Saffron Cake: with saffron and rosewater icing, sprinkled with crushed rose petals and pistachio nuts.

Persian ceramic art I wanted to make something different to contribute to the family Christmas table and I thought for a change I’ll make something for tea! That is ‘tea time’! Tea time is an important ritual in England and especially on Christmas day!

I made this gluten free but you can easily use a wheat flour cake recipe.

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Saffron cake ~ saffron and rosewater icing, sprinkled with crushed rose petals and pistachio nuts

 

You will need ~~

Rose water

Liquid saffron 

Icing sugar

Rose petals

Pistachio nuts

Vanilla essence.

~Make your sponge as you usually would but add two teaspoons of liquid saffron for a rich yellow colour and 1 teaspoon of vanilla for taste.  You could opt to add rosewater as a substitute for vanilla but I think it might be too much if you use it for the icing too. I used two medium eggs in the sponge recipe but you may prefer to add a teaspoon of flour to thicken the mixture up again.

~Remove the sponge from the oven, set to the side and leave to cool.

~Take a bowl and add a tablespoon at a time of icing sugar. Add a teaspoon of liquid saffron and a teaspoon of rosewater initially and just keep adding until you have enough colour and taste to suit you! There is no right or wrong here, its completely personal taste. Pour over the cake.

~ Roughly crush the pistachio nuts and sprinkle over the sponge. Finally sprinkle crushed rose petals over the iced sponge and there you have it!

 

saffron cake top view
saffron cake top view

 

 

 

Nooshi joonet

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Faloodeh. Love at first bite

~~FALOODEH ~~

Faloodeh is an experience you will never regret. It has its roots back  in ancient Persia and is particularly associated with Shiraz.  With  a consistency of something between a slush puppy and sorbet, it’s memorable because of the rice noodles and refreshingly delicious due to  the sweetness of the rose-water and sourness of the limes . The combination of these three ingredients makes it distinctive and fairly unique to Iran. I’ve never come across any one who doesn’t love it at first bite. …..

This is my recipe for Faloodeh, you will no doubt find other versions but this is easy.  Add lime or lemon juice, it works well with the sweetness of the rose-water and add sour cherry syrup, pistachios and mint to garnish. Perfect desert for any time of the year and delightfully refreshing in the summer months!

Faloodeh – Rice Noodle Sorbet

~Recipe for use with an ice cream maker or by hand ~

Ingredients ~

  • 2  cups of caster  sugar
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1/2 cup of rose-water
  • 1 Vietnamese rice noodles (vermicelli) broken into 2 inch pieces.

garnish: pistachios, sour cherry syrup, any berries, fresh lime juice and lime wedges.

Method:

  1. Boil the rice noodles in boiling water for 20 seconds (or according to instructions) and no more or they will be too mushy.
  2. Remove the noodles from the pan, rinse  under cold water and put to one side.
  3. Place the sugar and water into a pan and bring to the point just before it boils.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat and add the rose-water and set aside.
  5. Allow it to cool off completely.
  6. Pour this mixture into an ice cream maker and turn it on.  Allow it begin to set then add half of the noodles and then follow the same process again.
  7. Set the Ice cream maker to ‘sorbet’ setting, turn on  and relax !
  8. OR combine the mix as above, place in a bowl and allow to begun to set in the freezer. After about an hour, remove from the freezer and gently using a fork, disturb the setting process and then place back in the freezer and repeat a few times until you’re happy with the consistency.

For garnish: Traditional:  Lime juice , mint, and pistachios. As an alternative  try sour cherry syrup juice, Mango syrup or any seasonal berries  raspberries are delicious or mango and strawberries, blueberries or any fruit you fancy.

Nooshi joonet ~ you’re going to enjoy this !

What’s Hot and What’s Not

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.

WHAT’S HOT

  • 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.
  • Eggs
  • Most nuts
  • Vinegar
  • Wheat flour
  • chick peas, yellow split peas.
  • Honey

WHATS COLD

  • Most vegetables except: carrots, radish, okra, onions, garlic, red and green peppers,
  • Most fruit except apples, dates, quince.
  • Fish
  • Coffee
  • sugar
  • Rice
  • Barley
  • kidney beans, lentils

WHAT’S NUETRAL

  • Pears
  • Tea
  • Goats cheese

Love life, eat well and cook Persian!

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.

Sholleh Zard or sweet yellow rice pudding

I’d forgotten how delicious Sholleh Zard is but was reminded at a Norooz gathering last weekend and I  thought I’d make it and share the recipe with you.

Sholleh  Zard is a bright yellow sweet rice pudding and everywhere in the world seems to have their own versions. In Iran it is made with zaafaran and rose-water and best eaten cold although some regions in Iran like to serve it warm. The ingredients are a wonderful blend of flavors that is typically Persian and will lift your spirits.

Here is a very simple recipe which serves 6-8 people.

Sholleh  Zard

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of basmati rice ( you can use any rice)
  • 6 cups of water
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup of rose-water
  • 1.5  or 2 cups of sugar
  • 250 gr’s of butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon of saffron
  • 3/4 cup of sliced almonds
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cardamom ( optional)
  • Pistachios to garnish

Method:

  1. Grind the saffron with a little sugar and dissolve  in about 50 ml’s of hot water. Cover and leave to stand, stir occasionally.
  2. Rinse the rice under cold water under the water runs clear.
  3. Bring the 6 cups of water to the boil, add a pinch of salt and then add the rice.
  4. Cook the rice on a low to medium heat until the water has evaporated and the rice becomes mushy. You will need to stir occasionally to avoid any burning. This might take between 45 mins to  an hour.
  5. Remove from the heat and stir in the saffron, rose-water, sugar almonds and cardamom.
  6. Return to the lowest heat setting you can, cover and leave to simmer for about another 45 mins or until the pudding is thick and creamy and coats the back of a spoon.
  7. Stir it occasionally and you may need to add more water as you go.
  • You can continue to cook until the rice becomes completely smooth but we like ours with a little form.

To serve:

Pour into your serving dish, usually a shallow bowl or into individual bowls if preferred and allow to cool. Garnish with cinnamon and pistachios before serving.

Sholleh Zard should be stored in the fridge and can be kept for between 4 -6 days.

Saffron Ice Cream

Typically flavored with zaafaran ( saffron) and rose-water this Ice cream is to die for! You can use the same recipe whether or not you use an ice cream maker.  Add pistachio nuts for a little texture and hey presto creamy exquisite ice cream.

SAFFRON ICE CREAM

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pint of milk
  • 1/2 pint of cream
  • 3 tablespoons of caster sugar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • a good pinch of saffron
  • 3 tablespoons of rose-water
  • crushed pistachio nuts

Method:

  1. Place the milk in a pan and bring to the boil. Put to one side.
  2. Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together and add the milk and be sure to continue to whisk.
  3. Return to a medium heat and stir continuously until the milk begins to thicken. DO NOT LET IT BOIL! or the eggs will separate.
  4. Take a good pinch of saffron and a pinch of sugar and grind to a powder in a pestle and mortar.
  5. Add the saffron to the milk and stir in.
  6. Add the rose-water and stir in.
  7. Leave the whole mixture to cool down. To speed up the cooling process, stand the milk (still in the pan)  in some cold water. It should only take a maximum of 15 minutes.
  8. When cold, add the cream and stir in.
  9. If you’re going to use an Ice Cream maker follow the instructions and don’t forget to add in the pistachios
  10. If you’re not using an Ice Cream maker, add the pistachios and pour into a clean container and place it in the quick freeze area of your freezer.

Zulbia

~~ZULIBIA~~

Really sweet little honey dipped pastries to have with your chai.  I have adapted this recipe to suit my gluten free diet but you can substitute the rice flour for wheat flour. Ingredients for the syrup~

  • 1 cup of water
  • 4 cups of sugar
  • 3 tablespoons of rosewater

Ingredients for the paste~

  • 240 mls of water
  • 120 mls of natural yoghurt
  • 600 mls of rice flour
  • a pinch of baking soda
  • 450 mls of corn starch
  • Oil

Preparation for the syrup ~

  • Combine the sugar and water and bring to the boil. The mixture will thicken and become a syrup. Add the rose water and put this to one side.
  • Lay out some greaseproof paper to place your zulbia on once it’s cooked.
  • Prepare a piping bag with a small – medium nozzle

Method~

  1. Combine the flour and sugar and the yoghurt and mix well making sure there’s no lumps put it the fridge to cool and leave for at least 30 mins.
  2. Heat some oil in a frying pan
  3. Pipe your flour mix into the oil in swirly circular shapes.
  4. Decrease the heat and fry gently on both sides.
  5. Remove from the pan when cooked and dip in the syrup for about 4-5  minutes
  6. Place on the greaseproof paper to drain off

When using rice flour for this recipe please be aware that you may need to add a little more flour to make the paste thicker. Its really trial and error, depending on the flour you use.

Serve with chai