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).
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!
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!
However you spell or pronounce them, Kebabs, Kebobs, or Kababs are meat dishes that take pride of place alongside other meat-centered dishes in Persian cuisine. They are typically small pieces of seasoned whole or ground beef, lamb, chicken or seafood that are generally skewered and grilled. What makes Kebabs so tasty is the addition of spices and lengthy marination in grated onions.
With the arrival of spring, Iranians hit their local markets and eagerly look forward to finding unripe sour plums (Gojeh Sabz), unripe almonds (Chaghaleh Badom), and unripe sour grapes (Ghooreh). I find Iranians’ love of sour and unripe fruits to be incredibly unique and endearing.
Gojeh Sabz, Persian green unripe plums, are a seasonal delicacy loved by Iranians and showcased in many different forms in our cuisine. Harvested before they’re fully mature, they deliver a crispy crunch and a refreshing range of flavors.
Cotlet is a meat patty that in my humble (albeit Persian) opinion ranks quite a few notches above the good old hamburger. Many cultures have their own version of meat patties and this is the Persian one.
Ground meat of your choice, typically beef or lamb, is mixed with boiled potatoes, eggs, grated onions, the usual salt, pepper and turmeric, and selected spices, and then fried to a crispy perfection. Each region and household has its own special mix of spices – Advieh in Farsi – for addition to Cotlet to create welcoming, warming and comforting flavors.
Khoresh Rivas is yet another Persian stew that celebrates the abundance of fresh herbs and Iranians’ never ending love affair with sour flavors. In the rest of the world rhubarb’s sourness is almost always moderated with sugar or strawberries, but Iranians use rhubarb in savory dishes precisely because of its sour flavor.
Khoresh Seeb is a highly adaptable stew whose stars are the firm and tart apples (Seeb in Farsi) that are gently sauteed in butter or ghee and then placed on top of the stew as it finishes cooking.
The base of this dish is made with beef and yellow split peas, patiently cooked in a turmeric and tomato sauce which by itself is often called Gheymeh. Gheymeh is not only served alongside fried or roasted potatoes, but is also used as a decorative topping on various dishes such as Aash.
Albaloo Polo has it all: sweet, sour, salt, carbohydrates, protein, soft, crispy, and bright uplifting colors – all packed into one surprisingly humble dish. It is a delicious and flavorful meal and a true gastronomic experience that satisfies all the different taste buds in your palate. Albaloo is the Farsi word for Morello cherries, which with their distinctive dark red skins and intense flavor are highly prized in Persian culture and cuisine.