Khashk e budemjun

~Khask e Budemjun~

Ingredients~

  • 2 large aubergines
  • 2 large onions chopped
  • 4-6 cloves of garlic chopped
  • 1/2 cup of liquid whey ( then add 2 tbsp of water)
  • vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 1 tsp of ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp of sugar
  • 2 tbsp of dried mint
  • 30 mls of liquid saffron

Preparation~

  1. Peel the aubergine and slice into 2 inch lengths, sprinkle with salt and leave for about 30 mins until the bitter juices have drained. Wash and dry with a paper towel.
  2. In a little oil gently fry the mint until dark, drain and place to one side.

Method~

  1. Fry the chopped onions until golden and place to one side.
  2. Fry the chopped garlic until golden and place to one side.
  3. Fry the aubergine until golden.
  4. Add the onion and garlic, sprinkle on the salt, pepper, sugar and some of the mint leaving enough to garnish before serving.
  5. Add one small cup of water, enough to almost cover the aubergines.
  6. And finally gently pour on the saffron liquid.
  7. Leave on a low heat to cook for about 30 mins or until the aubergines are cooked.
  8. Use a masher and mash
  9. Transfer to a serving dish and pour on the whey. This can then be kept warm in an oven until ready to serve.
  10. Before serving garnish with mint alone or add walnuts and dates for a change.

~Nooshi Joonet ~

Tip : If you brush the aubergine in egg white before frying it prevents the aubergine from too much oil absorption.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lZrimiOFEKE

This video courtesy of Press TV ( who I really can’t endorse because of their political affiliations) demonstrates how to make Khask e budemjun.

My recipe is a little different to Salomes but try both versions and see which you prefer!

What’s Hot and What’s Not

In Iran we fully believe in the power of hot and cold foods, much like the chinese do. In fact legend has it that  our  ancient ancestors shared this food knowledge with the chinese , but we won’t get into that here! Iranians believe that food is fuel and  either weakens or strengthens the body and these beliefs go way back to ancient times and originate from the Zoroastrian religion.

THE THINKING BEHIND THE THEORY

The description ‘hot’ or ‘cold’ doesn’t relate to the temperature of the food but rather to the effect the food has on your body. Everything we eat is broken down by enzymes in our stomachs and that has an effect on our cells and ultimately on how we function. Enzymes react to  ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ food. For example, ‘cold’ food like cucumber or Salad Olivieh slows down the digestive process, which in turn slows us down, requiring us to expend additional energy to continue digestion and will lead to feeling sluggish or tired. On the other hand, ‘hot’ food speeds up the digestive process, increases our metabolic rate and we are more alert and ready to take up our busy lives.

Our bodies need a balance of both ‘hot and ‘cold’ food to function at their best. So for  example when I make salad Olivieh, I decorate it with a ‘hot’ food, like walnuts or add carrots . Another example is Khoresht e Feseenjun where the two main ingredients are pomegranate ( cold) and walnuts (hot). Salad is made more balanced by adding herbs, which are hot. Rice is ‘cold’ which is why we eat our khoreshts or stews spiced with saffron and turmeric, cardamom, ginger, and cinnamon, salt and pepper.  And you thought it was just to make it taste delicious! Rose-water is ‘hot’ and sugar is cold, which is why our sweet dishes like Nan e Berenji use rose-water. Yoghurt is cold which is why we add mint!  Lamb and chicken kebab with rice …. Get the idea! It’s about creating a balance, or making what we eat neutral.

There are times when we need to eat ‘hot’ or ‘cold’ food like when we have colds and illness.  I’ll save that for another post.

WHAT’S HOT

  • All herbs except coriander
  • All spices except sumac
  • Chicken and lamb
  • Dairy is generally cold, except goats cheese which is neutral, Kashk which is hot and ghee.
  • Eggs
  • Most nuts
  • Vinegar
  • Wheat flour
  • chick peas, yellow split peas.
  • Honey

WHATS COLD

  • Most vegetables except: carrots, radish, okra, onions, garlic, red and green peppers,
  • Most fruit except apples, dates, quince.
  • Fish
  • Coffee
  • sugar
  • Rice
  • Barley
  • kidney beans, lentils

WHAT’S NUETRAL

  • Pears
  • Tea
  • Goats cheese

Love life, eat well and cook Persian!

The healing properties of Zarchoobe or Turmeric

Turmeric  is such an  under valued spice. We use it everyday in Persian cooking but forget all the magical healing qualities of this wonderful spice. It has a rich and vibrant colour and smells great but beyond that there are numerous health benefits.

Turmeric comes from the ginger family of plants. It’s often known as ‘poor man’s saffron’ because it’s less expensive than zafaran. It has a slightly earthy, bitter mustardy taste. The root is cultivated, dried  and then powdered and that is what we end with in our supermarkets.

Here are just some of the healing benefits to gained from Turmeric:

1. It is a natural antiseptic and antibacterial agent, useful in disinfecting cuts and burns.

2. When combined with cauliflower, it has shown to prevent prostate cancer and stop the growth of existing prostate cancer.

3. Thought to be helpful in preventing lung cancer

4. May prevent melanoma and cause existing melanoma cells to die

5. Reduces the risk of childhood leukemia.

6. Is a natural liver detoxifier.

7. Thought to be helpful in the  prevention  of Alzheimer’s disease .

8. Thought tobe helpful in the  prevention of many different forms of cancer.

9. It is a natural anti-inflammatory that works as well as many anti-inflammatory drugs but without the side effects.

10. Has been helpful in slowing the progression of multiple sclerosis

11. Is a natural painkiller.

12. May aid in fat metabolism and help in weight management.

13. Has long been used in Chinese medicine as a treatment for depression.

14. Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, it is a natural treatment for arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

18. Has been shown to stop the growth of new blood vessels in tumors.

19. Speeds up wound healing

20. May help in the treatment of psoriasis eczema and other  skin conditions.

And here are a few quirky facts about turmeric that I came across! Bet you didn’t know these:

  • A spoonful of turmeric added to the water in water-cooled radiators will stop leaks.
  • Use turmeric to get rid of ants in your garden…. It might leave the garden a nice colour too!
  • Turmeric paste is a home remedy for sunburn and it is also an ingredient in many commercial sunscreens.

Sabzi ingredients for Persian recipes

In this post you will find a list of all the sabzi or Persian herbs (in farsi and english) you will need for each dish. You will find the recipes for these dishes in the ‘recipe’ section.

The sabzi should all be stemmed and roughly chopped. Use fresh herbs when possible but it’s fine to use a mixture of both fresh and dried sabzi. Always use the same measure of each unless otherwise stated. Herbs can bought fresh when in season, be prepared and then frozen for use later.

For more information about the different herbs used in Persian cooking follow this link

Khoresht e Ghormeh Sabzi

  • 1 bunch of spinach or esfenaj
  • 1 bunch of coriander or gheshniz
  • 1 bunch of dill or shivid
  • 1 bunch of parsley or jafari
  • 1 bunch of fennugreek or shanbalileh
  • 1 bunch of leek chives or tareh

Sabzi Polou:

  • 1 bunch of leek chives or tareh
  • 1 bunch of dill weed or shivid

Khoresht e Karafs:

  • 1 bunch of mint or nanar
  • 1 bunch of parsley or jafari

Aash e Reshte:

  • 1 bunch of  parsley or jafari
  • 1 bunch of spinach or esfenaj
  • 1 bunch of corriander or gheshniz
  • 1 bunch of leek chives or tareh
  • 1 bunch of dill weed or shivid

Sabzi Kukoo:

  • 1 cup of sweet basil or reyhan
  • 1 cup of parsley or jafari
  • 1 cup of leek chives or tareh
  • 1 cup of dill weed or shivid
  • 1 cup of corriander or gheshniz
  • 2 cups of spinach or esfenaj

Mast o Khiar or Persian Yoghurt Dip

Mast o Khiar is much like the well known Greek dish Tzatziki although made using slightly different ingredients  and is used as an accompliment to meals in the same way. It’s also a great dip for the buffet table, with drinks and a lovely appetizer when served with naan or flat bread.

Serves 3.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 a cucumber
  • 3  cups of slightly sour low fat plain yoghurt
  • 2 desert spoons of dried mint
  • a dash of lime juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • As sprig of fresh mint, walnuts, or slices of radish  to decorate

Preparation:

  • Chop the cucumber into small pieces or grate

Method:

  1. Combine the yoghurt, cucumber and mint and mix well.
  2. Add salt and pepper to taste and I add a dash of lime juice but this is personal taste.
  3. Pour into a serving dish and chill
  4. Decorate before serving.

Serve with naan or flat bread.

Sabzi (Persian herbs). Everything you want to know

Sabzi is one of the great characteristics of Persian cuisine. It refers to the leafy part part of the herb and is used both in Khoreshts for flavour and bulk and in sabzi khordan as an accompliment to meals. Some herbs are easy to grow yourself such as mint, and coriander and there’s nothing more satisfying than picking  herbs fresh from your own garden. However I haven’t had much luck with tarragon here in the UK. Sabzi is always best fresh but this isn’t always possible and it’s difficult to produce enough to meet all your needs. A great alternative is sabzi khoshk or dried herbs and most of these are easily sourced and  available in nearly all supermarkets. When using dried herbs its advisable to soak the herbs before use to ensure  maximum flavour. You can buy almost all the dried herbs you need for each dish you want to make from an Iranian Grocery store. If you want to make a persian omelette for example, look for Sabzi Kukoo.

For a list of the herbs you need for Persian recipes follow this link

Main Herbs

Parsely or jafari You may know that parsley is native to Mediterranean land and has been used by the ancient Greek and Romans. What you may not know is that Persians have cultivated and used parsley in a wide variety of dishes for thousands of years. Parsley is part of many herb mixes of Persian cooking such as Sabzi polow, Ghormeh sabzi, Aash, Karafs and Kuku herb mixes.

Dill weed or shivid is extremely aromatic and is mainly used for food seasoning in many countries around the world. Persians, however, have used dill weed in a unique way in rice dishes such as shevid polou  (Dill and rice mix) and Baghali  polou (broad beans and rice). It is also mixed with other herbs as part of preparing other delightful meals like sabzi polou (a rice dish), khoreshte karafs  (a stew) and kuku e sabzi  (vegetable omlette).

Coriander or Gheshniz. Corriander is native to Iran and easily found in any supermarket across the globe. It’s also easy to grow here in the UK. It has a distinctive musky smell and is used  in salads, and for  Ghishniz polou and kuku. No persian kitchen would be without it is some form, either fresh or dried.

Fenugreek or shanbalileh is one of the world’s oldest and widely used medicinal herbs. It has a variety of attributes and is used for increasing libido in men and as an aphrodisiac generally. The seeds have to be ground and can be used to make tea, for fevers,  to reduce menstrual pain and treat skin infection.  The leaf of the fenugreek is high in iron and helps with respiratory and sinus problems. In persian cooking it’s used in Aash ( soup) and in khoreshts such as ghormeeh sabzi.

Tarragon or tarhoon is again heralded for having many health benefits. Its used for the relief of stomach cramps, toothache, menstrual pain and as a cure for bile and high blood pressure. It’s a vital herb in the Persian diet, used on its own or with pickles torshi and in khoreshts. It has a peppery aniseed taste and is grown easily in Iran although I haven’t had much success growing this myself.

Mint or nanar is another vital. This is very easily grown yourself and spreads rapidly so once you start to grow it, you shouldn’t ever have a problem with quantity again. Used in a variety of dishes from must o khiar a yoghurt and cucumber side dish to chai tea. Its eaten with meals on its own, mixed into salads, and as one of the many herbs needed in khoreshts. You can also buy ab nanah  or mint water. I always keep a bottle at hand as its great for stomach ailments and indigestion. I have found it really useful if by some accident I have eaten something glutenous…. it helps relieve the cramps.

Sweet Basil or reyhan is widely grown all over the world and a favoured herb of the Italians. However was originally native to Iran and was grown there over 5,000 years ago. It has a sweet pungent taste, is easily grown at home on your kitchen window sill or in the green house during colder months and in your garden during the summer. It can be frozen and kept for several months. Health benefits are numerous: asthma and diabetes and as an antiviral to name a few. Sweet basil is a great compliment to all the peppery herbs in sabzi khordan and is widely used in many recipes.

Cress or shahi in contrast to basil has a peppery taste. High in iron, calcium and folic acid its a great immune booster as well as a stimulant, a diuretic and good for the digestion. In the east it’s often marketed as a sexual stimulant for men .. I can’t verify that! On the minus side, it is known to cause cystitis in some women because of its strong alkaline properties. Cress  is fairly widely used in persian cooking for its strong flavour. It makes a great addition to sabzi khordan and can be easily grown at home in pots or in your garden. If you buy  cress, please ensure you wash it thoroughly as commercial growers use animal waste to promote its quick growth.

Leek chives or tareh are from the onion family and have a distinct onion garlicy taste. It’s the green hollow stems that are used both in cooking and for sabzi khordan. Leek chives are so easy to grow at home. Once planted they are prolific and will sprout up all over your garden.  They require very little attention and can be chopped and frozen to see you through the winter months for cooking with.  Health wise they are very similar to garlic but less strong and are thought to be good for the circulation.

Radish or torabeh is a wonderfully colourful addition to sabzi khordan and Salad Olivieh. The skin is bright pink in colour and white inside and it really compliments the range of green herbs both in appearance and texture. The texture is moist and crunchy amidst all the softness of the herbs. Radishes are easily available from your supermarket all year-round. The radish is a root vegetable, easily grown in your garden during the summer months. There are a huge variety to choose from. Persian radishes are also easily grown here in the UK. They are slightly more peppery than european radishes. The only problem I’ve had growing my own is a lack of consistent sunlight, hence the end result is a little smaller than I would expect to have found in Iran. Medicinal benefits include protection against coughs and colds and general infections and as a cure for constipation.

Shallots or musi are from the onion or piaz family and available in most suppermarkets globally. Slightly sweeter,  firmer and harder than an onion shallots are  smaller in size.  shallots are a natural inhabitant of Iran and generally favoured above the onion because of their whiteness and strong taste. They are so hard that they often need to be soaked before the can be used. They are usually eaten with kebab and used to make ma’ast musir.

Sabzi Khordan

Sabzi khordan literally means ‘ eating greens’ and refers to a collection of herbs and vegetables that are traditionally served with lunch and dinner. Sabzi khordan is usually made up from the herbs above but it can be whatever you want it to be, what ever is available to you and seasonal.

To go with the herbs it would be traditional to add walnuts or gerdu and feta cheese or panir. The walnuts are usually soaked in water before serving to soften them.

If you are having a dinner party and want to prepare your sabzi khordan dish before hand, you can cover the herbs with a damp paper towel and add the walnuts and feta immediately before serving.

Sabzi khordan offers a light and refreshing side dish to main meals and is rich in nutrients and vitamins. It’s also a colourful addition to your table with the greens and pink radishes.

Iranian restaurants often feature ‘sabzi khordan’ as a starter ( grr… a personal irritation)