Rhubarb Stew: Persian Style (khoresh -e- rivaas)

Spring is upon us with all its amazing gifts. Rhubarb is one of them! It is something that you can only find in the spring and you do not want to miss the opportunity to make savory and sweet dishes with it! In this post, I introduce to you Rhubarb stew, which is an Persian (Iranian) dish. Khoresh (stew) is a major component of Iranian cuisine and is usually consisted of meat/chicken, herbs/legumes/fruit/vegetables with onion and spices. Khoreshs can be sour (like this one), sweet or somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. It is almost always eaten with white Iranian rice (polow or chelow), which is similar to Basmati rice lengthwise, but far more aromatic.

Let's get onto business:
Ingredients for 6 people:
1 pound rhubarbs, cut into 2-3 centimeter (1 inch) pieces
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
1 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 pound stew meat (can be replaced with chicken or mushrooms)
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2-3 tablespoons of lemon juice (optional)
vegetable oil 3-4 tablespoons
salt and black pepper to taste


In a skillet with a 3-4 tablespoons of oil, sauté the mint and parsley. Traditionally, the herb are fried until their color turns significantly darker. However, as the nutrients will be removed that way, you can fry them as you like. Set the herb aside. 
In a skillet, sauté the sliced onions until golden, add the meat after a few minutes until the sides change color. Then add two cups of water and let it be on medium heat for a couple of hours, until the meat is almost done. 
Then add the herbs that were set aside along with 1/4 of the rhubarbs and salt and pepper to the pot. If the water is completely gone add, 1/2 cup. I prefer my khoresh not watery, but if you like otherwise you can add more water. Turn down the heat to low. The longer the stew cooks the more delicious it will become. Just watch the water. Since, rhubarb is very heat sensitive, and will dissolve, we add the remaining rhubarbs 20-30 minutes before serving. 

نوش جان

"Sheer-Moz" or Iranian Banana Smoothie

Buying a new blender has inspired me to have smoothies more often. The first one that I tried was adapted from a favorite and very common drink in Iran: "sheer-moz", which literally means "milk-banana". Sheer-moz is made of milk, banana, and usually sugar, and unlike most smoothies here does not contain ice or frozen fruits. More complicated versions of this drink are sold in juice bars and they usually contain dates and/or coconuts and/or pistachios. This drink is not as thick as a smoothie, and is so delicious that I would just drink it in a blink. So, I decided to use plain kefir and frozen bananas to make a thicker and colder version that takes some time to drink and maybe count as my breakfast. As the sweetening agent I used a little bit of buckwheat honey instead of sugars or dates. A dash of cinnamon would also be a good addition if you are not adding coconuts/pistachios like me.

frozen banana + kefir/milk + sweetening component: brown sugar/honey/dates + coconut/pistachios: all to your taste :)

نوش جان

Broccoli Yoghurt

Broccoli is one of those vegetables that I would like to eat everyday and I prefer to eat it raw to get the all the nutrients, but to be honest, I don't really like the taste of it. So, the other day, while I was chewing a piece of broccoli reluctantly, it struck me to mix the broccoli with yogurt. The inspiration came from many Iranian side dishes: Borani-esfenaaj, which is yogurt and cooked spinach; Mast-o-khiaar, which is yogurt plus Persian cucumbers and has many variants by itself; Maast-o-moosir, which is yogurt and shallots, and last but not least, Maast-o-laboo, which is yogurt plus cooked beets. Garlic and dried mint is sometimes added to most of the above. And naturally, they would taste better if salt and pepper is added to them.

Savory yogurt-based side dishes/appetizers are very common in Iran. Other than my own dear grandfather, I have not seen anyone in Iran who enjoys sweet yogurt. My grandfather, used to mix different kinds of jams with plain yogurt and eat it as a dessert. I have found that sweet yogurt is an acquired taste for many Iranians! 

A general comment about the above appetizers is that, they will all be tastier if made with Greek style yogurt (maast-e-chekideh or labneh in Arabic). If you cannot find Greek style yogurt in grocery shops, it can be easily made at home:
Prepare a clean, white kitchen cloth. Actually, my grandmother had a special white thing very similar to a white pillow case for this purpose, but a big enough cloth would also be fine. If you have a large coffee make filter, that would also be a good alternative. Line a sieve with the cloth and place the sieve over a bowl, such that the sieve does not touch the bottom of the bowl. Pour the plain yogurt in the lined sieve and refrigerate over night.

The recipe is quite simple. The measurements are totally up to you. It depends on how much broccoli you want to have in every spoon. Chop the broccoli finely. I used raw broccoli, but cooked/steamed and strained broccoli will also work. The texture in that case will be more like a dip. Then mix it with plain yogurt and add salt and black pepper to your taste. I also recommend adding garlic or shallots to the yogurt. I also garnished it with a few drops of saffron.

And voilà:

Saffron (زعفران)

Saffron is used extensively in Persian cooking. It is mixed with a portion of cooked rice and added on top of the rice. There are also many desserts such as Shole-zard in which saffron is the star. Saffron is costly. It is more expensive in the US than in Iran, as it is grown in specific regions in Iran. But fortunately a couple of threads will go a long way both in terms of color and flavor. The inspiration of this post comes from a former roommate of mine, Meghan, who is very much into cooking. She has several cookbooks and used to make lots of meals following recipes. Once, we were talking about Persian meals and I was bragging about saffron! She complained that saffron is not very aromatic after all and is not worth the money you pay. I was surprised at first, but after I heard that she simly throws the threads in her meal, I realized . Since, I love saffron I thought this foodie friend should not be missing out on this fragrant ingredient and I immediately showed her how to use saffron:

First, we need to grind the saffron threads. Mortar and pestle is the mostly common used tool in Iran. A spice grinder can also be used. The reason a mortar and pestle would be better is that once saffron is ground it loses the fragrance sooner. So, it is better to grind a few threads at a time. You can add a piece of cubic sugar to make the grinding easier. Whatever too you use it must be completely dry. 

Grind the threads:

Dissolve the ground saffron in about two table spoons of hot water:


The aroma bursts out immediately. Now, the saffron is ready and can be used according your recipe. Enjoy!

Teago Tea Press

If you love tea, and hate teabags; if you do not have the means to brew tea at your workplace or at your school; you will like the device I am going to introduce in this post: Teago portable tea press from Tovolo!

With this portable device, you can enjoy leaf tea anywhere! The process is very simple as shown in the picture below. You can find more information here. (The pictures are also taken from the Tovolo webpage.)

Josh introduced this device to me and I bought it from I tried green tea, jasmine tea and black tea with Teago. I liked the result for green and jasmine better than the black tea. When it comes to black tea, nothing compares to an Iranian style brewed tea! I may write about it one day. In any case, the tea is definitely tastier and more aromatic than teabags. Thanks Josh!

Aush-reshteh (Persian Noodle Stew)

The snow today in NYC inspired me to make aush-reshtehAush-reshteh is a huge favorite in the cold and snowy/rainy days in Iran, and with spring around the corner this might be the last chance. I know many people whose favorite dish is aush-reshteh and they don't even care about the weather outside! Fortunately, with a little bit of care one can make a tasty hearty aush-reshteh very easily. There are a few ingredients in this dish that might be hard to find outside Iran, but I have adapted the recipe so that people abroad can also enjoy cooking it. Aush-reshteh is a vegetarian dish.

Some notes before we get to the recipe:

Traditionally, aush-reshteh is made with herbs: parsley, spinach, chives, and coriander, which are ubiquitous in Iran in certain seasons. When in season, these herbs are bought in bulks, washed and chopped. Then they are stored in the freezer for future use. As you may think, this is a time consuming process for a working person or a student. These days, you can find these herbs prepared and frozen in the freezer section of many grocery stores in Tehran. Unfortunately, this is not the case abroad. That's why I usually only use frozen spinach for my aash-reshteh and to date nobody has noticed this even after I hint them at it!
The other ingredient that might be difficult to find abroad is the special noodles that is used for this aush called reshteh-aushi. Almost, all Iranian grocery stores carry reshteh-aushi. However, if it is hard for you to find it, I have found that spaghetti or flat noodles are perfect substitutes for that. Professional aush lovers, might make note of that, but believe me they are close enough.
Finally, there is another component that might be hard to find: whey (kashk). Whey is a by-product of buttermilk and can be found in Iranian or Middle Eastern grocery stores. Sour cream can also be used, but the taste is not exactly the same. Whey is the most common topping, however, some people add vinegar to their aush. I personally like vinegar more than whey in my aush.

Now onto the recipe which serves 6-8 people:

1/2 pound reshteh-aushi (noodles) 
4 cups spinach or (spinach, parsley, chives, and coriander) 
1/2 cup lentils 
1/2 cup pinto beans 
1/4 cup chickpeas 
3 medium onions 
5-6 cloves of garlic 
4 teaspoons turmeric 
1-2 tablespoons flour (optional) 
salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 cup liquid whey
3-4 tablespoons dried mint

Soak the lentils, beans and chickpeas separately in water for a few hours. Add the chickpeas to a pot containing a substantial amount of water on the stove, after 15-20 minutes, add the beans to the water, and again after 15-20 minutes add the lentils. The times are approximate, as different legumes have different cooking times. The point is that the legumes should not be too soft at the end. Add a pinch of salt and some freshly ground black pepper. Do not add a lot of salt as the noodles are usually salty!
Chop the garlic and the onions. In a pan, heat some olive oil and sauté the garlic with a teaspoon of turmeric over medium heat, until it is golden and not browned. Move the garlic out, place the onions in the pan with 2 teaspoons of turmeric, and sauté until they are golden.
Add 1/2 of the onions, and 3/4 of the garlic to the legumes in the pot along with the chopped and thawed herbs. Bring down to simmer. Make sure the pot has enough water. Let simmer for 30-45 minutes. Stir occasionally. When you come back, see if the pot still has enough water, as the noodles that are going to be added will absorb water. Add the noodles. After about 15 minutes, adjust the seasonings. The stew should not be watery like a soup. If it is watery, simmer uncovered for 5 minutes. If it is not thick enough you can add a tablespoon of flour and let it simmer for another 5 minutes. Add 3/4 of the whey to the aush.
Aash-reshteh, comes with some toppings that are actually part of the dish: The garlic and onion that were set aside, whey, and dried mint sauce with turmeric, and either the liquid whey or vinegar.
To make the dried mint sauce, add 5-6  tablespoons of oil to a pan on medium heat. Add a teaspoon of turmeric to it and then add 2-3 tablespoons of dried ground mint. Leave it on the heat for a few seconds, as it will burn very fast. Mix about half of that in the aush and keep the rest for the topping (the ratio is roughly 1 to 2-3). To make it look extra special and beautiful, you can use a little bit of saffron. Pour the saffron over the whey that is white so that it shines on your dish.

aush without whey.

Bon Appétit

نوش جان

Hazelnut Nutella Cake

I always look for an excuse to bake. I refuse to do so on a regular basis, as I give in to temptation easily. So, when my friend Maryam invited us for a dinner, I immediately thought of baking one of the cakes on my list: Hazelnut Nutella Cake.

This cake serves 6-8.

1 cup Skinned hazlenuts 
1 cup All-purpose flour 
1 stick Butter (room temperature)  
1/2 cup Sugar 
1/3 cup Nutella or any other chocolate hazelnut spread
3 Eggs 
1 teaspoon Vanilla 
1/4 teaspoon Salt 
1 teaspoon Baking powder 

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. 
  2. Toast the hazelnuts in a 350F oven for 5 minutes or in a  dry pan for 10 minutes on medium heat, until golden and let them cool.
  3. Grind the hazelnuts in a food processor (except for a few which will be used as garnish) .

      4. Cream the room temperature butter and the sugar until light and creamy, preferably with an electric mixer.
      5. Add the eggs one at a time, the vanilla,  and the nutella. Beat.
      6. In a separate bowl mix the dry ingredients: the flour, the ground hazelnuts, the salt and the baking powder.
      7. Mix the dry ingredients into the batter.
      8. Pour the batter in a pan and bake for 30-35 minutes in the preheated oven.

And voilà:

I topped the cake with whipped cream after I had cooled, and sprinkled a few chopped hazelnuts. I also sifted cocoa powder on it at the end. I added the topping as we were taking this to Maryam's party. The cake is perfectly delicious without the topping and pairs well with milk, tea, and coffee :)

Bon Appétit

نوش جان