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Posted on: September 17, 2018

Persian Recipes for A Cookout

With the last days of summer in sight, treat yourself to kabobs hot off the grill paired with a refreshing side salad and, of course, a large helping of rice.

Chickpea Salad (Salad-e Nokhod)

Makes 4 servings, preparation time 15 minutes plus 10 minutes of cook time

Ingredients:

1 cup dried chickpeas, or a 12-ounce can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

6 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon cumin seeds

1 onion, peeled and chopped

1 clove garlic, chopped

1/2 inch fresh ginger root, grated

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Juice of 1 lime

1 tablespoon tomato paste and 1 large tomato, peeled and diced

2 cups fresh basil or cilantro, chopped

Directions:

  1. If using dried chickpeas, place them in a saucepan, cover with water, bring to a boil, and immediately drain. Return the chickpeas to the saucepan, add 6 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 1.5 hours. Drain and set aside. If using canned chickpeas, drain and rinse and go to step 2.
  2. Heat 4 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the cumin and toast for a minute. Add the onion, garlic, ginger, salt, and pepper and sautè for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the chickpeas, fresh tomato, and basil. Stir well, transfer to a serving bowl, drizzle 2 tablespoons olive oil on top, and serve over a bed of green salad with flat bread.

 

Chicken Kabob (Jujeh Kabab)

Makes 6-8 servings, preparation time 20 minutes plus marination time and 15 minutes of cook time

Ingredients:

Marinade-

1/4 teaspoon ground saffron dissolved in 2 tablespoons of water

Zest of 2 limes

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

3/4 cup olive oil

2 large onions, peeled and thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

1/2 cup whole plain yogurt

2 teaspoons sea salt

2 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

Chicken-

6 pounds of chicken drumettes or 4 pounds boneless chicken thighs cut into 2-inch pieces

5 medium tomatoes, halved, or 16 cherry tomatoes

Baste-

1/2 cup butter

Juice of 1/2 lime

Directions:

  1. In a 4-quart nonreactive container with cover, combine all the ingredients for the marination. Beat well with a fork. Add the chicken and toss well. Cover and marinate for at least 24 hours and up to 3 days in the refrigerator. Turn the chicken twice during this period.
  2. Start a bed of charcoal 30 minutes before you want to cook and let it burn until the coals glow evenly. Keep in mind that the success of a good kabob depends on a very hot grill.
  3. Meanwhile, skewer the tomatoes. Spear wings, breasts, and legs onto different skewers as they require different cooking times.
  4. In a small saucepan, heat the butter and lime juice over low heat. Keep warm.
  5. Paint the tomato with the basting mixture. Grill the chicken and tomatoes 8 to 15 minutes, turning frequently until done. The chicken is done when the juice that runs out is yellow rather than pink.
  6. Remove the tomato and chicken from the grill. Paint the chicken with the basting mixture. Keep chicken on the skewers until just before serving to keep it warm.

 

Sweet Rice (Shirin Polow)

Makes 6 servings, preparation time 40 minutes plus 20 minutes of cook time

Ingredients:

3 cups long-grain basmati rice

2 cups slivered orange peel

2/3 cup oil, melted butter, or ghee

2 cups carrots, peeled and cut into thin strips

1 teaspoon ground saffron dissolved in 4 tablespoons orange blossom water

2 cups sugar

2 cups slivered pistachios, toasted

2 cups slivered almonds, toasted

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons ground cardamom

Directions:

  1. Clean and wash 3 cups rice 5 times in warm water. It is desirable but not essential to soak the rice in 8 cups water with 2 tablespoons salt for at least 2 hours.
  2. To remove the bitterness from the orange peel: Place the orange peel and 6 cups water in a saucepan, bring to a boil, boil for 5 minutes, and drain. Rinse with cold water and set aside.
  3. In a wide skillet, heat 3 tablespoons oil over medium heat and sauté the carrots for 5 minutes. Add the orange peel, 2 tablespoons of the saffron-orange blossom water, and sugar, and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add 2 cups water and bring to boil. Simmer over medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes until lightly caramelized. Drain the syrup off into a separate bowl and save for later use.
  4. Add the pistachios and almonds to the carrot mixture and set aside.
  5. Bring 8 cups water and 2 tablespoons salt to a boil in a large, non-stick pot. Pour the washed and drained rice into the pot. Boil briskly for 6 to 10 minutes, gently stirring twice to loosen any grains that may have stuck to the bottom. Bite a few grains. If the rice feels soft and all of it has risen to the surface, it is ready. Drain rice in a large, fine-mesh colander and rinse with 2 or 3 cups of water.
  6. In a mixing bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup oil, 1/2 cup water, and a few drops of saffron-orange blossom water. Spread it in the same pot.
  7. Place 1 spatula full of rice in the pot, add 1 spatula of the carrot mixture, and then sprinkle with some of the cinnamon and cardomom. Repeat these steps, arranging the rice in the shape of a pyramid (reserve 2 tablespoons of the carrot mixture for the garnish).
  8. Cover and cook rice for 10 minutes over medium heat.
  9. Mix the remaining oil with 1/2 cup water, and pour over the rice. Then pour 1/2 cup syrup that was set aside. Wrap the lid of the pot with a clean dish towel and cover firmly to prevent steam from escaping. Cook for 50 minutes longer over low heat. Remove the pot from heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes on a damp surface without uncovering it.
  10. Gently taking 1 spatula full of rice at a time, place it on a serving platter. Be careful not to disturb the crust on the bottom of the pot. Mound the rice in the shape of a cone. Garnish with some of the carrot mixture.
  11. Detach the crust from the bottom of the pot using a wooden spatula and serve on a platter on the side.

You can find all of these recipes and more in Najmieh Batmanglij’s cookbook Food of Life: Ancient Persian and Modern Iranian Cooking and Ceremonies. Nush-e-jan!