Persian food: rcipes, colors, and...

By: Mehrdad Mehraban poor

Moving from Persia (Iran), to the United States was a big change. Different smells, flavors, colors, eating habits, and the new culture were all a shock.Persinas are very sensitive about the way food is made,its taste, and flavor. Persian housewives spend hours in the kitchen cooking a meal.

In Persia, being a third world country, food is not yet completely genetically engineered or highly processed (packaged), so fruits and vegetables are more soft, tasty, and flavorsome. Medlar, sour cherry, sweet lemon, mulberry, barberry, and sour orange are some fruits that if you have not heard of them, you are probably not from the middle east. Blueberry, raspberry, and Asian pear are some fruits that were completely new to us when we came to the U.S.

One different idea that you find in Persian recipes is that rice is served with pistachios, almonds, saffron, and mulberries. Sometimes it is decorated with orange peel or lima beans with dill. Plain yogurt is mixed with dry mint. Red meat or chicken is barbecued with tomatoes.

Here are tables decorated with Persian food:

persian food on the table

Yogurt with mint, dill and lima bean rice, fried fish
and persian soup called: “aash”

persian food on the table

Two different kababs,(chicken and lamb) with barbecued tomatoes, five kinds
of cooked rice, Persian lavash bread, and Persian salad

Here is the recipe for two popular stew called Ghormeh sabzi and khoresht fesenjan:

Ghormeh Sabzi

khoresht ghormeh sabzi

Ingredients: (6 servings)

750 grams boneless stewing lamb or beef
1 large onion, finely chopped
1/3 cup of cooking oil
1 teaspoon turmeric
1.5 cups water
1/2 cup dried limes (or fresh lime juice)
3/4 cup black-eye beans or kidney beans
1 large potato, diced (optional)
Black pepper
1 cup spring onions, finely chopped
1.5 cups spinach, finely chopped
1/2 cup parsley, finely chopped
1/4 cup coriander, finely chopped (optional)
1/4 cup tareh (garlic chives), finely chopped
1/4 cup shanbelileh (fenugreek), finely chopped (optional)

Trim meat and cut into 2 cm (3/4 inch) cubes. Fry onion over medium heat in half of the oil until golden. Add turmeric and fry for 2 more minutes.
Increase heat, add meat cubes and stir over high heat until meat changes color and begins to turn brown. Reduce heat.
Add water, black-eye or kidney beans, salt and pepper to taste. Cover and simmer gently for 1-1.5 hours until meat is tender. Time depends on type of meat used.
Fry potatoes over high heat in the remaining oil until lightly browned. Add to sauce, leaving oil in the pan. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
Add prepared vegetables to frying pan and fry over medium heat until wilted. Add to sauce, then add dried limes (or lime juice), cover and simmer for further 10-15 minutes. Adjust seasoning and serve with white rice. An exquisite Iranian dish.

Khoresht fesenjan
khoresht fesenjan

Ingredients: (6 servings)
Chicken pieces, 1-1.5 kgs
Ground walnuts, 500 grams
3-4 onions
Pomegranate juice, 3-4 glasses (or 4-5 spoons of pomegranate paste)
Sugar, 2-3 spoons
1/2 cup of cooking oil

Peel onions and slice thinly. Fry in oil until slightly golden. Wash chicken pieces and fry in onions until color changes. Add 3 glasses of hot water and bring to boil. Turn heat down and let boil slowly for about 30 minutes adding more hot water if needed.
Add salt, ground walnuts and pomegranate juice or paste (if using pomegranate paste, add 2 more glasses of hot water and bring to slow boil). If pomegranate juice or paste is sour, add some sugar to the khoresht.
Care should be taken to cook the khoresht long enough so that the oil in walnuts comes out and the mix becomes quite thick. Khoresht fesenjan should be served with white rice.

For more Persian recipes visit:

Persian foods are very colorful and delicious, but maybe not always the healthiest. Instead of whole grains, they are mainly served with white rice or white bread. Whole grains are not part of the recipes because of their different taste and texture. Meat is seen in most recipes, and considerable amounts of oil and salt is used in the dishes. Frying or barbecuing are common methods of cooking. You can always use the recipes and change them into healthier ones by making small changes.

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