Angel Hair Pasta With Shrimp

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MasteringPersianCooking 149

I have been making this angel hair pasta with shrimp for over a decade now. The first time I tried this dish was at a Pasta Pomodoro in Bay Area. My husband loved this dish so much that I ended up creating a recipe for it and making it ever since. This dish has become one of my family’s favorites. Since it’s not a Persian dish, I’ve created a section under my recipe index called “My Family’s Favorites” to include all the recipes that I’ve created and been cooking for my family over the years. I often make this dish with chicken breast since shrimps are high in cholesterol. Any combination of fresh vegetables like bell peppers, mushrooms, green beans, asparagus and eggplants works in this recipe. Fresh tomatoes, when in season, would taste even better in this recipe. This recipe can be made vegetarian or vegan by using vegetable stock instead of chicken stock. This is a keeper recipe, trust me!

Angel Hair Pasta With Shrimp

Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 40 min
Ready in: 45 min
Yields: 6 servings

INGREDIENTS

6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion peeled and diced
4 garlic gloves peeled and chopped
1 cup chopped fresh basil or 2 teaspoons dried basil
1½ teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoons black pepper
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
One 14.5 ounce diced Italian seasoned or plain canned tomatoes drained with juice reserved
1 cup chicken stock (vegetable for vegetarian and vegan version)
3 cups chopped zucchini
1 pound angel hair pasta
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley for garnish (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS

In a deep large frying pan, sauté zucchinis in 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat for about 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer to a plate, set aside.

Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in the same pan. Add chopped onions and cook on medium-high heat for about 3 to 4 minutes. Add garlic, fresh chopped basil and seasonings.

Drain tomatoes reserving the liquid. Add tomatoes to the pan and cook for 4 to 5 minutes until the liquid evaporates and the tomatoes fry a little adding color to the oil. This is the step where the deep flavors develop. Add chicken or vegetable stock and the reserved tomato juice.

Bring to a boil. Cook, uncovered, over medium heat for about 15 to 20 minutes or until the sauce is reduced in half.

To cook the pasta, bring 3 quarts of water and 1 tablespoon salt to a boil.  Add pasta and cook for 3 to 4 minutes on medium-high heat. Strain pasta reserving 1 cup of pasta water. Use this water later on if the pasta is too dry or al dente.

Add pasta and zucchinis to the sauce. Toss and drizzle with good quality extra virgin olive oil.

To cook the shrimps, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 clove chopped garlic in a sauté pan. Add shrimps and cook for 2 to 3 minutes on medium-high heat. Season with salt and pepper. Turn the shrimps over and turn off the heat. The heat from the pan will continue cooking the shrimps.

Top pasta with shrimps and serve.

Or use fresh tomatoes and vegetables of your choice.

 

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Estamboli Polo with Ground Beef (Green Beans Rice)

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MasteringPersianCooking 077

This version of estamboli polo uses ground beef instead of the stew beef used in the original estamboli polo recipe. This was the recipe I always cooked when I was going to college, because it was much faster and easier. You easily shave off an hour of cooking time by using ground beef. Back then I used canned green beans which didn’t require any cooking, so I was able to save even more time. If using canned beans, there is no need to add water. Simply cook your ground beef and combine with the green beans.

Estamboli Polo with Ground Beef (Green Bean Rice)

Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 1.5 hr
Ready in: 1 hour 40 min
Yields: 4 to 6 servings

INGREDIENTS

Meat Mixture:

1 medium onion peeled and chopped
3 tablespoons oil
3/4 pound ground beef
½ teaspoon salt
¼  teaspoon ground black pepper
½ teaspoon turmeric
3 heaping tablespoons tomato paste
1 pound frozen cut green beans
1/8 teaspoon saffron (optional)

Rice:

2 cups long grain rice washed and drained
3½ cups water
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon salt

INSTRUCTIONS

For meat mixture: heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat.  Add chopped onions and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add ground beef and cook until juices evaporate, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomato paste, salt, pepper and turmeric. Fry for 3 to 4 minutes. Add frozen green beans , saffron and ½ cup water. Bring to a gentle simmer. Cover and cook over medium-low heat until beans are tender, about 10 minutes. Add more water if needed.

For rice: Bring 3½ cups water to a boil in a 4.5-quart pot. Add rice, 1 teaspoon salt, 2 tablespoons oil and 2 tablespoons butter. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for about 10 minutes or until the rice has absorbed all the water and formed small holes on top (do not cover the pot). Pour rice into a bowl and set aside.

If using a rice cooker method, add all the ingredients to the pot of the rice maker. Start the cooking cycle and half way through the cycle, when all the water is gone, pour the rice into a bowl and set aside.

Assembly: Add 1 tablespoon oil to the same pot used to cook the rice. Place 1/3 of the rice on the bottom of the pot followed by 1/3 of the meat mixture.  Continue to alternate the layers until all the ingredients are used. Use the handle of a wooden spoon to poke several holes in the rice, all the way to the bottom of the pot to allow steam to escape.  Place a clean dishtowel or 2 layers of paper towel over the pot and cover firmly with a lid to absorb the steam.

Simmer on medium-high heat for 5 minutes then lower heat to medium-low and cook for 25 minutes.

To serve, gently spoon the rice mixture onto a serving platter, lightly mixing the ingredients. The bottom of the rice develops a crispy crust (tadigh) that can be served on a separate plate. To make a thicker crust use more oil on the bottom of the pot and simmer the rice longer, up to an hour.

Marinated Shrimp

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Mastering Persian Cooking (1)

Impress your guests with this marinated shrimp appetizer. I learned to make this appetizer years ago from Cookwise cookbook and every time I make it for my parties, it disappears in a flash. If you love shrimp, wait until you try these!

Marinated Shrimp

Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 0 min
Ready in: 8 hrs
Yields: 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

1 pound large shrimps, cooked and peeled with tails on
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and thinly sliced
5 bay leaves
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 tablespoon capers in brine
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon salt
Few dashes hot pepper sauce (optional)

Preparation

Layer shrimps, onion slices and bay leaves in a Ziploc plastic bag or a bowl.

Add olive oil, vinegar, capers, caper brine, worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper to a small bowl. Wisk the ingredients. Pour over shrimps, seal the bag or cover the bowl, refrigerate overnight.

When ready to serve, drain the vinaigrette and remove the bay leaves. Serve cold.

 

Quinoa and Kale Ash

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Mastering Persian Cooking (9)

Although quinoa and kale are not part of traditional Persian ash (soup) dishes, I’ve added a good dose to this recipe to create an even more nutritious ash for the vegans and vegetarians in our family. This ash recipe, which is not traditional by any means, is also gluten free and offers good amount of protein in the form of quinoa and beans. I like using a lot of fresh herbs in my ashes, but this recipe would taste just as good if you use less. Less fresh herbs equals less work :).  Just make sure to fry your onions for at least 15 minutes to build flavor and add some dried herbs like mint, fenugreek or dill to your onions for an extra flavor boost.

Quinoa and Kale Ash 

Prep time: 20 min
Cook time: 1 hr 30 mins
Ready in: 1 hour 50 mins
Yields: 6 to 8 Servings

INGREDIENTS

1 pound fresh or frozen kale chopped
1 pound fresh or frozen spinach chopped
1 small bunch fresh parsley chopped
1 small bunch fresh cilantro chopped or ¼ cup dried
1 small bunch fresh green onions chopped

½ cup olive oil
2 large onions peeled and chopped
6 large garlic cloves peeled and finely chopped
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon dried mint
1 teaspoon dried fenugreek leaves

1 cup mung beans picked over and rinsed
2 cups cooked garbanzo beans, about 1 cup raw*
1 cup quinoa rinsed in a mesh strainer
¼ cup basmati rice washed and strained
Three 32 oz. low-sodium vegetable broths plus 2 cups water (add water as needed)

INSTRUCTIONS

In a large pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add chopped onions. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes or until slightly golden, stir occasionally. When onions start to turn golden on edges, lower heat to medium. Stir in chopped garlic, salt, pepper and turmeric. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes until fragrant. Add dried mint and fenugreek, cook for 1 more minute. Add the mung and garbanzo beans, quinoa, rice and vegetable stock. Bring to a boil and stir in all the herbs, a little at a time. Herbs will fit in the pot as they welt down. Lower heat to medium low and cook for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

Taste and adjust the seasoning. If the ash is too thick, add more water or vegetable stock and simmer for few minutes longer to blend the flavors.

*If using raw garbanzo beans, soak them overnight by washing them and covering them with few inches of water. Since some garbanzo beans take longer to cook depending on how old they are, it’s best to pressure cook them for 15 to 20 minutes before adding them to the pot.

Another option is to skip the garbanzo beans and use 1 cup raw lentils or ½ cup barley (don’t require presoaking). You can also use brown rice instead of white rice.

Clean parsley and cilantro by cutting off the stems as shown below. There is no need to remove all the stems. Cut off the root ends of green onions. Remove tough stems of kale. Wash, drain and coarsely chop all the herbs either by hand or in a food processor. 

 

 

Kalam Polo (Cabbage Rice) With Ground Beef

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Mastering Persian Cooking

I’m always asked for an easier and faster version of traditional Persian dishes. One of my family’s favorite dishes is kalam polo (cabbage rice) which is prepared just like estamboli polo. You just use cabbage instead of the green beans, but the cooking process is the same. In order to make this dish easier and faster, I used ground beef in this recipe and instead of adding ingredients in stages, I added them in fewer steps. I also eliminated the step for sautéing the cabbage. The resulting dish was as delicious as the original recipe.

Kalam Polo (Cabbage Rice) With Ground Beef

Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 1 hour
Ready in: 1 hour 10 min
Yields: 3 to 4 servings

INGREDIENTS

For meat mixture:

1 small onion, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
¼ pound ground beef
2 tablespoons tomato paste
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon Persian Advieh polo (rice seasoning)*
Pinch of saffron (optional)
½ cup water
½ head small green cabbage chopped into ½-inch pieces

For rice:

1½ cups long grain basmati rice washed and drained
2½ cups water
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil divided
1 tablespoon butter

INSTRUCTIONS

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add chopped onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 to 7 minutes or until onion is slightly golden. Add meat, tomato paste, salt, pepper, turmeric, advieh and saffron. Cook the meat over medium heat for about 10 minutes or until it’s cooked through. Add chopped cabbage and ½ cup water. Cover and continue cooking over medium heat for 10 to 15 more minutes or until most of the liquid is gone. Remove from heat and stir to combine the ingredients. If there is too much liquid in the mixture, cook uncovered for the last 5 minutes of cooking.

While the meat mixture is cooking, add all the rice ingredients with 1 tablespoon of oil to a medium pot. Bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium low and cook, uncovered, until all the water is absorbed by rice, about 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

To cook the rice in a rice cooker, add all the ingredients and start the cycle. Half way through the cycle, when all the water is absorbed by rice, transfer the rice to another bowl and follow with the rest of the recipe.

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the bottom of the same pot used for the rice. Place 1/3 of the rice on the bottom of the pot followed by 1/3 of the meat mixture. Continue layering until you use all the ingredients. Place few layers of paper towel over the pot and cover with a lid. Cook on medium heat for 5 minutes for the crust to start developing. Lower the heat to medium low. Cook for 30 to 40 minutes.

Use the same procedure for the rice cooker and continue the cooking cycle.

To unmold the rice, if using a non-stick pot, place a round serving platter on top of the pot. Using pot holders, firmly grab the serving platter and the pot flipping them over together, as you would invert a cake pan.

Tips for making rice – There is a substantial variation from one type of rice to another and from one brand to another within a given type, and of course the age of the rice is a factor. Experiment with the water to rice ratio to obtain the desired texture. More water results in softer and stickier rice, and less water results in firmer and more separate grains. When adding any stew of meat and vegetables to your rice, always take the water content of the stew into account and adjust the amount of water you add to your rice accordingly. For best results and until you learn exactly how much water to add for your specific batch of rice, use a 1 to 1 ratio, one cup of rice to one cup of water, as your starting point. You can always add more water if the rice is undercooked, but there are no fixes for overcooked rice.

*Advieh is a spice blend made of cinnamon, cumin, cardamom, ginger, cloves and rose bud petals. It can be found in the Persian or specialty stores.

Reshteh Polo with Meatballs (Noodle Rice)

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Reshteh Polo with Meatballs (Noodle Rice)

Reshteh Polo with Meatballs (Noodle Rice)

Even though reshteh polo is not one of the popular Persian dishes, it has always been one of my favorites. I usually layer braised chicken thighs in this rice and pour the chicken juices over it. The rice and noodles absorb the flavorful juices making the rice super tasty. But, meatballs are also delicious with this rice for those who don’t care for chicken.

Reshteh Polo with Meatballs (Noodle Rice)

Prep time: 20 min
Cook time: 1 hour
Ready in: 1 hour 20 min
Yields: 4 servings

INGREDIENTS

For Meatballs:

½ pound ground beef
1 small onion peeled and grated
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon oil

For reshteh and raisins:

1 cup raisins
1 tablespoon butter
1½ cups reshteh (Capellini Spezzati or angel hair pasta broken into pieces)

For rice:

2 cups long grain basmati rice
4 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons oil

INSTRUCTIONS

In a medium bowl, combine all the meatball ingredients except oil. Shape into ½-inch balls. Coat a large skillet with 1 tablespoon oil and bring to medium-high heat. Add meatballs and brown on all sides. Stir in raisins and cook until heated through, about 1 minute. Set aside.

In a large skillet, toast reshteh with 1 tablespoon butter over medium-high heat, for about 3 to 4 minutes or until golden brown. Keep stirring to prevent it from burning. Remove from heat and set aside.

Combine all the rice ingredients and toasted restheth in the pot of a rice cooker and turn it on. Half way through cooking cycle, add meatballs and raisins, cover and cook until the cycle finishes.

Use a Persian rice cooker which is designed to cook light and fluffy rice with tadig (crispy crust). If you don’t have one, use a regular rice cooker.

To serve, gently spoon the rice mixture onto a serving platter lightly mixing the ingredients. The bottom of the rice develops a crisp crust that can be served on a separate plate.

Shirin Polo in Rice Cooker

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Mastering Persian Cooking

I wrote this recipe for a friend who wanted a simplified version of shirin polo. This dish can literally take an entire day to make if done from scratch. I usually prepare the orange and almond slivers a day in advance and let them soak in syrup to soften up and sweeten. But, this more practical and time-saving recipe tastes just as delicious as the long version I usually make.

Shirin Polo in Rice Cooker

Prep time: 20 min
Cook time: 1 hour
Ready in: 1 hour 20 min
Yields: 4 servings

INGREDIENTS

For Topping

¾ cup slivered orange peels about 2 oranges
2 cups plus 2 teaspoons sugar divided
¼ cup store-bought slivered almonds
1/8 teaspoon ground saffron dissolved in 1 tablespoon hot water
¼ cup zereshk (barberries) rinsed and drained
½ tablespoon butter

For Rice

2 cups rice
3¾ cups water
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup oil
1 tablespoon butter

INSTRUCTIONS

Peels oranges using a vegetable peeler leaving behind the white pith. Stack the peels on a cutting board. Using a sharp knife cut into 1/8 to ¼-inch slivers.

Fill a small saucepan with 2 cups water, 2 cups sugar and the slivered oranges peels. Bring to a boil. Simmer on low heat for about 15 minutes. Set aside. Just before use, strain the liquid.

Add 2 cups rice, 3¾ cups water, 1 teaspoon salt, ¼ cup oil and 1 tablespoon butter to a bowl of a Persian rice cooker. Start the cooking cycle.

Half way through the cooking cycle, when all the water is absorbed by rice, add slivered orange peels and almonds. Cover to complete to cooking cycle.

While the rice is cooking, add zereshk, butter and 2 teaspoons sugar to a small sauté pan. Heat on medium low long enough for the sugar to melt. Remove from heat, set aside.

To plate the rice, reserve some silvered orange and almonds for garnish. Gently scoop the rice out on a serving platter, lightly mixing the ingredients. Mix one cup rice with saffron water. Add to the rice and top with slivered orange, almonds and zereshk.

Tahchin Morgh (Chicken Tahchin) for Two

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Mastering Persian Cooking 088

I never cared for tahchin with eggs because the eggs gave it a gamey taste and smell, in my opinion. But, ever since I tried it without the eggs, it has become one of my favorite Persian dishes especially when it’s paired with Persian salad. Tahchin is also delicious with fillet mignon. If using fillet mignon, add it raw to the yogurt mixture and let it cook with the rice. If using other cuts of meat or lamb, make sure to cook them first.

Tahchin Morgh (Chicken Tahchin) for Two

Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 1 hour
Ready in: 1 hour 10 min
Yields: 2 servings

INGREDIENTS

1 large chicken breast cut into 1/2-inch slices
1 tablespoon butter
½ small onion chopped
½ cup yogurt
1/8 teaspoon ground saffron dissolved in 1 tablespoon hot water
1¼ cups long grain basmati rice rinsed
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black ground pepper
1¾ cups water
3 tablespoons olive oil

INSTRUCTIONS

Heat butter in a small sauté pan. Add chicken and season with salt and pepper. Cook over medium-high heat until lightly browned, about 10 minutes.

Mix saffron with yogurt and pour over the chicken.

In a small pot, cook rice with 1¾ cups water, 1 teaspoon salt and 2 tablespoons olive oil until all the water is absorbed. Transfer to a bowl.

Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon yogurt mixture to the bottom of the pot used for rice. Pour in half of the rice and top with chicken. Add the remaining rice and top with the rest of the yogurt mixture. Cover and cook for 40 minutes. For a thicker crust, add more oil to the pot and cook longer.

To unmold the rice, place a round serving platter on top of the pot. Using pot holders firmly grab the serving platter and the pot, flipping them over together.

Serve with Persian salad.

Ghormeh Sabzi (Persian Herb Stew) in Pressure Cooker

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Mastering Persian Cooking

I use my pressure cooker a lot, especially when I’m cooking khoresht. It cuts the cooking time in half and makes life so much easier in the kitchen. I always cook my beans separately to make sure they are tender, but you can add them with the meat. To make this dish vegetarian, eliminate the meat and double the amount of fried onions and beans.

Ghormeh Sabzi (Persian Herb Stew) in Pressure Cooker

Prep time: 30 min
Cook time: 1 hour
Ready in: 1 hour 30 mins
Yields: 4 servings

INGREDIENTS

3 bunches fresh parsley
2 bunches fresh green onions
1 bunch fresh cilantro
1 small bunch fresh or ½ tablespoon dried fenugreek
8 tablespoons olive oil divided
1 large onion chopped
1 pound flat iron roast cut into 1-inch cubes
½ teaspoon turmeric
1½ teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cups water
4 Persian dried limes pierced with a fork
1 cup canned red kidney beans

INSTRUCTIONS

Cut the stems of parsley, cilantro and fenugreek. Cut the root ends of green onions. Wash, drain and chop all the herbs.

Heat 4 tablespoons of oil in a large frying pan. Add chopped herbs, cook over medium-high heat for 20 minutes, stirring frequently. Frying the herbs until the color changes to dark green is an important step in the process and it creates the aromatic and deep flavors in this dish.

Heat the remaining oil in a medium-sized pressure cooker. Add onions. Cook for 5 minutes or until onions are slightly golden. Add meat and cook until browned. Stir in seasonings, herbs, limes and 2 cups water. Cover and cook on medium-low heat for 50 to 60 minutes.

Add cooked beans and adjust seasoning to taste. Serve over white basmati rice.

Ash Aloo Esfenaj (Prune and Spinach Soup)

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Mastering Persian Cooking 127

I learned this very simple and tasty ash from my mother-in-law. This ash tastes the best with chicken legs, but since I didn’t have any on hand, I used my homemade chicken stock. You can use the store-bought vegetarian or chicken stock or simply toss in a few pieces of chicken legs with the ingredients and let them all cook together. Just remember the plums have pits.

Ash Aloo Esfenaj (Prune and Spinach Soup)

Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 1 hour 30 min
Ready in: 1 hour and 45 min
Yields: 6 Servings

INGREDIENTS

1 large onion chopped
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
½ cup yellow split peas rinsed
½ cup basmati rice rinsed
3 pounds fresh spinach, washed and coarsely chopped
1½ cups aloo bukhara
7 to 8 cups chicken or vegetable stock

INSTRUCTIONS

Heat oil in a medium stockpot. Add onions and sauté over medium-high heat for 5 to 7 minutes.

Stir in salt, pepper and turmeric. Add the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium low and cook for one hour.

Taste and adjust the seasoning and cook for 30 more minutes or until the ash comes together. Add more stock, if needed.

Khoresht Gheymeh for Two

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In this stew, meat and yellow split-peas are cooked in a delicious sauce of caramelized onions, spices and tomato paste then topped with fries and served over fragrant basmati rice.

Mastering Persian Cooking

Khoresht Gheymeh for Two (Yellow Split Pea Stew)

Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 1 hour 30 min
Ready in: 1 hour and 45 min
Yields: 2 Servings

INGREDIENTS

1 small onion chopped, about ¾ cup
3 tablespoons oil
½ pound beef (cross rib roast) cut into ½-inch cubes, about 2 cups chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon turmeric
3 Persian dried limes pierced with fork
2 cups water
¼ cup yellow split-peas, picked over, rinsed and drained
1 cup water
¼ cup oil for frying the potatoes
1 medium potato peeled and cut into matchsticks

INSTRUCTIONS

In a non-stick medium-sized pan, fry the onions on medium-high heat until lightly golden, about 5 minutes. Add meat and increase the heat to high. Fry until all the juices are gone, about 5 minutes. Add turmeric, salt, pepper and tomato paste to the pan. Stir and fry until the tomato paste is fried in oil and changes the color of oil, about 5 minutes. This step develops a rich color and a flavorful sauce. Add 2 cups hot water and dried limes. Cover and lower heat to medium low. Cook for 40 minutes (step-by-step photos).

While the meat is cooking, bring split peas and 1 cup of water to a boil in a small pan. Lower heat to medium low and cook for 15 minutes or until the peas are tender. Drain and set aside.

When the meat is fork tender, add the split peas and saffron, Cook for 30 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Heat ¼ cup oil in a large frying pan. Fry the potatoes until golden. Serve the stew over a bed of aromatic basmati rice topped with fries.

Eggplant KuKu With Less Oil

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Eggplant KuKu with Less Oil

Eggplant KuKu with Less Oil

I love eggplant kuku, but not when it’s soaked with oil. As we all know, eggplants soak up oil like a sponge when fried, regardless of being salted or not. The best way of cooking a healthier kuku is by cutting the eggplants into .5-inch cubes and roasting them in the oven. Eggplants cook a lot faster this way and absorb much less oil.

Eggplant KuKu With Less Oil

Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 1 hour 10 min
Ready in: 1 hour 20 min
Yields: 4 servings

INGREDIENTS

2 medium globe eggplants about 1.5 pounds, chopped into 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon turmeric
4 eggs
2 teaspoons all purpose flour
1 cup loosely packed parsley chopped

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Add chopped eggplants, onions and garlic to a large non-stick roasting pan. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt. Roast, on the lower rack of oven, until golden, about 30 minutes. Half way through roasting, stir the eggplant mixture. Transfer to a bowl, mash and let cool.

Whisk 4 eggs in a small bowl. Add flour, salt, pepper and turmeric and whisk to combine all the ingredients. Stir in chopped parsley and the eggplant mixture. Whisk to thoroughly combine the ingredients.

Oil an 8 by 8-inch ovenproof baking dish, covering the sides to prevent sticking. Pour in the egg mixture and bake uncovered for 40 to 50 minutes.

Eggplant KuKu (Eggplant Frittata)

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Eggplant Kuku (Eggplant Frittata)

Eggplant Kuku (Eggplant Fritter)

Here is another delicious recipe for eggplant lovers like me. Eggplant kuku is traditionally made by frying the eggplants and onions then mixing them with eggs. This dish can be baked in the oven or cooked on stovetop. Eggplant kuku can be made a day in advance and served either hot or at room temperature with a salad.

Eggplant KuKu (Eggplant Fritters)

Prep time: 30 min
Cook time: 60 min
Ready in: 1 hour 30 min
Yields: 6 servings

INGREDIENTS

2 large eggplants (about 2 pounds)
¾ cup oil
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
5 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon turmeric or saffron
6 eggs
1 tablespoon flour

INSTRUCTIONS

Peel and cut eggplants into 4 quarters. Generously sprinkle eggplants with salt. Place in a colander set over a bowl to catch the drips.  Allow to sit for 1 hour, 20 minutes if short on time. Rinse under running water, pat dry with paper towel.

Heat ¼ cup oil over medium heat in a large nonstick skillet. Add eggplants. Brown each side for 2 to 4 minutes. Place on paper towel to drain the excess oil.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in the same skillet. Add onions and garlic, fry for about 5 minutes. Add salt, pepper, turmeric or saffron and the eggplants. Mash all the ingredients using a potato masher or a fork. Set aside to cool.

Whisk 6 eggs in a medium size bowl. Add flour and eggplant mixture, stir to combine.

Heat ¼ cup oil in the same skillet over medium heat. When oil becomes hot, carefully pour the eggplant mixture in the skillet. Cover, cook over medium low heat for 15 to 20 minutes or until set. Cut into 6 sections using a spatula and gently flip them over. Cover and cook for 15 minutes. Add more oil if needed.

To cook this dish in the oven, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour 1/4 cup oil into an 8 by 8-inch ovenproof baking dish, covering the sides to prevent sticking. Pour in the egg mixture and bake uncovered for 40 to 50 minutes or until the top is puffed and golden brown. Test the doneness of the center of the eggs with a skewer, if it comes out clean then the eggs are cooked.

To roast the eggplants in the oven, place them in a non-stick roasting pan. Drizzle with olive oil, coating all sides. Roast, on the lower rack of oven, until golden brown, about 35 to 40 minutes. Check every 10 to 15 minutes to flip them over. Globe eggplants soak up less oil when browned in oven.

Braised Pinto Beans (Loobia Chiti)

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Braised Pinto Beans (Loobia Chiti)

Braised Pinto Beans (Loobia Chiti)

I learned to make this simple braised bean dish called Loobia Chiti from my mother-in-law. Don’t let its simplicity fool you. It’s one of those dishes that you would find yourself making again and again because it’s so tasty and nutritious.

Braised Pinto Beans (Loobia Chiti)

Prep time: 5 min
Cook time: 60 min
Ready in: 1 hour 5 min
Yields: 6 servings

INGREDIENTS

2 cups pinto beans
5 cups water
1 whole onion peeled
Extra virgin olive oil
Fresh lemon juice
Salt and ground black pepper

INSTRUCTIONS

Soak beans overnight in 6 cups of water. Discard the water the next day and rinse before cooking. Soaking allows dried beans to absorb water and begin to dissolve the starches that cause intestinal discomfort.

Add beans, onion and water to a stock pot. Bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium low and cook, covered, for 1 hour or until beans are tender. Discard the onion. The beans should have a little liquid. Add more water if needed. If there is too much liquid, simmer uncovered.

To serve ladle beans into a bowl. Add extra virgin olive oil, fresh lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste.

Yogurt and Spinach Dip (Borani Esfenaj)

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Yogurt and Spinach Dip (Borani Esfenaj)

Yogurt and Spinach Dip (Borani Esfenaj)

This Persian version of spinach dip is a lot healthier and lower in calorie than the traditional Western version made with mayonnaise and sour cream. This dish can be served as an appetizer with pita bread or as a side with a main dish.

Yogurt and Spinach Dip (Borani Esfenaj)

Prep time: 5 min
Cook time: 10 min
Ready in: 15 min
Yields: 6 servings

INGREDIENTS

1 pound fresh spinach
4 cups yogurt
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 garlic clove grated (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS

In a large skillet, cook spinach on high heat until all juices are gone, stirring occasionally. Set aside to cool.

Press any excess liquid out of spinach and coarsely chop.

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Serve with pita bread.

Chicken Broth with Rotisserie Chicken Bones

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Chicken Broth with Rotisserie Chicken

Chicken Broth with Rotisserie Chicken

I usually make homemade chicken broth with raw chicken and let it cook for few hours. My aunt always uses the turkey carcass for soup the day after Thanksgiving so I thought to try the same thing with rotisserie chicken. I flavored the broth with vegetables, herbs and turmeric and to my surprise it turned out real tasty.

 Chicken Broth with Rotisserie Chicken Bones

Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 1 hour
Ready in: 1 hour 10 min
Yields: 7 to 8 cups

INGREDIENTS

1 rotisserie carcass
1 carrot, peeled and cut in half
1 celery stalk cut in half
1 onion, peeled
1 clove garlic
1 turnip, peeled and cut in half
1 cauliflower stem
½ cup fresh parsley, rinsed
¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
2 bay leaves
9 cups water

INSTRUCTIONS

Add all the ingredients to a 5-quart pot. Pour in about 9 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium low and simmer, covered, for 1 hour.

Place a mesh strainer over a large bowl. Pour the broth mixture through the strainer. Discard the bones and vegetables. Skim off the chicken fat that rises to the top.

I always refrigerate my chicken stock or broth overnight and remove all the fat the next day to make it healthier and lower in calories. Fat solidifies when chilled and becomes a lot easier to remove.

Chicken Noodle Soup

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Chicken Noodle Soup

Chicken Noodle Soup

Nothing soothes a cold better than a bowl of homemade chicken noodle soup. I used my homemade chicken stock in this recipe. If you don’t have homemade stock, either cook two chicken legs in 8 cups of water for half an hour then add the rest of the ingredients or just use store-bought chicken stock.

Chicken Noodle Soup

Prep time: 5 min
Cook time: 15 min
Ready in: 20 min
Yields: 6 servings

INGREDIENTS

3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
1 cup fresh parsley, washed and finely chopped
8 cups homemade chicken stock
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon turmeric
4 ounces angel hair pasta broken into pieces, or vermicelli
2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced

INSTRUCTIONS

Add carrots, parsley, chicken stock, salt and turmeric to a 5-quart pot and bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium low, cook for 5 minutes.

Add potatoes and noodles. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve with slices of fresh lemon juice.

Cream Filled Pastries

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Cream Filled Pastry

Cream Filled Pastry

I learned to makes these pastries from a Persian friend. Baking cannot get any easier than this. This is so easy to make that all she gave me was instruction on how to put them together. The best part is you don’t have to make anything from scratch to create these delicious pastries.

Cream Filled Pastries

Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 20 min
Ready in: 1 hr
Yields: 18 pastries

INGREDIENTS

½ pint heavy whipping cream
1½ tablespoons sugar
1 package (3.4 oz.) instant vanilla pudding mix
1 package pastry puffs
1 tablespoon melted butter

INSTRUCTIONS

Place heavy cream and sugar in a small bowl. Whip on high speed for about 5 minutes or until a soft peak forms. Keep cool in the fridge.

Mix vanilla pudding and milk in a small bowl. Using a handheld mixer whip on high speed for 2 to 3 minutes. Place in the fridge to set.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and adjust the oven rack to the middle position. Spray an oven tray or cookie sheet with nonstick cooking spray.

Cut the pastry puffs into 2 sections. If using the sheet pastry puffs, cut them into 5 by 2.5 inch sections or squares of 2.5 inches for smaller pastries. Arrange the pastries on the oven tray, brush with butter. Cook in the oven for 20 minutes or until golden. Cool on wire racks.

While the pastries are baking, add the whipped cream and pudding to a medium size bowl, mix to combine.

Cut each pastry in half lengthwise and fill with two tablespoons of the filling mixture. Transfer to a serving platter. Sprinkle pastries with powder sugar. Use a small strainer to get an even coverage.

Pan Kabab

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Pan Kabab

Pan Kabab

Believe it or not, Persians do have a few 30-minute meals. This is one example. Ground beef is mixed with grated onions and seasonings and cooked in tomato juice.

Pan Kabab 

Prep time: 5 min
Cook time: 20 min
Ready in: 25 min
Yields: 6 servings

INGREDIENTS

1½ pounds fresh 80% lean ground beef
1 large onion peeled and grated
1½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
6 small tomatoes sliced

INSTRUCTIONS

Combine all the ingredients, except tomatoes, in a large nonstick skillet. Spread and smoothen the meat mixture in the pan.

Place skillet over medium-high heat. Cook for about 4 to 5 minutes or until the juices are gone. Cut the meat into serving portions. You can cut them vertically, in a pie shape or into square shape. Flip the pieces over. Place sliced tomatoes over the meat. Lower heat to medium. Cover and cook for about 10 to 15 minutes or until all juices are gone.

Serve with white rice and Persian salad.

The meat mixture can be shaped into oval patties and cooked as instructed.

Ground Beef Kabab

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Ground Beef Kabab

Ground Beef Kabab

Here is an easy and hassle-free kabab recipe for those lazy days when you crave Koobideh but don’t feel like going through the trouble of shaping the meat around the skewers and risking the chance of expensive meat falling off the skewers.

Ground Beef Kabab 

Prep time: 5 min
Cook time: 20 min
Ready in: 25 min
Yields: 6 servings

INGREDIENTS

1½ pounds fresh 80% lean ground beef
1 large onion peeled and grated
1½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
6 small tomatoes

INSTRUCTIONS

In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients, except the tomatoes. Mix well. Let stand for 5 minutes at room temperature. Take a handful of the mixture, form into 5-inch oblong patties. Repeat until all the meat is gone. Grill 5 to 7 minutes on each side or until the meat is no longer pink. Place tomatoes on a skewer and grill. Serve with bread or rice.

Potato Crusted Salmon

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Potato Crusted Salmon

Potato Crusted Salmon

I usually make this dish with white fish, but this time decided to use salmon because of all its health benefits. Salmon is delicious whether you bake it, broil it or grill it. I prepared this dish without adding any binding agent to keep it gluten free but if you want the potato crust to really stick to the salmon, you can lightly dust the salmon with flour then roll in potato mixture.

Potato Crusted Salmon

Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 15 min
Ready in: 25 min
Yields: 4 servings

INGREDIENTS

2 salmon fillets
2 large potatoes
2 green onions
2 tablespoon olive oil
Salt
Ground black pepper
Garlic powder

INSTRUCTIONS

Place a salmon fillet on a cutting board. Keeping your knife parallel to the cutting board, cut the salmon crosswise, halfway from top to bottom, to end up with two pieces of salmon fillets. Season all fillets with salt, pepper and garlic powder.

Wash and peel the potatoes. Using the side of a cheese grater with the large holes shred the potatoes. Wash and chop the green onions. Mix grated potatoes and chopped green onions in a bowl, season with salt and pepper.

Heat olive oil in a nonstick skillet. Place two small, evenly spaced mounds of the potato mixture in the skillet. Press a piece of salmon onto each mound and cover with more potato mixture. Fry the salmons, uncovered, over medium heat for 6 to 7 minutes or until the potatoes are golden brown and crispy. Carefully flip the salmons over and fry for an additional 6 to 7 minutes. The potatoes should be nicely crusted on both sides and the salmon cooked through.

Yogurt Salad with Dill and Walnuts

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Mixing all the goodness of yogurt with refreshing cucumber, fresh dill, walnuts and raisins transforms the plain yogurt into a deceptively delicious dish.

Yogurt Salad with Dill and Walnuts

Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 0
Ready in: 15 min
Yields: 6 servings

INGREDIENTS

3 cups plain yogurt
1 medium English cucumber or 3 large Persian cucumbers
1/3 cup raisins
1/3 cup walnuts chopped
1/2 cup fresh dill washed, drained and chopped
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

INSTRUCTIONS

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl. Taste and adjust seasoning to taste.

Feta Cheese Tomato and Cucumber Appetizer

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Feta Cheese Tomato and Cucumber Appetizer

Feta Cheese Tomato and Cucumber Appetizer

Ever since I tried this tasty and refreshing appetizer at a friend’s house, I’ve been making it every summer. The combination of bread with feta cheese, cucumber and tomato is very traditional, but what makes this dish super tasty is the addition of dried mint (fresh won’t taste as good) with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. You get a minty, tangy and mildy sweet taste in every bite of this appetizer. This is what I call simplicity at its best!

Feta Cheese Tomato and Cucumber Appetizer

Prep time: 5 min
Cook time: 0 min
Ready in: 5 min
Yields: 2 Servings

INGREDIENTS

1/2 French baguette
2 oz. feta cheese
1 roman tomato, cored and sliced
1 large Persian cucumber, peeled and sliced
1/4 teaspoon dried mint
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
½ tablespoon balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

Arrange sliced feta cheese, tomato and cucumber on a platter and sprinkle with dried mint. In a small bowl combine olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Drizzle dressing over the cucumber and tomato slices. Top bite size bread pieces with feta cheese, tomato and cucumber to serve.

Yogurt and Cucumber Dip

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Yogurt and Cucumber Dip

Yogurt and Cucumber Dip

Yogurt and cucumber dip is a very popular appetizer that is usually served with chips or pita bread. This versatile and delicious dish also complements Persian dishes like estamboli polo, adas polo and baghali polo to name a few. Any plain yogurt works in this recipe, from nonfat to Greek which has a much higher fat content.

Yogurt and Cucumber Dip

Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 0
Ready in: 10 min
Yields: 6 servings

INGREDIENTS

3 cups plain yogurt
1 English cucumber or 3 large Persian cucumbers peeled and diced
1 large garlic clove peeled and finely chopped (optional)
2 tablespoons fresh mint chopped or 2 teaspoons dried mint
1 tablespoon fresh French tarragon leaves chopped or 1 teaspoon dried tarragon (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

INSTRUCTIONS

Combine the yogurt, cucumber, fresh or dried mint, garlic, salt and pepper in a bowl. Adjust the seasoning to taste. Garnish with fresh or dried mint. Serve with chips or pita bread.

Ghormeh Sabzi (Persian Herb Stew) for Two

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Ghormeh Sabzi for Two

Ghormeh Sabzi for Two

Another method of cooking any khoresht is to cook the meat in water first then add the rest of the ingredients. This method comes in handy when the meat is frozen and you have no time to defrost it. No matter which method you use, ghormeh sabzi is always finger-licking good.

Ghormeh Sabzi (Persian Herb Stew)

Prep time: 30 min
Cook time: 1 hour 30 min
Ready in: 2 hours
Yields: 2 servings

INGREDIENTS

10 oz. stew meat (about 6 pieces 1.5-inch cubes or 1.5 cups)
1/2 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon turmeric
2 cups water
1 bunch fresh parsley (about 8 cups loosely packed leaves)
1 bunch fresh cilantro (about 4 cups loosely packed leaves)
1 small bunch fresh green onions (about 6)
2 teaspoons dried fenugreek or 1 tablespoon fresh
3 tablespoons oil
1 small onion chopped (about 3/4 cup)
2 whole dried Persian limes pierced with a fork
1/3 cup cooked red kidney beans (about 2 tablespoons uncooked)

INSTRUCTIONS

Add meat, water and a little salt and pepper to a small pot. Bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium low and cook for one hour.

While meat is cooking, wash and finely chop the herbs. Add herbs and 2 tablespoons oil to a frying pan. Cook on medium-high heat for about 15 minutes or until the herbs are fried and become aromatic. Stir frequently.

In a small pot, fry onions in 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat for about 6 to 8 minutes or until golden. Stir in salt, pepper, turmeric and lemons. Add fried herbs and onion mixture to the meat. Cook on medium-low heat for 30 minutes or until the meat is fork tender. Add cooked beans and adjust seasoning.

Serve with white basmati rice.

Khoresht Gheymeh Bademjan (Yellow Split Peas and Eggplant Stew)

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Khoresht Gheymeh Bademjan (Yellow Split Peas and Eggplant Stew)

Khoresht Gheymeh Bademjan (Yellow Split Peas and Eggplant Stew)

What’s not to like about this scrumptious gheymeh bademjan. For most people trying Persian food for the first time, gheymeh is “love at first bite” I’m told. Now, swap the fries with buttery fried eggplants and you have gheymeh bademjan, yum!

Khoresht Gheymeh Bademjan (Yellow Split Peas and Eggplant Stew)

Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 1 hour 45 min
Ready in: 2 hour
Yields: 6 Servings

INGREDIENTS

For meat
6 tablespoons oil
1 large onion diced
1½ pounds stew beef cut into ½-inch cubes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
3 cups hot water
6 dried Persian limes pierced with fork or 4 tablespoons lemon juice

For split peas
¾ cup yellow split-peas, picked over, rinsed and drained
2 cups water

For eggplant
½ cup oil
2 large globe eggplants

INSTRUCTIONS

In a medium deep skillet, heat 6 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. Add onions, cook for about 5 to 7 minutes or until slightly golden. Add meat, increase heat to high. Cook until all liquid evaporates, about 5 minutes.

Stir in tomato paste, salt, pepper and turmeric. Cook for 5 minutes or until tomato paste changes the color of oil. Frying tomato paste develops a deeper flavor and almost a saffron-like color in the sauce. Add 3 cups hot water, cover and bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium low and cook for 1 hour.

While meat is cooking, add split peas and 2 cups water to a medium-sized pot. Bring to a boil, cook for 15 to 20 minutes or until split peas are tender. Drain and set aside. Split peas used in this recipe are the “slow cook” type available at Middle Eastern markets or online. Regular split peas, found at most supermarkets, tend to cook faster and fall apart in Persian dishes. If using “regular” split peas adjust the cooking time.

In a large skillet, heat ½ cup oil over medium heat. Add eggplants, brown each side for 2 to 4 minutes. Place on paper towel to drain the excess oil.

When meat is fork tender, stir in split peas and limes. Gently arrange the eggplants on top. Cook for 30 minutes or until eggplants are tender. Adjust seasoning to taste.

Serve over basmati rice.

To salt eggplants

Using a sharp knife make a shallow cut around the head of the eggplants and remove the leafy parts overlapping the flesh (optional). Peel eggplants, cut into quarters (cut in half lengthwise, cut each half into quarters lengthwise). Generously sprinkle eggplants with salt. Place in a strainer set over a bowl to catch the drips. Allow eggplants to rest for 1 hour or until you see liquid droplets forming on them (20 minutes if short on time). Rinse eggplants under running water, pat dry with paper towel and gently squeeze to get most of the liquid out. Eggplants are salted prior to frying to pull out the bitter-flavored juices and to prevent them from absorbing too much oil.

To roast eggplants, preheat oven to 400° F (200° C).

Place eggplants in a non-stick roasting pan. Drizzle with oil, coating all sides. Roast, on the lower rack of oven, until golden brown, about 35 to 40 minutes. Check every 10 to 15 minutes to flip them over. Globe eggplants soak up less oil when browned in oven.

Ash Reshteh (Persian Noodle Soup) – Simplified Version

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Ash reshteh (a vegetarian noodle soup) is one of those Persian dishes that can literally take some home cooks an entire day to make. To streamline the process and cut cooking time, canned beans and frozen spinach are used in this recipe and the entire dish is cooked in one pot. You can use frozen or dry herbs and substitute dry lentils with canned lentils. If you can’t find reshteh (Persian noodles), use linguine pasta. See wiseGEEK for a more detailed description of this dish.

Ash Reshteh (Persian Noodle Soup) – Simplified Version 

Prep time: 20 min
Cook time: 1 hr 30 min
Ready in: 1 hr 50 min
Yields: 6 servings

INGREDIENTS

1 bunch fresh parsley (2 cups chopped)
1 bunch fresh green onions (2 cups chopped)
1 bunch fresh cilantro (2 cups chopped)
1 pound frozen chopped spinach
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 large onions peeled and chopped (4 cups)
3 large garlic cloves peeled and finely chopped (1 tablespoon)
1 teaspoon dried mint
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ teaspoon turmeric
½ cup lentils
9 cups hot water
2/3 package reshteh (Persian noodles) about 9 ounces
1 teaspoon dried fenugreek (optional)
1 can pinto beans (15 oz.) drained and rinsed
1 can chickpeas (15 oz.) drained and rinsed

Garnish (optional)
2 tablespoons oil
3 large garlic cloves finely chopped
1 teaspoon dried mint

INSTRUCTIONS

Clean parsley and cilantro by cutting off the stems. Cut off the root ends of green onions. Wash, drain and coarsely chop all the herbs either by hand or in a food processor.

In a large pot, heat 1/3 cup oil over medium-high heat. Add chopped onions. Cook for 20 minutes or until slightly golden, stirring occasionally. When onions are translucent and start to turn golden on edges lower heat to medium. Stir in chopped garlic, cook for 2 to 3 minutes until fragrant. Add dried mint, cook for 1 minute then add salt, pepper, turmeric, lentils and hot water. Cover, bring to a gentle boil. You can use cold water but it will take longer to bring to a boil.

Lentils used in this recipe cook in 20 minutes. Adjust cooking time if using longer-cooking lentils. If using canned lentils add in the next step.

Add fresh herbs, frozen spinach and dried fenugreek. Cook for 10 minutes. Break noodles in half and add to the pot along with the beans. Stir for few minutes to separate the noodle strands. Cook over medium-low heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Do not cover.

Noodles expand and thicken the ash the longer they cook. Ash is a thick soup but its consistency can be adjusted by adding more hot water to thin or simmering it longer to reduce the liquid.

For garnish, heat 2 tablespoons oil in a small pot. Add chopped garlic. Cook over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes or until golden. Stir in mint, cook for 1 to 2 minutes.

If using kashk, adjust the seasoning after adding it as some kashk can be real salty. You can substitute kashk with sour cream or yogurt.

To serve transfer ash to a large serving bowl. Garnish with sautéed garlic and mint. I usually don’t garnish my ash with caramelized onions because it takes about 50 minutes to prepare but if you have the time it would make the ash more delicious.

Eggs Over Fried Tomatoes

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In this tasty breakfast/brunch recipe red tomatoes are dry-roasted to speed up the caramelization of their natural sugars and then fried and topped with eggs.

Eggs Over Fried Tomatoes

Prep time: 5 min
Cook time: 15 min
Ready in: 20 min
Yields: 2 to 4 Servings

INGREDIENTS

3 large tomatoes cored and cut into ½-inch slices
1 tablespoon oil
4 large eggs
Salt and ground black pepper

INSTRUCTIONS

Heat a medium-sized skillet over medium-high heat. Arrange a layer of tomatoes in the skillet, sprinkle with salt. Cook for 5 minutes. Turn the slices over. Add oil and cook for an additional 5 minutes or until tomatoes are slightly fried.

Gently crack the eggs over the tomatoes. Cover, cook over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes or until egg whites are set and the yolks are runny.

Season with salt and pepper. Serve with toasted pita bread or French bread.

Vegetarian Bozbash (Herbs Abgoosht)

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In this vegetarian version of abgoosht bozbash, the herbs are sautéed in olive oil (just enough to release their aroma and add more flavor) and less water is used to make the dish heartier, more like an ash (a thick soup). Add extra water or vegetable stock for a thinner abgoosht-like consistency. Red kidney beans can be substituted for black-eyed peas for a meatier texture.

Vegetarian Abgoosht Bozbash (Herbs Abgoosht)

Prep time: 30 min
Cook time:  2 hour 30
min Ready in: 3 hour
Yields: 4 to 6 servings

INGREDIENTS

2 cups chopped fresh parsley
1 cup chopped fresh green onions (scallions)
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro (coriander)
1 cup chopped fresh fenugreek or ¼ cup dried
8 tablespoons olive oil divided
1 large onion chopped
3 cloves garlic chopped
2 teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 tablespoon dried fenugreek
1 tablespoon ground lime
1 cup black-eyed peas
6 cups water
2 medium potatoes peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes

INSTRUCTIONS

Place chopped herbs and 4 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet. If using dried fenugreek, add ¼ cup to the skillet. Cook over medium-high heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Heat the remaining oil, 4 tablespoons, in a medium pot. Add chopped onions, cook over medium-high heat for about 6 to 8 minutes or until slightly golden. Stir occasionally to keep onions from burning. Stir in chopped garlic, salt, pepper, turmeric and dried fenugreek, cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until fragrant.

Dried fenugreek rehydrates when cooked with fresh herbs and intensifies in aroma and flavor when fried with onions.

Add sautéed herbs, ground lime, peas and water to the pot. Cover, bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium-low, cook for 20 minutes. Add potatoes, cook for 10 more minutes or until peas and vegetables are tender.

Ground lime releases its flavors more rapidly than whole lime. To get 1 tablespoon of ground lime, break 1 large whole lime into pieces, remove the seeds and grind in a spice grinder. Or use 2 tablespoons fresh lime as a substitute.

Taste and adjust seasoning.

Vegetarian Khoresht Bamieh Bademjan (Eggplant Stew with Okra)

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Vegetarian Khoresht Bamieh Bademjan (Eggplant Stew with Okra)

Prep time: 15 min
Cook time:  1 hour 30 min
Ready in: 1 hour 45 min
Yields: 6 servings

INGREDIENTS

For vegetables
2 large globe eggplants
1 pound fresh okra
½ cup olive oil divided

For sauce
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion chopped
3 large garlic cloves chopped
3 tablespoons tomato paste
½ teaspoon turmeric
1½ teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
2 cups hot water
¼ teaspoon ground saffron (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat oven to 400° F (200° C).

Using a sharp knife make a shallow cut around the head of the eggplants and remove the leafy parts overlapping the flesh (optional). Peel eggplants, cut into quarters (cut in half lengthwise, cut each half into quarters lengthwise).

Place eggplants in a non-stick roasting pan. Drizzle with olive oil, coating all sides. Roast, on the lower rack of oven, until golden brown, about 35 to 40 minutes. Check every 10 to 15 minutes to flip them over. Globe eggplants soak up less oil when browned in oven.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add okras, cook for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and set aside.

Keep okras intact to prevent them from becoming mushy and slippery when cooked. When cleaning, cut the stem ends without getting too close to the pod. Okras release a gelatinous substance when pierced during cooking.

While eggplants are roasting, heat 4 tablespoons oil in a medium shallow pot. Add chopped onions, cook over medium-high heat until slightly golden, about 6 to 8 minutes. Stir occasionally to keep from burning. Add garlic, cook 2 to 3 minutes until fragrant. Stir in tomato paste, turmeric, salt and pepper. Lower heat to medium, cook 3 to 4 minutes, stirring frequently, to develop a richer color and flavor in the sauce. Stir in lemon juice, water and saffron.

Add eggplants and okras to the sauce, cook 30 to 40 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Serve over basmati rice.