Rain and lunch in Harringay, London

It is raining on Harringay High Street. I am waiting for my sogan kebab: minced lamb chargrilled with shallots and served with a pomegranate sauce and a delicious thin flatbread which they don’t even mention on the menu, but the flatbread deserves both mention and praise as it is delicious, if I remember correctly from last time.


Delicious notes from Istanbul


Pastry seller in Istanbul

The first time we went to Istanbul, we did it all wrong, committed all the classic tourist mistakes. We stayed in a middle of a tourist trap, did no research before the trip, relied on unreliable guidebooks. In our brief defence, the trip was a bit of a last minute decision, but still, I’m not proud. We enjoyed the sights, but found that above all we wanted to be in the more interesting parts of the city, and spent a lot of time outside Sultanhamet. We loved Üsküdar most. Overall, we had a reasonably good time, but got hassled in touristy places and were above all somewhat disappointed with the food we found. We thought the food would be better, easier to find. It’s rarely like that, though, of course.

This time, I did it all right. I did the research, choose accommodation strategically, and took time to explore the areas I that grabbed my attention when they did. I had a fantastic time. Istanbul turned out to be one of those cities where you need to dig below the surface to discover its true charms. It’s not surprising though, given its tourist appeal; I’m embarrassed at our past naivety.

Here are a few of my delicious notes from my September trip to Istanbul. With thanks to these excellent sources of information and inspiration: Delicious Istanbul, Eating Asia and Istanbul Eats.


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:



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



Saffron Rice (V)

Rice-stuffed chicken

Potato and lamb koresh with orange feel(Iranian stew)

Duck in walnut and pomegranate sauce



Iranian almond and rosewater baklava served with vanilla ice-cream



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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