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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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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Om’let-e Gojeh Farangi – Tomato omelet

املت گوجه فرنگی

Want a quick, easy and yet flavorful meal, be it breakfast, lunch or dinner? Then Persian omelet is the answer! What we refer to as Om’let in Iran is essentially a simple, open faced omelet with very few ingredients but with a Persian twist.

Onions are slowly cooked into golden perfection before being further colored by the addition of turmeric powder. The optional addition of tomato paste and garlic ensures the flavors are enhanced. A few eggs are then cracked on top, and a touch of salt and pepper and a sprinkle of fresh herbs make this dish simply divine.

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Soup-e Jow – Barley soup

سوپ جو

Soup-e Jow is a delightfully simple and flavorful soup, but is not really well-known in the line-up of Persian soups and Aashes. (Aash is a Farsi word for a thick soup, like a cross between a soup and a stew.) The barley offers an earthy flavor and satisfying chew, while lemon juice contributes a refreshing sourness. Carrots bring a brilliant color, and milk adds creamy richness.

This soup was a favorite of my family’s when I was growing up in Iran, and I remember looking forward to it every time Mom prepared it.

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Kashk Bademjoon – Eggplant spread with whey and mint

کشک بادمجون

Among all the eggplant spreads in the world, Kashk Bademjoon is unique! In this Persian dish the eggplant is the star, taking center stage with an up-and-coming co-headliner, Kashk. Kashk is most often referred to as liquid whey: tart, aromatic and salty, bringing a deep umami experience to the dish.

Name a culture, and it has a version of eggplant spread. Baba Ghanoush (Middle Eastern), Baklazhannaia Ikra (Slavic), Melitzanosalata (Greek), Mirza Ghasemi (another Iranian one), and the list goes on . . .

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Salad Olivieh – Chicken and potato salad

سالاد الویه

Salad Olivieh is a chicken and potato salad that has won most if not every Iranian’s heart! To mention Salad Olivieh to an Iranian is to watch an excited smiling face staring back at you and to hear tales of where and how they used to eat this salad. Most of us would have it wrapped in a thin lavash style of bread and eat it as a sandwich.

Salad Olivieh, originally a Russian dish, gained international fame at the turn of the century and became wildly popular. Because of Iran’s proximity to Russia, a number of Russian dishes have found their way to Iran via the Caspian Sea area.

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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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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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Kuku Kadu Halva-ee – Butternut squash and walnut kuku patties

کوکو کدو حلوائی

With the arrival of fall, not only come Halloween, Thanksgiving (and my birthday), but also glorious squashes! I don’t know too many people who would pass on a well-prepared butternut squash dish.

Versatile in so many ways: you can eat squashes raw by shredding them into salads, fry them up, batter them like Tempura, roast them in the oven, or puree them and mash them like potatoes.

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