Lamb and White Bean Braise with Dill Rice, Kashani Style

Posted on

I’ve always been curious about regional Iranian cuisine. My parents are from Tehran and while I love Tehrani-style food, there’s so much to Iran’s diverse cultures: garlicy eggplant mirza ghasemi from the Caspian to okra-laden khoresh-e bamiyeh near the Persian Gulf. These dishes are mainstream — most Iranian households have at least heard of them, regardless of what part of Iran they’re from.

But what about what’s off the beaten path? What’s Kurdish Iranian food like? What do folks eat on Qeshm Island? Or in Khorasan? I worry that these less well-known food traditions will be lost forever, especially among the Iranian diaspora. When I learned that author Najmieh Batmanglij had published Cooking in Iran, a compendium of regional Iranian cooking, I was so excited — and grateful. Since I got the cookbook, I’ve been tinkering with and riffing off of some of her recipes. This lamb and white bean braise with dill rice is popular in Kashan. I didn’t grow up with this dish, but the flavors are all too familiar: the dill rice reminds me of baghali polo (a popular fava bean and dill pilaf), the lamb is stewed with that familiar lime-turmeric-onion combination, and the fried potatoes put the whole thing over the top.

This dish is labor-intensive, but it’s a showstopper.

Lamb and white bean braise with dill rice, Kashani style

Ingredients:

For the braise:

1 cup white beans, soaked overnight and drained
2 teaspoons oil
1 onion, peeled and thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1 to 1 1/2 pounds boned leg of lamb, cut into 3-inch pieces
1/3 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cumin
3 dried Persian limes, pierced
4 cups water
1/4 cup lime juice
1 teaspoon salt

For the potatoes:

1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes and soaked in cold water for 20 minutes, drained and patted dry
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon salt

For the rice:

2 cups aged basmati rice
1 1/2 cups chopped dill
1/4 cup oil
1/2 teaspoon ground saffron dissolved in 1/4 cup water

1. To make the braise: Heat oil in a laminated cast-iron pot over medium heat and saute the onions, garlic, and lamb until golden brown. Add the beans, pepper, turmeric, cinnamon, cumin, and dried limes, and saute for 1 minute.

2. Add water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 2 hours, stirring occasionally, until the lamb and beans are tender.

3. Add the salt and lime juice, give it a stir, and adjust seasoning to taste. Cover and keep warm until ready to serve.

4. Cook the potatoes: In a large skillet, heat the oil until hot and saute the potatoes over medium heat until golden brown and crispy. Sprinkle the turmeric and salt over the potatoes and stir. Remove from the skillet and set aside.

5. To cook the rice: Wash the rice by placing it in a large bowl, cover with water, agitate gently with your hands, then pour off the water. Repeat at least 3 times until the water is clear.

6. In a large pot, bring 8 cups water and 1 tablespoon salt to a boil. Add the rice and boil for about 10 minutes, stirring a couple of times to loosen any grains that may have stuck to the bottom. Bite a couple of grains — if the rice feels al dente soft, it is ready to be drained. Drain rice in a fine-mesh colander and rinse with water. Set aside.

7. Place 2 tablespoons oil and 2 tablespoons water in the pot and ruse a spatula to mix. Place 2 spatulas full of rice in the pot and 1 spatula of dill and potatoes. Repeat, alternating layers and mound in the shape of a pyramid.

8. Pour the remaining oil and 1/2 cup of broth from the lamb braise over the rice. Drizzle the saffron water over the top. Wrap the lid of the pot with a clean dish towel and cover the pot firmly to prevent steam from escaping. Cook for 15 minutes over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and cook for 10 minutes longer. Keep warm until ready to serve.

9. To serve, on a serving platter, gently mound the rice. Arrange the lamb and beans on top with the broth in a bowl on the side. Alternatively, you may serve the lamb, beans, and accompanying broth on the side in a separate serving bowl.

Mixed Greens, Turkey Bacon, and Poached Egg Salad

Posted on

Yeah, I’m one of those. I love turkey bacon. Don’t @ me.

In this salad-as-a-meal, mixed greens, wild mushrooms, bacon, and a poached egg come together to form a greater than the sum of its parts dish. I used a blend of romaine and baby arugula here, but feel free to use anything. And you can fry your egg instead of poaching it, too. Just give the turkey bacon a chance.

Greens, turkey bacon, and poached egg salad

3 ounces grated Parmesan cheese (about 3/4 cup), divided
1/2 shallot, finely chopped
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
6 teaspoons olive oil, divided
Salt
Pepper
1/2 pound turkey bacon
2 sprigs rosemary
1 pound mixed wild mushrooms (such as oyster or shiitake), woody stems removed
3/4 mixed lettuce (such as romaine and baby arugula), leaves torn into 3″ pieces
4 eggs

1. Place half of the Parmesan in a large bowl and add shallot, vinegar, honey, and 4 teaspoons oil and whisk; season dressing with salt and pepper.

2. Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat, turning occasionally, until brown and beginning to crisp, about 6 minutes. Add rosemary and cook, turning once, until crisp, about 2 minutes. Transfer bacon and rosemary to paper towels.

3. Add remaining teaspoons oil to skillet and heat over medium-high. Arrange mushrooms in pan in a single layer and cook, undisturbed, until golden brown underneath, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and continue to cook, tossing, until golden brown all over, about 5 minutes. Transfer to bowl with dressing. Strip rosemary leaves off stems into bowl and add lettuces; toss to combine.

4. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Reduce heat so water is at a simmer. Crack an egg into a small bowl; gently slide egg into water. Quickly repeat with remaining eggs. Poach, rotating eggs gently with a large slotted spoon, until whites are set but yolks are runny, about 3 minutes. Using spoon, transfer eggs to a plate. Season with salt and pepper.

5. Arrange salad on 4 serving plates, sprinkle remaining Parmesan over and top with bacon and poached eggs.

Shaking Beef with Arugula

Posted on

This is one of those weeknight meals that looks fancier than it really is. It’s a spin on the Vietnamese classic and requires no rice — instead, well-marbled rib-eye is served on a bed of peppery arugula. Healthy, easy, and delicious: the perfect cooking trifecta.

Shaking beef with arugula

Ingredients:

1 1/2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch

1 teaspoon fish sauce

3/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 garlic clove, smashed
1 1/2 pounds boneless rib eye steak or New York strip steak, trimmed and cut into 3/4- to 1-inch pieces

1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion or shallot
2 tablespoons water
1 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1/8 teaspoon salt

5 cups baby arugula
1/4 cup fresh mint or basil, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1. Marinade the beef: Stir together oyster sauce, soy sauce, 1 teaspoon sugar, cornstarch, fish sauce, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and garlic in a medium bowl. Add beef, toss to coat, and let marinate 30 minutes at room temperature.

2. Make the salad: Rinse onions in a strainer under cold running waters; set aside. Whisk together 2 tablespoons water, vinegar, remaining 1/2 teaspoon sugar, salt, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a large bowl until sugar is dissolved. Add onion; top with arugula and herbs and toss to combine.

3. Heat a large skillet over high and add oil. When oil is shimmering, add beef in a single layer. Cook, shaking pan every 30 to 60 seconds, until seared on all sides and meat is cooked through, about 5 to 6 minutes for medium. Remove from heat. Transfer salad to a platter and arrange cooked beef and juices on salad, and serve immediately.

Roasted Potatoes with Paprika

Posted on

Even though it’s spring, it’s still cold enough outside that I’m wearing sweaters and craving all manner of roasted goods. These roasted potatoes have become my go-to: sprinkled with savory herbs, it’s the crispy duck fat coating that makes these potatoes special. It’s worth seeking out a jar of duck fat for your cooking: a little bit goes a long way in adding a layer of richness and umami.

Roasted potatoes with paprika

Ingredients:

4 pounds small Yukon Gold potatoes

2 teaspoons salt, divided

2 tablespoons duck fat, melted
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

2 teaspoons paprika

1 teaspoon onion powder


1. Preheat oven to 450F degrees. Place potatoes in a large pot and add water to cover by 1 inch. Season with 
1 tablespoon salt and bring 
to a boil over high. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. Drain potatoes and let stand until cool enough to handle.


2. Arrange potatoes on a rimmed baking sheet. Place a heavy plate on potatoes and press down gently to slightly crush potatoes without breaking them apart. Drizzle potatoes with half of the melted duck fat; turn potatoes to coat.

3. Roast potatoes in preheated oven until bottoms are golden, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven, and 
drizzle with remaining melted duck fat; turn potatoes to coat. Return to oven, and roast until crispy and golden brown, 25 minutes.


4. Transfer potatoes to a large bowl. Sprinkle with vinegar, chili powder, garlic powder, paprika, onion powder, and remaining 1 teaspoon salt; toss to combine. Place potatoes on a platter and serve.

Cashew Baklava

Posted on

It’s Norooz (Iranian New Year) season, so there’s lots of sweets everywhere I go these days. Norooz begins on the spring equinox and lasts for two weeks, and during this time, it’s customary to visit loved ones. Naturally, these visits are filled with sugary treats. Kind of like Thanksgiving and Christmas, Iranian style.

I usually make these cashew baklava to celebrate the arrival of Norooz. Much like our household, I make them a little bit Iranian and a little bit Sri Lankan. These aren’t traditional baklava. Cashews take the place of walnuts, and I add some coconut sugar to the mix. Lastly, I add both orange blossom water and Meyer lemon zest to the syrup.

The best part? These are easier to make than they look. Norooz mobarak!

Cashew baklava

Ingredients:

1/2 stick plus 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 cup cashews
3 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons coconut sugar
1⁄2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
1⁄2 cup granulated sugar
Finely grated zest of 1⁄2 Meyer lemon
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon orange blossom water
10 (16-by-13-inch) sheets phyllo

1. Heat the oven to 350F degrees. In a food processor, combine 5 tablespoons butter with the cashews, brown sugar, coconut sugar, cinnamon, and salt and pulse until the filling is finely chopped.

2. In a small saucepan, combine the granulated sugar with 1⁄3 cup water. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes. Remove the syrup from the heat, stir in the lemon zest, lemon juice juice, and orange blossom water and set aside.

3. Grease a foil-lined rimmed metal baking sheet with some of the remaining melted butter. On a work surface, lay 1 sheet of phyllo dough so the short sides are parallel to you. Brush the sheet with some butter and place the second sheet over the first. Brush the phyllo with butter and cover with the third sheet. Repeat until you have 5 sheets but do not brush the last sheet with butter. Arrange 3 tablespoons of the cashew filling in a line along the long edge of the stacked phyllo sheets. Roll the phyllo around the filling into a long, narrow log. Using a serrated knife, cut the log into 2-inch pieces and and place the pieces in the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining filling and phyllo sheets, arranging each filled piece of baklava against the others so they fit snuggly in a single layer in the baking sheet.

3. Brush the remaining melted butter over the top of the baklava and bake until light brown and crisp, about 35 minutes. Remove the baking pan from the oven, pour the cooled syrup over the baklava, and let cool to room temperature before serving.