were perfect for the cupcakes’ presentation and that the yellow effect of incorporating saffron would not have been as aesthetically pleasing.

The Rise of the Cupcake

Cupcakes enjoyed a lot of attention and glamour following the episode in Sex and the City featuring Magnolia Cupcakes. The UK saw Violet’s Cakes, Hummingbird Bakery and Lola’s Cupcakes as the UK’s representation in the delicious world of luxury cupcakes.

Most people I speak to have baked cupcakes before but even if you are a first-timer, despite how pretty these mini cakes look, they are very easy to create. Many of us have cake-making equipment in our kitchen nowadays, such as electric beaters or stand mixers and if not it’s a great workout for the arms!

Standard Cake Batter Recipe

My go-to recipe for a basic cake batter is what I call the 4:225 ratio. For 4 eggs, I use a weight of 225 grams for the dry ingredients and butter.

  • Unsalted butter –  225 grams;
  • Caster sugar -225 grams;
  • Self-raising flour – 225 grams;
  • Free-range eggs x 4;
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder; and
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla extract.

The above are the ingredients for a basic vanilla sponge. I then add other flavours, such as rose for this recipe or lime zest for my cherry and lime flavoured victoria sandwich. This standard cake batter recipe creates a lovely crumb and yields 12 cupcakes in a muffin-style tray or 1 x two layer victoria sandwich (8″ diameter). 

Decorating the Cupcakes

For the decoration, I use a standard buttercream icing flavoured with vanilla and rosewater. I use crushed fresh pistachio slivers and edible rose petals, which are both available from Iranian and Middle-Eastern supermarkets. If you cannot get your hands on rose petals, then crushed fresh pistachios are equally lovely for decorating.

Storing the Cupcakes

Store cupcakes in an airtight container for up to 3 days.


Persian Delights Instagram Reel

 

 


Persian Delights

Rose water and pistachio cupcakes
Prep Time25 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Total Time50 mins
Course: Dessert, Sweet Treats
Cuisine: Persian, British, Cross-cultural
Keyword: cupcakes
Servings: 12 large cupcakes
Author: Mersedeh Prewer

Ingredients

Cake Batter / Sponge

  • 225 g unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 225 g caster sugar
  • 4 medium free range eggs (room temperature)
  • 225 g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 to 2 tbsp rose water (depending on how floral you want it)
  • 1 to 2 tbsp ground fresh pistachios

Buttercream Icing and Decoration

  • 250 g unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 450 g icing sugar
  • Pink food colouring (if you want your cupcakes to have a pink tint - I do a mix of ivory and light pink cupcakes)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 to 2 tbsp rose water
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • Ground pistachios and edible rose petals (for decoration)

Instructions

For the Cupcake Sponge

  • Preheat oven to 160°C (fan) / 180°C (conventional) / Gas mark 4. Line a 12-hole cupcake tin with cases (deep fill cupcake tin).
  • In a mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar until light in colour and fluffy.
  • Crack eggs one by one and beat each one in before adding the next.
  • Add vanilla extract and rose water. Then sift flour and baking powder into bowl and gently fold into mixture.
  • Add ground pistachios and gently fold into mixture.
  • Divide mixture equally into cupcake cases and place in oven for 20 to 25 mins. To check if cupcakes are done, use a thin skewer to check one by gently poking to the bottom. It should come out clean of cake batter. Leave cupcakes to cool completely on a wire rack.

For the Buttercream Icing and Decoration

  • Make buttercream by beating butter until light in colour and then sift the icing sugar gradually and beat until fully mixed.
  • Then add vanilla extract, rose water and milk and mix. I halve my icing mixture and add pink food colouring to one batch and leave the other half an ivory colour. 
  • Make sure your cupcakes have cooled and then pipe or spread your icing onto the cupcakes.

Sticky Pomegranate Chicken Wraps

You will love these moreish wraps filled with roasted chicken in a sticky pomegranate molasses marinade, crispy lettuce, fresh herbs, pickles and moosir mayo.

This is an easy recipe and will be familiar territory for you if you have, as most people have these days, cooked and / or eaten some kind of wrap. If not, it is still an easy recipe to follow and worth getting your hands on the two ingredients you may not have to hand – pomegranate molasses and moosir (Persian shallots).

What is Pomegranate Molasses?

Pomegranate molasses is a thick syrup with a dark grape colour made from reducing pomegranate juice. The juice is obtained from a tart variety of pomegranate. You can pick up pomegranate molasses (rob-e-anar) from most Middle-Eastern food shops, online or even at some local supermarkets.

It is deliciously tart but the addition of maple syrup and freshly squeezed orange juice balances the favours perfectly for this marinade and complements the chicken. As with all marinades, the longer you leave it the better. So if you have time to marinate your chicken  overnight (thighs with skin on and bone in preferably) this will allow the chicken to absorb all the delicious flavours. 

What is Moosir?

Moosir is a Persian shallot and has a flavour profile similar to garlic but slightly sweeter and less spicy. They grow wild in the foothills of the Zagros Mountains. They have to be found and dug out of the earth – a similar process to truffles. Commonly used in a yoghurt dip called Maast-o-Moosir, this ingredient adds an amazingly distinctive flavour to dishes. You can buy moosir from most Middle-Eastern food shops or online.

Moosir is bought in its dried form and will need to be rehydrated before use. Soak the moosir in water for 3 to 24 hours. Drain, then rinse in cold water and pat dry. Check the moosir and cut out any stems that remain hard after soaking. I have added the moosir to the mayonnaise for the chicken wraps. Once hydrated, chop the moosir finely and mix with mayonnaise. If you cannot get your hands on this Persian shallot, then you can use garlic. I would recommend steeping the cloves in boiled water before mincing and adding to the mayonnaise to temper the raw garlic.

How to Make Sticky Pomegranate Chicken Wraps

  • Marinade the chicken thighs. Put the chicken, onion, garlic, turmeric, cinnamon, pomegranate molasses, tomato purée, sriracha, maple syrup, orange juice, seasoning and olive oil in a mixing bowl and mix to coat evenly. Cover, place in the fridge and let it marinate for a minimum of 4 hours (preferably overnight).
  • Make the Moosir Mayo. Place the mayonnaise in a bowl and add your minced moosir and refrigerate until you are ready to serve.
  • Cook the chicken thighs. Heat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas 6. Transfer the chicken and its marinade to a shallow roasting tin. Roast for 40-45 minutes, until the chicken and onions have caramelised and are sticky. Remove the chicken from the oven and leave to rest for 10 minutes.
  • Prepare the wraps and condiments. Take your tortillas, wrap them in foil and place them in the oven to heat for about 15 mins. Then remove them from the oven and turn off the heat. Scatter the chicken with the fresh mint and pomegranate seeds.
  • Build the wrap. Take a wrap and spread a layer of moosir mayo on it. Then add shredded lettuce, sliced chicken (removed from the bone) and caramelised onions, topping with Torshi Soorati (pickled red cabbage and onion) or other pickle, the chopped fresh herbs and pomegranate seeds. Roll up the wrap and tuck in.
Serve these wraps with wedges – sweet potatoes are a great accompaniment.

Sticky Pomegranate Chicken Wraps

Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time45 mins
Total Time55 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Persian, Iranian, Fusion
Keyword: easy recipe, chicken wrap
Servings: 4 (to 6)
Author: Mersedeh Prewer

Ingredients

For the chicken

  • 8 free-range chicken thighs (skin-on, bone-in)
  • 1 large red onion (finely sliced)
  • 4 cloves garlic (crushed)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 tbsp pomegranate molasses
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 tbsp sriracha chilli sauce
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • Juice of half an orange
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)

For the Moosir Mayo

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise (8 tbsp)
  • 6 discs of dried moosir (rehydrate the moosir the night before by soaking in water. Rinse then pat dry before mincing and adding to mayo).

To Serve

  • 8 large tortilla wraps
  • Crunchy lettuce (Romaine or iceberg - shredded)
  • Torshi Soorati or other pickle of your choice
  • Fresh coriander, mint and parsley (chopped) and pomegranate seeds (for garnish and sprinkling in the wraps)

Instructions

  • Score each chicken thigh twice with a knife through the skin and into the meat. Then place in a bowl. Add onion, garlic, turmeric, cinnamon, pomegranate molasses, tomato purée, sriracha, maple syrup, orange juice, seasoning and olive oil and mix to coat evenly. Cover, place in fridge and let it marinate for a minimum of 4 hours (preferably overnight). About 1 hour before cooking, remove from the fridge and set aside to come up to room temperature.
  • Place mayonnaise in a bowl and add minced moosir. Stir and refrigerate until you are ready to serve.
  • Heat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas 6.
  • Transfer chicken and marinade to a shallow roasting tin, then roast for 40-45 minutes, until chicken and onions are caramelised and sticky. Remove from oven and leave to rest for 10 minutes. Garnish chicken with the fresh mint and pomegranate seeds.
  • About 5 minutes before removing your chicken from the oven, take tortillas, wrap them in foil and place them in oven to heat for about 15 mins. Then remove them from oven and turn off heat.
  • Build a wrap by spreading a layer of moosir mayo on it, adding shredded lettuce, layering with sliced chicken (removed from the bone) and caramelised onions. Top with Torshi Soorati or other pickle, the chopped fresh herbs and pomegranate seeds. Roll up the wrap and tuck in. 

Omelette Gojeh Farangi (Persian Tomato Omelette)

Although called an omelette, this beloved Persian breakfast dish is closer to scrambled eggs due to the silky texture from the amount of tomatoes used. Sometimes referred to as Omelette Irani (The Iranian Omelette), it is the most commonly eaten egg-based breakfast in Iran whether in people’s homes or in cafes. 

The Persian Equivalent of Shakshuka

Omelette Gojeh Farangi is made by cooking eggs in a rich tomato sauce. The sauce is flavoured with aromatics and spices – garlic, cumin, turmeric and chilli. The tomato to egg ratio is quite high so the resulting texture is creamy.

It is usually eaten at breakfast or as a brunch option but can also be eaten as a lunch or dinner option. 

How to Serve Omelette Gojeh Farangi

Serve this dish with flatbread; feta; a sprinkle of fresh herbs, such as coriander or parsley; and Persian pickled cucumbers for an authentic Persian breakfast experience. You can also eat it with rice or chips when serving it at lunch or dinner.

Other Breakfast Recipes…


Omelette Irani

Persian tomato omelette
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Total Time40 mins
Course: Breakfast, Main Course, Brunch
Cuisine: Persian, Iranian
Keyword: tomatoes, vegetarian, egg recipes, omelette gojeh farangi
Servings: 4
Author: Mersedeh Prewer

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion (finely diced)
  • 4 cloves garlic (crushed / minced)
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp dried red chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 10 g fresh coriander (leaves and stalks chopped finely)
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 500 g cherry tomatoes (halved)
  • 125 ml water
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)
  • 8 free range eggs
  • Chopped fresh coriander leaves to sprinkle as a garnish

Instructions

  • Take a large frying pan, add the olive oil and place over medium-high heat.
  • Add onions and cook until they turn golden.
  • Add garlic, all the spices and herbs and stir until their aromas are released.
  • Then add tomato purée, stir into the mixture and cook for a few more minutes.
  • Add the halved cherry tomatoes, followed by 125 ml of water and stir. Once the mixture starts to bubble, reduce heat to low-medium to allow to simmer, stirring occasionally. Once the cherry tomatoes have broken down and the mixture is looking like a sauce, add the balsamic vinegar and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Take 4 of the eggs and crack them into a bowl and beat them. Then pour into the tomato mixture in the pan and stir in gently to distribute evenly. You want the beaten eggs to be mixed into the tomatoes but not completely scrambled or cooked through.
  • Make 4 holes evenly distributed in the tomato mixture. Crack the remaining eggs into the holes.
  • Cover the pan and cook over medium-low heat for about 5 to 7 minutes, depending on how runny or cooked you prefer the eggs. Once the eggs are cooked to your liking, turn the heat off.
  • Season the eggs with a pinch of salt and pepper and sprinkle some chopped fresh coriander leaves on the dish prior to  serving with flatbreads, Persian pickled cucumbers and / or fresh herbs.

Panir Bereshteh (Persian Scrambled Eggs with Feta & Dill)

Delicious, silky scrambled eggs cooked with spring onions, turmeric, feta and dill. A light and healthy cooked breakfast option which pairs brilliantly with smoked salmon. 

What is Panir Bereshteh?

Panir Bereshteh is a delicately flavoured old recipe from Gilan Province, in northern Iran, which lies along the Caspian Sea bordering Russia. Feta is cooked with spring onions, garlic and turmeric before eggs are folded in. The name of the dish translated means ‘crispy cheese’ (Panir – cheese, and Bereshteh – crispy), but the actual dish is not crispy as the cheese melts to a creamy sauce while cooking, before the eggs are added.

Gilan is lush and green with many delicious dishes originating from the province, particularly vegetarian ones, namely Mirza Ghasemi (smoked aubergines and eggs) and Baghali Ghatogh (eggs with broad beans and dill).

Serving Panir Bereshteh

This recipe is a great addition to your breakfast or brunch catalogue of recipes with the dill and feta resulting in fresh and light flavours. Serve with flatbread and a side of smoked salmon. For a veggie option, serve with tomatoes and cucumbers as pictured.

Other Breakfast Inspiration


 

Panir Bereshteh

Scrambled Eggs with feta & dill
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time5 mins
Total Time10 mins
Course: Breakfast, Brunch
Cuisine: Persian, Iranian
Keyword: egg recipes, easy recipe
Servings: 2
Author: Mersedeh Prewer

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp butter or ghee
  • 1 garlic clove (crushed) (optional)
  • 80 g feta cheese
  • 2 spring onions (finely sliced)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 4 large free-range eggs (beaten)
  • 1 tbsp fresh dill (chopped and a further pinch to garnish)
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)

Instructions

  • Add olive oil and butter to a frying pan and heat on a medium heat until the butter has melted. Add crushed garlic and stir until aroma released.
  • Add feta cheese and let it cook down until it has melted into a creamy mixture.
  • Reduce heat to low, add spring onion and stir gently.
  • Add turmeric and stir gently pushing the creamy mixture evenly across the pan, ready for the egg mixture.
  • Add dill to beaten eggs, then pour into the frying pan, tilting the pan slightly from side to side so the mixture spreads equally. Increase the heat to medium.
  • As the eggs start to firm, take a spatula and stir gently to the preferred consistency. Turn heat off and serve on its own or with smoked salmon, flat bread or toast.

 

Khoresh Karafs – sabz (Lamb, Herby and Celery Stew)

This traditional Persian stew is made with lamb, slow-cooked with celery, mint and parsley resulting in a deliciously light yet comforting stew. 

Winter is the season of stews and Khoresh Karafs is a lovely introduction if you are new to Persian cuisine. Persian stews are relatively low maintenance to cook. They just need time to cook and for the flavours to fall into place.

What is Khoresh Karafs?

Khoresh Karafs is a Persian stew made with lamb, celery and fresh herbs (mint and parsley). ‘Karafs’ translated from Persian is ‘celery.’ And ‘Khoresh’ means ‘stew.’

We have two versions of Khoresh Karafs. The first one, the subject of this recipe and the better known version, is cooked with herbs. The second one is cooked with tomatoes and usually chicken. We refer to them by their colour: Khoresh Karafs-e-Sabz (‘sabz’ means green in Farsi); and Khoresh Karafs-e-Ghermez (‘ghermez’ means red in Farsi).

Ingredients In Khoresh Karafs

The ingredients for this khoresh (stew) are simple and easy to source with most items available at your local supermarket.

You will need:
  • Lamb – the best cut of lamb to use for this recipe is from the leg and from a butcher. Ask for the leg to be trimmed of the outer layers of fat and to be cut into stew size pieces with the bone.
  • Celery – use fresh celery to ensure you get the delicious peppery and savoury flavour profile  from this amazing vegetable.
  • Parsley & Mint – use fresh herbs. As a guide 2 large bunches or 250 grams of parlsey to 1 large bunch or 150 grams of mint.
  • Onion, Garlic, Turmeric, Saffron and Fresh Lime Juice – the aromatics and flavour enhancing elements of the stew.
  • Vegetable Oil – or any other neutral flavoured oil for cooking elements of the stew prior to adding the cooking liquid.
  • Water or Vegetable Stock – the cooking liquid for the stew.
  • Salt and Pepper – to season the stew.

Variations Khoresh Karafs

  • Some add dried limes (Limoo Amani) to their khoresh while cooking but I prefer it without.
  • You can use beef but make sure it is the cut of beef best for stewing i.e. braising beef such as skirt, chuck or blade.
  • You can also use chicken instead of red meat.

How to Serve Khoresh Karafs

As with all Persian stews, the flavour continues to mature and intensify if you leave it for a day before you reheat and serve. This is, therefore, a dish you can make on a Sunday evening and tuck into later in the week reducing the time spent in the kitchen and washing up afterwards. Serve it with Persian rice – Chelow and a lime dressed chopped salad like Salad Shirazi.

Leftovers

Store in an airtight container in the fridge up to 3 days. Khoresh Karafs can also be frozen up to 4 months. Defrost thoroughly before reheating. Gently reheat khoresh in a saucepan or in a microwave.


Khoresh Karafs

Lamb, herb and celery stew
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time1 hr 30 mins
Total Time2 hrs
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Persian, Iranian
Keyword: mint, parsley, lamb, celery
Servings: 4 to 6
Author: Mersedeh Prewer

Ingredients

  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 250 g fresh parsley
  • 150 g fresh mint
  • 1 large head of celery (about 7 to 10 stalks cut into 2 to 3 inch chunks)
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 cloves garlic (crushed)
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 0.6 to 1 kg lamb on the bone (preferably leg, portioned into chunks approx. 2 to 3 inches width)
  • 600 ml water or vegetable stock
  • 1/8 tsp ground saffron (bloomed in 2 tbsp of water)
  • Juice of 1 to 2 fresh limes
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)

Instructions

Gather and Prepare the Ingredients

  • Remove woody stems from herbs and discard. Wash herbs and place on a tea towel and dab them dry.
  • Finely chop herbs either by hand or using a food processor and set to one side until ready to use.
  • Finely dice your onion. Take the celery and chop into 2 inch chunks.

Prepare the Stew

  • Take a casserole dish / saucepan which has a lid and a minimum capacity of 3.5 litres and place over medium-high heat. Add 2 tbsp of oil and brown lamb and remove from pan.
  • Add diced onions to pan and cook until they turn golden. Add crushed garlic cloves and stir, being careful that the garlic does not turn brown or burn.
  • Add lamb, then turmeric and stir until distributed evenly.
  • Add water or vegetable stock and bloomed saffron (the liquid should just cover the meat so adjust if necessary). Place lid on pan and turn down heat to low and let simmer.

Saute the Celery and Herbs

  • Take a frying pan and add 1 tbsp of oil and place over medium-low heat. Add chopped herbs and stir until the herb mix has softened, being careful not to burn it. A few minutes will suffice. Then add the herb mix to the lamb and stir. Replace the lid.
  • Sauté celery over medium heat in frying pan used for the herbs with the remaining 1 tbsp of oil for no more than a few minutes. Just enough for the celery to take on some heat from the pan but not soften. Turn the heat off under your frying pan and add celery to the lamb and herb mixture.

Cook and Season the Stew

  • After 5 minutes of simmering, add the fresh lime juice (start with half the lime and then add more), salt and pepper and adjust according to taste.
  • Continue simmering the stew for a minimum of an hour, stirring gently every 15 minutes and checking the softness of the meat - ideally you want the meat to be falling off the bone.

Serve the Khoresh Karafs

  • When ready, turn off the heat and serve with chelow and either torshi or a salad with a citrus dressing.

 

Chelow and Tahdig (Persian Rice – The expert way)

Create rice with perfectly tender, separate and fluffy grains with a crunchy layer of crispy rice called Tahdig. This is the beloved way Iranians make rice. Once you master the skill, you are unlikely to make rice any other way!

What is Chelow?

Chelow is the name given to the white fluffy grains of rice either served with our kebabs or khoresh (stews) in Iranian cuisine. We also have Kateh, which refers to our version of easy-cook sticky rice, and polo, which refers to our rice cooked with vegetables,  herbs and/or meat (similar to the Asian biryani).

Polo follows the same cooking procedure as chelow but has the added stage of preparing and cooking the ingredients to be mixed in to the rice. Kateh is simple as you boil and steam the rice without draining the water by letting it evaporate in the saucepan. Kateh tends to be reserved for family weekday meals.

What is Tahdig?

The common feature in the various Persian rice options is that they all yield the crispy rice, which forms at the bottom of the cooking pot, called ‘Tahdig’. Tahdig literally translated means ‘bottom of the pot’ and is the most cherished part of our meals. I don’t think I have ever met someone who dislikes tahdig!

Although kateh is the easiest way of cooking Persian-style rice it does not yield a tahdig as superior as chelow or polo. Therefore you are rewarded for going the extra mile with the slightly more complicated way of cooking rice.

To achieve the perfect fluffy rice and golden tahdig is a commitment. Despite this, even the veteran chelow and tahdig cooker sometimes has an off day with rice coming out a bit mushy and the tahdig burnt. So don’t be hard on yourself if you commit to this journey and it takes a while to master it. 

Tahdig Varieties

Now while chelow has a standard set of preparation and cooking steps, tahdig has a number of different options available. The most common are rice, potato or flatbread options. See the pictures above for examples.

As with the evolution of many cuisines, experiments have been undertaken to explore new ways of reinventing a classic. In the case of tahdig people have experimented with ingredients to see if they can create a new type of tahdig as good as the originals. I’ve seen tahdigs made with lettuce, fish and chicken. 

Ingredients and Equipment to Make Chelow & Tahdig

Ingredients
  • White long grain basmati rice – if you want to cook authentic Persian style rice this is the perfect rice to use. You can buy this from your local supermarket or local Middle-Eastern or Asian food shops. I recommend Tilda.
  • Saffron – is needed for the Tahdig layer and potentially for serving it (see ‘How to serve Chelo & Tahdig’ below). Always grind your saffron strands into a fine powder after purchasing. For utilisation in Persian cooking, always bloom in water as directed in recipe.
  • Salt – try not to baulk at the amount of salt used. Rice needs a lot of salt as it can be quite bland and the boiling stage washes a lot away. Taste a grain or two of your rice at step 6 of the recipe below. If it tastes too salty just pour a little cold water over your parboiled rice to wash some away. 
  • Neutral flavoured oil – used to create the Tahdig layer. 
  • Butter / ghee / or vegan equivalent – used for the Tahdig layer but also to drizzle over the rice pre steaming to create fluffy separate grains.
Equipment
  • A good quality non-stick saucepan with a glass lid – essential kit to make the perfect chelow and tahdig, particularly if you want to flip the rice out as a contained cake-style rice encased in tahdig.
  • A small-hole colander or sieve – to drain the rice.
  • A clean tea towel – an absolute must as it aids the steaming of the rice by absorbing the water droplets, which would otherwise form on the lid of your saucepan and fall back on to the rice making it mushy.

Steps to Make Chelow

Chelow has a 6-step-process to follow, summarised below:

  1. Wash the rice. Removes the starch from the rice in order to assist in producing a tender fluffy grain. It also assists in the rice being more nutritious.
  2. Soak the rice. Not all consider this stage is necessary any more in light of the quality of long grain basmati rice available, however it is of note that some famous brands recommend soaking their rice for 30 minutes pre cooking. Soaking the rice promotes more thorough cooking by allowing moisture to reach the centre of the rice grain, it further improves its final texture, makes the grain less brittle and assists the rice to become more digestible.
  3. Par boil the rice until al dente. The first stage of the cooking process, which partially cooks the rice.
  4. Drain the rice. The rice does not continue to cook in the cooking liquid but is steamed with the water already absorbed into the rice from step 3 and an additional small amount of water.
  5. Prepare the Tahdig layer and then layer remaining rice on top. The tahdig layer is placed at the bottom of the pot on a little saffron water and oil and / or butter before the rest of the rice is layered on top. A little water and melted butter is poured over the rice to assist with the final cooking stage.
  6. Steam the rice. The rice is steamed with a lid covered in a tea-towel to create our beloved chelow and tahdig.

How to Serve Chelow & Tahdig

The recipe below sets out steps to serve the chelow and tahdig as a cake-style, tahdig encased rice as seen in the first set of pictures above.

For larger quantities, once the rice has cooked, I recommend spooning the rice out and serving it on one plate and then serving your tahdig separately on another dish. The latter is usually garnished with saffron coloured rice sprinkled on top (see picture). In my family we use a little rose water when blooming the saffron for the rice garnish as it adds a delicate floral note to the chelow, so if you want to present your rice this way then it is worth getting your hands on some rose water from your local Middle-Eastern food shop.

Simply mix a little cooked rice with saffron bloomed in a little water and rose water until it takes on a golden hue. Then sprinkle the saffron rice on top of the plain white rice and then serve.

 
As a final note, the primary recipe below is to make chelow with rice tahdig. Refer to the ‘Alternative Step’ sections below for guidance on how to make potato or flatbread tahdig.

 


Check out my Reel on How to Cook Chelow and Tahdig

 


Chelow and Tahdig

Persian Rice - the expert way
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Total Time1 hr 10 mins
Course: Rice Dish, Accompaniment
Cuisine: Persian, Iranian
Keyword: basmati rice, tahdig
Servings: 4 to 6
Author: Mersedeh Prewer

Ingredients

  • 2 cups white long grain Basmati rice (standard UK measuring cup capacity 250 ml - approx 400 grams of rice)
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • Water (as directed below)
  • 1/8 tsp ground saffron bloomed in 2 tbsp of water for the tahdig
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil plus extra if you are making potato or flatbread tahdig as per 'Alternative Step' sections below
  • 2 to 3 tbsp ghee / butter / vegan equivalent

Instructions

Wash and Soak the Rice

  • Wash rice in cold water until water runs clear. Be gentle, otherwise you will damage and break the grains.
  • Place rice with 1 tbsp of salt in a bowl and pour in cold water to cover up to 2 inches above the top. Leave to soak for a minimum of 30 mins (I leave mine overnight and cook the rice during the afternoon of the day after).

Parboil the Rice

  • Fill a large non-stick saucepan (minimum capacity 2.5 litres) with approximately 1.5 litres of water and 1 tbsp of salt. Place over high heat and bring water to a boil.
  • Drain the rice and then add to the saucepan. Gently stir to make sure it does not stick to the pan.
  • Stay with the saucepan and do not leave it at this stage. It is crucial that you remove the rice and drain it at the right time. Every minute give it a gentle stir and take a grain and check the texture - either between your fingers or using your teeth. What you want is the grain to be soft on the outer layer but still firm in the centre. It can take any time from 3 to 7 minutes with the quantity in this recipe.
  • Once the parboiled rice reaches the correct texture, turn your heat off and drain in a colander or sieve. Sprinkle a little cold water to halt the cooking process. Taste the rice - if it is very salty then rinse it further with a little water.

Prepare the Tahdig Layer

  • Place the empty saucepan on your stove.
  • Add 2 tbsp of oil and 1 tbsp of butter / ghee / vegan equivalent to the pan and place on a low heat to melt. Then turn the heat off. (See * below for alternative tahdig layers - potato or flatbread).
  • Add your bloomed saffron to the saucepan and mix with the oil to distribute evenly (this will give a lovely golden colour to your tahdig).
  • To make your tahdig spoon about a 1-inch layer of rice into the saucepan and gently stir to mix with the saffron oil to ensure colour is distributed evenly. Be careful not to break the grains. Then pat down flat with the back of a spoon.
  • Then layer the remaining rice and gently pat down to the shape of the saucepan. Take the end of a tablespoon and gently poke about 5 small holes in the rice to allow steam to escape while cooking. Then pour over 2 tbsp of cold water.
  • Drizzle 1 to 2 tbsp of melted ghee / butter / vegan equivalent over the rice.

Steam the Rice

  • Place your glass lid on the saucepan and turn the heat to the highest setting. Once you start to see steam rise from the rice (your glass lid will start to get clear from the steam and droplets of water will start to form on the lid - it is perfectly fine to have a little look under the lid now and again to check the steam situation) lower the heat to the minimum flame or equivalent on your cooker. Cover the lid with a tea towel (making sure it is not a fire risk) and replace the lid on the saucepan.
  • Allow to steam for a minimum of 45 mins to get a crunchy and thick layer of tahdig.

Serve the Chelow & Tahdig

  • When the cooking time is over turn off the heat and remove the lid from the saucepan. Take a serving dish that covers the opening of the saucepan and place it on top. Flip the rice out onto the dish and serve with either a khoresh, kabab, curry or any other dish.

*Alternative Tahdig - Potato Tahdig

  • If you are making potato tahdig, you will need 1 medium-sized potato peeled and sliced into 1.5 cm thick discs. Place the sliced potatoes into a bowl of water to wash off excess starch - this will help during the crisping process while the rice steams. It will also stop the potatoes turning brown as you get the rice ready to steam.
  • For preparing a potato Tahdig layer - add an extra tablespoon of vegetable oil to the bottom of your pot then layer your potatoes at the bottom of the pan on top of the saffron oil (try not to overlap them so they all cook through evenly and crisp up) and then layer your rice on top and pat down to fill any gaps between the potatoes. Then follow subsequent steps of the recipe.

*Alternative Tahdig - Flatbread Tahdig

  • If you are making flatbread tahdig, you will need 1 medium Middle-Eastern style flatbread like lavash or 1 medium white tortilla. 
  • For preparing a flatbread Tahdig - use the flatbread to cover the bottom of the pan  or you can cut shapes into it and layer the bottom surface of the saucepan only. Either way, before layering your flatbread, take a pastry brush and coat your flatbread generously with vegetable oil and then lay it on the saffron oil. Then layer your rice on top and follow the subsequent steps of the recipe. If you are using the whole flatbread to cover the bottom of the saucepan, without cutting shapes, be a little cautious with the timing on lowering the heat to steam the rice as the flatbread can burn quite quickly. As soon as you see steam creeping round the edges of the bread, then turn down the heat and place the lid wrapped with a tea towel on the saucepan. Follow the subsequent steps of the recipe.

Eshkeneh (Persian Onion & Egg Drop Soup)

This traditional soup from Iran is simple to make and packed full of flavour from the aromatics, turmeric and fenugreek. Comforting with gooey eggs to dip into with the bread of your choice, this soup is a winter warmer.

What is Eshkeneh?

Eshkeneh is a soup made with the primary ingredients of onion, potato, fenugreek, turmeric and egg. There are many variations of the recipe for Eshkeneh. If you have tried it before, you may be more familiar with the version that results in a golden soup with flecks of green from the fenugreek leaves. One of the many variations is made with the addition of tomatoes and this is the recipe I have shared below.

Eshkeneh originates from the Khorasan region of Iran – the east side. My mother and her family are from Mashhad, which is sometimes referred to as the ‘capital of Khorasan’, so this soup was a regular feature in my childhood.

Ingredients in Eshkeneh

Onions and potato are cooked with fresh and dried aromatics in a broth made with tomatoes and tomato purée. Eggs are added to make an egg-drop soup and a lemon and chive oil is drizzled over before serving.

  • Onions. The soup should feel like onion is one of the major ingredients so use a very large onion or two medium onions. See it as the Persian equivalent of a French onion soup.
  • Garlic. Used as an aromatic to enhance the flavour.
  • Potato. Use either an all-rounder potato like a Maris Piper or a waxier potato like a red potato. You want the potato cubes to keep their shape.
  • Fenugreek. You need the dried leaf variety not the seeds.
  • Tomatoes and Tomato Purée. Flavours, thickens and gives a rich red colour to the soup.
  • Water or Vegetable Stock. The cooking liquid for the soup.
  • Turmeric. Used to flavour the soup.
  • Lemon Juice. Used both to flavour the soup and the chive oil drizzled over before serving.
  • Salt and Pepper. To season the soup.
  • Eggs. Cooked in the soup to your preference (I like mine to have a soft yolk to dip my bread into). Use good quality eggs such as organic free-range.
  • Olive Oil. Used for cooking the soup and for the chive oil drizzle.
  • Chives. Used for the chive oil.
Serve with flatbread such as Nan-e Barbari (traditional Persian flatbread) or Sesame and Nigella Seed Flatbread
Try another loved Persian Soup: Soupe Jo – Persian Cream of Barley and Chicken Soup

Eshkeneh

Persian onion and egg-drop soup
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Total Time50 mins
Course: Soup
Cuisine: Persian, Iranian
Keyword: tomatoes, vegetarian, eggs, fenugreek
Servings: 2
Author: Mersedeh Prewer

Ingredients

For the Soup

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion (finely diced)
  • 1 clove garlic (crushed)
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 tbsp dried fenugreek leaves (crush a little if the leaves are large)
  • 1 large potato (finely diced - 1 cm cubes)
  • 1 medium tomato (chopped)
  • 600 mls water or vegetable stock
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)
  • A squeeze or two of fresh lemon juice
  • 2 large free range eggs

For the Chive Oil Garnish

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • A handful of fresh chives
  • A squeeze of lemon juice

Instructions

  • Take a medium size saucepan and place on medium-high heat. Add olive oil and then onion. Cook onion until translucent and starting to turn golden. 
  • Add garlic and turmeric and stir into the mixture. Add tomato purée. Then add dried fenugreek leaves and stir into mixture.
  • Add diced potato and stir gently for a few minutes, making sure the potatoes do not stick to the pan.
  • Add chopped tomatoes and then water or stock. Once soup starts to bubble, lower heat to low and let simmer for 20 minutes minimum. Check in now and again to stir occasionally.
  • Season according to taste.
  • Place olive oil, finely chopped fresh chives and lemon juice in a bowl and mix and put to one side to garnish the soup when ready to serve.
  • Prior to serving, and when the soup is simmering, crack eggs into soup as far away as possible from each other so they don't merge. Poach 2 mins for soft; 4 mins for medium; and above 5 mins for hard. Turn off heat and serve in bowls with lemon and chive oil drizzled on top and flatbread to dip.

Kabab Tabei (Pan-Cooked Kofte Kebabs with Roasted Tomatoes)

These Persian kofte kebabs can be cooked anytime of the year with no need for a BBQ or skewers. They are easy to make and retain all the juiciness you expect from a kebab.

What is Kabab Tabei?

If you have eaten at a Persian restaurant, then you will be familiar with Kabab Koobideh. The long metal skewers of minced lamb cooked to juicy perfection over a charcoal flame. Kabab Tabei is the easy version, cooked in a pan with no skewers required, and accompanied with a side of roasted tomatoes.

Ingredients in Kabab Tabei

With the exception of saffron, the ingredients should be easy to source from your local supermarket. 

  • Minced Lamb or Beef – use mince with a 20% fat content to make the kebabs. This will ensure they are juicy.
  • Onion and Garlic – fresh aromatics for the dish adding to the flavour of the kebabs.
  • Turmeric and Saffron – spices used to flavour the kebabs.
  • Tomato Purée  – my secret ingredient which creates a juicy kebab.
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil – used to cook the kebabs and to drizzle over the tomatoes before roasting.
  • Tomatoes – for the accompanying roasted tomatoes. Use small tomatoes on the vine like these.
  • Sumac, Salt and Pepper – used to season the kebabs.

Saffron can be found in most supermarkets nowadays. Remember to always grind the saffron strands to a fine powder after purchase because it makes the saffron go further. Bloom the amount of ground saffron directed in this recipe in water before adding to the Kabab Tabei mixture.

What to Serve with Kabab Tabei

Serve with Kateh or Chelo (Persian rice) and Salad Shirazi as pictured. They can also be eaten with flatbreads, salad, chilli and garlic sauce with a side of chips as part of a fake-away style meal!


Kabab Tabei Instagram Reel


Kabab Tabei

Pan-cooked kofte kebabs with roasted tomatoes
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time40 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Persian, Iranian
Keyword: lamb, kebabs, easy recipe
Servings: 4
Author: Mersedeh Prewer

Ingredients

  • 500 g lamb or beef mince (approx. 20% fat)
  • 1 large onion
  • 3 cloves garlic (crushed)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/8 tsp ground saffron (bloomed in 2 tbsp of water)
  • 1 tsp tomato purée
  • 2 tbsps olive oil
  • 2 tsp sumac
  • 500 g small or cherry tomatoes (on the vine)
  • Drizzle of olive oil (for the cherry tomatoes)
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)

Instructions

  • Place mince in a mixing bowl. Grate onion and squeeze most of the juice out. This will ensure the kebab does not fall apart when cooking but will tenderise the meat and be juicy once cooked.
  • Add grated onion, garlic, turmeric, saffron water, tomato purée, salt and pepper to the bowl with mince. Knead mixture well for a few minutes. Cover bowl and leave in fridge for no less than 4 hrs but preferably overnight. Take meat mixture out of fridge about 30 minutes before you want to cook it.
  • Heat oven to 180°C (fan oven). Place tomatoes on a baking dish and drizzle olive oil over them. Season with salt and pepper. Place in oven and roast for 20 minutes.
  • Shape meat mixture into patties of your choice. I shape them into an oval shape about the length and width of my hand (they will shrink a little while cooking).
  • Coat frying pan with oil and place over medium-high heat. After 2 minutes, place kebabs in pan. Sprinkle some sumac on the uncooked side and wait until the meat releases water and the water dries out in the pan before flipping. Sprinkle sumac on the cooked side. Wait until kebabs release further water and it is cooked off. Turn off heat.
  • Serve kebabs with the roasted tomatoes and rice or bread.

Notes

If you like your kababs spicy then try my Kabab Tabei-Tond (‘Tond’ means spicy in Farsi). Follow the recipe and method as set out above but at step 3 replace the tomato purée with 1 tsp of Harissa paste or 1 tsp of biber salcasi (Turkish spicy tomato paste), which you can buy from any local supermarket, and 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh coriander.

Salad Shirazi (Cucumber, Tomato & Onion Salad)

Often referred to as the National Salad of Iran, this juicy lime-dressed salad is a happy accompaniment to all Persian mains from kebabs to koresh (stews).

The National Salad of Iran

As the name gives away, Salad Shirazi originates from Shiraz, which is located in the South West of Iran. The reason it is called the National Salad of Iran is because it is our only salad recipe! It is similar to the Indian Kachumber and Israeli chopped salads. 

Ingredients in Salad Shirazi

Use fresh and high quality ingredients to get maximum flavour from your Salad Shirazi.

  • Cucumber, tomatoes and red onion: are diced into small chunks, as pictured above. You can chop it into bigger chunks, if you prefer.
  • Dried mint, salt, pepper, fresh limes and good quality salad oil, such as extra virgin olive oil or toasted argan oil: create the dressing. I sometimes add sumac to the dressing, which gives another layer of citrus to the final salad.

Tips for Making Salad Shirazi

Scrape some of the the seeds out of both the cucumber and the tomatoes before dicing the salad ingredients. Although you want a juicy salad, you don’t want a water-logged one. Don’t be too obsessive about seed removal because the salad is meant to be juicy. You want to have some delicious dressing to spoon over the other elements on your plate.

Serving Suggestions

Serve it as a side salad with all Persian mains from khoresh to kebabs. Here are some suggestions.

This salad can be eaten with any cuisine so no need to limit it to a side salad for Persian mains only.

How to Store Salad Shirazi

Keep in an airtight container in the fridge and it will last up to 2 days.


Salad Shirazi

Persian cucumber, tomato and onion salad - the National Salad of Iran
Prep Time15 mins
Total Time15 mins
Course: Salad, Appetiser
Cuisine: Persian, Iranian
Keyword: vegetarian, vegan
Servings: 4
Author: Mersedeh Prewer

Ingredients

  • 1 medium cucumber
  • 3 medium tomatoes
  • 1 medium red onion
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil or toasted argan oil
  • 2 limes (zest of one lime, juice squeezed from both for the dressing)
  • 2 tsp dried mint (fresh mint can also be used as an alternative or in addition to the dried mint)
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)

Instructions

  • Halve tomatoes and scrape some of the seeds out. Do the same with cucumber. Finely dice onion, tomatoes and cucumber into small chunks.
  • Make a dressing out of olive oil, lime juice and zest, salt, pepper and mint. Drizzle over salad.
  • Toss salad and taste - adjust seasoning if required and then serve.

Torshi Soorati (Red Cabbage & Onion Pickle)

An easy pickle made from red cabbage and red onion. Ready to eat in 5 days, this vibrant pink pickle is a perfect accompaniment to a range of dishes.

What is Torshi?

Torshi is derived from the word ‘Torsh’ in Farsi, which means sour. Torshi is used to describe vegetables pickled in vinegar. They are often eaten as accompaniments to dishes and / or aperitifs. On a Persian sofreh (spread) you will always find some Torshi.

The sour taste of the pickles perfectly complements many of our dishes, particularly those containing lamb, as it brings a balance to the richness of the flavours.

How to Make Torshi Soorati

Thinly slice red cabbage and red onion. Place in a pickling jar (I am a fan of kilner jars) with coriander seeds. Dissolve the sugar and salt in white vinegar and pour into the jar. Leave for a minimum of 5 days to pickle. It is as simple as that!

‘Soorati’ means pink in Farsi and the pickle has been given this name as the resulting colour is a vibrant pink. A very versatile pickle suiting many cuisines, including Indian and Asian style dishes.

Eat Torshi Soorati With…

This pickle is delicious with so many dishes. Add to fried egg sandwiches, eat with kebab, burgers and wraps such as my sticky pomegranate chicken wraps. A perfect side to noodles too!

The Pickling Liquid

You may be left with some pickling liquid once the pickles are finished. Use it as a basis for a salad dressing. Just add olive oil and adjust with other flavourings such as a bit of lime juice and / or honey.


Torshi Soorati

Red cabbage and red onion pickle
Prep Time20 mins
Pickling Time5 d
Total Time5 d 20 mins
Course: Appetiser, Accompaniment
Cuisine: Persian, Iranian
Keyword: torshi, pickle
Servings: 1 litre jar of pickles
Author: Mersedeh Prewer

Ingredients

  • 1 red onion
  • 1/2 small red cabbage
  • 500 ml white wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp whole coriander seeds
  • 1 litre pickling jar (sterilised)

Instructions

  • Finely slice red onion and red cabbage and mix in a bowl.
  • Place into jar and add a sprinkle of coriander seeds after each layer of the mixture until you reach the top of the jar. Make sure you pack the vegetables tightly in the jar by pressing each layer down.
  • Dissolve sugar and salt in vinegar and pour in up to the neck of the jar. Push the vegetable mix down to pack and squeeze in more of the veg, if you can. Pour in more vinegar if required.
  • Close the lid tightly and leave the jar in a cool dark place like a pantry for 5 days. Once opened store in fridge.