Ah, Persia. Land of fine carpets, fluffy cats and acrobatic time-travelling princes. Well, they've got some yummy food too, so Persian cuisine was selected as the menu for my latest themed dinner.
Then we add chopped red onion and pomegranate.
Followed by grated lime zest, chopped fat green chili pepper, chopped hot red chili pepper and chopped tomato.
Season with lots of lime juice and olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste.
It makes a great pre-dinner snack, served with lightly-toasted Iranian flatbread (preferably the thin variety)
Next up, Khoresht Fesenjaan, a thick stew of chicken in walnut-pomegranate sauce. I decided to make this instead of kebabs, because kebabs are way to cliched for Persian food around here.
We start by frying some onions on medium until they start to soften and glaze, then stirring chicken pieces in until they start to brown. Then we simmer it in water for a bit.
Next, we puree walnuts and pomegranate juice to make a thick paste for the sauce, which we add to the stew.
Extra body is provided by cubed butternut squash.
Season with powdered cardamom, powdered cinnamon and a pinch of saffron. After it has simmered a little, add salt, cover and let it slow cook for a couple hours.
The result is a tender, flavorful chicken in beautiful, thick, sweet-savory sauce.
I decided the rice dish needs to be a bit heartier, so I made Sabzi Polo. To start with, we chop up dill, parsley and cilantro.
While we soak long-grain rice and green broad beans (frozen is good).
We stir the rice into boiling water until it starts to float, after which we drain off the water. Then, on medium heat, we stir in oil, ground cinnamon, ground turmeric, a little salt and pepper, and add the beans and herbs.
We allow this to cook on medium.
It makes a wonderfully aromatic and filling dish.
A Persian meal is incomplete without Maast o Khiar, the cucumber yogurt salad. We start by (once again) chopping up herbs - this time, dill and mint.
The cucumbers should be cubed.
And shallots and garlic should be finely chopped.
The yogurt is stirred in with all of the above, and seasoned to taste with salt and pepper. Adding chopped walnut and raisin is optional, but it is something I highly recommend.
It makes for a creamy, cooling side to balance out the meal.
I did not record the production of the Yazdi cake, but this delightful little thing consists of sugar beaten into water-heated egg, along with butter, yoghurt, cardamom powder, rose water, flour and baking powder. It's shot through with slivered almonds, and topped with chopped pistachio before baking.
It serves well as a dessert, with a slab of pistachio ice cream.