Baghali Polo with Mahiche is one of the most popular dishes in Iran, and is usually served at parties such as wedding ceremonies. The combination of rice with dills and broad beans is called Baghali Polow, and the fork tender lamb shanks which is served beside the rice is called Mahiche. These two parts served together make a sublime taste.
Kebabs have more variety than you might think. First, there’s Koobideh, ground meat seasoned with minced onion, salt and pepper. It sounds simple, but the taste is sublime. There is kebab-e Barg, thinly sliced lamb or beef, flavored with lemon juice and onion and basted with saffron and butter. Chicken kebab, known as Joojeh, is traditionally made from a whole chicken, bones and all, for more flavor (although in American restaurants it’s often made from skinless chicken breast), marinated in lemon and onion, and basted with saffron and butter. If you’re lucky, you’ll find jigar, lamb liver kebab, garnished with fresh basil leaves and a wedge of lemon.
Before the introduction of electric fridges, families in the colder, northern provinces of Iran such as Azerbaijan devised ingenious ways to preserve meat for consumption during the winter months. The meat would be cut into small pieces (gheimeh), fried with onions, flavoured with turmeric and other spices and put into big earthenware vats. A thick layer of solidified fat on the top ensures a good seal against micro-organisms. These vats were kept in dark, cold basements over the winter. Each day, a small amount would be taken to add to the khoresht. Khoresht-e gheimeh is diced meat combined with yellow split peas, dried limes and saffron with fried potatoes. It is very popular all over Iran and can be cooked all year round; the combination of meat and pulses, served with rice, provides a nutritious meal.
This is a rich and nutritious dish, suitable for cold winter days. It combines complex carbohydrates, protein and fat, and with side dishes of fresh herbs and yogurt it makes a healthy balanced meal. Traditionally a poor man’s dish, it has come into its own in recent years for informal family meals. It used to be made with the cheapest cuts of lamb and animal fat. In the old tea houses and caravanserai, specially made individual clay pots were used to make Abgoosht. All the ingredients were put into the pot, a small quantity of water added and the lid was then sealed with mud. The pots were buried in the ashes of the wood stove and left to cook slowly. Today, better-quality cuts of lamb such as leg or shoulder shanks are used. Traditionally, the broth is strained off and served as a soup with pieces of bread floating on the surface like croutons. The meat and pulses are pounded together and eaten with fresh herbs and warm flat bread. The ingredients of Abgoosht vary from region to region. The most common version uses only chick peas and no tomato purée/ tomato paste. The recipe given here includes potatoes, red kidney beans and split peas, as well as tomato purée. It is a very easy dish to make, but it has to be cooked slowly in order for the flavours to develop. You can make it a day in advance to the stage of adding the red kidney beans; to serve, reheat it, then add the lemon juice and saffron just before serving.
Doogh is a Persian drink made with mint, yogurt, and club soda. If you don’t care for the bubbly, water can be used instead. Dried mint offers more intense flavor than fresh, so save the fresh mint for garnish.
Faloodeh (also spelled Paloodeh)--a Persian frozen dessert--is an ancient, much-beloved treat that originated in what is now the modern country of Iran. It’s completely unlike Western-style ice cream, though it does have some features in common with sorbet, and is made of such unusual ingredients as vermicelli rice noodles, rose water, lime juice, and cherry syrup--but it’s an incredible frozen dessert unlike anything else you’ll ever taste. Once you’ve tried faloodeh, you won’t want to go back to regular ice cream!
This iconic stew, an essential part of every Persian wedding menu. Khoresht-e fesenjan traditionally made with duck, this dish also works well with chicken or lamb. In the north of Iran it is sometimes made with fish. It is a relatively easy khoresht to make, but it must be cooked slowly to allow the flavours to develop in the sauce. The consistency should be thick and creamy and the colour almost black. The distinctive flavour combines the nutty taste of ground walnuts with the sweet and sour flavour of pomegranate syrup.
Khoresht-e ghormeh sabzi is sour and full of herbs. A popular favourite throughout Iran, this is a meal for both festive occasions and family meals. Recipes from different regions vary slightly. The Azerbaijani version, for example, uses black-eyed beans instead of red kidney beans. Recipes in the south of the country add chilli and garlic, while in Shiraz potatoes are sometimes used instead of beans. The recipe here departs from tradition by adding spinach to enhance the taste and give the dish a softer texture. Fenugreek gives a very distinctive aroma and flavour.
If you are familiar with Persian food or have Persian friends you know what Sabzi Khordan is. You must have at least tried it or are interested in trying it? Sabzi means herbs, Khordan is a verb and it means to eat, but put them together and it means fresh herbs that Persians love to eat with a variety of Persian meals. A plate of fresh herbs is served at most Persian meals, often taking the place of a salad. Serve this dish as an appetizer, or do as the Persians do and leave it on the table throughout the meal. Toasted spices and olive oil poured over the cheese add a warming boost of flavor.
For the Persian New Year (Norouz) celebrations it is traditional to serve this rice dish with fish – traditionally fillets of smoked white fish from the Caspian Sea. However, fresh fish is now widely available. In the north of Iran it is marinated in lemon juice and saffron and fried, while in the south the fish is stuffed and baked. This rice goes well with most fish and meat dishes.
Tahchin is an Iranian rice cake that includes rice, yogurt, saffron, egg, and chicken fillets. It is also possible to use vegetables, fish, or meat instead of the chicken fillets. Tahchin is composed of two different parts: The thin Tahdig part which includes the chicken fillets, saffron, and other ingredients at the bottom of the cooking pot and the second part which is the white rice. In restaurants, Tahchin is mostly prepared and served without the white rice part.
The sweet and sour flavour of zereshk (barberries) and the glistening ruby red berries set against the white and saffron tinged grains make this a feast for the taste buds and the eyes. Zereshk polo is served at weddings and other celebrations because it is impressive and easy to make in large quantities. It is usually served with chicken, but it is also delicious with Saffron yogurt lamb.