Chicken Koobideh - Grilled Ground Chicken Kabab

With the arrival of warm weather it's finally time to take my cooking outside to my backyard surrounded by ivy covered trees, tall shrubs and evergreens, and get my grill going to make some delicious کباب کوبیده مرغ - chicken koobideh for my family. The entire process of making کباب - kabab from preparing the meat mixture, shaping it on long metal skewers with evenly spaced ridges, to standing over a hot grill on a hot summer day with all the flames, smoke and smell of charcoal is an especially nostalgic experience for me. کوبیده - Koobideh is a dish that I remember the most from my childhood since my mother would make kabab very often while we were growing up. I remember our portable منقل - manghal (grill) that was placed by the side of the hayat (court-yard), always accessible and never put away even during winter. All it needed was some charcoal, matches and a بادبزن - badbezan (handheld fan) to get the fire going -- rain or shine. Well, of course mostly shine and very little rain where I grew up.

There are many varieties of kabab in Persian cuisine. Chelow Kabab Koobideh (saffron steamed plain rice with grilled kabab) is a national dish of Iran and it is traditionally made with ground lamb. However, when I moved here I found the lamb to have a strong smell and flavor and was very different from what I was used to in Iran. Therefore, I mostly use beef instead of lamb in my cooking. This is a low-fat chicken koobideh recipe for those of us trying to cut back on red meat  A cross between kabab koobideh and joojeh kabab that's worth a try!

Makes 6 metal flat skewers

2 pounds ground chicken (preferably thigh meat)
1 large onion, grated
1/3 teaspoon turmeric
1-2 tablespoons liquid saffron
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
A pinch of red pepper
Juice of 1-2 limes
Olive oil


  1. In a large mixing bowl combine ground chicken, grated onion, turmeric, saffron, salt, black pepper, and red pepper. Mix well using your hands. Cover with a plastic wrap and set aside for 30 minutes for the flavors to come together.
  2. Leave a bowl of cool water next to you on the counter. Take a handful of the chicken mixture, place it around the skewer, dip your hand in the water and shape the meat into a long kabab. 
  3. In a small bowl mix the 2 tablespoons of olive oil with the lime juice. 
  4. Prepare your charcoal or gas grill, place the skewers over the grill, turning them every few minutes until each kabab is fully cooked.
  5. Brush the olive oil and lime juice mixture over the kababs on both sides half way through cooking.
Place the kababs on a platter, squeeze a bit of lime juice over the kababs, sprinkle with sumac. Serve with rice, grilled vegetables, mast o khiar and doogh.

Nowruz - Persian New Year 2015

With the arrival of the first day of spring I wish you all a year filled with happiness, good health and prosperity. As my grandmother used to say: "May all that is good for you come your way!"  I would like to also say a big thank you to all my faithful readers and the new ones and I also wish you lots of glorious Persian food in the coming New Year! For any Nowruz recipes, photos and information please check the following link: Nowruz










Tokhm-e Morgh Rangi

Mahi Ghermez


Bahar o Nowruzetan  Mobarak! Happy Spring & Happy Nowruz!

Nan Panjarehi - Nowruz Window Cookies

Vernal Equinox - The first day of Spring is only a few days away and one thing that is common among all Iranians is our shared passion for all things Nowruz, an ancient festival of Spring dating back 3000 years ago. In most households there's a frenzied rush to complete the task of khane tekani (spring cleaning), growing sabzeh (seeds), shopping for haft seen items and buying new clothes for the children, all before Sal-e Tahvil occurs. Nowruz is about feasting on traditional food such as kookoo sabzi, sabzi polow ba mahi, reshteh polow and ash-e reshteh among many other fresh and mixed herb-based dishes. There's also a rich tradition of baking New Year's desserts and each region has its own traditional shirini (sweets) to celebrate this traditional festival. Nowruz celebrations are a chance to nourish the body and the spirit by enjoying delicious meals with your family and friends.

Whether I engage in an all out khaneh tekani or choose to minimize it down to the necessary basics, I must always remind myself of the greater message of this celebration: purifying the heart, mind and soul. Nowruz, is about starting a "New Day," rejuvenating the mind and body, purifying the heart, welcoming light and good health into your life and getting rid of any negativity.

It has been a harsh winter here in the north east which makes the arrival of Spring all the more exhilarating. The force of life runs deep within the bare trees, hidden blooms and all living things like a winding river on the way to its destination, touching, turning and shifting everything in its path. The long-awaited joyous celebration of Nowruz (New Day) breathes optimism and joy into the world.

In our home Nowruz was always celebrated with mouth-watering sweets, fresh seasonal fruits and fancy ajil (Persian mixed nuts). One of my favorite Nowruz sweets that reminds me of home is nan panjerehi, a crunchy and lightly sweetened cookie. Nan Panjarehi/shirini panjarei translates to window cookies in Persian. Nan means bread and panjareh means window and making a window cookie is so befitting for springtime festivities. Nowruz holidays were the most beautiful time of year to be in Khuzestan province with its vast open fields of shaghayegh flowers and endless green hills.

This is an Iranian recipe with a touch of Scandinavian influence. I like that they use fewer eggs and add milk to the recipe. I opted to use 2 eggs and a cup of 2% milk. For this recipe you'll need a rosette iron, a candy thermometer (highly recommended) and a bit of patience. Typically, the first couple of cookies will not come out right.

Nan Panjerehi

Makes about 40 pieces

1 cup all purpose flour, sifted
1/2 cup wheat starch
2 large eggs
1 cup milk (I used 2% milk)
4 tablespoons rosewater
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
Vegetable oil (canola oil)
Powdered sugar


  1. Place the starch in a large mixing bowl, add the rosewater, stir to blend.
  2. Break the eggs into a small bowl and beat with a fork lightly. 
  3. Add the whisked eggs, sifted flour, milk and ground cardamom to the mixture, mix with a wire whisk until well blended and smooth.
  4. Pass the mixture through a sieve. 
  5. Cover with a plastic wrap and let sit in the refrigerator for an hour.
  6. Heat 2-3 inches of oil to 375 degrees Fahrenheit in a deep pot.
  7. Heat the rosette iron in the hot oil for one minute, remove and tap on a paper towel.
  8. Deep the iron into the batter just up to the edges, remove and place into the hot oil for 30 seconds or until golden. Remove from hot oil and place on paper towel lined large plate to remove any excess oil. 
Dust nan panjerehi with powdered sugar and serve.

Enjoy! Sale-e No Mobarak! Happy Nowruz!

Ode to Choghondar (Beets) + Recipes for Laboo and Kookoo Barg-e Choghondar (Beet Greens)

One wintry day long ago, during one of our trips to Tehran, I remember accompanying my mother as she went all over town running errands and shopping. It was getting late and we were hurrying to get home before dark when my mother stopped at a دکه ی لبو فروشی - dakeh-ye laboo forooshi (street vendor stand selling beets). A bunch of large, glazed purple/red beets were stacked neatly with some floating in their juice on a large tray. How do they make such simple and inexpensive street food so delicious? There must be an ancient secret recipe among the beet vendors in Iran - one that I would really love to get my hands on. Biting into a perfectly sweet, tender and warm laboo in the snow after a seemingly endless day was especially gratifying. لبو/ چغندرپخته Choghondar pokhteh/Laboo (cooked beets) happens to be one of Iran's popular street foods throughout the winter months. And this recipe brings back the cherished memories of my youth back home in Iran.

چغندر - Choghondar (beet) is highly nutritious, low in calories, quite versatile and has a gorgeous color. Beets can be thinly sliced or grated raw into salads, steamed, boiled or baked. Beets can also be used in both sweet and savory dishes. Those who love the earthy taste of beets can enjoy them throughout the year since they're always available in the market.

I have tried various ways of preparing beets. The simplest one is to roast them until tender and just serve them plain. Beets have a very high sugar content and there's really no need to add any sugar/sweeteners. However, I am on a quest to achieve the delicious and flavorful taste of the laboo I had in Iran.

I like to add honey for sweetness to the dish. You can use table sugar, brown sugar, or honey, whichever you prefer and you can adjust the sweetness to your liking. In addition, adding a good squeeze of lemon juice will enhance the color as well as the flavor of beets. For this recipe I peeled and sliced them before cooking. You can cook beets whole instead of slicing them. Just remember that beets stain everything and you may want to wear gloves while peeling and slicing them.

Laboo - Beets


4 medium-sized beets, trimmed, peeled, sliced
2 teaspoons white sugar or brown sugar or honey (I used raw unfiltered honey), use more if you like.
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Optional garnish: chopped pistachios, sliced almonds


  1. Place the beets in a large heavy saucepan. Add enough water to cover the slices by 2 inches, bring to a boil for 2-3 minutes over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and cook for about 30 minutes.
  2. Add the lemon juice and honey, cover and simmer over low heat for another 10-15 minutes or until beets are tender and glazed. Make sure there is some liquid left in the bottom of the pan.
To serve place the beets in a deep serving platter, pour 2-3 tablespoons of the remaining liquid over them. Sprinkle with almonds and pistachios and serve immediately as a side dish or snack.

Beetroot greens (leaves and stems) also have nutritional value and can be substituted into most recipes that call for spinach. It can be added to ash reshtehkookoo sabzi or even ghormeh sabzi for a great flavor variation. After I cooked the beets I decided it was about time to make a dish just using its greens, the under-appreciated and often discarded barg-e choghondar, and that's how this beautiful and delicious kookoo barg-e choghondar was created.

Kookoo Barg-e Choghondar - Beet Greens Kookoo (leaves and stems)


2 cups beet leaves, chopped (I gave them a quick rough chop)
2 cups beet stems, chopped
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
4 eggs
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
A pinch of cumin *optional
A pinch of cayenne pepper *optional 
Vegetable oil


  1. In a medium frying pan heat 2-3 tablespoons of oil, add onions and saute over medium-high heat until light golden brown. Add turmeric powder and garlic, saute for another 2-3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove fried garlic and onion from oil, set aside.
  2. In a large bowl whisk the eggs until well mixed.
  3. Add the green beet leaves, red stems, fried onion and garlic, flour, salt, pepper, cumin, and cayenne. Mix thoroughly.
  4. In a large skillet heat 3 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat, gently pour in the mixture. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and cook for 35-40 minutes. There's no need to turn them over. This way they'll maintain their gorgeous color and fresh rustic look.
Serve warm or room temperature with warm bread, salad, mast o khiar and torshi.

As I am sure many of you may already know, since I have already shared the news on my Facebook and Instagram page, I was recently chosen by Yahoo Food as their blogger of the week. The following three recipes: Zucchini and Yogurt Salad, Fesenjoon and Khoresh-e Karafs were featured during the week along with a Q&A. I am truly honored and delighted.


Shab-e Yalda 2014: Baslogh Recipe to Celebrate the Persian Yalda Night

The early sunsets, short days and long nights of autumn will be coming to an end this upcoming Sunday, December 21st. The earliest sunsets of the year occur during the week leading up to the winter solstice and on the shortest day of the year the sun sets at 4:32 PM and rises again at 7:17 AM the next day here in New York. Starting on the 1st day of winter the days become longer and of course the change happens far too slowly to be noticeable until several days later. The longest night of the year is called شب یلدا / شب چله  - Shab-e Yalda/Shab-e Cheleh in Persian. The word Yalda means birth and it refers to the birth of Mithra (god of light and justice) thousands of years ago. Traditionally, the night of Yalda is celebrated with friends and family gathering around a کرسی - korsi or سفره  - sofreh (tablecloth) spread or a table with festive fruits such as a bowl of ruby colored pomegranates, a platter of sliced sweet watermelons and fully ripened delicious persimmons. Also, on the table would be a bowl of ajil (nuts, seeds and dried fruits), sweets, and poetry by Hafez. This festival usually starts after dinner and continues into the late hours of the night with poetry reading, storytelling and music to celebrate the victory of light over darkness, the start of a new season, and to make the long hours of the night go by faster! For me, it is also a way of honoring all those who have celebrated Yalda long before us, during the cold and dark nights of winter huddling around a little oil lamp or a wood burning fire pit with limited food. And yet they still managed to keep the spirit of shab-e cheleh alive for many centuries to come.

There are no specific meals or dinner menus associated with Yalda celebrations and in all these years of blogging I have never felt a need to write a recipe for Yalda until now. It is all up to you as to what to prepare for the night. However, among the sweets served, baslogh is commonly known as a yalda shirini (sweets). باسلوق لقمه ای  - Baslogh is a soft starch based candy infused with rosewater and each individual piece is completely coated with shredded coconuts and topped with walnuts. In addition to rosewater, saffron and ground cardamom may be used as well. For this recipe you will need a little patience as it does require constant stirring.


Makes about 14 pieces

1/2 cup cornstarch
1 cup (8-ounces) granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup rosewater
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 cup walnut halves
1 tablespoon butter, unsalted
1 cup shredded coconut, sweetened


  1. Pour the shredded coconut into a large bowl. Set aside.
  2. Combine sugar and water in a medium saucepan, bring to a boil over medium-high heat until sugar is completely dissolved. Reduce heat and simmer.
  3. Mix cornstarch and a 1/2 cup of cool water together in a small saucepan, stir until dissolved. 
  4. Add dissolved cornstarch to the sugar syrup. Bring to a boil, stir constantly until the mixture is no longer lumpy. Reduce the heat to low, simmer, stirring frequently until thickened for about 15-20 minutes. Add the rosewater, butter and  lemon juice, cook for another 5-7 minutes. Stirring constantly.
  5. Drop a spoonful at a time of the mixture into the bowl of shredded coconut, shape the mixture into balls, turning over to evenly coat the sides. You need to move quickly. Place a walnut half in the center of each baslogh. Arrange on a serving platter. Serve with tea.

Happy Shab-e Yalda!