How to make liquid saffron ✾

~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 ).

  1. 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 .
  2. 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 🙂

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Koofteh or Herby Meatballs

~~Koofteh~~

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 🙂

Ingredients~

  • 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

Method~

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Finely chop the onions and garlic. For adding to the meat I usually whizz them up.
  4. Add the onions and garlic  to your minced meat, with turmeric, advieh, salt and pepper
  5. Now thoroughly mix these together. I use a potato masher as it easier than trying to stir the ingredients together.
  6. Add the 2/3 of the split yellow peas and 1 cup of the herbs and gently turn over with a wooden spoon.
  7. Finally add enough of the beaten egg to bind the whole mixture together.
  8. Put a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a frying pan and heat.
  9. 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.
  10. Place the meat balls into the pan and cook until golden.
  11. Once golden, remove from the pan and leave on kitchen towel to soak off  excess oil.

For the sauce ~

  1. Cook the onions and garlic in a little vegetable oil until golden.
  2. Add 1/2 tsp of turmeric, salt and pepper and 1 tsp of advieh.
  3. Taste the sauce and make any adjustments you want to make.
  4. Add the split pea water retained earlier
  5. Add the liquid saffron, the rest of the herbs and split yellow peas and then finally add the meat balls in gently.
  6. 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

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.

Persian Lamb Kebab

Persian Kebabs are well known for being the most delicious kebabs and that’s all down to the marinade. You can use veal, beef , or chicken and this is the recipe for one of two marinades we use. The other marinade uses mast or natural yoghurt rather than zafaran. Both are divine.

Serves 2

Ingredients for the marinade :

  • 500 gr’s Lamb
  • 1/2 teaspoon  of zafaran
  • 2 Onions
  • 1 desert spoon of Lime juice
  • salt and pepper

Method:

  1. Wash, trim and cut  the lamb into large cubes
  2. Place the meat into a bowl
  3. Roughly chop the onion into quarters
  4. Pour on the zafaran and mix it well
  5. Add salt and pepper, lime juice
  6. Leave in the fridge to marinate for at least an hour before grilling
  7. Put the meat onto skewers and grill or BBQ until brown

Serve with zafaran rice and salad or Salad Shirazi, mast or natural yoghurt and sabzi khordan

Nooshi joonet. Enjoy

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.

Aash e Reshte

Aash e Reshte is a warming, nutritious soup and is totally sumptuous. It’s thick and hearty, just what you need in those cold winter months. It’s usually is made with reshte, a persian noodle which can be bought from any Iranian grocery store. Reshte is however made with wheat flour and if  like me you have Coeliacs disease, substitute the reshte for a gluten-free noodle or spaghetti. It works just as well.

Serves 5-6

Ingredients:

  • 400 gr’s of  Reshteh
  • 2 medium  onions
  • 1 bunch of coriander
  • 2 bunches of parsley
  • 2 bunches of spinach
  • 1 bunch of chives
  • 1 bunch of dill
  • 150 gr’s lentils
  • 150  gr’s cannelloni
  • 150  gr’s chick peas
  • 150 gr’s  pinto bean
  • 1 cup Kashk or liquid whey
  • ½ tablespoon turmeric
  • salt and pepper to taste.
  • a dash or two of lime juice ( optional)

and for the garnish

  • 2 tablespoons of fresh or dried mint
  • 2 desert spoons of kashk
  • fried onion

Preparation:

  • Wash all the herbs well, remove the stems and roughly chop
  • chop the onion
  • Use tinned beans or soak the beans in water for at least 2-3 hours before using.

Method:

  1. Fry the onion in a little oil and when golden put about half aside, add the turmeric to the rest with  about 4-5 cups of boiling water
  2. Add the lentils and beans, salt and pepper and cook for about 30 mins, until soft.
  3. Add more water as needed
  4. Add the herbs, stir in and cook for a further 15 -20 minutes
  5. I add a few dashes of lime juice but this is optional
  6. Add the reshte ( or gluten-free alternative) and leave to simmer until cooked
  7. When cooked remove from heat and stir in the kashk saving  a little for the garnish if you wish.
  8. Pour into a serving dish
  9. Meanwhile take your fresh or dried mint and fry it in a little oil until it goes dark and gently spoon onto the top of the aash.

Now you are ready to serve. Sprinkle or decoratively add the fried onion and mint you put aside earlier on the top.

Khoreshte Karafs or Persian Celery Stew

Khoreshte Karafs is awesome. A great winter warmer and well loved by all, even those who aren’t usually keen on cooked celery. It has a zesty tang from the limes and herbs which is unforgetable. This khoreshte can be made all in one pan and is completely gluten-free.

Ingredients:

  • 500 gr’s Lamb diced
  • 2 bunches of celery washed and cut into 2-3 cm length strips. Use the small fresh leaves of the celery and add with the other herbs.
  • 2 large onions sliced
  • 500 gr’s of mint and parsley  or 1 bunch of each chopped
  • 5  teaspoons of lime juice and 2 limu ormani or whole dried limes
  • 1 teaspoon of turmeric
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • cooking oil

Preparation:

  • Clean and chop the celery and herbs
  • Chop the onions
  • Dice the meat

Method:

  1. Gently fry the onions until they become slightly golden
  2. Add the diced lamb and mix with the onions
  3. Add the turmeric, pepper and 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  4. Add a little hot water enough to cover the meat and stir.
  5. Add the lime juice and/ or  limu ormani
  6. Add some more hot water and allow to cook for about 45  minutes.
  7. Add the chopped celery and chopped herbs and stir
  8. Add more hot water if necessary and cook for another 30 minutes. The celery should not become too soft.
  9. You may wish to add a little more lime juice if you like you khoreshte more sour.
  10. When you’re ready to serve, sprinkle a little fresh mint on the top of the khoresht

Serve with polou ( rice).