Aubergine and Yoghurt Dip

This is a very easy Persian version of a common middle-eastern dip. Be prepared to get a bit messy for the best results. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 large aubergines
  • 1 tbsp very good quality olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 200ml plain full-fat greek yoghurt
  • 4 tbsp chopped fresh mint
  • 2 tbsp fresh lime juice

METHOD:

  • Preheat the oven to 180C. Rinse the aubergines and prick them with a fork in a few places. Put them in the centre of the oven on a rack with a baking tray underneath. Bake for one hour. 
  • Remove the aubergines from the oven, let them cool until you can handle them. Peel off the skin and chop the flesh. 
  • Put all the chopped aubergine into a bowl, add the remaining ingredients and mix well. I used my bare hands to squish the aubergine well, before beating with a fork. Adjust the seasoning to taste.
  • Transfer to a serving dish, garnish with saffron water, a tablespoonful of plain yoghurt and mint leaves. 
  • This recipe is best made 24 hours in advance, and stored in the fridge. Remove from the fridge 10 minutes before serving. This is good served with bread. 

Yoghurt and Cucumber Salad

Some of you will know that I spent some time living in Teheran when I was a child. Zara used to work for our family as a housekeeper, and she used to cook wonderful Persian home-cooking for us. Our favourite was a dish called Loubia Pollow, made with rice, beans, tomatoes and lamb. We also used to eat the most delicious barbari bread and thick plain yoghurt sold in blue earthenware bowls. 

I have sought to recreate the flavours of the food we ate there, and have never managed to get it quite right. Persian food is very complex and sophisticated, from ancient civilisations, combining the herbs and spices of east and west. 

There are a few sites online where you can look up Persian recipes, but the flavours and end-results are unfamiliar to most. I have one recipe book, A Taste of Persia which is aimed at the US market, and has all the ingredients in cups. I’ve been working my way through the recipes and re-jigging them to suit local ingredients and UK directions. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cucumber, peeled and finely diced
  • 1 500g tub of full-fat plain Greek Yoghurt
  • A bunch of spring onions, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh mint, chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh dill or fennel leaf, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 tsp dried tarragon
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 3 tbsp chopped walnuts
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • Garnish of fresh mint, rose petals, dill leaf, chive flowers, chopped walnuts, chopped radishes etcetera

METHOD:

  • Combine all the ingredients, mix well and adjust the seasoning. 
  • Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes, and up to four hours before serving. Take out of the fridge ten minutes before serving and garnish. 

Boned wild goose breast with limes and herbs

I think I may have cracked this wild goose recipe challenge again: A Persian herb stew with goose in it. I adapted the recipe from one in ‘A Taste of Persia’ , very tasty. I prepared it one evening, then finished off the cooking the next night.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 2 small onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 pair of goose breasts, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground pepper
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp saffron in 1 tbsp hot water
  • 1 whole dried persian lime, punctured with a sharp knife (lime was mail order)
  • 1 can red kidney beans, drained
  • 3 tbs sunflower oil
  • 2 cups of mixed chopped herbs including fresh coriander, parsley, dried fenugreek leaves OR
  • 1 cup Gormeh Sabzi (from seasoned pioneers)
  • 1 cup chopped spring onions or chives
  • juice of one fresh lime
  • 1 litre of water

METHOD:

  • In a medium saucepan, melt the butter, and add the onions. Cook on a medium heat until they are translucent, about five minutes.
  • Add the garlic and continue to fry for another 20 minutes on a low heat, stirring intermittently.
  • Add the salt, pepper, turmeric, saffron, the kidney beans and the whole dried lime, and fry together for another couple of minutes
  • Add one litre of water, and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally
  • Meanwhile, mix the herbs and chopped chives/spring onions together, and fry in the sunflower oil for 20 minutes, stirring all the time. The smell from the fenugreek will be very strong.
  • Add the fried herbs to the pot along with the lime juice, and cover. At this point, I took the stew off the heat and stored it ready to finish cooking the next night. This is optional.
  • Bring to a simmer and cook for another 30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, flash-fry the strips of goose meat for around five minutes, and add to the pot to heat through, around five minutes before serving.
  •  Serve with rice.