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.
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 .
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!
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.
What are these bright red, tart, sharp, tangy, mouth puckering berries? Well – they’re Iran’s very own barberries!
When I try to describe these berries to my students, I am always asked what familiar fruit are they most like? “Are they like raisins, or goji berries, or cherries? Oh, I know, are they like cranberries?!”
Here is another dish in the Kuku series. But this Kuku is quite special, as it highlights a vegetable that has been called the potato of Iran: none other than eggplant. Eggplant is such a unique vegetable, and – as my beloved cooking teacher would say – eggplant is a prima donna ingredient, and I could not agree more!
On February 23rd, 2019 I threw a dinner party and invited a few of my very close and dear friends who are self-proclaimed “The Caspian Chef taste testers” and I wanted to offer them a variety of fun and unique Persian food that I was fairly certain they had not had been familiar with.
I was also quite aware that I myself had not had this dish for 37 years. THIRTY-SEVEN YEARS! Ah…the first bite, the familiar taste of home, the playful texture of the fish roe, the tanginess of the barberries, the fragrant and familiar aroma of the herbs were a complete flashback to being a 15-year-old boy and remembering my mom preparing this dish at one of her dinner parties. OK – I know you are doing the math – I am 52!