The first Iranian things I tried making were from the dinner selection.
The menu went as follows:
- herb salad
- kashk-e badenjan
- khoresht – sour tofu and herbs
I read in Saraban that Iranian meals usually begin with flat bread and a basket of herbs and cheese. These are then followed by pickles, lie or lemon, then the ‘main’ component, either soup or stew and rice.
I actually went and made the bread (which is a BIG DEAL because I have tried and failed at bread many times over), but I bought the pickles. The bread I made was barberi, or breakfast bread – I made sure we had some left for breakfast the next day.
I used the recipe from Saraban and it turned out…okish. It was fluffy, but also had that slightly bland, tough thing going on which my bread always has. I’m doing something very wrong with bread, but I just don’t know what it is. Imma buy it instead.
There are no photos of the bread, but there will be some from breakfast.
The herb salad came mostly from our back yard veggie patch, but our eggplants are still pretty weedy looking and haven’t fruited yet, so I bought the eggplant too.
The eggplant side dish was the star of the evening. I have added a veganised version of the Saraban recipe below, because it was so fabulous it really must be shared.
The chelow, which is Iranian rice, is another riff off of the pilaf theme which pervades the cuisines of central asia, southern europe and the middle east, this one with a very crunchy bottom. The crunchy-bottom concept is a concept I came across a few years back when I covered Azerbaijan, but I didn’t have the right tools to replicate it then.
Now, with my hard-anodised pan of non-stick wonder, I was able to turn my attention to an appropriately crunchy-bottomed rice dish.
It turned out beautifully – lovely and golden, crispy and fluffy. Sadly though, the crispiness was actually a little too crispy for Mr and I. I think we prefer our grains with a little give. It was gorgeous though, I’ll give it that.
The stew, or khoresht, was from this recipe for sour chicken stew at Turmeric and Saffron. I followed it for the most part, subbing fried tofu for the chicken, and making a much smaller dish over all. I also used lime instead of bitter orange, because I don’t know where I would get a bitter orange in Melbourne.
I enjoyed the stew especially the sour part, but Mr was not so fussed about it. The tofu didn’t really take in much flavour, and if I made it again i would marinate it a long while before frying it.
Eggplant with sour creamy sauce
- 1 large eggplant
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 small onion
- olive oil
- dried herbs (the original recipe specifies mint, but I had none so used some dill, tarragon and oregano)
- 3 Tbs tofutti better than cream cheese
- 100ml water
- 2 Tbs vinegar
- Peel and slice the eggplant into rounds. Salt and leave to sweat for 20 minutes.
- Pre-heat the oven to 220 degrees.
- Fry the onion and garlic in some oil until just soft. Set aside, but don’t clean the pan.
- Wash and fry the slices, then fry in batches until just coloured on each side in the same pan as used for the onions.
- Put all the eggplant, onions and garlic into a baking dish with some pepper and dried herbs and bake for 20-30 minutes. (Mine were 30 minutes, but that was while I waiting for something else to happen, so it might not need this long)
- Pull the eggplant out of the oven and mash with a fork. It will be a bit lumpy.
- Put the mashed eggplant in a serving dish, with some room left over.
- In a small saucepan which the tofutti, water and vinegar and bring to the boil. Return to simmer, stirring constantly until it is a little thicker.
- Pour the liquid on top of the eggplant and serve warm or at room temperature.