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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


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)


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.