November 24, 2009

Shirin Polow - Persian Sweet Rice

شیرین پلو  Shirin polow - Persian sweet rice is a traditional special-occasion rice dish which is usually served with chicken and goes well with turkey too. This delicious sweet rice is perfect for Thanksgiving dinner. Thanksgiving is all about getting together with the people you love and care about. Spending time together, telling stories, laughing, giving thanks and of course eating delicious food and mouth-watering sweets. Like many Iranians I do add my own Persian cooking touches to the Thanksgiving menu. I feel the meal is not complete if there's no Persian-style rice to go with it!

Shirin Polow - Persian Sweet Rice

 Serves 4-6

2 cups long grain white basmati rice
2 cup carrots, peeled and shredded
1 cup orange skin, slivered
1 cup slivered almonds
1/3 cup sugar (may be adjusted to your liking)
1/2 teaspoon powdered saffron dissolved in 3 tablespoons of hot water
Dash of cinnamon

  1. Rinse 3 large oranges and using a vegetable peeler, peel the skin and cut into thin stripes. Rinse well under cold water. Place the slivered orange peels into a small pot, add a cup of cold water, boil for 3-5 minutes over medium-high heat, drain and repeat the process two more times. 
  2. Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium heat, add the shredded carrots and saute for about 5 minutes, add the slivered almonds, then add the sliced orange peels. Continue sauteing for an additional 5 minutes.
  3. Add the sugar, a dash of cinnamon, pour 1/4 cup of water, gently stir, cover and cook over low heat for 7 minutes.Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl wash the rice with cool water a few times. Soak the rice in 8 cups of water, add 4 tablespoons salt and set aside for at least a couple of hours.
  5. In a large non stick pot, bring 3 quarts of water to a rapid boil over medium-high heat. Drain the rice and pour into the boiling water. Bring the water back to a boil for about 7 minutes or until the grains are long, soft on the outside and hard in the center. Drain the rice in a colander and rinse the par-boiled rice with cool water.
  6. Wash the pot and return to heat, add 4 tablespoons of oil, with a large spatula place 1/3 of the rice into the pot, add a layer of the carrot mixture, building it into a pyramid shape away from the sides of the pot. In order to release the steam make 4-5 holes in the rice with the bottom of the spatula.
  7. Cook the rice for about 7-10 minutes over medium-high heat or until rice is steaming, sprinkle 2 tablespoons of oil, 2 tablespoons of water and the liquid saffron over the rice, lower the heat, cover and steam the rice for 50 minutes.
Transfer the rice to a serving plate, garnish and serve warm.


November 21, 2009

Chicken Soup & Other Persian Home Remedies

With the flu season upon us, I thought it is the best time to write about the home remedies for the common cold. There are many herbal solutions for many different kinds of ailments in our culture that date backs to many centuries ago. However, today, I'll mention a few things we use in case of sniffling, coughing, sore throat, etc. These cold solutions have been generally passed down from generations to generations. I am certain that every culture has its own home medicines and methods for treating the common cold. سوپ مرغ Chicken soup happens to be a universal recipe that soothes the chest and throat and is easy on the stomach as well as soothing your soul. Is it really effective or not? I am not 100 percent sure but the love that goes into preparing this dish and serving it makes you feel warm all over. Here is what we usually do in our home in addition to paying a visit to the doctor and taking the required prescribed medication.


  1. Drink چای tea or hot water with fresh squeezed lime/lemon juice and some honey. 
  2. Eat cooked شلغم shalgham (turnip). Cook 4-5 small turnips in a cup of water for 15- 20 minutes on medium-low heat. Don't over cook them. Serve warm, add a dash of salt before you eat if you happen to not like the taste of cooked turnips.
  3. Eat your fruits and vegetables. Citrus fruits such as grapefruits, oranges, and tangerines are a good source of vitamin C. There is a citrus fruit in Iran known as لیموشیرین limoo shirin (sweet lemon) which is mostly used for treating the cold symptoms. You may find it in most Iranian/Persian grocery stores when in season.
  4. Gargle salted water which alleviates sore throat.
  5. Drink lots of fluids.
  6. Make a simple chicken soup.
  7. Rest and sleep.
Soup-e Morgh - Chicken Soup


4-5 pieces of chicken, (drumsticks, thighs or wings), remove skin
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 medium-size tomatoes, peeled and diced
1 cup carrots, shredded
1 1/2 cup parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons rice, rinsed
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
4 cups of water
Juice of 2 limes/lemons


  1. In a large pot place the chicken and all the other ingredients, except the carrots, parsley and the lime juice. 
  2. Place the pot on medium heat, bring to boil, reduce heat and cook for an hour on low heat. 
  3. After an hour, add the vegetables to the pot, adjust the seasoning and add more water if needed. 
  4. Cook for another 20 minutes, add the lime juice before serving, stir and serve warm.
I think there's a magic when mothers pour some steaming soup into bowl and tell you to eat it up, because it's going to make you feel better in no time! Don't you think so?

Stay warm and keep healthy!

November 09, 2009

Sobhaneh - Persian Breakfast

صبحانه Breakfast has been called the greatest meal of the day. I couldn't agree more. It only takes a little time early in the morning out of our busy schedule to boil some water in order to brew a fresh cup of loose leaf tea or make a aromatic delicious cup of coffee. Warm up some flat bread (lavash, barbari, sangag or pita) if it's available where you are, Serve feta cheese and/or butter, walnuts, fruit jams or honey. Many like to serve fruits of the season and sliced small cucumbers and firm tomatoes. This is a typical Iranian breakfast. Where the tea is hot and the bread is warm, cheese (paneer) is tasty and of good quality. In that 10-15 minutes sitting at a table, sipping tea, enjoying the company of loved ones, counting your blessings, and gathering the strength to get up and start a day refreshed and ready to go. The above photo is a picture of my favorite kind of breakfast. I should mention that there are many other morning meals that I'll be sharing with you later on.


November 02, 2009

Seer Torshi - Pickled Garlic

Iranian Pickled Garlic

The other day I stopped at a new grocery store on my way home. I had no plans to make سیرترشی garlic pickles but I was excited to see these clean garlic bulbs without the dusty stems at the end. That meant I didn't have to wash them and risk getting the moisture in between the cloves. All I only needed to do was to remove the loose and dried outer layers as much as possible. I think a jar of pickled garlic makes a delicious display on the kitchen counter, especially if you use white vinegar to be able to see the inside of the jar. But of course we need to put these pickles away in a cool and dark place to ferment. Don't you love the flavor of garlic in most dishes such as yogurt, chicken, fish, lamb, beef and vegetables?

My mother not only used garlic generously in cooking to spice up the food but also she used it for its medicinal purposes to cure our coughs and colds. She would also have her daily dose of garlic to maintain her blood pressure and keep it low. I use a few cloves in recipes that call for garlic and I always have my jars of seer torshi. I usually make a jar with peeled cloves and also a jar with separated but unpeeled cloves too. The older garlic pickles get the better they taste. Garlic becomes soft and sweet and they melt in your mouth like jam.

Persian Pickled Garlic

Seer Torshi - Pickled Garlic


8 garlic bulbs, remove the outer dried skins
3 cups white vinegar/fill to the rim
2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoons honey or grape molasses

  1. Place the clean garlic in a completely dry glass jar. 
  2. Add salt and honey to the vinegar in a separate glass bowl. Mix well. 
  3. Fill the jar with the vinegar mixture, leaving 1-inch headspace and tightly seal the jar with a lid. 
  4. Place in a cool and dark place. 
  5. They'll be ready to serve after a couple of years so that they can age, and the seven year seer torshi is known for its delicious taste.
 Serve seer torshi with your favorite food. I like to serve it along with abgoosht, lamb shanks and lima beans rice (shevid baghali polow) and eggplant dishes.