World Food Challenge

Day 80: Iran and Chelo with Fistikli Kebap,Maast O Khiar and Shirazi Salad

Good evening, Raffies!

Today we are diving into the heart of the Persian empire. We are going to Iran. Its cuisine is legendary, and all the encounters I have had with Irani cuisine, so far, have been incredible.

As some of you may already know, I am going to Iran in October. To be honest, I have always dreamt of visiting this country, ever since I had ready about Alexander the Great and the great Avicenna. I have always had this image of Persia as a nearly mythical country.

This mythical element can be found in its cuisine, too. If we start with Chelo, there is a whole ritual connected to the preparation of this Holy Grail of dish. In this method, you cook the rice not by boiling it in water, but by steaming it. The bottom layer, the one that touches the pan, has to build a golden crust. The result that you will get is a rice you have never tried before: elegant, separated grains. It is said that once you tried Chelo, it will be hard to cook or even enjoy rice in any other way. The crispy crust takes practice and luck to achieve. In Persia, you are defined as a cook, by how well you can prepare Chelo.

The second part of the meal is Fistikli Kebap, Lamb and Pistachio Patties. These meat patties are incredible. The Pistachos and the spices give the meat an incredible aroma and a nice crunchiness.

Thirdly, we have Maast O Khiar, a simple yoghurt sauce that has to be served chilled and that serves the purpose of cooling you down on a hot summer day. Yoghurt sauces are a staple in every household. You can vary the content, according to the season, like cucumbers, beetroot or spinach.
One thing is for sure, I will be gaining quite a bit of weight during my trip (I’ve already been warned by my Iranian friends).

Last but not least, Shirazi Salad, is as typical salad for the city of Shiraz. This is more or less the national salad of Iran. It contains cucumbers, tomatoes, red onions, lemon juice and pomegranate seeds. The only ingredient I had to miss, because I couldn’t find any pomegranates at the moment.

For my recipes, I have used my very own Holy Grail, the cookbook of Persian cuisine my husband gave me for Christmas a few years back: “Persiana” by Sabrina Ghayour, Ed.: Mitchell Beazley.

Briefly, how can words possibly describe this Persian fairy tale?

Love,

Raffi

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