The Caspian Chef

Spreading love and awareness, fostering conversations, and bridging cultural gaps. Psychotherapist and Persian cuisine teacher.

Eshgh (love) عشق

Ferni – Rose water rice pudding

فرنی

This is Ferni, one of the most comforting and familiar dishes in Persian cuisine; a smooth and creamy dessert that is loved by both the old and the young. Though to call it *just* a dessert really doesn’t capture the essence and significance of this dish.

Ferni is so much more than a sweet rice pudding; it is a cultural phenomenon which requires more explanation. But first let’s talk about it as a culinary creation.

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Aash Gholvat – Potato and herb stew with eggs

آش قلوت

What looks like a soup or a stew, but is neither? It is an Aash!

Aash has always been front and center in Persian cuisine. This is a Persian term used to describe a thick style of soup that often combines a variety of beans, grains, sometimes noodles, herbs, spices and meat. 

There are nearly 50 varieties of Aash. Aash Resteh, Aash Jow and Aash Sholeh Ghalamkar top the list, followed by less recognized and more regional Aash dishes.

This Aash definitely packs a ton of flavors into a surprisingly simple vegetarian dish. The usual suspects in this Aash are Sabzi (fresh herbs in Farsi), and sprinkled on top fried dried mint leaves and caramelized onions.

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Sholeh Zard – Saffron and rosewater rice pudding

شله زرد

Sholeh Zard is a beloved and popular rice pudding that has all the quintessential flavors of a Persian dessert. Fragrant Persian rice is slowly simmered in a large body of water until it begins to soften. One by one, saffron, rosewater and sugar find their way into the pot and diligently do their part to create a creamy, aromatic and vibrant rice pudding that is as familiar to Iranians as apple pie is to Americans.

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Khoresh Kadu Halvaee – Butternut squash and golden plum stew

خورش کدو حلوائی

For me, there is something so special about this dish as it marks the beginning of Autumn by celebrating the season’s bounty.

Every year I find myself eagerly looking forward to the arrival of Fall and its seasonal produce: from an amazing variety of squashes including the sweet and tender butternut squash, to fruit like persimmons, quince, and pomegranate, and above all the extraordinarily flavorful Persian golden plums, known as Aloo Zard. These plums are golden in color and have a unique tart flavor which wins the hearts of all Iranians.

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Shirini Napoleoni – Napoleon pastries

شیرینی ناپلئونی

Shirini Napoleoni, or Napoleon pastries, are popular dessertys in Iran that are closely related to the French Mille-feuilles. The French name translates to “a thousand leaves”, referencing the layers of flaky and buttery puff pastry.

Traditionally, a mille-feuille is made of three layers of puff pastry, alternating with two layers of crème pâtissière. The top pastry layer is often then covered with cream and chocolate drizzle, pastry crumbs, or various coarsely ground nuts.

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Javahar Polo – Jeweled rice with saffron chicken

جواهر پلو

Javahar Polo (jeweled rice in Farsi), also known as Morasa Polo, is truly the ultimate rice dish that is often served at Persian New Year celebrations or at weddings. But you certainly don’t need to wait for spring equinox or a marriage proposal to treat yourself to this gem (all puns intended!) of a dish.

Persian food is a complex balance of abundance, color, flavor, design and presentation. No other dish matches the sophistication and elegance of this dish and the care given to its presentation. The sparkling ruby color of the barberries is enhanced with glistening, exquisite saffron. Accompanied by emerald green Iranian pistachios, sweet and tenderized carrots and caramelized orange peel, this dish is truly a visual and gastronomic feast.

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Kufteh Pesteh – Meatballs with pistachios and pomegranate

کوفته پسته

Yes indeed, this is another Kufteh (meatballs in Farsi) in the long line of meatballs in Persian cuisine. Except this one is just jam packed with incredible and unique flavors that are enhanced with the addition of fresh herbs and sparkling arils of pomegranate and the crunch of the much beloved emerald green colored Iranian pistachios.

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Paloudeh – Cantaloupe smoothie

پالوده

There is simply no shortage of creative and pleasing beverage choices in Persian cuisine!

In this refreshing drink, cantaloupe is instantaneously elevated with a splash of rosewater syrup and crushed ice, making an irresistible treat for hot summer days.

Persian culture has a deeply-rooted and rich tradition (mehmoon navazi in Farsi) of offering various treats to our guests. In summertime, these will inevitably include the “cooling” beverages such as Sharbat and Paloudeh.

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Reshteh Polo – Rice layered with noodles, raisins and dates

رشته پلو

Reshteh Polo: another signature Persian dish that blends familiar ingredients and brings them together in an unpredictable and distinctive way!

This rice dish has it all! Dates and raisins; onions and toasted noodles; saffron and rose water; cinnamon and turmeric. Finished off with a crispy bread Tahdig, and served with slow cooked lamb shanks in a rich broth to bring it all together! Though this dish can be consumed year-round, it is most often associated with Persian New Year celebration.

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Kufteh Berenji – Rice and fava bean meatballs

کوفته برنجی

Kufteh is the term Iranians use to describe meatballs. However, unlike meatballs from most other cultures, Persian meatballs are not primarily about the meat! As a matter of fact, most Persian meatballs incorporate many other elements. A variety of grains including rice, as well as a wide range of beans and lentils, fresh herbs, nuts and dried fruits, and even whole hard-boiled eggs, find their way into this traditional dish.

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