Yogurt with Persian shallots, garlic and mint

Maast-o Museer

ماست و موسیر

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

The star of this yogurt dish is Museer, a Persian shallot. Museer is best described as a mix between an elephant garlic and a shallot, and is packed with flavor, aroma and pungency.

This variety finds its roots in the the south eastern region of Iran, in the foothills of the Zagros mountain range. However, its popularity has spread throughout Iran and it has become another staple on the Persian table.

I mostly associate eating this yogurt with trips north to the Caspian Sea region. Whether this belief has actual merits or not, it has always been said that you can eat more garlic and not feel awkward about your breath when you are by the Caspian Sea, where the weather is tropical, humid and delightfully warm!

I made this yogurt today in Seattle’s mid 70’s degree Fahrenheit weather under partially cloudy skies and with very little humidity in sight! Far, far away from the magical power of the Caspian Sea to shield me from the consequences of eating so much Museer and garlic!

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Yogurt with dried mint, cucumber and raisins

Maast-o Khiar

ماست و خیار

Yogurt is no stranger to Persian cuisine, and is frankly a mandatory side item on the table. Each region of Iran offers its own unique version of a yogurt dish to accompany a Persian meal.

In the North by the Caspian Sea, the specialty is a garlic and shallot yogurt, which has an intoxicating quantity of Persian shallots mixed into thick and creamy yogurt.

The variety in this recipe, which is more common throughout Iran, blends yogurt with grated cucumbers and dried mint, which are packed with flavors and aroma. To this then we add garlic, salt, pepper and rose petals to make sure that you fall completely in love!

Yogurt, whether plain or mixed, is typically served with a variety of Persian stews or rice dishes. Though, to make matters more interesting, it’s not considered compatible with every such dish!

Unlike the popular sugary and starch-thickened fat-free yogurt in the US, yogurt in Iran is full-fat, tangy, and flavored with salt and spices. And if we want to incorporate elements of sweetness, we simply reach for a few raisins!

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