Persian cuisine is ancient, and it adapted as well as inspired the cuisines of many ancient countries and cultures. It borrowed spices and recipes from India, ancient Greece and Rome, and influenced recipes of Turkish and Iranian dishes. The following books will give you great recipes and lots of interesting stories and information about Persian cuisine and beyond.
Green Bean and Potato Frittata/Kuku-ye Lubiya Sabz
Recipe copyright © Maryam Sinaiee 2018; “From the Land of Nightingales & Roses: Recipes from the Persian Kitchen” by Maryam Sinaiee published by Interlink Books.
“Iranians make a lot of food when they are entertaining guests—usually enough to feed a large crowd even if only one or two people are invited. Our leftovers keep very well and are sometimes even more delicious the next day, so nothing is ever wasted.”
6 tablespoons oil
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes
1 lb 5 oz green beans, thinly sliced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
6 large eggs, lightly beaten
Chives, to garnish (optional)
Heat 4 tablespoons of the oil in a large nonstick frying pan over medium heat and cook the potato cubes for around 10 minutes until golden brown, stirring from time to time. Remove from the oil, drain on paper towels and set aside. Fry the beans and carrots in the same oil for about 10 minutes or until they begin to brown around the edges. Leave to cool.
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Mix the salt, baking powder and spices into the flour. In a separate bowl, combine the cooked vegetables with the eggs and mix well. Sprinkle in the flour and spice mixture and stir to combine.
Drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons oil into a pie or flan dish (about 9 inches in diameter) and brush around the sides. Place the dish in the hot oven for 4 minutes, or until a little of the mixture dropped in the oil starts bubbling right away. Pour the mixture into the hot oil. Shake the dish and level the top with a spatula. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until the top is golden.
Remove from the oven and cool a little before cutting into wedges. Decorate with whole chives, if desired.
Persian Bejeweled Rice/Morassa Polow
Recipe copyright © Sabrina Ghayour 2014; from “Persiana: Recipes from the Middle East & Beyond” published by Interlink Books.
Traditionally, this dish is served at weddings. The word morassa literally means “jewel,” reflecting the colorful ingredients. The slightly unconventional addition of sugar sweetens the rice (which counters the fiercely sour barberries and the tangy orange zest). This opulent dish epitomizes the Persian tradition for incorporating fruit and nuts into savory cooking.
2 1/2 cups basmati rice
3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
10 1/2 tablespoons salted butter, divided
1 3/4 ounces slivered pistachios
1 3/4 ounces slivered almonds
1 3/4 ounces dried barberries
1 1/2 ounces dried, chopped sour orange peel (available from Middle Eastern shops)
Scant 2/3 cup superfine sugar
Fill a large saucepan with boiling water and place over medium-high heat. Add the rice and boil for 8 minutes. Drain the rice and rinse it immediately under cold running water for a couple of minutes until it is cool, to wash off all the excess starch. Drain the rice again and shake off as much excess water as possible.
Reduce the heat to the lowest setting. If your pan is not nonstick, line its base with parchment paper that you scrunch up and smooth out. Add 2 tablespoons of the oil and about one-third of the butter as well as a generous sprinkling of crushed sea salt, then gently scatter in the rice. Pile it up so that the rice forms a raised peak in the middle.
Wrap the pan lid in a dish towel (to lock in the steam and make for a secure, tight seal), cover the pan, and cook the rice for around 1 hour. Because all stoves differ, check the rice during this time to see if all the grains right up to the very top are steamed, fluffy and white. If the top grains look solid and opaque rather than fluffy and white, replace the lid and steam for longer.
Once cooked, turn off the heat. Place a large frying pan over high heat, add the remaining butter and oil and all the nuts, barberries, orange peel, and sugar and stir thoroughly and quickly. Keep mixing until the sugar and butter have dissolved into the nut mixture, then reduce the heat to low and cook until the berries are soft but not colored.
Once the rice is cooked, fill a large mixing bowl with two-thirds of the rice and stir in the nut-and-berry mixture. Carefully mix it
through and season with salt as desired. The rice left at the bottom of the pan (tahdig) will have a golden crust underneath, so peel away the parchment paper and enjoy!