All posts filed under: Iran

Newroz celebration in Istanbul. Photo by Bertil Videt.

Plan a “Kuku” picnic with tips & recipes from the Persian holiday Nowruz

The first picnic of the year is a thing of beauty: tender daffodils and hyacinths poking through last season’s dusty, yellowed grass. Herbs getting bushy and fragrant. The air is cool, but the sun is warm. If you’re looking for an excuse to get outside and celebrate, you’re in luck: the Persian New Year, known as Nowruz, is the time to do it. But before you scope out a sunny patch of grass, there are a few things you should know. Why Nowruz? Sure, you could just plunk down a blanket and pull out a pb&j sandwich, but there’s a reason people have been celebrating Nowruz for centuries, all over Iran, Afghanistan, India, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, China, and Uzbekistan. Nowruz is FUN.  This is more than a picnic – this is a mega picnic – full of ULTIMATE meaning and all kinds of joy. What’s the big deal? Nowruz means “new light,” which is the kind of giddy statement people make after a long, dark winter: “Yay! …

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Monday Meal Review: Iran

THE SCENE Beep. Beep. Beep. I was waiting to pay at Whole Foods, watching my food come down the belt with one eye and shooing Ava away from the chap stick display with the other. Other than that, I might as well have been asleep. I’ve been working hard. Lately, that’s all there’s been time for. Working to be a good mom. Working to be a good wife. Working to not melt in the 100F temperatures Tulsa has been sustaining for a month now. And, of course, working on work. My brain was tired, and the steady beep of the scanner only lulled me deeper into a trance. So, when the happy voice said “What’s the pomegranate syrup for?” it took me a few seconds to realize they were talking to me. I looked up, unglazed my eyes, and smiled. “What?” I said, looking vaguely at the bottle in the girl’s hand and then up at her name tag. Farisa, it read. “The pomegranate syrup?” Farisa was bagging my groceries. She was friendly, polite, and interested in …

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Iranian Cucumber Salad

Serves 2-4 Would you like to create a mosaic in a bowl? Capture the beauty of Iran in a bite? This bright, crunchy, sour Iranian side dish is at once cooling and hydrating – perfect for these dog days of summer. Also, it tastes a heck of a lot like a quick pickle. If you add the big bits of coarse ground pepper, you’ll be bitten by a teasing taste of heat. Recipe adapted from The Silk Road Gourmet by Laura Kelley. You can find more recipes and fascinating history on her blog Silk Road Gourmet. Ingredients: 1 large cucumber peeled, seeded, and cut into small pieces 1 small onion, finely chopped 14-16 fresh mint leaves, finely chopped (about 1 1/2 Tbsp) 1 1/2 Tbsp white vinegar 1 lime juiced (about 2 Tbsp) salt coarsely cracked pepper Garnish: Ground sumac Method: The beauty of this salad is how easy it is. Simply cut everything up, and toss together. Cover and place the mixture in the refrigerator for at least half an hour. Meanwhile, lay on …

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Kabab Koobideh

It’s been a long week. You’re tired. You might even be cranky (I won’t tell). I’ve got good news. Now is the perfect time to put on your superhero cape and make kababs on swords. (Ok. They aren’t really swords. They’re sword-like skewers. But they might as well be swords because they are that wonderful. You can buy them at your local Middle Eastern market and you’ll be forever glad you did.) Iranians – and people all across the Middle East – love to use these mega skewers to make their kababs – meat, tomatoes, all of it! After cooking, they slide the sausage-like portion either into pita bread or next to rice. Koobideh is almost always served with whole grilled tomatoes (on the skewers). Serves 4-6 Ingredients: 1 onion 2 lbs ground beef or lamb 1 Tbsp turmeric 1 Tbsp sumac 1 or 1 1/2 tsp salt 1 tsp pepper 1 egg, beaten Method: Today’s stove top travel takes us to the old city of Kharanaq. The golden tan against the deep blue sky bursts …

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“Doogh” you like fizzy yogurt? (w/ poll)

Have you ever taken a big swig of a drink expecting to taste one thing, but getting another? I have. Here’s what happened: I was little. I woke up in the middle of the night, crazy thirsty, and wandered blind into the kitchen to get a drink of water. Because we bottled our own spring water from Cape Cod, there was a lot of it – all stored on the side of the fridge in jugs. I felt my hand over the top of one and hoisted it up. I took several giant gulps before I realized it was most certainly not water. Nope. It was apple cider vinegar. My throat burned. I sweat. I shook. Then, I sweat some more.  I’ll always blame that moment as to why I have an immunity to vinegar. The more the better. Even though the story turned out well for me, I don’t want you to burn, sweat, or shake. Nope. I want you to know what you are in for with doogh. #1 It looks like a …

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Persian Sour Cherry Rice

Serves 6 Take a look around you. I mean really, really look around. Every little thing – that weathered window sill, the sparkly vase, even that fuzzy gray pillow – they can all be your inspiration. Your muse. The catalyst to the next great idea. Take this Persian Sour Cherry Rice, for example. When I look at this masterpiece in form and taste – I can’t help but wonder what inspired someone to create such a dish. Who was the clever soul that first made this tower of deliciousness infused with cinnamon, nutmeg – punctuated by soft pistachio nuggets, sour cherries and sweet caramelized onion? What were they looking at that sparked the idea? There had to be something. Let’s see if we can make some guesses… Recipe adapted from The Silk Road Gourmet by Laura Kelley. You can find more recipes and fascinating history on her blog Silk Road Gourmet. Ingredients: 1 1/2 cups uncooked basmati rice 2 Tbsp butter (or vegetable oil/vegan butter) 1 medium onion, sliced 1 tsp gr0und cinnamon 1/4 tsp nutmeg salt …

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Menu: Iran

It’s the dog days of summer over here in Tulsa, Oklahoma. All but two days in July have been over 100F. And there’s no end in sight. All day long the sky shimmers and the pavement radiates. My neighbor’s giant tree is dropping leaves. Our crusty grass hasn’t been green in weeks, and I haven’t worn a pair of socks since May. In honor of this painfully persistent heat wave, I’ve put together a refreshing summertime meal, straight from the heart of Iranian cooking. When it gets this hot, for this long, the only way to survive is to swim a lot and eat a good meal after the sun goes down. What sounds good to you? Persian Sour Cherry Rice [recipe] Delicate grains of basmati rice cooked with plump sour cherries, caramelized onion, cinnamon, nutmeg, and shelled pistachios. Kabab Koobideh (Iranian Spiced Beef Kabab) [recipe] One of Iran’s most famous kababs; our version is made with ground beef, seasoned with turmeric, sumac, onions, and pepper. For a special treat, dip kabab pieces in sweet/tart pomegranate …

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About the Food of Iran

Pop Quiz: Would an Iranian ever use minute rice? Welcome to one of the most mountainous countries in the world, chock full of winding mountain paths, arid plateaus, and scrubby, windswept trees. Welcome to Iran. If you learn one thing during this week’s Global Table Adventure, learn this: Iranians make the most beautiful, perfect rice. And I mean perfect. Jaw-dropping. Breath taking. Not one gummy grain in the lot. It should be no surprise then, that, from mountain top to mountain top, all across Iran, rice reigns supreme. And no, not minute rice. Never, ever would a true Iranian serve minute rice. Here’s the depth of their devotion to rice: Iranians celebrate a well prepared platter of light, spindly basmati rice as the main course. Made into an elegant presentation with potato crusts, onions, sour cherries, or barberries and often sprinkled with ghee and saffron – this is an entire universe apart from minute rice  [recipe]. As for the protein – the chicken? Well, I’ve personally heard Iranians simply call it a garnish. Everything I …

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