The Caspian Chef

Spreading love and awareness, fostering conversations, and bridging cultural gaps one bite at a time. Psychotherapist and Persian cusine teacher.

Eshgh (love) عشق

Khoresh Gojeh Bademjan – Eggplant and tomato stew

خورش گوجه بادمجان

Eggplants, otherwise known fondly as the potatoes of Iran, have a special place in Persian cuisine. You will find them fried, baked, charred over open fire, or pickled. Their texture ranges from chewy, smooth, chunky, and soft to creamy. They are cooked into Kuku or preserved as a Torshi (pickled) or integrated as a supporting element into a Khoresh or – in this case – featured as the star of the show!

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Kuku Sabzi – Fresh herb and leek frittata

کوکو سبزی

Welcome to the world of herbs! Herbs play a significant role in Persian cuisine, whether they are served fresh as an appetizer with bread and cheese or cooked into Kuku or Khoresht.

Herbs are integrated into Persian dishes not only to brighten up the colors and bring a brilliant herbal taste, but also to create luscious and earthy sauces. Ghormeh sabzi, Saak, and Khoresht-e Karafs are good examples.

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Zereshk Polo – Saffron barberry rice pilaf

زرشک پلو

This is Zereshk Polo, a distinguished Persian dish.

The popular Zereshk Polo features many of the elements of Persian cooking. Barberries, which are quite tart and bright in color, are layered within the fluffy Basmati rice and served with succulent chicken, or if you prefer with lamb or beef .

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Khoresh Ghormeh Sabzi -Persian beef and fresh herb stew

خورش قورمه سبزی

This is Ghormeh Sabzi, by many accounts Iran’s national dish!

Yes, there are Fesenjoon, Khoresht-e Bademjan and Zereshk Polo, and a myriad of other stews and rice dishes, not to mention a long list of Kebabs. But there is something so very special about Ghormeh Sabzi.

To learn about this dish is to learn some of the very specific nuances of Persian culture, tradition and cuisine.

This dish is an internal contradiction, much like Iran herself. The ancient Persian Empire vs. modern-day Iran; pre-revolution vs. post-revolution; traditional dishes vs. fast food.

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Saffron and pear cake with Seville orange and pistachio frosting

Cayk-e Golabi ba zaferoon

کیک گلابی با زعفرون

There is so much to this cake, but not in the way you might think. It’s a simple cake, even if it does have some unique flavors.

This cake tells the story of my life. Every ingredient, every choice, every combination, and every approach in the cooking method results from the experiences I have had in my life.

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Dast Peech-e Gusht – Persian meatloaf with fresh herbs and barberries

دست پیچ گوشت

You thought only your grandmother made the best meatloaf? Well, who knew, Persians make meatloaf too and they are not shy about stuffing lots of flavors into them. The main component that remains consistent is the signature Persian flavor profile; a touch of sweet that is balanced with sour and the refreshing company of fresh herbs.

Disclaimer: my grandmother did not make us meatloaves!

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Aash-e Sholeh Ghalamkar – Hearty beans and rice stew with beef and herbs

آش شله قلمکار

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

Aash is a slow-cooked Persian dish that combines a variety of beans, grains, sometimes noodles, herbs, spices and meat. Its texture most resembles a thick soup.

Aash is quite versatile and has many variations. It can be a comfort food, but it can also be served “majlesie style” – meaning the kind of meal you’d serve at a fancy dinner party. It can be the main course, or be served in small quantities as part of a family-style spread. Aash has its roots in traditional Iranian holidays such as Nowruz, the Persian New Year.

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Nargesi – Spinach, parsley and mint sauté with poached eggs

نرگسی

A peasant food, at its core! And let’s face it, I’d eat like a peasant any day when the dish tastes this rich and yummy, and is yet very simple, quick and inexpensive!

Nargesi’s origin is back in the Caspian Sea region of Iran, where produce and vegetables are abundant. Spinach is a cherished and prized leafy green that is not only eaten raw in salads, but also cooked in various stews. It is a common belief in Iran that spinach adds flavor and more importantly a certain level of viscosity to stews.

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Khoresh Porteghal – Chicken and saffron stew with carrots and oranges

خورش پرتقال

This stew is a great representation of a dish in a culture that loves its fruits with their tart and sweet flavors! The chicken is cooked slowly with Persian spices (advieh), layered with carrots and saffron, and finished off with fresh orange segments before serving.

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Khoresh Maast – Chicken in yogurt sauce with barberries

خورش ماست

This one is a maast-try!

I have had several appetizing and delicious Indian chicken dishes that either marinate or cook the chicken in a yogurt sauce. But until recently I hadn’t tried this traditional chicken dish with Persian techniques, ingredients, and spices.

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