Every culture has its own set of traditions during their holidays. One thing they all have in common, however, is traditional and seasonal food. Try these authentic Persian recipes inspired by the Yalda celebration and delight your guests with something a bit different and utterly delicious.
KUKU SABZI: HERB OMELET WITH BARBERRIES
- 1 bunch each of parsley, dill, coriander, tarragon and mint
- 100 g walnuts, chopped
- 6 tsp barberries
- Pinch of fenugreek powder
- Pinch of advieh spice
- 10 eggs
- Olive oil
- Finely chop the parsley, dill and coriander. Pick leaves from the tarragon and mint and chop finely.
- Soak the barberries in hot water for 10 minutes and drain.
- Mix the chopped herbs with the barberries, spices, walnuts and salt.
- Heat some oil in a non-stick metal skillet and gently pour in the mixture, shaking gently to distribute evenly. Cook for 10 minutes until almost set.
- Transfer to a hot oven and bake for another 5 to 8 minutes, until set and light golden brown.
- Leave to cool and transfer to a plate or cutting board. Slice into cubes.
- Serve on a large plate alongside slices of watermelon, pomegranates, white Turkish cheese, pistachio nuts, and fresh herbs such as tarragon, mint and parsley.
- 500 g good quality basmati rice
- 1 large carrot
- 75 g sugar
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 cardamom pods
- Orange flower water
- 3 organic oranges
- 2 red onions
- 50 g butter, melted (or oil)
- 75 g barberries
- 50 g sultanas/golden raisins
- 150 g pistachios, shelled, chopped and roasted
- 150 g almonds, shelled, chopped and roasted
- 1 pinch saffron strands
- 1 pomegranate
- Rinse the rice thoroughly and soak in plenty of water for 30 minutes. Repeat 2 to 3 times or soak overnight.
- Boil the washed rice in plenty of salted water for 5 minutes and rinse.
- Combine 2 tablespoons of the butter with 2 tablespoons of water and add to a saucepan (preferably cast iron).
- Add an even layer of rice to the pain, gradually pouring in the rest of the rice in stages, as though building a mountain. Poke some holes on all sides, and pour the remaining butter mixed with water over the rice.
- Close the lid, cover with a cloth and cook on high heat for 3 to 4 minutes until steam escapes. Reduce the heat to its lowest setting and leave the pan – with lid on – for around 45 minutes.
- Meanwhile, grate the carrot and cook on low heat with a little water, half the sugar, cinnamon, cardamom and a splash of orange flower water.
- Carefully peel the oranges, removing the pith, and slice the peel into fine strips. Boil the peel in plenty of water for 10 minutes and drain. Cook them with the remaining sugar until syrupy.
- Finely chop the onions and fry in oil for 10 minutes.
- Soak the barberries for 10 minutes and drain. Soak the saffron in 50ml of hot water.
- When the rice is ready, remove a small amount and combine with the saffron water and set aside.
- Dip the bottom of the rice pan in cold water to release the crust. Remove the crust and reserve to serve with the rice.
- Mix the rice with 3⁄4 of the carrot, orange peel, the remaining syrup, onions, drained barberries, raisins and nuts and spread the reserved saffron rice on top. Top with the remaining ingredients.
- Break open the pomegranate and with a spoon, knock out the seeds, sprinkle on top. Serve with the golden crust, known as the tadig.
SAFFRON TEA WITH CARDAMOM AND ROSE PETALS
- 1 tsp saffron strands
- 4-5 cardamom pods
- Handful of dried rosebuds
- Sugar or honey to taste
- Bring 4 cups of water to the boil in a small saucepan.
- Stir in the saffron, cardamom and rosebuds.
- Leave to infuse for a few minutes and pour into small glasses.
- Add a little sugar or honey to taste. (You can also add some Darjeeling tea, which is commonly mixed with saffron in Iran.)