~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 ~
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
Protein packed and full of healthy fresh green herbs and nothing could be easier than making kookoo. Kookoo makes a great lunch or light supper or even something to take out with you on a picnic as it can be eaten hot or cold and both are equally delicious. Kookoo can be made in less than 30 mins and cooked either in the oven or in a pan on the cooker, which ever you prefer.
- 6 eggs
- 1 teaspoon of advieh
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- pepper to taste
- 1 teaspoon of baking powder
- 1 cup of coriander ( if you prefer you can use dried herbs, simply use 1/2 the amount and soak in water first. Remember to squeeze the water from the herbs before you use them)
- 1 cup of parsley
- 1 cup of dill
- a tablespoon of fenugrek
- 1 onion thinly sliced or grated
- 2 cloves of garlic crushed
- 1 tablespoon of flour.
- Take the six eggs and place them in a mixing bowl
- Add the salt, pepper, advieh and baking powder and beat well
- Sift the flour and beat into the mix
- Add the chopped herbs, chopped onion and crushed garlic and mix well.
- If your going to cook in the oven, put it on at about 200.c.
- Add a few tablespoons of oil into a baking dish and put into the oven to warm
- When ready add, add the kookoo mix into the bowl and leave to cook for about 10 mins.
- After 10 mins, add a little more oil if needed and leave to cook for a further 10- 15 mins until set and nicely cooked.
Serve with mast ( natural yoghurt) and a fresh salad.
Chicken is relatively inexpensive at the moment with many of the larger supermarkets offering bargain packs. I usually stock up when they offer these bargain packs and freeze for later use and some how we ended up with a freezer full of chicken!
Chicken is light on the stomach, packed with protein, easy to prepare and cook and great for the bbq! Of all the different ways to use Chicken in Persian cooking , Joojeh kebab is one of my personal favorites.
There are a number of ways to make the marinade. This is my favorite but alternatively you could omit the olive oil and add mast or natural yoghurt. Another variation…some people add a teaspoon or two of turmeric.
- Make sure you marinade the chicken for at least a few hours before. I often leave mine over night.
- It’s important when cooking chicken on the bbq to get the coals good and hot to avoid undercooked meat and food poisoning ! Be sure to leave your coals until they are red, this can take up to 30 mins or more.
- Make sure you thoroughly cook the chicken.
~Ingredients for the marinade~
- Liquid saffron ( use 1/2 teaspoon of saffron, grind and add half a small cup of water)
- Salt and pepper
- 1 onion roughly sliced
- 3 tablespoons of Olive oil
- Roughly chop the onion. Your going to discard it later so don’t worry about it too much.
- Make the liquid saffron
- Cut the chicken into bbq size chunks and flatten.
- Combine all the ingredients and leave to marinade over night for maximum flavour.
- When your ready to bbq, place the chicken onto the skewer and grill each side until golden. Dont forget to baste with the marinade juices.
Serve with saffron rice and a nice fresh green salad.
Nooshi joonet …. Enjoy 🙂
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!
- 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
- Thoroughly wash and re soak the rice in salted water for at least 2 hours beforehand.
- Rinse and leave to drain.
- Put a little oil in a fry pan and begin to brown the onion.
- When becoming a little golden, add the mince and garlic, salt and pepper and continue to fry until brown.
- Add the green beans, tomatoes, cinnamon, 3/4 spoon of advieh, lime powder and a cup of water. Mix well.
- 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.
- Meanwhile boil up a large pan of water and add 1-2 teaspoons of salt according to your taste.
- When boiling, add the rice and leave to bubble away for a few minutes until the rice has expanded and is soft to bite.
- Remove from the heat, drain and rinse in tepid water. Put the side to continue draining.
- Now prepare to make the taadig and bring it all together ~ Your meat should be almost cooked. Your rice is standing by!
- Take 4 tablespoons of yoghurt and add 1/2 teaspoon of liquid saffron and 3 tablespoons of rice. Mix well.
- In a large pan, add 4 tablespoons of vegetable oil and heat.
- Add the rice and yoghurt mix. It should sizzle a little.
- Add a layer of rice, then a layer of meat and finally another layer of rice.
- Sprinkle the last of the advieh, a touch of cinnamon and either a little butter or ghee.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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~
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.
- 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.
- Most nuts
- Wheat flour
- chick peas, yellow split peas.
- Most vegetables except: carrots, radish, okra, onions, garlic, red and green peppers,
- Most fruit except apples, dates, quince.
- kidney beans, lentils
Love life, eat well and cook Persian!