The new Persian kitchen, 201pp.
by Louisa Shafia
Ten Speed Press, Berkeley, 2013
Cooking on page 32–33
Earlier this year, we had a wonderful month touring around Iran. Of course one of the highlights was sampling lots of the local cuisine. But it seems most Persian cooking is done in the home. Restaurants instead have long menus of kebabs and chicken prepared a gazillion different ways, but very little variety in the way that we had hoped for.
Admittedly, we had a couple of excellent authentic meals—a sensational one in a homestay in Yadz home and another delicious concoction in the Isfahan bazaar in a restaurant that specialised in a couple of dishes we never saw elsewhere.
So I was delighted to spot this book by a woman who wanted to explore her Iranian heritage by updating classic Persian recipes to utilise more vegetables, as well as some traditional Persian ingredients such as pomegranates, sumac, rose petals, dried limes, yogurt and tamarind.
Page 33’s recipe (the picture is on page 32) sure delivers on the veggies. It has a nod to Turkish cuisine because the two countries have many similar dishes.
Turkish roasted tomato and red pepper dip
3 medium to large tomatoes (1 1/2 pounds), halved
1 red bell pepper, halved and seeded
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
3 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 cup loosely packed fresh flat-lead parsley
Preheat over to 400°F.
Combine the tomatoes and red pepper in a large bowl and drizzle with the grapeseed oil. Seat with salt and pepper, and toss well to coat. Spread the vegetables on a baking sheet, and roast, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes, until tender. Let cool.
In a small bowl, whisk the garlic and shallot with the extra-virgin olive oil, pomegranate molasses, paprika, and a pinch of salt.
Combine the roasted vegetables, parsley and marinade in a food processor and pulse several times until mostly smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve.
How it played out
I’m glad I have a well-stocked pantry. A quick glance in the cupboard confirmed that I had both pomegranate molasses and smoked paprika on hand. The rest of the recipe came together ever so easily.
Most weeks I take a couple of dips to the office for the Friday trivia quiz and drinks and nibbles. This made a lot of dip, so I added a couple of dollops of sour cream and cream cheese to half the batch to create the second dip. Clever, huh!
The crowd enjoyed both. Planning ahead, I left a little at home to enjoy on toast for lunch on Saturday. Clever x 2.
I look forward to trying more of these Persian gems. Luckily I have scads of the relevant ingredients in the pantry. If you’re interested in more about our time in Iran have a look at my travel blog.