The Caspian Chef

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

Eshgh (love) عشق

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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Borani Laboo – Yogurt with beets

برانی لبو

This is another gem in the Persian yogurt series. Yogurt plays such a significant role in the cuisine, either with flat breads or to accompany a flavorful layered rice or well-seasoned stew.

Mention the word Laboo – beets in Farsi – to Iranians, and you will observe smiles widen and twinkles appear in eyes!

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Sharbat Sekanjebeen – Vinegar and mint syrup Sharbat

شربت سکنجبین

For me, nothing stirs childhood nostalgia more than memories of chilled flavorful Sharbat on a hot summer day in Tehran!

Sharbat is a Farsi word that describes a style of chilled beverage with a pretty spectacular range of flavors, colors, and ingredients. Arriving guests are often greeted with a decorative glass of chilled Sharbat. Various fruits, nuts, pastries, and hot black tea follow Sharbat as part of an elaborate Persian hospitality ritual (Mehmoon Navazi in Farsi).

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Khoresh Hulu – Saffron chicken and peach stew

خورش هلو

While everything about this dish appears striking and eye-catching, it is a relatively easy and simple Persian stew. This Khoresh is consumed primarily in the summer season when fresh peaches are abundant in Iran.

The chicken first simmers slowly in a saffron broth, along with a squeeze of fresh lime juice and a touch of sweetness. Then, fresh but not overly ripe peaches are lightly caramelized with a touch of oil and placed on top of the chicken for the last few minutes of cooking. Each cook choreographs the dance of sour and sweet flavors to suit their family’s taste preferences.

While the peaches are the focal point of this stew, a fair amount of good quality saffron makes this dish shine and come to life!

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Sekanjebeen – Mint and vinegar syrup

سکنجبین

Sekanjebeen highlights the Iranian tradition of mixing familiar ingredients to create unique and exotic flavors. Sekanjebeen is quite simple in nature and easy to prepare: even though it has only 4 ingredients and takes just 30 minutes to cook, you will be rewarded with an unexpectedly delicious summery treat!

The syrup is normally prepared ahead of time in large quantities and then stored in the fridge for quick and easy transformation into an appetizer or a refreshing Sharbat (cold summer drink). As an appetizer, Sekanjebeen is served in a bowl with wedges of lettuce arranged around it. Each person tears off a piece of a lettuce and dips it into the syrup. The experience is hard to describe, each crunchy bite being followed by strong bold flavors.

Warning: Large quantities of lettuce will be consumed!

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