The best Persian winter feeds to get you through the chilly weather
Thinking about trying Persian cooking?
Warm up this Aussie winter with a selection of Maman’s favourite Persian stews, pilafs and desserts.
One pot Persian rice with green beans (Loubia polow)
3 cups basmati rice
600g beef, diced
1 onion, diced
600g green beans
2tbs tomato paste
1/2tsp of each angelica, cumin, nutmeg (optional)
1/2tsp saffron, ground
6tbs olive oil
3tbs melted butter
Wash the rice and soak in salty water for at least half an hour.
Heat 3tbs oil in a pot, add onion and sauté for a few minutes over low to medium heat. Increase heat to high, add meat and fry until browned. Add turmeric and stir well. Add black pepper, tomato paste and sauté for another minute.
Add 1 cup water and cover. Cook over low heat for 45 minutes.
Cut the green beans into 2cm pieces and fry in 1tbs oil for 5 minutes. Add the beans to the cooked meat, with some cinnamon and ground saffron. Cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally until the liquid is absorbed.
In a large pot bring water to the boil, drain the pre-soaked rice and add to the boiling water. Add 1tbs salt and boil for around 4 minutes until the rice is tender on the outside but still hard on the inside. Remove from the heat and drain in a colander.
Pour 2tbs oil in the same pot, and spread 2 large spoonfuls of the rice along the bottom of the pot. This will make the tahdig. Mix the the rest of the rice with the meat and bean mixture. Mound the rice mixture in the pot over the first layer of rice. Make sure you mound the rice in a dome shape, scraping away from the sides of the pot. Using the end of a spatula, poke several holes through the rice, wrap the pot lid with a tea towel to capture the steam and cook on medium high heat for only 5 minutes.
Reduce the heat to very low and steam the rice for 35 minutes.
Spoon the rice on a serving platter and pour melted butter over it before serving.
Saffron rice with barberries & chicken (Zereshk polow ba morgh)
Saffron rice with barberries:
3 cups long grain basmati rice
1 large potato, sliced into thin rounds (1-2cm thick)
1 cup barberries, washed and rinsed
1/2tsp saffron, finely ground*
6 chicken pieces (we use drumsticks; thigh and breast are fine as well)
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1tsp Persian advieh*
pinch of chilli powder
1tbs tomato paste
1tbs liquid saffron
1tbs lemon juice
In a large bowl wash the rice, changing the water twice. Add 1tbs salt, cover with water and soak for half an hour.
Place saffron in a small bowl, add 3tbs hot water, then place aside.
In a large non-stick saucepan bring 2 litres water and 1tbs salt to the boil. Drain the rice and add to boiling water over high heat. Boil for 5 minutes until tender on the outside and firm in the middle; don’t overcook the rice. Drain and rinse rice with cold water.
On medium heat add 1tbs oil in saucepan, and arrange the potato slices along the base. This protects the rice from burning and also makes heavenly crunchy potato tahdig, which is served alongside many Persian meals. Pour the rice on top and using a spatula, form a cone or hill shape with the rice. Pour the remaining 1tbs oil over the rice. To build steam, wrap the lid in a tea towel (wrap the underside of the lid) before covering the rice. Leave on medium heat for 2 minutes then reduce heat to very low. Cook for 40 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat butter in a medium saucepan, add barberries, and mix well. Add sugar and stir, then remove from the heat. Once the rice is cooked, add 1 spatula of the rice to the liquid saffron in a small bowl and mix. Then add to the barberry mixture.
Heat the oil in a large pan, frying the chicken until slightly brown.
Add onion, stirring for 1 minute, then add garlic and stir. Add turmeric and season with salt then mix all together. Add advieh, chilli, tomato paste, and stir thoroughly. Finally, pour 1tbs liquid saffron, lemon juice and 1/2 cup water to the pan.
Cover and cook on low heat for 30 minutes.
Place cooked rice on a large serving platter and garnish with barberry mixture. Scrape the crusted potato tahdig from the bottom of the pot and serve on a large plate. Serve slow-cooked chicken straight from the pot, pouring the juices over the chicken and rice on each plate.
1. To grind saffron, place 1 pinch of saffron threads and 1 pinch of sugar in a mortar and
grind until it turns to powder.
2. Advieh spice may be purchased in Persian or specialty stores. Alternatively, you could use equal small amounts ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, ground cardamom, and half ground cumin. It’s not the same, but fairly close.
Pomegranate and walnut chicken stew (Fesenjoon)
2tbs olive oil
1 medium brown onion, diced
2 chicken breasts, diced into small pieces
150ml pomegranate molasses or syrup (available from specialty stores; don’t use juice)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1. Crush the walnuts using a meat mallet or pulse a few times in a food processor (Maman likes to pulse until finely chopped, but bigger chunks work fine as well).
2. Heat 2tbs olive oil in a large saucepan and add the chicken pieces. Cook on medium heat until golden brown.
3. Add onion to the saucepan and stir until it softens. Reduce to low heat.
4. Add walnuts, cinnamon, salt and pepper to the pan. Stir for 1-2 minutes.
5. Pour 2 cups of water to the mixture and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low, place lid and cook for 30 minutes.
6. Pour pomegranate syrup and sugar into the stew, mix well and replace lid. Continue cooking for another 25-30 min. The sauce should gradually thicken and turn a dark brown. The ideal flavour is a perfect blend of sweet and sour. If you find it’s too tangy, adjust the flavour with a little more sugar.
7. Serve over Persian rice, and garnish with crushed walnuts, parsley and pomegranate seeds (optional).
650g beef, diced (exclude for a meat free alternative)
1 onion, chopped
100g (3/4 cup) red kidney beans
50g (2 cups) dried ghormeh sabzi herb mix
1bunch fresh parsley
1bunch fresh chives
1/2 bunch spinach
4 dried lime
1/2 tsp black pepper
1. Soak the beans for a few hours or overnight
2. In a pot heat 3tbs oil, add onion and sauté for 3 mins
3. Add beef and fry until brown
4. Add turmeric and mix well, then add pepper
5. Drain the beans and add to the pot
6. Pierce the dried limes with a fork and place in the pot
7. Pour in 4 cups of water, and bring to the boil. Simmer for 30 minutes.
8. Meanwhile, place dried ghormeh sabzi mix with 1/2 cup water in a frying pan and mix well. Leave for 20 mins until water is absorbed.
9. Chop the fresh herbs and add to frying pan with the ghormeh sabzi mix (do this only after the water has been absorbed)
10. Add 3tbs oil to the pan and fry all herbs together for 5 mins
11. Spoon the fried herb mixture and 1tsp salt to the beef mixture. Mix well and cook on low heat for a further 1 hour.
12. Just before serving, pierce the dried limes again and squeeze with a fork to allow the juices to flow into the pot.
Serve with Persian rice.
Saffron & pistachio custard
Simple, indulgent and fragrant, this dessert reminds me of my childhood and holds a special place in my heart.
1/2 tsp saffron threads
110g wheat starch
40g pistachios, shells removed and crushed
1. Grind saffron threads, add 2tbs hot water and put aside
2. In a saucepan mix water and starch then add the milk, over medium heat
3. Stir constantly until mixture thickens
4. Add sugar and diluted saffron to the saucepan and mix well
5. Mix in one-third to one-half of the crushed pistachios while still warm, and sprinkle the remainder on top of the custard to serve.*
*This custard will harden to a jelly-like consistency after it has been poured into a dish and cooled, making it ideal when layering in trifles, etc. You may also like to sprinkle chocolate shavings or berries on top after the custard has cooled down. Otherwise, serve the custard while hot for a warming sweet treat!
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