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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Persian Contestent on Masterchef UK

Masterchef UK is into its second day. Afsaneh Kaviani made an amazingly delicious looking saffron  Ice cream and Baklava….. oh was my mouth was watering !! Afsaneh made it through to tomorrow and Im looking forward to see what else she is going to come up with. Well done Afsaneh.

Meanwhile here is the link to her recipe.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/saffron_and_pistachio_95163

Pumpkin and Sweet Potatoe Soup

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.

~METHOD~

  1.  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.
  2. Using a little oil, fry the onions and garlic until it begins to turn golden.
  3.  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.
  4.  Pour enough hot water on to cover the vegetables and leave to simmer until the veg is soft, usually around 20 mins.
  5.  Go back to your peppers and peel the skin off.
  6.  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 ~

Dolmeh or Stuffed peppers

Dolmeh        

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.

Ingredients~

  • 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 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

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!

Sharbat e ablimu Lime or Lemon syrup

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 ~~

Ingredients~

  • 10 cups of sugar ( ochhh not for those watching their weight )
  • 4 cups of water
  • The juice of 20  fresh limes or lemons

Method~

  1. 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.
  2. Place the sugar and water in a pan and bring to the boil.
  3. Add the fresh lime juice passing it through a strainer into the sugary water
  4. Allow to simmer for about 10 minutes.  it should have become a thicker  syrupy mixture.
  5. Allow to cool
  6. Store in a clean bottle with a lid and keep in the fridge.

To make the sharbat:

  1. 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.
  2. Add a few ice cubes and decorate with a sprig of mint and sliced limes  🙂

~Nooshi joonet ~