Persian rice with sour cherries (Albaloo polo)

Sour cherry or Morello cherry is called ‘ Albaloo’ in Persian language. Iranian housewives make different things with albaloo such as: sour cherr juice, hot and cold drinks, jam and stew, cake and cookies. One of the Iranian famous rice dish is called Alballoo polo/pilaf which is made with sour cherries, spices and different meats such as: beef, lamb, or chicken and meat balls.

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The spices used in this pilaf vary but typically include Persian saffron and cinnamon. In Iranian cuisine there are wonderful mild sweet dishes such as: Fesenjan, Jewelled rice, Basterma pilaf, Albaloo polo and . And, and………….

Albaloo polo is mind blowing rice dish with combination of sweet/tangy taste. It’s moist and fluffy with plenty of morello cherries.

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Ingredients

  • 4 cups sour cherries
  • 3 cups rice
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 300 g chicken breast or thigh, cooked
  • 1 tsp cinnamon powder
  • ½ tsp cardamom
  • 2 tbsp Persian saffron water
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Vegetable oil

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How to make???

Soak the rice in salted water for an hour. Meanwhile, Place deseeded cherries in a pan. Add sugar and simmer gently over low heat for 10 minutes. Then place the cherries in a colander and let to drain the juice.

Melt the butter in a pan. Add cinnamon, cardamom, pepper, 1 tbps saffron water and stir. Then add cooked chicken to the butter and fry for 5 minutes. In this point, toss in the cherries and fry for 5 minutes more and set aside.

Pour in water into a pot and bring it to a boil. Drain the salted water of rice and add the rice to the boiling water and simmer for 8-10 minutes. Drain the rice in a colander and rinse the rice with cold water.

Add some oil to the pot, place a tortilla bread over the oiled base. Place some rice over the bread, then place half of the cherries and chicken mixture. Repeat until the rice and cherries mixture are used up.

Pour some saffron water, and albaloo juice over the rice. Place pieces of butter top of the rice. Cover the pot with a lid and cook for 20 minutes on medium to low heat.

Serve the rice in a plate along with the crispy tortilla from bottom of the pot that is called ‘ Tahdig’ in Farsi.

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Mutekke Cookies

Mutekke cookie is a traditional Azerbaijani cookie. Mutekke which is called bolster in English language is a long and narrow pillow filled with cotton or feather. By the way I have attached some photos of Mutekke in following photos.

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So name of this cookie come from their shape which resembles a traditional tube-shaped pillow which in old times of Iran, we used to use it as a pillow or back and arm support but nowadays, you can find them in small towns or villages.

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IMG_20180913_152655.jpgBasically, Mutekke cookie is rolled up pastry filled with nuts such as walnuts, almond, hazelnuts, pistachio or mixture of all but typically with walnuts and also fragrant spices. This cookie has a very straightforward recipe and super easy to make it. Usually baking Mutekke  in the celebration of new year ( Nowruz) is popular. The good point about this cookie is there is no sugar in the pastry and for adding sweetness to the cookie you add sugar or apricot or other fruit preserves as stuffing .

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Ingredients

  • 2 ¾ cups all purpose flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 113g unsalted butter
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 egg yolks

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Ingredients for filling

  • ½ cup walnuts, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • ½ tsp cinnamon powder
  • ½ tsp cardamom powder

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How to make it??

Mix flour and salt. Add butter to the flour. Use your hand and mix butter with flour. Now your mixture looks like fine sands. Add sour cream and egg yolks. Mix all ingredients until well combined and dough is not sticking to your hand.

Now, divide the dough into 3 pieces and wrap each piece in a plastic wrap. Place it in the fridge for an hour.

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Meanwhile, we prepare the filling. In a bowl mix all filling ingredients together and set aside.

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Preheat the oven to 193C degree. After one hour, place one piece of dough on a floured board.

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I show two methods of cutting the dough:

  • 1- you can cut a circle dough into 4 wedges and then each wedge to be cut into 2 more wedges, so you will have 8 wedges.
  • 2- other method is roll out a dough into rectangle shape. Then cut lengthwise. And cut into triangle shape.

Now put 1 tsp or some of stuffing on each wedge and then start to roll it from wide side ( as you see in the photos).

Repeat same process with rest of wedges. Place them in a parchment lined baking tray and bake the cookies for 20 minutes.

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Remove from the oven, let to cool before sifting with powdered sugar on top. Now call all family members, make cuppa tea or coffee and enjoy these tasty cookies together.

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Fennel sharbat with cardamom

Sharbat /sherbet is a popular and common sweet and non-alcohol drink in Iran, India, Turkey, Afghnestan and Arab countries. Sharbat is served cold and chilled . In the 12th century a Persian book describes different kinds of sharbats in Iran which made with fruits, flowers and seeds includes: lemon, pomegranate, cherry, mint, fennel seeds, saffron, rose, jasmine, rose water…..

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Also several syrups are listed in the 11th century book ‘Canon of Medicine’ by Persian polymath Avicenna also known Ibn Sina who was a physician, astronomer, writer and thinker. He has been described as the father of early modern medicine. .Sharbat serves during the heatwave and may be flavoured with honey, sugar and spices.

Fennel seeds are called ‘ Daneh Razianeh’ in Farsi.  Fennel is good for regulate blood pressure, digestion, help purify blood and …..

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Ingredients

  • ½ cup fennel seeds
  • ½ cup water to to soak spices
  • 1 cup water
  • 20 cardamom pods
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 lemon juice
  • Rose water

How to make it?

Soak the fennel seeds and cardamom pods in a bowl with ½ cup water in the fridge overnight. It will cause spices release their flavour. Once they are soaked, grind them with their soaking water and ½ cup  of water in a food processor.

Strain the water with help of a butter muslin cloth in a bowl and squeeze it..

Now add remaining ½ cup of water and sugar to the mixture and mix well. Pour it into a pot, bring to simmer on medium heat for 10 minutes until the syrup thickens and turn off the heat.

Sharbat is ready, allow to chill.

For serving time, in a glass with 1 cup water, add 2 tbsp of syrup, 1-2 ice cubes, ½ tsp rose water and drops of lemon juice. This sharbat is refreshing and very tasty during a Summer day.

This sharbat syrup can last for several months in the fridge. Nosh-e jaan

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Fennel sharbat with cardamom

Ingredients

  • ½ cup fennel seeds
  • ½ cup water to to soak spices
  • 1 cup water
  • 20 cardamom pods
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 lemon juice
  • Rose water

How to make it?

Soak the fennel seeds and cardamom pods in a bowl with ½ cup water in the fridge overnight. It will cause spices release their flavour. Once they are soaked, grind them with their soaking water and ½ cup water of water in a food processor. Strain the water with help of a butter muslin cloth in a bowl and squeeze it..

Now add remaining ½ cup of water and sugar to the mixture and mix well. Pour it into a pot, bring to simmer on medium heat for 10 minutes until the syrup thickens and turn off the heat. Sharbat is ready, allow to chill.

For serving time, in a glass with 1 cup water, add 2 tbsp of syrup, 1-2 ice cubes, ½ tsp rose water and drops of lemon juice. 

Tahchin Shevid- Baghali (Persian Dill & Broad Beans Rice Cake

Traditionally this rice dish is called Tahchin or upside down rice also known as Persian baked rice cake. Tahchin is an Iranian divine rice dish with beautiful presentation. It’s made of layered meat and rice. It may not look like much from the outside but the combination of cooked meat, yogurt, egg and aromatic spices with rice create a crunchy outer crust and soft inside rice. We Iranians love our Tahchin.

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There are different versions of Tahchin made with red meat, chicken, and vegetables. My today’s Tahchin is made with combination of dill or (ُُ Shevid  in Persian) and broad beans or (Baghali  in Persian) with chicken .

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Ingredients

  • 3 cups Iranian rice ( due to it’s amazing aroma and taste)

  • 400 g chicken fillet, cooked and diced

  • 2 cups Broad beans or Fava beans, cooked

  • 1 cup dried dill

  • 500 g Greek yogurt

  • 3 eggs

  • 2 onions, finely chopped

  • 1 tsp cardamom

  • 3 tbsp Persian saffron water

  • 1 tsp cinnamon

  • 1 tbsp dried rose petals

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • Vegetable oil

 

How to make it

Yogurt is important ingredient in making Tahchin. We need a sort of thick yogurt, therefore, I have used a traditional way that my mother used to apply and make a thick creamy yogurt by Pouring regular yogurt into a double layer of cheesecloth or kitchen cloth. Tied up the cloth.. Hang it over a bowl and leave to drain overnight. ( as you will see in the following photos).. You would see the liquid left in the bowl. Resulting is a thick yogurt.  Wash the rice. Soak it in the salted water for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, fry the onion until slightly soft. Add diced chicken meat. Stir in salt- pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, dried rose petal, dried dill and Fava beans ( just keep 1 tbsp of Fava bean for later) for 2-3 minutes.

Now, In a bowl, mix yogurt with eggs, 2 tbsp of Persian saffron water, pinch of salt and pepper. Whisk it until combine well and set aside.

Pour water in a large pot and bring it to a boil. Drain salted water of rice and add the rice to the boiling water. Cook for 10 minutes.

Using a colander and drain the rice.Add half of the drained rice and half of the chicken mixture into the yogurt mixture bowl and gently blend together.

Pour some oil into a non stick pot or pan, spread 1 tbsp of plain fava bean on the bottom of the pot. Spread rice mixture into the pot ( as you see in the photos) and flatten with wooden spoon or spatula.

Then, layer second half of the chicken mixture around the edges of the surface. Finally, layer with second half of the white rice and cover the entire surface. Flatten the top with the back of a large spatula or spoon while pressing down( as you see in the photo). Pour 1 tbsp of saffron water over the rice.

Place the pot on medium heat for 5 minutes. Then lower the heat cover the pot with a lid and cook it for 45-60 minutes until the crust forms.

Once rice is done, let it cool for few minutes. Place a serving platter on top of the pot and gently turn the pot over, Voila you have a wonderful rice cake shape dish. Sooooooooo delish.

 

 

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Golap Sweets (Rose Pitha )

I love to try foods and sweets from different countries. One of those beautiful desserts that I tried a famous dessert from Bangladesh that is called Golap pitha.

 

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Golap means rose. Making these pretty colourful roses is lots of fun and they are very tasty. They look gorgeous with lovely sweet taste of spices such as cardamom or cinnamon.

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp Ghee or butter
  • ّFood colouring

 

For syrup

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • Pinch of cardamom or cinnamon

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Instructions

Add milk, flour and ghee to a pan on low heat and mix well. Stir continuously and cook it for 2 minutes. Then remove from the pan and let it sit for 5 minutes. Next, Place it on a board and knead the dough for 2 minutes.

Divide the dough into 4 balls. If you wish to have multi coloured sweets roses, add pinch of food colouring to the dough and set aside.

Using a rolling pan, roll each ball into a thin flat dough. Use a glass and cut flattened dough and cut into small circles. Roll small piece of dough and make tiny drop shape dough.( see the photos).

For making a rose, you need 3 of theses small circles. Place 3 small circles on top of each other make a hollow with your finger in the centre of dough. from the centre of the dough make 3 cuts ( as you see in the photo).

Put the small drop in the centre and start to fold each petal round the drop. Keep doing until finish all petals.

Cut the green colour dough into leaf shapes. Add one cup sugar and cardamom with 1 ½ cups water to a pot and dissolve the sugar. Let it boil for 5 minutes until it become a little thick.

Heat the oil on a medium heat and fry rose shaped dough until it fried and cooked inside. Take out fried Golap pitha from the oil and soak in warm syrup for a minute and transfer it to a plate.

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Persian Campfire Halva

Halva means ‘ sweet’ in Arabic language and is a kind of sweet, dense and rich dessert, usually made with plain flour – wheat flour – rice, sesame paste and semolina flour but might be made with vegetables such as carrots or pumpkins as well, mixed with sugar, saffron, rose water, cardamom or cinnamon.

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Halve  is one of the most favourite desserts in the Middle East countries such as Iran, Turkey, Arabic countries around the Persian Gulf and even in North Africa and East Europe.

For making halva apart from vegetable oil we add butter or ghee as well, because butter or ghee gives nice flavour.

 

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Ingredients

1 cup wheat flour

1 cup plain flour

½ cup Ghee

½ cup sunflower oil

 

For syrup

1 ½ cups sugar

1 ½ cups water

½ cup rose water

1 tbsp saffron water

1 tsp grounded cardamom ( optional)

Method

First I prepared chocolate flames. Melt the candy butter. Spread on parchment paper until cool and dried. Use a knife or toothpick and pull out different sizes of flame shape. Once you created flames, fridge them until halva get ready.

Now, Place a saucepan over low heat and add flours . Stir flour continuously until it turns into brown colour (it would take about 30-40 minutes). Now add Ghee and vegetable oil and combine well. Keep stirring and let to cook for next 10 minutes. Remove from the heat.

In another pot, add the sugar to 1 ½ cups of water, and bring it to a boil. Add Saffron water, rose water and cardamom and stir it. After 2 minutes remove it from the heat.

Once the flour is ready pour the syrup over it, but do not pour all syrup at once. Put the saucepan back over the medium heat. Stir it for 1-2 minutes until mix well and become dense. Now halva is ready.

 

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Persian sour cherry pilaf (Albaloo polow ba tahdig maast)

Sour cherry or Morello cherry is called ‘ albaloo’ in Persian language. Albaloo or moreloo cherry is smaller that sweet cherry with dark red colour.

The origins for Sour cherry is in Iranian plateau or East Europe. This fruit is very popular in Iran from ancient time to modern day Iran. Nowadays, albaloo or sour cherry produce in Iran, countries around Caspian sea, Russia, Eastern Europe countries and Turkey.

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Fresh or dried sour cherries are used in cooking including: soup, aash, rice, stew, cakes, pies, jam and marmalade.

Today’s recipe is Albaloo polo, an Iranian rice dish with sour cherries. It’s a delicious rice meal with ruby red colour, a beautiful combination of rice with typical spices for this meal such as: Persian saffron, cumin, cardamom, cinnamon, dried rose petals powder and nutmeg.. You can serve albaloo polow by itself or with beef, chicken or meatballs.

 

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Ingredients

  • 3 cups Persian rice or Basmati rice
  • 5 cups sour cherries
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 1tsp of each spices: cardamom, cinnamon, cumin, dried rose petal powder, nutmeg
  • 1tbsp saffron water
  • 1tbsp salt
  • 1tbsp Ghee oil or regular butter

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For tahdig ( bottom of rice)

  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2tbsp plain yogurt
  • 2tbsp saffron water

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In a pot with deseeded cherries add sugar. Simmer for 15 minute over low heat.

Place a plate under a colander and place the cherries in the colander and allow the juice drain.

 

Melt the Ghee or butter in a pan, add spices and sauté for 1 minute and remove from the heat. Add cherries and saffron water. Gently mix with spices.

Wash the rice and soak in salted water (1tbsp salt) for an hour.

Bring the water to a boil, drain the soaked rice and add the rice to boiled water. Simmer for about 10-15 minutes until slightly tender.

Using a colander and drain the rice. Rinse the rice with cold tap water and drain it.

 

In a bowl, Mix all ingredients for tahdig and whisk it. Add 2 cups of parboiled rice and 2tbsp of cherries and mix well (as you see in the photos).

Add 2tbsp vegetable oil to the pot. Pour saffron rice into the pot. Cover this layer with half of white rice and pour cherries and cherry juice . Cover the cherry layer with the remaining of white rice and pour remains of cherry juice over the rice.

Cover the pot with a napkin and a lid. Simmer for about 30 minutes over medium heat. Once rice is ready, put a plate on top of the pot and flip it over. Serve it with chicken or beef meat.

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Kataifi dessert

This is one of the most delicious desserts. It’s made with Kataifi dough that is filled with different ingredients such as pistachio, walnuts, mascarpone cheese or cream and soaked in honey-sugar syrup.It’s surprisingly easy to make. Just fill it, roll it up and bake it 🙂

 

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Ingredients

400g kataifi philo

250g melted butter

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Ingredients for filling

2 ½ cups chopped pistachio or walnuts

2tbsp sugar

¼ tsp cardamom

¼ tsp clove powder

½ tsp cinnamon powder

 

Ingredients for syrup

1 cup water

¾ cup sugar

1/3 cup honey-sugar

1tbsp lemon juice

1 ½ tbsp orange blossom or rose water

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Method

Preheat the oven to 180C degree.

Mix all ingredients for filling together and set aside.

For Syrup, bring to a boil the water, add all ingredients except orange blossom. Reduce the heat and let to simmer for 10 minutes. Then add orange blossom or rose water and cook for 2 minutes more.

Remove from the heat and set aside.

Defrost kataifi dough by leaving it in the room temperature.

Take some of philo and spread out. Place of filling on the philo and roll it up. Place it in the baking tray.

Or butter inside the cup cakes. T ake some of kataifi philo and place inside the cup cake mould. Fill it with nuts, and cover the nuts with some more philo ( as you see in the photos).

Pour melted butter on top of rolled kataifi and place the baking tray in the oven, bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown.

Remove from the oven and pour cold syrup over hot kataifi. Spread some nuts top of the kataifi.

Allow to set for an hour and serve it.

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Sour cherry beef stew ( Khoresht-e Aalbalu) with spiced rice

This is a delicious / aromatic sweet stew due to combination of cherry stew with spiced rice. In Iran, best time to get fresh sour cherry is summer time. Most of housewives make jam and marmalade or simply freeze it, and once, want to make sour cherry stew, they use those. Anyway, I have also used sour cherry jam for my stew. You can use meat balls, chicken , beef or lamb for this stew. All are delicious.

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Ingredients
150g rice
200g diced beef
1 medium onion/ peeled and chopped finely
200g sour cherry jam
2 tbs saffron water
1 tbs rice spice( It is a combination of numbers of spices that in Persian cuisine we use it as rice spice ( advieh poloei) and these spices are: cardamon, cumin, cinnamon, ginger, rose petals, nutmeg, pepper and clove.

1tbsp salt
Oil

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Preparation
Place a pot on the heat, add water . Bring it to boil. Add diced meat, chopped onion and oil. Allow to cook until it is tender. Once meat is cooked, add sour cherry jam, stir it very well. Let it to cook for more 10 minutes on a low heat.

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Boil your rice for 10 minutes, drain and rinse it under running water. Bring rice back into the pot, and then add one layer of rice and one layer of spices, repeat it until all rice is done. Cover the pot with a lid and let it to cook on a low heat for 20 minutes.Once you serve the rice, take 2tbs of cooked rice and mix it with saffron water and garnish top of your rice with it.

Serve sour cherry stew with spicy rice.

Enjoy

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Naan Khataaei

Naan khaataei is a kind of buttery cookies. According to wikipedia, Naan is a Persian word for bread and Khataaei is an Afghan word for biscuit. It is popular in India and Pakistan. In NE of Iran these biscuits are called kulcha khataaei.

Naan khataaei can be easily prepared at home. They are deliciously sweet and crunchy cookies.

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Ingredients

1 ¼ cup all purpose flour

¼ cup gram flour

1 ½ cup semolian

1 cup ghee ( or unsalted butter)

1 cup powdered sugar (icing sugar)

3tbsp ground almond

1tsp cardamom

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How to make it

Preheat the oven to 176C.

Mix powdered sugar with ghee in a bowl. Then add flour, semolina and cardamom to butter mixture and combine it.

Using your hand, knead the dough for 5 minutes. Take a small dough ball in your hand. Flatten them.

Grease a baking tray with oil. Place them on the tray. To make the glazing top of the cookies, we need an egg yolk.

Rub egg yolk top of the cookies. Bake them for 12-15 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let them to cool. Serve with a good cup of tea or coffee. You can store them in a container for about 2 weeks.

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