~HOW TO MAKE LIQUID SAFFRON~
liquified saffron is essential to Persian cooking. You will use it in rice dishes, Khoresht and for deserts and even in your chai. It gives Persian food its unique and subtle flavour and sets it apart. I always keep my saffron in an airtight container in a dark cupboard to ensure its rich yellow colour and to avoid it loosing any of its strength of flavour. saffron is very expensive to buy so you want to take care of it. I personally only buy Persian saffron because I know its good quality and I’ll get the results and taste I want. Spanish saffron is widely available in the UK and I buy this only if I run out ( which almost never happens ).
- Take a really good pinch or of saffron and place it in a pestle and mortar, add a tiny pinch of sugar or salt ( use which ever will suit your recipe) and grind. I use a pestle and mortar but many people use small food processor and powder up bulk batches of saffron strands at a time .
- Place the ground or powdery saffron in cup and add a little boiling water and stir and then cover and allow to infuse for at least 30 minutes. The longer you leave it, the richer the color.
Once you’ve made liquid saffron you can keep it in the fridge for about 2-3 days, but remember to cover it with cling film or keep in an air tight container!
Fact: Saffron is said to help ward off mild depressive thinking. I dont know how true this is but just the colour alone makes you think of sunshine and that makes me smile 🙂
PUMPKIN AND SWEET POTATOE SOUP
There’s nothing more satisfying than a bowl of soup on these cold wintery days. Pumpkins are seasonal so we have to make good use of them while we can!! Today I wanted to experiment a little and thought I spice up my usual pumpkin soup recipe and persianise it! So here it is. It’s very easy to make. There are no hard and fast rules about ingredients or measurements of, it’s very relaxed and delicious. Hope you enjoy.
~ INGREDIENTS ~
- 1/2 pumpkin seeded and cubed.
- 1 Large onion diced
- 2 Sweet potatoes peeled and chopped.
- 3-4 Garlic cloves diced.
- 1 Red pepper seeded.
- 1/2 cup of liquid saffron.
- 1/2 stock ( I used chicken stock but what ever you have is good)
- salt and pepper to taste.
- 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon of advieh
- 1 dried lime.
- Place the oven on about 200 degrees. Brush the peppers with a little olive oil and bake until the skin begins to blacken. Remove from the oven and place the peppers in a plastic bag. Put aside to cool.
- Using a little oil, fry the onions and garlic until it begins to turn golden.
- Add the cubed pumpkin and sweet potatoe, salt, pepper, turmeric, the saffron, chicken stock and the dried lime. If you haven’t got dried limes, use lime juice or powdered lime.
- Pour enough hot water on to cover the vegetables and leave to simmer until the veg is soft, usually around 20 mins.
- Go back to your peppers and peel the skin off.
- If you want smooth soup, blend everything together. If you like your soup lumpy just chop the red pepper flesh as small as possible and add.
Hey presto ….. a delicious sweet and sour soup, warming and thoroughly nutritious. Garnish with chopped corriander. Just what you need on a damp winters day. Eat now, serve for supper or take it for lunch the next day. BTW it freezes well too.
~Nooshi joonet ~
I just love persian ‘Dolmeh’ and the recipe is well overdue here on my Persian food blog. So here it is, inspired by my dear friend Haroot far away in Tehran and I just wish he was here to enjoy it with me!
This is the basic recipe to use with peppers, aubergine, tomatoes or large onions and will serve approx 2-3 servings. It takes around an hour to prepare and 2 hours to cook.
- 2 peppers
- 2 aubergines
- 2 tomatoes
- 1 courgette
- 1/2 cup rice ( I used Thai but any is good)
- 1/3 cup of split yellow peas.
- 1 lb of minced beef
- 1 large onion chopped
- 1 cup of chopped parsley ( jafari )
- 1/2 chopped chives (tareh)
- 1 cup of chopped mint (nanar )
- 1 cup of chopped tarragon (tarhoon )
- 1 cup of chopped dill (shivid)
- 1/2 teaspoon of saffron dissolved in 1/2 cup of hot water
- 2 tablespoons of tomatoe paste
- 3/4 spoon of advieh
- 1 cup of tomatoe juice
- 1/2 cup of ghooreh or lime juice
- 3/4 cup of sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
- salt and pepper
- olive oil
Method ~First preparation!
- Clean all your vegetables and herbs
- Remove the tops of the peppers and de seed, remove the top of the tomatoes and the aubergine (put to one side~ keep the tops of the veg as you will need them for a lid later!). Scoop out all the flesh from the veg and keep for later use.
- Peel and chop the courgette and chop the tomatoe and aubergine place in a pan and fry in olive oil until golden then put to one side.
- Blanche the peppers in boiling water for 5 mins and brown the aubergine off in a frying pan. The tomatoes can be used as they are.
- Wash the rice and split yellow peas and cook together in boiling water for approx 15 mins. If you are using a different rice, adjust your cooking time accordingly. The rice should be al-dente.
- Brown off the minced beef and onion, adding the tomatoe paste at the end. Stir in.
- Chop all your herbs. If you’re using dried herbs, soak first.
- Take a large bowl and begin to combine all the ingredients: Add the herbs to the rice stirring in gently. Then add the cooked vegetables you put to one side earlier . Add the meat and onions, a teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper and the advieh. Mix in very gently and by this time you will be pretty exhausted so take a break with a cup of tea and leave to stand for 10 minutes. First put the oven on at about 180 degrees.
- Now you feel refreshed begin by stuffing the peppers, pressing the mix into the pepper gently with the back of the spoon. Place in an oven proof dish. and place in your pre heated oven. The peppers are going into the oven first as they take longer. The other dolmeh will be added in a while .
- Now prepare the sauce: Take the tomatoe juice ( or whizz a can of plum tomatoes), add the ghooreh or lime juice, 1 teaspoon of salt, the saffron water, the sugar and cinnamon and 2 tablespoons of oil and bring to the boil. Allow to simmer for a few minutes.
- Add the sauce to the oven proof dish with the peppers after about an hour and place in the other dolmeh. Continue cooking for approx another hour.
The vegetables should be tender before you remove the dolmeh to serve and test the sauce as you may want to add more salt according to you own taste.
Serve with flat bread and natural yoghurt. Nooshi joonet 🙂
Koofteh or persian meatballs will vary depending where you are in Iran. I haven’t made koofteh for years and had almost forgotten how to make them and how they tasted.
It was such a wet and miserable summer afternoon here in the UK yesterday and in a creative mood, I thought I would cook something to warm us up. So this is my version on a theme. This recipe is my own as it doesn’t strictly follow any of the other recipes I have and it doesn’t have a name as such… any ideas will be gratefully received 🙂
- 350 gr’s of mince lamb or beef.
- 2 onions finely grated
- 3 garlic cloves finely chopped
- 1 cup of yellow split peas
- 1 and 1/2 cup of herbs fresh or dried ( equal parts of parsley, tarragon, chives and coriander) You can really use any herbs but DO use tarragon. If you’re using dried herbs, soak for 20 mins.
- 1 heaped tsp of advieh
- 1 tsp of turmeric
- salt to taste
- a generous grind of the pepper mill
- 1 small egg beaten
* Variations~ Add cooked rice to the meat balls or dates and add zereshk to the sauce.
For the sauce~
- 1 chopped onion
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1/2 tsp of turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon of saffron and add 1 cup water
- 1 cup of chopped tomatoes
- 1 tbsp of lime juice.
- 1/2 cup of remaining herbs
- Cook the split yellow peas for about 20 mins, removing the scum that forms on the top. Drain but retain the water and put to one side.
- If you’re using dried herbs, soak in warm water for about 20-30 mins. Then squeeze out the water and place the herbs to one side.
- Finely chop the onions and garlic. For adding to the meat I usually whizz them up.
- Add the onions and garlic to your minced meat, with turmeric, advieh, salt and pepper
- Now thoroughly mix these together. I use a potato masher as it easier than trying to stir the ingredients together.
- Add the 2/3 of the split yellow peas and 1 cup of the herbs and gently turn over with a wooden spoon.
- Finally add enough of the beaten egg to bind the whole mixture together.
- Put a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a frying pan and heat.
- Taking a handful, roll into balls and coat in seasoned flour ( I use a wheat free flour but you can use wheat flour). You can make the meat balls any size you prefer I like mine about the size of a ping pong ball.
- Place the meat balls into the pan and cook until golden.
- Once golden, remove from the pan and leave on kitchen towel to soak off excess oil.
For the sauce ~
- Cook the onions and garlic in a little vegetable oil until golden.
- Add 1/2 tsp of turmeric, salt and pepper and 1 tsp of advieh.
- Taste the sauce and make any adjustments you want to make.
- Add the split pea water retained earlier
- Add the liquid saffron, the rest of the herbs and split yellow peas and then finally add the meat balls in gently.
- Cover and leave to simmer on a low heat for about 30-40 mins.
Serve with rice or bread, natural yoghurt and a dish of herbs.
Nooshi joonet ~ enjoy
~Khask e Budemjun~
- 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
- 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.
- In a little oil gently fry the mint until dark, drain and place to one side.
- Fry the chopped onions until golden and place to one side.
- Fry the chopped garlic until golden and place to one side.
- Fry the aubergine until golden.
- Add the onion and garlic, sprinkle on the salt, pepper, sugar and some of the mint leaving enough to garnish before serving.
- Add one small cup of water, enough to almost cover the aubergines.
- And finally gently pour on the saffron liquid.
- Leave on a low heat to cook for about 30 mins or until the aubergines are cooked.
- Use a masher and mash
- Transfer to a serving dish and pour on the whey. This can then be kept warm in an oven until ready to serve.
- 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.
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!
The sun is shinning and my thoughts turn to sharbat e ablimu, such a refreshing drink for hot weather such as we are enjoying ( for a change) here in the UK. It couldn’t be easier to make and by making the concentrate or syrup instead of following the traditional recipes for lemonade, you will have enough to last for a week.
~~SHAHBAT E ABLIMU~~ LIME ONADE ~~
- 10 cups of sugar ( ochhh not for those watching their weight )
- 4 cups of water
- The juice of 20 fresh limes or lemons
- Squeeze the limes by first rolling them on a hard surface with your hands, then extract the juice in the normal way … engage someone with strong hands! It gets tiring.
- Place the sugar and water in a pan and bring to the boil.
- Add the fresh lime juice passing it through a strainer into the sugary water
- Allow to simmer for about 10 minutes. it should have become a thicker syrupy mixture.
- Allow to cool
- Store in a clean bottle with a lid and keep in the fridge.
To make the sharbat:
- In a jug, add 1 cup of syrup to 3/4 pint of water and mix well. You may want it stronger so just increase the amount of syrup.
- Add a few ice cubes and decorate with a sprig of mint and sliced limes 🙂
~Nooshi joonet ~
I really love to eat dolmeh, any dolmeh and the great thing is, you can use almost any vegetable for dolmeh. Dolmeh y Kalam is a recipe I learnt from sister-in-law who is from the north west of Iran and so this recipe is probably a regional variation. You can substitute the cabbage leaves for aubergine, potatoe, peppers, onions and leave out the meat if you want to make it vegetarian. There are specific differences in the herbs you use but this is the basic method and recipe for dolmeh in general.
This is not a recipe for those who are new to Persian cooking as it’s quite fiddly and time consuming. All in all you probably need to set about 3 hours aside, at least an hour is needed for the preparation alone.
~~DOLMEH Y KALAM~~
- 1 large white cabbage
- 1/2 lb minced beef or lamb
- 1 large onion
- 1/4 cup split yellow peas
- 1 cup of basmati rice
- 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon of ground cummin
- a good handful of flat leaved parsley
- a good handful of tarragon
- a good handful of dill
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1/2 teaspoon of pepper
- Core the cabbage and place in a large pan of boiling water. After a few minutes you will start to see the leaves of the cabbage falling away. Help ease them off being careful not to damage or tear the leaves or burn your self.
- Allow the leaves to sit in the simmering water for about 5 mins or so until the stalky bit has began to soften.
- When soft, remove from the water and put to one side to cool.
- Cook the split yellow peas in 2 cups of salted water until soft. Drain and put to one side.
- Cook the rice in salted water until soft to bite, drain and put to one side.
- Chop the onion and cook in a tablespoon of oil, add the meat and brown off.
- Add about 2 tablespoons of tomato paste and stir in. Remove from the heat.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the rice, meat and split yellow peas and stir gently.
- Add the cinnamon, cummin and salt and pepper and stir.
- Add 2 tablespoons of oil to a heavy bottomed non stick pan ( one with a lid) and heat. Take a few of the cabbage leaves ( I usually use any that have been damaged or the really small ones as they are difficult to stuff) and place at the bottom of the pan. This prevents the dolmeh from burning.
- Take a desert spoon of the meat and rice mixture and place at the stalky end of the cabbage leaf. Gently begin to roll the leaf, being careful to tuck the sides in as tightly as possible so that none of the mix will escape during the cooking process. This is quite difficult at first and it will probably take you a few times to get the hang of it. Don’t try to put too much meat mix in the leaf or you will have difficulty in rolling it.
- Arrange these in the pan layering them on top of each other.
- Add 1 cup of water and two tablespoons of lime juice, a pinch of salt and cover with pan lid. Alternatively you can cook them in the oven at about 200 oc. Some people like to cook this is tomato juice and to add a little sugar.
- Now leave to cook on a low heat for about 1 – 1 1/2 hours, checking periodically and basting with the juices.
- When cooked, gently remove from the pan and place on a serving dish.
Serve with salad, and natural yoghurt.
~Nooshi joonet ~