October 23, 2011

Turkish Coffee - Persian Armenian Style

As a kid I used to see my mother drinking ghahveh turk (Turkish coffee) in small coffee cups with her friends and neighbors during their gatherings while talking about almost anything under the blue sky. They usually would meet for an hour or two in the morning in between sending their kids off to school, tidying up the house and preparing lunch for their husbands who would come back home for lunch. My mother learned to make Turkish coffee from her Armenian neighbor when she was just a young newlywed and had moved to a new home and a new town. This warm and friendly Armenian family with grown kids welcomed her to the neighborhood and their home. They eased her sense of loneliness and in them my mother found the family that she had left behind for marriage. That's where she had ghahveh turk for the first time and from then on she enjoyed drinking it as an occasional treat.

Over the years, my very dear Armenian friend Flora and I have developed a routine of meeting each other for breakfast, which is always at her place. Well she offers and I accept, you know they say never to refuse a good offer! She usually makes a delicious omelet with all kinds of vegetables with warm barbari bread, hot fresh brewed tea, and a tiny cup of  قهوه  ghahveh (coffee) at the end of our gathering just before I leave. Besides the good food and her warm hospitality we both have enjoyed our many deep an heartwarming conversations.                             

Having Turkish coffee at my friend Flora's house

Lighthearted fortune telling is a fun part of drinking Turkish coffee. We like to look for patterns and images on the walls of these tiny cups, anything that might resemble faces, birds, roads and valleys

Here's Flora's recipe for kofe/soorj:

Serves 2

2 heaping teaspoons powdered roast coffee
2 cups water  (small-size coffee cups)
1 teaspoon sugar, may be adjusted to your liking 

  1. In a small pot with a long handle combine finely powdered coffee, cool water and sugar. stir well.
  2. Place the pot on medium heat and bring to a boil, watch closely as the coffee starts to rise in the pot and foam, remove the pot from heat and pour into each cup and serve.


October 07, 2011

Morgh-e Torsh - Sour Chicken Stew with Fresh Herbs and Yellow Split Peas

I've been wanting to make مرغ ترش morgh-e torsh for quite some time but somehow I never got around to it. However, I recently received a very kind email from a reader asking for this recipe along with a couple of other dishes from the northern province of Gilan and I was inspired to write a post about it. This is a relatively easy dish to make but the taste is just superb and every bite is so full of flavor. Food from shomal (northern Iran) has its own distinct flavor with its local vegetables that's hard to find anywhere else. Northern Iran is also known for its rice fields, tea plantations and the caviar from Darya-ye Khazar (Caspian sea).

This morgh-e torsh recipe was given to me by a very dear friend of mine of many years. My good friend Maryam is from the city of Rasht and currently lives in Toronto with her loving family. I met Maryam in college here in New York and we instantly became friends. We hung out together, laughed and complained of homesickness. After graduation she moved away, we may lose contact briefly and periodically but throughout the years we have remained friends for life. Thanks to Maryam I get to write about this amazing Gilani recipe.

I changed a couple of minor things here and there in the recipe. Maryam's recipe calls for one whole chicken, I used four pieces of boneless and skinless chicken breasts which I cut into small pieces (about two pounds) and the second change is adding turmeric to the recipe. I just couldn't resist and I added a pinch of turmeric powder while frying the chicken. 

Sour Chicken Stew with Fresh Herbs and Yellow Split Peas

Serves 4-6

1 whole chicken, cut into pieces
1/2 cup yellow split peas
2 bunches of coriander, finely chopped
1 bunch of parsley, finely chopped
1 bunch of fresh mint, finely chopped
1 large onion, peeled and diced
4-5 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
Juice of  1-2  narenj (Seville orange/bitter orange) or juice of 1-2 lemon/lime, (the amount  may be adjusted to your taste and preferences)
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Clean and wash all fresh vegetables, remove the stems and chop finely.
  2. In a skillet add 2-3 tablespoons of vegetable oil, saute the chopped onion, minced garlic and the chopped vegetables on medium-low heat until soft and tender.
  3. Cook the yellow split peas in 2 cups of water with a dash of salt for about 30 minutes or until they become soft. Discard the water.
  4. Lightly fry the chicken pieces in a couple of tablespoons of oil in a frying pan on medium heat until they are no longer pink, add salt and pepper to taste. As I mentioned, I added a pinch of turmeric as well.
  5. In a saucepan combine all the ingredients, the sauteed vegetable mixture, chicken pieces and the yellow split peas. Add enough water to cover all the ingredients. Bring to a boil on medium-high heat. Reduce heat, add salt and pepper and the juice of Seville orange or lemon juice to your liking. Cover and cook on medium-low heat for about an hour until all the flavors come together, stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
Transfer the stew in a large serving bowl. Serve with kateh or polow, zeytoon parvardeh and pickled garlic.
For a complete Gilani lunch or dinner you may want to add mirza ghasemi to the menu as a side dish.