Kookoo sabzi or Herb omelette

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.

KOOKOO SABZI

~~INGREDIENTS ~~

  • 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.

~~Method~~

  1. Take the six eggs and place them in a mixing bowl
  2. Add the salt, pepper, advieh and baking powder and beat well
  3. Sift the flour and beat into the mix
  4. Add the chopped herbs, chopped onion and crushed garlic and mix well.
  5. If your going to cook in the oven, put it on at about 200.c.
  6. Add a few tablespoons of oil into a baking dish and put into the oven to warm
  7. When ready add, add the kookoo mix into the bowl and leave to cook for about 10  mins.
  8. 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.

Nooshi joonet

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Khoresht e feseenjan or Persian walnut and pomegranate stew.

Khoresht e Feseenjun is an exquisite  Persian dish made with ground walnuts and pomegranate paste.  Although it actually doesn’t look so great, it’s to die for. It’s more a dish that you would make for a special occasion rather than everyday. Typically it’s made with poultry, chicken turkey or duck  or you can substitute the poultry with meat balls. The dish is intended to be both sweet and very slightly sour.

KHORESHT E FESEENAN or PERSIAN WALNUT AND POMEGRANATE STEW


Ingredients:

  • 1 kilo gr chicken or turkey
  • 2 large onion
  • 500 gr’s of ground walnuts
  • a generous pinch of cinnamon
  • 1/2 teasp of turmeric
  • 2 tablespoons of lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • 1/2 teasp of salt
  • 5  tablespoons of pomegranate paste or 2 cups of pomegranate juice.
  • 6 glasses of water

Method:

  1. Place 6 glasses of water in a pan and bring to the boil.
  2. Add salt, ground walnuts, pomegranate paste and sugar
  3. Lower the heat and allow to simmer for about 3/4 hour. The oil from the walnuts will come out and help to thicken the khoresht.
  4. Meanwhile chop the onions and fry in a little oil until golden
  5. Add the chicken pieces ( or meat balls ) and brown off
  6. Add the turmeric and stir in
  7. Add these to the khoresht and leave to simmer on a low heat for about another 40 minutes
  8. Just before serving sprinkle with a few chopped walnuts.

Serve with plain white rice and a fresh salad.

HOW TO MAKE POMEGRANATE PASTE

It’s not always easy to find Pomegranate paste unless you live near an Iranian grocery store.  But don’t worry it’s really very easy to make yourself. Here’s how:

  1. Take about 6 cups of pomegranate juice and bring to the boil
  2. Add a little salt and a little lime juice ( or lemon juice) to taste and simmer for about 3/4 hour or until the sauce thickens.
  3. When thick remove from heat and pour into a jar with an airtight lid.
  4. Allow to cool and store in the fridge.

Nooshi joonet. Enjoy.

Nan e Berenji or Rice flour cookies

Nan e Berenji originates from the Kermanshah region of Iran. Pure delight for me because they are made from rice flour.  These delicious little cookies melt in your mouth and are just perfect  to nibble  on with your afternoon tea. They are just the right size for little mouths too… the children in our family adore them.

I know this recipe looks long and complicated but it’s not. There are three parts to it, unless you already have ghee, in which case there are only two.

NAN E BERENI


Ingredients:

  • 240 mls  or 1 cup of ghee or clarified butter
  • 720 mls or 3 cups rice flour
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1.5 teaspoons of cardamom powder
  • poppy seeds to garnish
  • the syrup (below)

Method for clarified butter:

  1. Either use ghee or clarify your own butter by heating it slowly over a low heat until it boils.
  2. Allow to simmer for a couple of minutes and remove the bubbly froth
  3. Remove from heat and put to one side.
  4. Once it settles and hardens you will have ghee.

Ingredients for the syrup:

  • 1.5 cups of sugar
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 8 tablespoons of rose-water
  • 1/2 teaspoon of lime juice

Method for syrup:

  1. Add the sugar and water to a pan and bring to the boil.
  2. Allow to simmer for a few minutes and remove from the heat.
  3. Add the rose-water and lime juice and leave to cool.

Method for the cookies:

  1. Pre heat the oven to 180 c and prepare a biscuit baking tray by lining with grease proof paper.  Place to one side.
  2. Make the syrup and leave to cool.
  3. Take a bowl, preferably a plastic one and beat the egg  yolks until thick and creamy
  4. Add in the cool syrup and place to one side.
  5. In a another bowl add the rice flour, butter and cardamom and beat well.
  6. Add the egg yolks and mix for 15-20 minutes to create a dough and to ensure there’s lots of air in the mix.
  7. Knead the dough briefly. It should not be sticky at this point.
  8. Take a teaspoon of dough and roll into a small round shape and then flatten slightly and arrange on the baking tray leaving a distance of about 2.5 cm’s between each cookie.
  9. Decorate the biscuits if you wish and sprinkle with poppy seeds.
  10. Cook in the middle of the oven for about 12 minutes.
  11. Remove carefully as they are quite delicate and allow to cool.

Dahan-et shirin basheh — May your mouth be sweet.

Sabzi Polou ba morgh or Persian dill rice with chicken

Another of our favorite rice dishes Sabzi polou is easy to make and served with chicken, fresh herbs and salad it makes a great nutritious and gluten-free meal.  We eat the traditional persian way with a sofreh, it’s like a  table-cloth on the floor, unless we have guests when we sit at the table. The children love it! It’s a bit like having a picnic indoors!

Taadig is the crusty rice bottom. I have used potatoes in this recipe but you could use flat or unleavened bread. We rarely do because I have Coeliacs Disease, an allergy to gluten found in wheat.

SABZI POLOU BA MORGH

This recipe serves 4.

Ingredients for the rice:

  • 4 cups of basmati rice
  • 4 handfuls of dried dill
  • 1-2 teaspoons of salt ( according to taste)
  • vegetable oil
  • 1 thinly sliced potato for the taadig
  • 1/3 small cup or egg cup of liquid saffron

Method:

  1. Pre soak the rice in salted water for at least 2 hours
  2. Drain the rice and rinse well under running cold water and put to one side.
  3. Take a large pan, add plenty of water and bring to the boil.
  4. Add salt. If you like your rice a little salty add 1.5 – 2 teaspoons. Otherwise add 1 teaspoon.
  5. I always add a few drops of liquid saffron to the boiling water also but this is optional.
  6. When the water is boiling, add the rice and allow to boil.
  7. Add 3- 4 handfuls of dill. I have a medium size hand!
  8. The rice will swell and you should see them grow in length. Be careful not to let the rice become too soggy. You want the rice to be ‘al dente’ or soft to bite.
  9. When ‘al dente’ remove from the heat and drain.
  10. Lightly rinse the  rice again and put to the side.
  11. Meanwhile place a non stick pan on the heat, add a few tablespoons of vegetable oil and a few drops of saffron and mix.
  12. Take the thinly sliced potato’s and add them to the bottom of the pan. They should sizzle a little. Be careful not to burn yourself.
  13. Add the rice now
  14. Take a spoon with holes in and lightly pour on about a tablespoon of oil
  15. Cover with a lid wrapped in a clean tea towel and leave to cook for about 1.5 hours on the lowest heat setting you can. Please be careful and make sure the tea towel is secure to avoid risk of it catching alight.
  16. When the cooking time is finished pour the rest of the liquid saffron over the rice. Then take your serving dish (usually a large flat dish or tray) and place over the top of the pan and quickly turn upside down and your rice will come out as in the picture above. Alternatively spoon it onto your serving dish and arrange your crispy potatoes around or over the rice or simply serve the taadig on a separate dish.

CHICKEN RECIPE

I have only made enough for two but just increase the amount of chicken you use if you are cooking for more

Ingredients:

  • 3-4  Chicken breasts
  • 2 teaspoons of liquid saffron
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Oil
  • A knob of butter

Method:

  1. Heat your oven to 200 c
  2. Heat a little oil in a pan and add the chicken pieces.
  3. Sprinkle with salt and pepper
  4. Fry until golden
  5. Place some tin foil in an oven dish and add the chicken
  6. Pour a few teaspoons of liquid saffron over the chicken and add a knob of butter to each chicken piece.
  7. Wrap the foil around the chicken and cook in the oven for about 25 mins. This will vary according to the size of the chicken pieces you use.
  8. Half way through cooking time, remove from the oven and pour the liquid over the chicken again to keep it moist.
  9. Remove from the oven and pour the remaining liquid over the chicken before serving.

Serve with a salad, fresh herbs and mast or natural yoghurt.

Nooshi joonet. Enjoy

Spice up your Salads

A Persian meal is always served with some fresh vegetables be it in a salad or a dish of sabzi khordan or both. Fresh vegetables are essential for vitamins and minerals which help prevent illness and have many other benefits such as an aid to our digestive system, skin, hair and bones but salad’s can become a little boring unless you spice them up. A perfect way to add flavour is through the use of herbs.

One of my favorite herbs is mint and it makes for a perfect salad dressing.  Mint is easy to grow and you can grow it all year around and it’s easily sourced in a dry form from any supermarket.  This recipe below is one I use regularly and completely transforms even the most basic of salads into some something delicious.

  • 4 desert spoons of olive oil
  • 1 desert spoon of grape vinegar or apple vinegar ( these are gluten-free. Malt vinegar contains gluten)
  • A teaspoon of fresh or dried mint finely chopped
  • A teaspoon of fresh flat leaved parsley finely chopped
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1. Take your basic salad ingredients and cut into mouth size pieces.

2. Your dressing ingredients: Olive oil, Apple vinegar, salt and pepper, mint and parsley.

3. Chop the ingredients

4. Add the chopped parsley and mint to the basic salad ingredients

5.Take the olive oil, vinegar and salt and pepper and whisk with a fork and then pour over the salad.

Nothing could be easier and you have yourself a tasty, zingy salad.

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.

Tah-chin ba Morgh or Persian Rice and chicken

I love making these all in one pot meals. Once it’s in the pot  you have time to tidy up, prepare the table and if you’re lucky,  to relax with a pot of chai before you eat and Tah-chin ba morgh is the perfect meal for this.  Most of the work is in the preparation and once it’s all in the pot you are free to do other things.

You can make Tah-chin either on the cooker in pan or in a dish in the oven. I’m going to take you through the pan method but if you prefer, place your ingredients in a pre greased, large, deep oven proof dish and cook for about an 1 hour to an 90 minutes on 250 c for about 90 minutes – 2 hours.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups of basmati rice.
  • 1 large onion
  • 350 gr’s Chicken boneless breast pieces
  • 1 cup or approx 300 ml’s of mast or natural yoghurt
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 small cup od concentrated liquid zafaran
  • Oil
  • Butter
  • Turmeric
  • salt and pepper to taste.
  • barberries ( optional)

Preparation:

  • Skin and trim the chicken breasts or pieces and cut into medium  size pieces.
  • Take a desert spoon  of lime juice , a pinch of salt, mix well and pour over the chicken and then keep in the fridge for a few hours before using.
  • Beat the eggs yolks
  • Combine the eggs yolks with the rest of the yogurt, add a pinch of salt and 2 teaspoons of concentrated zafaran liquid.
  • Pre soak the rice a few hours before you intend to cook in salted water.
  • About an hour before cooking, rinse your barberries, place in a drainer and put to one side.

Method:

  1. Rinse the rice and put to one side
  2. Boil up a large pan of water, add a teaspoon of salt, a drop or two of zafaran and a teaspoon of butter.
  3. When boiling add the rice
  4. Keep the rice boiling until it becomes soft to bite. The rice should become long but not fluffy.
  5. Remove from the heat and drain.
  6. Rinse the rice lightly. Put to one side.
  7. Chop an onion and fry in a pan until it starts to go change colour.
  8. Now take the chicken and add to the pan, add a pinch of salt and fry until golden.
  9. Remove from the chicken from the pan and put to one side.
  10. Take the barberries  now and place them in a frying pan and heat without oil or water. This will cook off any remaining water from their  rinse. You should see a little steam. When the steam is finished, add a little oil and fry gently, then add the zafaran and allow to bubble away for a  minute. Remove from the heat and put to one side.
  11. Take a large pan with a lid.
  12. Place a few tablespoons of oil in the pan and heat.
  13. Add a few drops of the saffron liquid and mix it into the oil.
  14. Now add the yoghurt mix you put aside earlier and put it in the pan with the oil.
  15. Add a layer of rice and press down into the yoghurt
  16. Add a layer of chicken and then another layer of both yoghurt and rice and continue until all the ingredients have been used.
  17. After you add each layer, press down gently before you add the next.
  18. Cook on a low heat for about 90 minutes to 2 hours. The longer you leave it the better the taa dig will be.

To turn it out for serving you can do this two ways:

  1. Place your serving dish over the top of the pan and turn upside down. If it the rice gets stuck in the pan wait a few minutes and gently tap on the bottom of the pan. or
  2. Remove the rice from the pan with a spoon onto your serving dish. Mixing in your barberries in the saffron as you go. Then remove the taadig separately when you come to it.