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Forum Thread - Iranian cookery

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Phil, on 14/6/2010 09:17pm

I've just been exposed, for the first time, to Iranian home cookery, these last few days.

I'm struck by the fact that they use basmati rice, but with dill. Delicious. Special.

They also use a lot of yoghurt, and lemon.

It's an interesting culinary tradition which seems Mediterranean and Eastern at the same time.

Any recipes? I did a search, but couldn't find anything specicifally Iranian.

I can try to get you the basmati dill recipe, if you don't already have it.


Askcy, on 14/6/2010 09:19pm

I used to know an Iranian fella and he cooked a lot of curries very similar to Indian curries... not sure about anything else though...

I'd be very interested to learn more though...


Lapis, on 14/6/2010 10:38pm

if you think Persian rather than modern day Iran, then all will be revealed. Many so-called Indian dishes were originally Persian, even biryani is a Persian word. Ab gosht is Persian for a watery dish, made with milk in India. Dhansak originated in Persia, and was brought to Mumbai by the Zoroastrians fleeing from the Turks in the 7th century. There are very many more examples of Persian dishes (and Indian words), mostly down to the Mohgals, who went on to establish themselves in Northern India, and laid the foundation for a very special cuisine.

Indian cuisine with Persia? like van Gogh without brushes and paint. My butchers are from Persia (Iran) and very nice people they are too! always do me a 'special' price!

Mamta, on 15/6/2010 08:31am

As Lapis says, Moguls are responsible for bringing a lot of non-vegetarian recipes from that part of the world. Old Mogul emperors had special 'Khansamas' specially imported from Prussia. If you look at the beautiful carvings in Persepolis in Iran, they show links of all kinds of trade going on between them and then India. If you look again, my Dhansak recipes are from an Iranian friend, Mrs petit, whose grandparents came from Iran and settled in Bombay (Mumbai). Search for Parsee or Parsi here, you will find all her recipes;

I found one Parsi cook book on Amazon; Parsi Food and Customs (Essential Parsi Cookbook) [Illustrated] (Paperback) by Bhicoo J. Manekshaw

Winton, on 15/6/2010 08:44am

If you think of the now Iran in the Persian Empire as an 'international food hub' it explains the massive influence of Iranian cooking methods and produce over a huge geographical area.

Margret Shaida writes "the ancient cuisine of Persia has had an influence, the full extent of which has yet to be measured, on Ottoman cuisine, Arab cuisine, the cuisines of W. Europe, and those of Russia, C. Asia, and the Indian sub-continent."

The Iranians carried their own foods far and wide, as well as being a distribution centre for foods across their massive empire. The Silk Route and the Afro-Arab-Indian trade all went through Iran. For anyone studying the history of food, Iran is probably the best place to start!

Lapis, on 15/6/2010 11:05am

"Indian cuisine with Persia? like van Gogh without brushes and paint." should have read "Indian cuisine without Persia?......"


its interesting to speculate whether the ideas for dishes went from Persia to India, or visa versa, or probably a bit of both.

Kavey, on 15/6/2010 11:20am

A local kebab restaurant / takeaway near us is run by an Iranian family. Which means that as well as the Turkish-style doner, kofte and sis kebabs (the last two of which are similar to Indian kofta/sheesh) they also offer some Iranian dishes - my favourite is a slow-cooked lamb shank served with dill rice and some of the cooking stock, which one pours over the rice to moisten it. Delicious!

AskCy, on 15/6/2010 12:46pm

That lamb sounds similar to the Greek Kleftiko, bet its really very nice !


Phil, on 19/6/2010 10:58am

Thanks for those interesting points about Persian cookery. It was a Scottish woman who cooked this stuff for us; she learned a whole load of things from her Iranian mother-in-law. I was struck by the fact that she didn't use the absorption method for her basmati; rather, she boiled it in lots of water. It came out really fluffed up.

Winton, on 19/6/2010 12:35pm

Apparently most Iranians prefer a three step cooking of rice - soaking, boiling and then finally steaming.

Following the previous positive postings on 'rice and dill' I thought I'd try "Baghali Polou' - Broad Bean and Dill Rice tonight. Recipe is the three step rice with broad beans and dill, dressed with a saffron 'infusion.' Will let you know how I get on.

Broad beans are my favouite vegetable (and there are some lovely ones about at the moment.) I'd agree with the TV chef who said he would like to be reincarnated as a broad bean, getting to spend your life in that lovely cosy velvety pod! I'm not sure about the boiling bit but at least you would finally give someone a lot of pleasure!

phil, on 20/6/2010 05:49pm

Boiling THEN steaming? That's new to me. The Scottish house guest did the usual washing then soaking, but then went on to boiling, with no subsequent steaming.

Never heard of beans in rice, but our Scottish guest says she puts all sorts of things in her Iranian basmati.

Be good to know how you got on with the beans in the rice.

oddies, on 20/6/2010 10:13pm

A good site for the cooking of rice Persian style

Mamta, on 21/6/2010 06:28am

Talking about rice, I opened the store cupboard this morning to put some stuff away as I was tidy up the kitchen. A box of 'creamed coconut powder' stared me in the face. Next to it was an Arborio rice packet. I immediately thought of making coconut cream risotto. Looked on the internet, there are many there already! You can't have any new idea these days without knowing that someone else in the world has already thought of it!

Anyway, my sister sent me a recipe from her son yesterday for making Pineapple Jarda Biryani/pulao (pilaf). I am thinking of amalgamating this to my coconut idea and make it as ‘coconut pineapple biryani. It is a sweet rice dish (I have recipe for traditional ones already on site). The question is whether to use lean towards a risotto, using risotto rice or towards a Biryani, using basmati! What would you do?

Kavey, on 21/6/2010 08:56am

I like the creaminess of risotto, the arborio has more starch and gives that thick, sticky, creamy finish. Would suit a dessert best I think.

Lapis, on 21/6/2010 11:27am

I've made a few risottos, but after a lifetime of cooking basmati to perfection, sticky rice seems like a failure to me.

phil, on 25/6/2010 11:28pm

I also think that sticky rice is failed rice: fluffy basmati is great, if you can get it right.

But my half-Scottish/half-Japanese niece likes both fluffy and sticky rice. The Japanese can be very chauvinistic about rice, I find: they denounce Thai and Indian rice.

The French, despite their culinary wonders, are useless at rice, I find.

Lapis, on 25/6/2010 11:40pm

I cook sticky rice (actually its half/half basmati/glutinous rice with Thai food, and Japanese rice for shushi and vinegar rice with bamboo shoots to go with a panda dish (we rarely have this any more).

I have found the French are poor at anything foreign. A bit like the 'not invented here' mentality of many other nations, including many Brits!

Phil, on 27/6/2010 03:42pm

No idea what vinegar rice is: do tell!

Yes, the French are, generally speaking, like the Brits, not good at things foreign, and that includes speaking foreign languages and eating foreign food (that's why their 'Indian' and 'Chinese' restaurants are, for the most part, so utterly bland, in my view).

But, my goodness, they have such culinary wonders, and so much magnificent regional variation in their cookery. The French are especialy good at salads, what with all that meat and seafood in there. They're also nearly as good as the Italians at cakes and patisserie.

Vive la France!

Lapis, on 28/6/2010 01:11pm

I mentioned vinegar rice, not rice vinegar. LOL!

The Japanese add vinegar (which can be rice wine vinegar) to many rice dishes, including the rice used for making sushi.

Winton, on 28/6/2010 02:01pm

Oops! Must be the heat getting to me. I'm even posting without my name today.

I suppose I was answering a supplementary question that hadn't even been asked. But as you suggest the Japanese would generally use Japanese vinegar which in turn generally is rice/rice wine vinegar. I'd better go and put a fan on!

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