Ab-Haveej Bastani - Persian Carrot Juice and Saffron Ice Cream Float


Summertime is officially upon us and a carrot juice ice cream float is the perfect way to cool down on a hot day. Carrot juice is refreshing, healthy and a great source of vitamin A all on its own. I initially made this recipe with plain vanilla ice cream but then decided to change it up for the next batch and make it with scoops of saffron ice cream instead. The addition of a little bit of saffron and a hint of rosewater greatly enhances the flavor and aroma of this treat. Carrots may have been around for hundreds of years but this recipe is relatively modern. I'm not certain about the exact origin of this recipe but it seems to me that this is a different take on the European cafe glace (coffee with ice cream float) that became popular in the 1960's in Iran. I remember on one of our trips to my grandmother's house in Tehran, my sister took me to the upscale Chattanooga restaurant and that's where I had my first cafe glace. On the other hand, it's also quite possible that ab haveej bastani recipe was created by some ingenious Iranian chef in the past. It's been thought that by tapping into the collective consciousness people from different parts of the world may come up with the same results at the same time!


In our home carrot juice was served regularly and we all had to drink it whether we liked it or not and each time we were reminded that carrots are good for us and that they would improve our vision. Our juicer was archaic and pretty much a nightmare to clean. However, that wouldn't stop my mother from juicing almost anything frequently.


زردک - Zardak meaning "the little yellow one" (wild carrots) go back about 5,000 years in Iran, Afghanistan and the neighboring lands. Zardak (yellow carrots) are sill cultivated mostly in the region of Isfahan in Iran but they are not as common and popular as haveej farangi (western carrots). Carrots are a staple in our home all year long and are on my list of foods to always keep in the fridge and luckily they are readily available in markets year round. The in season carrots, however, are more flavorful, tender and sweet. Carrots are a  versatile vegetable that complement many recipes and are delicious when eaten raw, tossed into a summertime saladsalad oliviehsoup e jo, pickled or made into a delicious carrot halva. They are also great eaten alone or with a dip.



Carrot Juice and Saffron Ice Cream Float

Ingredients:
Serves 2

10 large carrots (preferably organic), washed and tops removed
Vanilla ice cream, (16 ounces)
1/3 teaspoon crushed saffron dissolved in 3 tablespoons hot water
1 tablespoon rosewater
1 tablespoon crushed pistachios

Method:

  1. Leave the ice cream out to soften. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the ice cream, liquid saffron, rosewater and mix well. Return ice cream back to freezer for 3-4 hours or until firm.
  2. Place your serving glasses in freezer to chill for 5 minutes.
  3. Juice the carrots. Add 1 or 2 scoops of saffron ice cream to each glass, pour the carrot juice over the ice cream, sprinkle with crushed pistachios and serve immediately with spoons and straws.
Enjoy!

Torshi Liteh - Persian Pickled Eggplant and Vegetables with Sibzamini Torshi (Sunchokes)


ترشی - Torshi (pickle) is a very common side dish in Persian cuisine served alongside rice and khoresh, kebobs and other traditional dishes. I have posted several of my favorite pickle recipes so far such as pickled eggplant and pickled vegetables among others.  لیته - Liteh is a combination of pickled eggplant with a few other vegetables and herbs. For this recipe I'm thrilled to have finally found  سیب زمینی ترشی - sibzamini torshi (pickling potato), also known as  یارالماسی - yaralmasy in Iran. Sibzamini torshi, which is called sunchokes/Jerusalem chokes, is a member of the sunflower family and is not related to artichokes nor is it from Jerusalem. For further information please check out the following link on sunchokes.


A few years ago, I asked my younger brother who lives in Iran to send me a picture of the sibzamini torshi that's cultivated in Iran. I didn't want to forget what they looked like. It wasn't until recently that after leaving my dentist's office, I walked into the Whole Foods market across the street and there among the neat and organized fresh vegetables was a small box of sunchokes. They looked a lot like ginger roots and they came in different shapes and sizes. I was so excited to have finally found what I was looking for and I figured they would make a nice addition to torshi liteh by adding
a nutty flavor and a bit of a crunch.


 If you are unable to find sunchokes in any vegetable markets just leave it out since liteh is traditionally made without it. For this recipe you can use grilled eggplant instead of having it simmered in vinegar.. If you use grilled eggplant, remove the skin, slice and combine with all the other ingredients. For the herbs, you can use fresh herbs if you prefer. I used dried herbs since I didn't have enough time after washing to lay them out to dry completely.


Torshi Liteh

Ingredients:

5 medium eggplants, stemmed, sliced lengthwise (I didn't remove the skin, you can if you prefer)
4-5 sunchokes, peeled, cubed
2 large carrots, peeled, cubed
2 celery stalks, diced small
1 small head cauliflower, cut into small florets
1 medium green bell pepper, cleaned, cubed
5-7 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons dried tarragon
2 tablespoons dried mint
2 tablespoons dried savory
2 tablespoons dried dill
2 tablespoons dried basil

1 tablespoon crushed golpar (angelica)
1 tablespoon siah daneh (nigella seeds)
1 tablespoon crushed tokhm-e geshniz (coriander seeds)
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 small whole dried red pepper, crushed (or more to taste)
Salt
White vinegar
Water

Method:

  1. Pour 1 cup of vinegar and a cup of water into a non-reactive saucepan, bring to a boil over medium heat, add the turmeric, eggplant and 1 teaspoon of salt, then reduce heat and simmer for 8-10 minutes.
  2. Remove the eggplant and place in a colander to drain.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine eggplant, sunchokes, carrots, celery, cauliflower, bell pepper, garlic, herb mix, spices and 3 teaspoons salt. Mix well.
  4. Pack the torshi into the clean and dried jars, pressing down, pour the vinegar over them up to about 1 inch from the top. Close the jars tightly and pickle for 10-12 days.
Enjoy!



Haft Seen Photos - Nowruz 2014



Wishing you all a very happy, healthy and prosperous Nowruz - Persian New Year. After a few days of preparation and Nowruz related activities I finally got a chance to gather all of my haft seen photos and share some of them with you. For me, there's such a joy in photographing a haft seen table, especially with loved ones included. For more information about Nowruz and the haft seen you might want to check out this article Persian New Year's Table Celebrates Nature's Rebirth Deliciously on NPR's Blog.

Sabzeh

Seeb

Senjed

Somagh

Samanoo

Serkeh

Seer

Sekkeh

Tokhm-e Morgh Rangi

Mahi Ghermez



Also, here are some haft seen  photos from previous years:

Haft Seen - 2013

Haft Seen - 2012

Haft Seen - 2010 


!نوروزتان خجسته و پیروز باد - Happy Nowruz!

Loze Nargil - Persian Coconut Sweets with Rosewater and Pistachios for Nowruz


It's that time of the year when Iranians from the four corners of the world celebrate the vernal equinox, the first day of spring and the arrival of نوروز (literally meaning the "new day"). This ancient جشن - festival of Nowruz originally began as a Zoroastrian celebration during the Achaemenid dynast, dating back 3,000 years, welcoming the rebirth of nature with all its radiance, blooms, colors, warmth and glory. For those of us who celebrate, Nowruz preparations are already underway with khaneh-tekani - cleaning the house, getting rid of the clutter and making it shine. With this long and freezing winter finally coming to an end I feel a surge of energy and excitement to celebrate nature's new life.

This post was written as part of a collaboration with many of my lovely fellow Persian food writers. This has been an amazing joint effort that brought all of us together for this happy occasion and I would like to thank each and every one of these outstanding bloggers who, through their efforts, made this collaboration meaningful and more delicious! My special thanks goes to Sanam joon of My Persian Kitchen for her effort in putting together this fun project and on a more personal note, I'm so grateful for her generous spirit and support over the years. For the complete list of all the food bloggers/participants and their contributions to this round-up please see the bottom of the page.


I vividly remember my last Nowruz in Iran. Together with my parents and two of my brothers we drove to Abadan to visit my dear aunt and uncle and my two lovely cousins (Yasi and Ladi). The precious memories of our visit, in the beautiful city of Abadan during Nowruz holiday, will forever remain in my mind. As well as driving through the charming little towns and visiting the roadside attractions. For us, even the sight of a little stream at a distance in the middle of nowhere was exciting. Throughout our travels we would stop at any little body of water anywhere in Khuzestan just to wet our feet and wash our faces!

My last Nowruz in Khuzestan

As we are getting ready to gather around our haft-seen table at the time of سال تحویل - sal-tahvil to celebrate the New Year with our loved ones, let us remember those who are less fortunate and pray collectively and globally for a better world.


Poems from Divan-e Shams Tabrizi

Cleaning, cooking and baking may not be high on your list of priorities these days but in order to get into the mood for this beautiful festive occasion this no-bake and fragrant, melt in your mouth treat is just perfect for spring.


Loze Nargil

Ingredients:

2 cups coconut, shredded (I used unsweetened shredded coconut to keep the sugar level down)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons coconut milk, unsweetened (I used organic)
2-3 tablespoons rosewater
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom *optional
1/2 cup pistachios, crushed

Method:

  1. Combine water and sugar in a heavy medium pan, bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Continue to simmer for another 8-10 minutes or until the syrup thickens a little bit. Remove from heat and let cool a little, beat well with a whisk for couple of minutes. Return the pan back to the stove. Add the coconut, rosewater and coconut milk, mix well over very low heat for about 5 minutes or until well blended. Pour the mixture into an 8 x 8 inch lined pan. Evenly sprinkle crushed pistachios on top. 
  2. Cover and refrigerate for 3-4 hours or until firm. With a knife cut the loz in diamond-shaped pieces or use a diamond-shaped cookie cutter.
Place the loz pieces on a plate and serve with chai.

Participating Bloggers in The Nowruz Recipe Round-Up - 2014


Enjoy! سال نو مبارک  - Sal-e No Mobarak! 

Iranian Movie Inspired Menu


In recent years, I have developed an increasing appreciation for Iranian movies that began after watching the very touching movie باشوغریبه کوچک - Bashu, the Little Stranger for the first time. It was a movie that was like no other Iranian movie I'd seen before. It tells the story of a boy who loses his family in the war in the southern region of Khuzestan and runs away on the back of a truck to a village up north in Gilan, Iran. Since Bashu, I have viewed and enjoyed countless Iranian films. However, for this post I have only selected some of my all time favorites and I paired each with carefully chosen dishes I thought would fit the mood of the film based on the script or the characters. Since it has been an ongoing film awards season and the 2014 Oscars will be on this Sunday, I thought this would be the best time to write about some of my favorite Iranian movies and to match them with delicious recipes. I think it's fun eating tasty and healthy foods while viewing movies with friends and family at home or at a dine-in theater.

I grew up in a tiny town in Khuzestan and we had no TV set or TV reception. However, there were three small movie theaters scattered about and going to the movies was one of the very few things we did for fun, especially during the hot summertime. My parents would prefer taking us to the movies with them than leaving us home alone. Any films they saw, good or bad, we saw as well. I remember sitting next to my mother watching Fellini's film, 8 1/2, and being bored out of my mind and totally confused. Of course, there were no movie ratings back then prohibiting kids to watch certain movies. When there was a scary or inappropriate scene in the movie, my mother would cover my eyes or shout چشماتو ببند cheshmato beband (close your eyes). One of the highlights of going to the movies during the summer was eating as we watched the film in the outdoor movie theater. On those nights we would sit in the last row by the exit waiting for our food to arrive, which was usually a platter of kabob koobideh on taftoon bread. I think that was the best part of going to the movies back then.

The following movies are not listed in any particular order. I love every single one of these movies equally and I would highly recommend watching them if you haven't seen them already. If you have not seen any of the movies please do not read any further as there might be some spoilers. Spoiler alert!

Close-Up (1990)


 نمای نزدیک - Close-Up, is a docu-fiction about a man who passes himself as the Iranian film director Mohsen Makhmalbaf and dupes an unsuspecting family into acting in his new movie at their own home. At the end of the movie I had mixed emotions toward Sabzian (the main character). At first I wanted him to be prosecuted and put behind bars and then at the same time I wanted to take him home, cook him some dinner and listen to his stories. The innate human need of wanting to be respected and  recognized got the best of him and he chose a rather deceitful approach toward gaining admiration and acknowledgement. The best scene is when he walks out of the courthouse and meets the real Makhmalbaf. Priceless! Close-Up was directed and produced by Abbas Kiarostami. 

Menu suggestion: Dizi or Abgoosht Bozbash, Sabzi Khordan, Torshi, yogurt, warm bread, and tea

Dizi
Abgoosht

 Where is the Friend's Home? (1987)



 خانه دوست کجاست ؟ -  Where is the Friend's Home? This movie is about a boy who gets home from school and finds out that he took his classmate's notebook home by mistake. He sets out on a mission to try and return his classmate's book because if his classmate does not hand in his homework on time he will be expelled. This boy's kindness and empathy seems so genuine and touching throughout the film that you forget this is only a movie. We all need a friend like that! This movie is written and directed by Abbas Kiarostami.

Menu Suggestion: Gozlemeh, Tas kabab, Sabzi Khordan, Borani EsfenajShole zard,  Chai and Ajil

Gozlemeh
Tas Kabab
Ajil

Taste of Cherry (1997)


طعم گیلاس - Taste of Cherry is another great film by Abbas Kiarostami. This is an intense story of a man driving around looking for someone to bury him under a tree after he kills himself. I remember after watching this movie I could not stop talking about it for the next few days. It brought out a lot of emotions in me. As much as I love this movie, the superb acting, small conversations, the ending and even all the scenes driving on the dirt roads, I don't think I'll be able to watch it again any time soon.

Menu Suggestion:
Khoresh Gheymeh, Polow-Rice, Mast o Khiar, Halva and Chai


Halva
Chai

The White Balloon (1995)


باد کنک سفید -  The White Balloon, is the story of a little girl's quest to buy goldfish just in time for the Persian New Year - Nowruz. This film was directed by Jafar Panahi and written by Kiarostami. We went to see this movie with another couple and their children and we took our two daughters with us. Soon after we arrived and sat down the movie started. As my full attention became fixated on the big screen, I noticed from the corner of my eyes that my youngest daughter, about 3-4 years old at the time, was running in between the aisles. I jumped and with a lot of - ببخشید - "excuse me's," I took a hold of her, grabbed our jackets and went outside on a cold winter day and waited for everyone else to finish watching the movie. About a year later, I got to see the whole movie without interruption. So much for taking kids to the movies like my parents!


Sabzi Polow
Sabzi Polow Mahi
Kookoo Sabzi
Reshteh Polow
Chai o Sohan Asali
Chai o Shirini Nargili

Children of Heaven (1997)


بچه های آسمان - Children of Heaven, The story of a poverty-stricken family struggling to make ends meet and a boy who loses his sister's shoes after offering to have it mended at the repair shop. They end up sharing his only pair of worn-out shoes. A very touching human story by the great Iranian filmmaker Majid Majidi. 

Menu Suggestion: Haleem (for breakfast), Khoresh Bademjan and Rice ( lunch), Sharbat SekanjabinKotlet or Kookoo Sib zamini (dinner), Salad, Borani Laboo,

Halaeem
Kookoo Sibzamini

A Separation (2011)


جدایی نادراز سیمین - A Separation, the story of a complex family drama of broken marriage involving the wife Simin who wants to leave the country, the husband Nader who wants to stay and take care of his elderly father who suffers from dementia, and the only child Termeh caught in the middle of two feuding parents. This movie won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film and was made by Iranian filmmaker, Asghar Farhadi.


Ash Reshteh
Adas Polow
Chamomile Tea
The Past (2013)


گذشته - The Past  is a French movie made by the Oscar winning Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi. It tells the story of an Iranian man coming back to France after four years to finalize his divorce with his estranged wife. Meanwhile, his soon-to-be ex-wife is in a relationship with a man who has a son and whose wife is in a coma. 


Ghormeh Sabzi
Salad Shirazi

*For the movie Bashu that I had mentioned in the first paragraph, I suggest the following recipes from Khuzestan and Gilan: Morgh-e TorshMirza Ghasemi, Ghalih Mahi, Khoresh Bamieh, Dal Adas, Zeytoon Parvardeh,

Morgh-e Torsh
Dal Adas
Most films that I love seem to have a dramatic story line and are either heartbreaking, sad or tragic with most endings being unclear. However, I would like to conclude this post with مارمولک - The Lizard  which I think is the most hilarious movie ever made and I have watched it many times over. By the way, there's no menu for مارمولک, you can eat anything your heart desires!

Please check out my Pinterest/Iranian Films for more great movies. Do you watch Iranian movies? Do you enjoy Persian food? What food goes well with your favorite movie?

* All Movie Posters: Wikipedia

Enjoy!