Almond and Barberry Stew (khoresht-e-khalal-badam) (خورشت خلال بادام)

The first time I tried this dish at a restaurant I fell in love with the complex flavours and textures and was set to cook it at home. This stew is a traditional dish from “Kermanshah” province located in the mid-western part of Iran. The traditional recipe uses black barberries (zereshk) which is common in that region and are smaller and slightly more sour than red barberries. But since it’s not easy to find black barberries here I substituted red barberries instead.

khoresht_khalal

Ingredients
2 pounds lean lamb or beef cut into 1 inch cubes (I use grass-fed leg of lamb)
1 large onion (finely diced)
1 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup dried barberries (picked over and rinsed)
4 limoo-amani (Iranian dried limes)
3 Tbsp. tomato paste (I used home-made tomato paste)
1 Tsp. turmeric
10 cm piece of cinnamon stick
1/2 Tsp. crushed saffron dissolved in 1/4 cup of of hot water
2 tablespoons rose-water
3 Tbsp. ghee
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups bone broth (optional)
Boiling water

Method

  1. Add the almond slivers to a bowl and combine with 1 Tbsp of saffron-water and the rose-water. Mix and set aside.
  2. Add a tablespoon of ghee to a small frying pan, add the washed and drained barberries and gently fry the barberries on low heat for a few minutes. Be careful not to burn the barberries, you just want to intensify their red colour. Turn off the heat and set aside.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons of ghee in a large pot, saute the onion over medium-high heat until golden. Then add the turmeric, salt and pepper and stir well and fry for another couple of minutes until fragrant.
  4. Add the meat and brown on all sides. Once the meat is browned,  add the tomato paste, stir well and cook for another couple of minutes.
  5. Now add the cinnamon stick, dried limes and bone broth (if using) to the pot and add enough boiling water to cover the meat (don’t add too much liquid, you just want to cover the meat).
  6. Cover the pot and gently simmer the meat for at least one hour (I use grass-fed meat which needs more time to become tender) on low heat.
  7. Once the meat is almost tender, add the almond sliver mixture, mix well. Add more boiling water if needed, cover and cook for another hour.
  8. Add barberries and the rest of saffron water, stir well, taste and adjust the seasoning. Cook for another 20-30 minutes until meat is tender and the flavors are well blended.

Serve hot with Basmati rice and some yogurt. Enjoy! 🙂

Serves 6-10 (depending on portion size).

Squash Oatmeal Cookies

When Autumn arrives and weather turns chilly I start to crave things made with squash and lots of warming spices! 😀 These squash-oatmeal cookies fill the house with warmth and wonderful aromas as they bake. Enjoy these soft and chewy cookies with a cup of hot tea or, my new addiction, home-made chocolate-milk made with grass-fed sheep milk.

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Ingredients
(Makes about 15 cookies)

Wet
1 Cup Mashed Squash
(I use homemade mashed either delicata or butternut squash as I like the sweetness and smooth texture. You can find directions on how to make home-made squash purée here.

1/2 Cup Hot Water
1/4 Cup Coconut Oil
1/4 Cup Blackstrap Molasses
1 Egg (lightly beaten)

Dry
1 Cup Light Spelt Flour
1/4 Cup Fine White Rice Flour
1/4 Cup Almond Flour
1 Cup Quick Oat
1/4 Cup Palm Sugar
1 Tsp. Baking Powder
1/4 Tsp. Salt
1/4 Tsp Vanilla Powder (if you are using vanilla extract, add 1/2 Tsp to the wet ingredients instead)
1 1/2 Tsp. Ground Cinnamon
1/2 Tsp. Ground Ginger
1/4 Tsp. Ground Nutmeg
1/4 Tsp. Ground Cardamom

Add-ins
1/2 Cup Black Currant
1/2 Cup Raisin

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper.
2. Combine all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and set aside.
3. Lightly beat all the wet ingredients in another large mixing bowl.
4. Add the “dry” mix to the “wet”  in three portions and mix well after each addition.
5. Fold in the currants and raisins and mix until very well combined.
5. Scoop the cookie batter using an ice-cream scooper (or just use your hands or a large spoon) and flatten the cookies a bit (not too much, the cookies flatten a bit in the oven as they bake).
6. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until lightly brown. My cookies are perfect at the 17 minute mark but everyone’s oven is a bit different. Take out of the oven and let them cool on a wire rack.

Enjoy these soft warming cookies 🙂

 

Rosewater/Cardamom Rice Cookies, Noon-Berenji (نان برنجی)

noonBerenji
The smell of Noon-Berenji as I bake them brings back so many nostalgic memories of my childhood days at the time of Norooz back in Iran. These cookies are incredibly delicate and aromatic because of the cardamom and rosewater in the recipe. As mentioned below I use less sugar than the traditional recipes would call for. Also, some recipes call for shortening instead of ghee but I never use shortening. Ghee adds a lot of flavour to these cookies and is a lot healthier than shortening. But, be sure to use ghee and not butter, since butter has too much moisture to be used in this recipe and will result in harder cookies.  The other note I want to make is that be sure to use really high quality and fine rice flour since the texture of these cookie depend greatly on the quality of the rice flour you use. I always buy my rice flour from an Iranian store since I have tried other more commonly available white rice flours like Bob’s Red Mill and was never satisfied with the final result since these rice flours are too coarse for this recipe. Also, make sure to sift the sugar and flour first and rest the dough at least overnight.

noonBerenji2

Ingredients
500 Grams. Fine White Rice Flour
150-200 Grams. Organic Powdered (Icing) Sugar (depending on how sweet you like them, I use 150 but the traditional versions are sweeter)
250 Grams. Ghee (Melted but not hot)
1/4 Cup Rosewater
1 Egg White (room temperature)
2 Egg Yolks (room temperature)
1 1/2 Tsp. Freshly Ground Cardamom

Method:
1. Cream the melted ghee and icing sugar together using a hand mixer until you have a very smooth and creamy mixture (about 3 mins)
2. Add the cardamom to the ghee/sugar mixture and mix well.
3. Mix the egg yolks, whites and rosewater in a small bowl and whisk until fluffy.
4. Add the egg mix to the ghee/sugar mixture.
5. Sift the flour into the rest of the ingredients using a fine sieve and then using a spatula gently mix everything until you reach a smooth consistency. You might need to use your hands and knead the dough for a bit.
6. Shape the dough into a round ball, cover and rest the dough in the fridge overnight.
7. Two hours before you are ready to bake the cookies take the dough out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature (otherwise the dough would be too hard and you won’t be able to shape it!)
8. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
9. Knead the dough and take small amounts and shape into small balls and then press lightly with the palm of you hand to create round cookies. You can now decorate the cookies using the smaller side of a round piping tip (you can see how I decorate mine in the pictures). Place the cookies on a baking sheet covered with unbleached parchment paper and top if with some purslane seeds or ground pistachio.
10. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for about 15-20 (depends on your oven, my oven runs a bit hot so my cookies are usually done in about 15 mins). Keep an eye on the cookies after 15 mins to avoid over-browning and burning.
11. Once baked, take the cookies out of the oven and let them cool for half an hour (these rice cookies are very delicate so let them cool a bit to avoid crumbling) before transforming them into a wire rack to cool completely.

Enjoy these delicate, fragrant cookies with a hot cup of freshly brewed tea!

Makes about 50-60 cookies.

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