Shirin Polou or Jewelled Rice

I thought I’d  have a go and make something new for our family Easter meal and settled on ‘Shirin Polou’ as it looks so delicious in all the pictures I see . The other thinking behind this choice was that it’s full of fruit and nuts and somehow captures the taste of summer, which is a great thought and something to look forward to!

I once  had Shirin Polou back in Iran…. a long time ago but I’ve never made it myself. So it was a little bit of trial and error and learning as I went along. My only error was not to make enough liquid saffron but the recipe below should be fine. In the end it turned out well…. according to my resident expert!

~~SHIRIN POLOU OR JEWELLED RICE~~

~Ingredients~

  • 1 cup of basmati rice per person + 1 extra
  • 1 cup of raisins
  • 1 cup of orange peel
  • 1 cup of thinly sliced carrots
  • 1 cup of sliced almonds and pistachio nuts
  • 1 cup of barberries
  • 3/4  teaspoon of ground saffron
  • salt to taste
  • 1 thinly sliced potato for the taadig
  • 1 teaspoon of advieh
  • 1 tablespoon of butter or ghee

~Preparation~

  • Cut the peel from the orange and slice into small slithers
  • Slice the carrots into thin small slithers
  • Soak the barberries, rinse and drain
  • Roughly chop the pistachio nuts into medium-sized pieces.
  • Grind the saffron with a pinch of sugar in a pestle and mortar, add to 1 medium cup of boiling water, cover and leave to stand.

~Method~

  1. Thoroughly rinse and then pre soak the rice for at least 2 hours
  2. Boil up a large pan of water add a teaspoon or two of salt according to your own taste.
  3. Add the rice and allow to simmer until the rice has grown and is soft to bite.
  4. Drain and rinse and then put to one side.
  5. Meanwhile, place the orange peel in a pan, cover with water and bring to the boil. Simmer for about a minute then drain. This is to remove the
  6. Combine the orange peel, carrots, raisins, 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of water. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 10 mins. Drain and put to one side.
  7. In a large pan add 4 tablespoons of  vegetable oil and heat.
  8. Add a few drops of saffron and if you want to make a good taadig, add some thin slices of potatoes.
  9. Add a layer of rice, then a layer of the carrots, orange peel and raisins.
  10. Continue to alternate the layers as above, ending with a rice layer.
  11. Add a teaspoon of advieh, a tablespoon of ghee or butter, cover with a padded lid and cook on a low heat for about 50 mins.
  12. 5 minutes before your ready to serve take the sliced almonds, pistachio nuts and barberries and cook in a pan over a low heat for a minute or two. Add the saffron liquid and allow to simmer for a few minutes.
  13. Place half of the nuts, barberries and saffron onto the rice and gently begin to spoon onto your serving dish. When you reach the bottom of the pan, remove the taadig and place around the rice or serve separately.
  14. Finally take the remaining nuts, barberries and saffron and place on top of the rice.

Serve with any poultry, chicken, turkey or duck and salad.

Shirin Polou is usually served at a celebration of some kind.

Nooshi joonet. Enjoy ….. we did!

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Lubia Polou or Persian Rice with Green Beans

Lubia Polou is a complete meal in itself with the tangy taste of limes and the sweetness of cinnamon. Completely gluten-free and a great meal for kids. You can make it with lamb or minced lamb or beef, which ever you prefer but this recipe uses minced beef. Simply replace with the meat of your choice.

Lubia Polou is ideal for lunch or dinner and is a balanced ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ dish.  I wish I could capture the smell in my kitchen right now, package it up and sell it!

~~LUBIA POLOU~~


~Ingredients~

  • 400 gr’s minced beef ( or small cubes of lamb or minced lamb)
  • 4 Cups of basmati rice
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic chopped
  • 1 packet of fresh green beans ( you can used tinned or frozen ) cut into inch length
  • 1 tin of tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon of advieh
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of ground lime powder or 2 tablespoons of lime juice.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  • 1 small cup of liquid saffron
  • A little vegetable oil

~To make the taadig~

  • 4 good tablespoons of natural yoghurt
  • 1 teaspoon of saffron liquid
  • 4 tablespoons of vegetable oil

~Method~

  1. Thoroughly wash and re soak the rice in salted water for at least 2 hours beforehand.
  2. Rinse and leave to drain.
  3. Put a little oil in a fry pan and begin to brown the onion.
  4. When becoming a little golden, add the mince and garlic, salt and pepper and continue to fry until brown.
  5. Add the green beans, tomatoes, cinnamon, 3/4 spoon of advieh, lime powder and a cup of water. Mix well.
  6. Bring to the boil, cover and turn down the heat. Allow to simmer for about 30 mins or until the green beans are soft. You may need to add a little more water depending upon your heat setting.
  7. Meanwhile boil up a large pan of water and add 1-2 teaspoons of salt according to your taste.
  8. When boiling, add the rice and leave to bubble away for a few minutes until the rice has expanded and is soft to bite.
  9. Remove from the heat, drain and rinse in tepid water. Put the side to continue draining.
  10. Now prepare to make the taadig and bring it all together ~  Your meat should be almost cooked. Your rice is standing by!
  11. Take 4 tablespoons of yoghurt and add  1/2 teaspoon of liquid saffron and 3 tablespoons of rice. Mix well.
  12. In a large pan, add 4 tablespoons of vegetable oil and heat.
  13. Add the rice and yoghurt mix. It should sizzle a little.
  14. Add a layer of rice,  then a layer of meat and finally another layer of rice.
  15. Sprinkle the last of the advieh, a touch of cinnamon and either a little butter or ghee.
  16. Cover with a padded lid ( a lid securely wrapped in a tea towel) this finishes the cooking process and prevents condensation from dripping back onto the rice.
  17. About 1/2 hour before serving pour on remaining the liquid saffron, cover and leave to cook on a low heat for about 40 mins.
  18. Spoon  the rice onto your serving dish, and serve the taadig on a separate dish.

Serve with a fresh salad, a dish of sabzi khordan and naan or flat bread like pitta.

~Nooshi Joonet~ Love life, eat well and cook Persian~

Halim e Budemjan

Following in the theme for the week here’s a quick and easily produced meal for when your hungry and in a  bit of a hurry.  It takes no more than an hour  from start to finish, it’s filling, and very, very delicious. The recipe below is for two just multiply the ingredients as needed.

HALIM E BUDEMJAN


Ingredients:

  • 400 gr’s minced meat ( either lamb or beef)
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 2 medium aubergines
  • 1 cup of kashk
  • 1 teaspoon of advieh
  • 1 cup of lentils ( cooked)
  • 1 teaspoon of turmeric
  • salt and pepper to taste.
  • Oil

For the garnish:

  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic sliced
  • 3 tablespoons of dried mint
  • 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric
  • 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts ( optional)

Method:

  1. Bake the aubergine in the oven until soft. This usually takes 45 mins on 20
  2. Peel the aubergine, mash and put to one side.
  3. Fry the meat until brown, and salt, pepper, saffron, lentils, 3 cups of water and allow to reduce.
  4. Add the aubergine and cook for another 5 minutes.
  5. Then add  1/2 cup of kashk ( you can use kashk straight from the freezer and I freeze it in 1 cup quantities).
  6. Finally add the advieh, stir in well.
  7. Allow to simmer for a few minutes and then put to one side.

4. Add 1/2 cup of hot water to the remaining kashk, bring to the boil and then place to one side.

Now make the garnish

  1. Heat the olive oil in a pan and add the garlic. Be careful not to over fry it as you want it brown and crispy but not burnt.
  2. Add the turmeric and dried mint, stir well, remove from the heat and put to one side.

Bringing it all together

  • Place the meat mixture into a serving dish.
  • Pour on a little of the liquid kashk ( you need to keep some in reserve to serve with the meal)
  • Then decorate with the garlic and mint garnish by spooning it on

  • Use the remaining oil from the pan you fried the garnish in to spoon over the top and add walnuts if you wish.

Serve with a small bowl of the liquid kashk, a fresh green salad, naan or pitta bread.

Nooshi joonet ~ Enjoy

Advieh Spices used in Persian Cooking

If you ask anyone who has never eaten Persian food before they always imagine  that it’s  heavily spiced, a lot like Indian food! And then they’re always surprised to learn it isn’t!

Persian cooking  is made with a delicate balance of sweet and sour, hot and cold and the flavours are subtle and memorable. Quite unlike most other middle eastern food, Persian cuisine has a flavour all of its own. Often we take a recipe and ‘Persianise’ it, like Spaghetti ! We add what we think it lacks to create a better balance, or a taste that we prefer.

The ingredients of Persian food are largely the same ingredients that food all over the world is made from  and yet when we  add spice to a recipe,  it literally transforms it.  In Persian cooking we use fruits, herbs, flowers and ground roots to create a delicate aroma and a rich flavour. Each spice has a purpose and is helpful in maintaining a healthy mind, body and soul.

Here I’ve put together a list of the spices used in Persian cooking. Food is always created with the intention of making  a hot or cold meal and we use spices to help create healthy and delicious food.

ADVIEH

  • Persian advieh is a blend of 5  or more different spices.  Although similar to Gharam Masala, the emphasise is less on a  hot flavour. Advieh can be bought from Iranian (and Indian)  grocery stores already made up but it’s great to make it yourself to your own individual taste.  There are different blends of Advieh depending on what you’re cooking, where you come from in Iran and personal taste . There’s one for rice dishes, which tends to be more fragrant and is sprinkled on the rice just before serving,  another for khoreshts, which would usually include limu amani and zaafaran  and another for pickles which would consist of spicy and sour flavours.  The first five on the list are the usual spices used but if you want a spicier flavour add black pepper and cloves. Anything goes really ! For an Advieh basic recipe  use equal parts of the following, try using one teaspoon to start with.
  • Cardamom seeds
  • Coriander seeds
  • Cumin
  • Cinnamon
  • Dried rose petals
  • Star of Anise
  • Nutmeg
  • Limu amani
  • Angelica
  • Black pepper
  • Turmeric
  • Ginger
  • Cloves
  • sesame seeds
  • Zaafaran
  • Pistachio

Simply take your spices of choice, grind with a pestle and mortar and store in an airtight container in a cool dark cupboard.

kotlets or Persian meat Patties

Kotlet are similar to meat patties. Kotlet are not hard to make they are only time consuming, and messy to  prepare  but  so well worth the effort.  If you have a food mixer whiz the ingredients, but they are equally as well made mixing by hand.  Only the consistency will be slightly different. I personally prefer them mixed by hand.

I usually make a large batch and freeze some as they come in handy when you need something to eat quickly. Kotlets are delicious hot or cold and make a perfect buffet or picnic dish. Everyone loves them, especially kids. They are completely gluten free using this recipe. If you want to replace the flour with bread crumbs use a gluten free bread crumb.

If you follow this recipe you will manage to make around 24 kotlets.

Ingredients:

  • 500 gm’s minced beef or lamb
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon of turmeric
  • 500 gm’s of potatoes ( approx)
  • 1/2 teaspoon advieh (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • a little oil
  • a bowl of gram flour or nokhod chi ( for gluten-free) or use wheat flour or bread crumbs

Preparation:

  • Peel, cook and mash the potatoes
  • Finely chop the onion I usually whiz these.
  • Beat the eggs
  • You will need a large frying pan
  • a bowl of water to rinse your hands
  • some greaseproof paper if you are going to freeze some

Hot tips:

  • When you add the eggs the mix will become quite sloppy but don’t worry about that. They will bind better in the cooking process and are more likely to retain their oval shape and remain whole.
  • Try not to handle them too much and once they are cooking in the pan, only turn once to cook each side. It’s tempting to keep looking but try to refrain yourself!
  • Cook one to start with and be sure you’re happy with the taste. You may want to add more salt or  turmeric.

Method:

  1. Take the meat and add the turmeric, advieh, salt and pepper and mix well
  2. Add the beaten eggs and mix well
  3. Add the mashed potato and mix well until all the ingredients have combined well
  4. Take some gram flour or nokhod chi to cover a  kitchen work surface or chopping board
  5. Place a little oil in a large frying pan and heat
  6. Take a small handful (or a desert spoon worth) of the mixture and cover in your flour of choice. Mould into a Pattie shape, usually oval and flat. Dont make it too thick or you will need to increase the cooking time. You will need to rinse your hands in the bowl of water from time to time as your hands will become sticky.
  7. Cook the kotlet in the frying pan with a little oil on a medium heat until golden. You can cook several at a time but remember to turn each one over once. It usually takes around 4-5   minutes each side.
  8. When golden remove from the heat onto a dish lined with kitchen paper to cool and absorb any excess oil.
  9. If you want to freeze some of the kotlet, when cool place a layer of greaseproof paper between each kotlet before you stack them and place them in the freezer.

Kotlet can be served hot or cold with Sabzi Polou, Mast o Khiar, Salad Shirazi, Salad Olivieh, Mast o Musir, Sabzi Khordan or in some naan or bread as a sandwich.

Nooshi joonet. Enjoy