Persian feasts in my kitchen: The first courses

After the introduction to some fantastic Persian blogs, we’re continuing with our Persian journey. I now got our favourite Persian book from A., A Taste of Persia, lovingly called Batbook, which is the book we used most for our feast, so tonight, I’ll tell you about the dishes in more details.

Just to remind you, here’s the lovely Batbook:

 

A Taste of Persia: An Introduction to Persian Cuisine

A taste of Persia – by Najmieh Batmanglij

Right, and here’s the summary of the menu:

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FIRST COURSES

Yoghurt & Cucumber Salad (V)

Feat & walnut salad with herbs (V)

Stuffed peppers, aubergines and tomatoes (in a tangy tomato sauce )(V)

Fresh Herb Kuku – Iranian baked omelette (V)

Lamb fillet kebabs

 

MAINS

Saffron Rice (V)

Rice-stuffed chicken

Potato and lamb koresh with orange feel(Iranian stew)

Duck in walnut and pomegranate sauce

 

DESSERT

Iranian almond and rosewater baklava served with vanilla ice-cream

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And now the delicious details:

 

 

Yoghurt & Cucumber Salad (V)

Mast-o khiar, Batbook pg. 26

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Yoghurt & Cucumber Salad – Photo by Samantha Twigg Johnson

The recipes for this salad, which can easily be turned into a soup, is availably on Batmanglij’s website, Najmieh’s Kitchen. Yoghurt is combined with cucumber, mint, spring onions, dill, oregano, thyme, tarragon, garlic and raisins for a refreshingly cooling summery salad. Garnished with radish, walnuts, herbs and rose petals, it is a beauty to behold.

 

 

Feat & walnut salad with herbs (V)

This isn’t an Iranian recipe, but my creation based on an Iranian cheese and walnut spread from Batbook (pg. 33). We didn’t have the time to puree it in the blender, plus I improvised a bit with the ingredients, but ths spirit is there: cheese, walnuts, herbs. And it’s fantastic! I love the combination of the salty feta and walnuts! I works really really well. Especially with the fresh herb kuku. I’ll post the recipe soon.

 

 

Stuffed peppers, aubergines and tomatoes (in a tangy tomato sauce) (V)

Dolmeh-ye felfel sabz-o badjeman-o gojeh farangi, Batbook pg. 36

We adapted this recipe to make it veggie friendly by omitting the meat completely, and increasing the quantities of rice and yellow split peas (or chana dhal in our case). These were mixed with herbs and advieh and then used to stuff the veg. The tangy tomato sauce has sugar, cinnamon, lime juice and saffron on it.

 

 

Fresh Herb Kuku – Iranian baked omelette (V)

Kuku-ye sabzi, Batbook pg. 49

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Fresh Herb Kuku – Photos by Samantha Twigg Johnson

I was quite impressed by kuku, the wonderful Iranian omelette. This version is baked in the oven, and based on fresh herbs: parsley, coriander, spring onions (including the green bits), fresh fenugreek (methi). The original recipe calls for dill and chives, but we didn’t have any, so I substituted what we had. The herby egg mixture is seasoned with advieh, Iranian spice mixture, and given a slightly tart edge with the addition of barberries, sour little berries characteristic of Iranian cooking. We also threw in a small handful of walnuts for a bit of crunch, and it was delicious. Really good with the yoghurt salad, and the feta and walnut salad. Batmanglij’s recipe (without the walnuts) is available on Epicurious.com.

Lamb fillet kebabs

Kabab-e barg, Batmanglij pg. 76

If you have a chance, have a look at the picture of kebabs on pg. 76 in Batmanglij’s book. Ours looked nothing like it. I think we have a long way to go in perfecting our kebab skills. Oh well, at least we had fun. Have you ever tried juicing an onion? No? Oh you must. Actually you mustn’t. Still hilarious though!

 

Let me tell you about mains next….

 

 

 

Here are the other posts from my Persian series:

 

Persian feast in my kitchen: Intro

Persian feast in my kitchen: the mains

Persian baklava: the sweet end to our feast

 

And check out:

Persian food blogs

 

 

 

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Persian feast in my kitchen: Intro

I mentioned earlier my culinary explorations: my friend A. and I get together and explore a cuisine of our choice. So far we cooked Sichuanese, Moroccan and Persian, just before my old kitchen went out. Tonight, I’ll tell you about our Persian adventures because – guess what – we have some photos from that! We exchanged some food for Sam’s photographic excellence – a great move – and voila!

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Iranian yoghurt salad – Photo by Samantha Twigg Johnson

 

A. is very passionate about Persian cooking, which is an understatement, to tell you the truth. It was his fine idea to cook this feast.

It was a serious undertaking, mind you. Sometimes I think you must be mad to do it, which I suspect we were/are. It took us a week to plan it (decide on the recipes, devise the plan of action, etc.), a day to shop for it, and a day and a half to cook it. But it was all well worth it!

Take a look at the menu:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

FIRST COURSES

Yoghurt Salad (V)

Feat & walnut salad with herbs (V)

Stuffed peppers, aubergines and tomatoes in a tangy tomato sauce (V) –

Herb Kuku – Iranian baked omelette (V)

Lamb fillet kebabs

 

MAINS

Saffron Rice (V)

Rice-stuffed roast chicken

Potato and lamb koresh (Iranian stew)

Duck in walnut and pomegranate sauce

 

DESSERT

Iranian almond and rosewater baklava served with vanilla ice-cream

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

We also made advieh, a Persian spice mixture:

 

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Advieh – Photo by Samantha Twigg Johnson

 

Persian or Iranian cuisine has been, and still is, among the greatest in the world. With their sophisticated tastes and techniques, Persian cooks have influenced Indian and Middle-Eastern cooking. I chose this yoghurt salad for introduction because it gives indication of what Persian food is like: the use of yoghurt, walnuts, fresh herbs, attention to details in presentation. But more about this next time.

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Iranian yoghurt salad – Photos by Samantha Twigg Johnson

 

Now, before I leave for tonight, I want to share with your our bibliography:

 

A Taste of Persia: An Introduction to Persian Cuisine

A taste of Persia – by Najmieh Batmanglij

This is an excellent book, and we found most of our recipes were from it. Clearly presented, with pictures of all dishes, and a helpful list of ingredients at the end. Excellent introduction into Persian cooking.

 

New Food of Life: Ancient Persian and Modern Iranian Cooking and Ceremonies

New Food of Life: Ancient Persian and Modern Iranian Cooking and Ceremonies – by Najmieh Batmanglij

Interesting, and larger in scope than A taste of Persia, but I was slightly put off by the presentation of the recipes.

 

The Legendary Cuisine of Persia

The legendary cuisine of Persia – by Margaret Shaida

This is a very informative, and beautifully written book on Persian cuisine. I bought it after our cooking session.

 

The Persian Kitchen: Home Cooking from the Middle East

The Persian Kitchen: Home Cooking from the Middle East – by Neda Afrashi

Another lovely book on Persian food and customs.

 

This is to tickle your imagination until next time. I hope you enjoyed it, and I hope it has made you at least a little curious about Persian cooking.

 

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Here are the other posts from my Persian series:

Persian feast in my kitchen: the first courses

Persian feast in my kitchen: the mains

Persian baklava: the sweet end to our feast

 And check out:

Persian food blogs

________________________________________________

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