easy persian rice • k a t e h • کته

recipes, Uncategorized

there are a couple methods for making persian-style rice, and the easier/simpler method is called kateh. the resulting rice is typically more sticky than that of other cooking methods, and the tahdig (highly-coveted, thick rice crust at the bottom of the pot) doesn’t always come out as thick and crunchy. regardless, it still has the amazing aroma that comes with basmati rice, and it’s a simple addition to any persian dish!

when i was younger, i’d always ask my mom to let me make the kateh when she would make it for dinner or sunday afternoon meal. with her guidance and attention to timing, it always, always turned out great–tahdig included. i used to think i was the master of making kateh, but now that i have to make it on my own, i realize that this was not the case! after a couple nearly-failed attempts (read: too mushy, too salty, no tahdig, etc.), i’ve finally mastered the texture and taste associated with a good kateh, and the only left for me to do is get a good non-stick pot so my tahdig will actually come out (this is key!!)

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having had to explain to my roommate recently why we wrap the pot lid with a towel (it’s to collect the steam towards the end of the cooking), and what tahdig is (the best part of persian food, hands down), i figured it’s a good idea to do a little post on this!

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recipe (serves 3):

ingredients:

  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 1 ¼ cup water
  • salt
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable/canola oil
  • ⅛ teaspoon saffron dissolved in 1-2 tablespoon of hot water (optional)

instructions:

  1. add rice to a non-stick pot and rinse 3-4 times, or until water runs clear
  2. add measured water to pot (alternatively, add enough water to cover rice by ½ inch), and salt, to taste–test the water, it should taste salty, but not too salty! allow rice to soak for at least 45 minutes before turning on heat
  3. turn stove on medium/high heat, and let rice absorb water (without lid)
  4. when the rice has absorbed most of the water (NOT ALL!) add the oil and gently stir the pot, allowing oil to seep to the bottom
  5. cover the pot lid tightly with a clean, thick cloth or dish towel, and place on pot
  6. allow rice to cook for 40-50 minutes on low-medium heat
  7. (optional) when rice has cooked, take a couple spoonfuls and place in a bowl, pour saffron mixture over rice and fluff with a fork until the rice has turned a bright yellow/orange color. this is used for garnishing the rice
  8. either place a dish over the pot and flip for a cake-looking rice, or spoon out the rice gently and remove the tahdig (if present) separately. spoon saffron rice over, serve with kabobs or stews and enjoy!

xx.

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kabob d i g i • کباب دیگی

recipes, Uncategorized

while persian cuisine is so diverse, and full of many, many amazing dishes, chelo kabob remains the favorite of many. with so many different kinds of kabob–koobideh (ground beef), barg (filet or tenderloin), and joojeh (chicken) to name a couple–it’s hard to choose a favorite! however, when you don’t have access to a grill, like me, your choice of kabob becomes simple: kabob digi (pan kabob).

while i don’t discriminate when it comes to kabob, kabob digi has always been a favorite of mine. because cooking persian food can be so time consuming, we didn’t always eat it for weekday dinners when i was growing up. so, whenever my mom would come home from work and say we were having kabob digi, it felt like a treat!

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now that i live in my own apartment, sans grill, i look to kabob digi as a good recipe for the weekend when i’m craving some chelo kabob. it’s pretty easy to make, and only takes about 30 minutes! the good thing is, if you’re cooking for one person, there is allllllways leftovers!

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recipe (serves 4):

ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground beef (you can use lamb, or a combo if you want!)
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • ½ tablespoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 large tomato (i use beefsteak tomatoes)
  • 2-4 tablespoons vegetable/canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

instructions:

  1. grate or process onion, and drain any liquid. you can use a cheesecloth, squeezing out all the extra liquid from the onion. place onion in a mixing bowl
  2. add ground meat to the bowl with the onion
  3. add salt, pepper, and turmeric
  4. mix onion, meat, and spices by hand until completely combined. consistency should almost be like a paste
  5. roll into balls and flatten to make an oval shape. the size is completely up to you–i usually make smaller ones–but the patties should not be too thick!
  6. cut the tomato into thick slices, then cut each slice in half
  7. place tomato slices over olive oil in a pan and sauté carefully over a medium heat. these do not need to cook long (5-7 minutes), and remove from heat well before the tomatoes become mushy
  8. heat vegetable/canola oil in a large frying pan on a medium-high heat
  9. add the patties to the oil and allow the first side to be seared
  10. flip the patties and continue to cook on medium heat for another 10 minutes, or until they are cooked through
  11. turn off heat, and allow kabobs to sit for a couple minutes before plating
  12. serve tomatoes and kabobs with basmati rice, and enjoy!

 

xx.

grilled trout of shomal • g h e z e l a l a

travel, Uncategorized

as part of my travels with family to iran last summer, we spent a good portion of our time in the northern, mountainous region of the country, situated by the caspian sea. typically referred to as shomal, this region of the country boasts beautiful views of both mountains and the sea, and is known for its amazing foods.

a lot of my favorite dishes from this region include mirza ghasemi (made with smoked or grilled eggplant, tomatoes, garlic, turmeric and egg), baghali ghatogh (made with broad beans, dill, egg, turmeric, and garlic), and mahi kababi (grilled fish, typically rainbow trout).

we spent a lot of our days in shomal taking quick trips visiting towns along the caspian sea coast, or the mountainous towns that are situated 1500m above sea level. each town had its own charm and my grandfather had his go-to restaurant along each route. one restaurant we visited was particularly interesting. a father-son operation in a rural distric of shomal known as do hezar, the restaurant (whose name i never learned) sits at the top of the mountain (roughly 1500 – 2000m above sea level) alongside the winding main road. let’s put it this way, you will never, ever get tired of the view you have from your table.

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not only is this place in a beautiful area, but it’s a quiet restaurant (we were the only people there at that hour of the afternoon) that is known for it’s grilled rainbow trout (ghezel ala). i’ve never been a huge fish fanatic, so the fact that i nearly inhaled an entire one of these grilled trouts on my own just goes to show how amazing it tasted.

The owner, an acquaintance of my grandfather, does all the grilling of the fish himself, dubbing the dish his “specialty.” the trick to the amazing taste is the two-part grilling process: the first step is to put the entire fish (on a skewer, skin intact) over high flames until the fat under the skin melts and the skin comes off. the next step is to remove the rest of the skin, put salt, pepper, and olive oil on the fish, and return to the grill. the result is the most flaky, well-seasoned trout you will ever have. seriously. after the grilling, the grilling master debones the fish for you, right at the table (see video).

the trout is served with kateh (a traditional style of cooking basmati rice in shomal), mirza ghassemi, and rob-e aloocheh which is a chutney made of {very} sour plums that goes on the fish–and it’s so amazing, i wish i could have brought some back with me!

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i could really use a spread like this right now!

xx.