07 May 2014 by

Let's Eat Persian! Recipes From Foodie Of The Moment Sabrina Ghayour

[[ Photography courtest of Liz & Max Haarala Hamilton ]]

Iranian-born Sabrina Ghayour has a passion for Middle Eastern food. In addition to hosting her hugely successful Persian Supper club in London, she has appeared everywhere from the BBC Good Food Show to Jamie Oliver’s Big Feastival and has been featured in The Times, the London Evening Standard, Delicious and many more. Sabrina was also recently declared a “rising star” in food by the Observer.

Her new book Persiana is a celebration of the food and flavours from the regions around the Southern and Eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea. Sabrina says, “Middle Eastern cookery is often shrouded in mystery – it’s the stuff of Arabian nights. It is perceived as exotic and unknown. But this is not a true reflection of the simple and honest cuisine that it is. Perhaps the misconception is due to something being lost in translation...if a dish has a Persian, Turkish or Arabic name, you might think ‘Well, that must be really hard to make...’ when, in essence, there is little complexity involved in many of the recipes. No mess, no fuss, just simple and delicious food – that’s what I like to eat, that’s what I like to cook for my family and friends."

[[ Photography courtest of Liz & Max Haarala Hamilton ]]

 Sabrina first began cooking at the tender age of six. Experimenting in the kitchen was commonplace for Sabrina and, by her late teens, she had decided it was time to teach herself how to cook Persian food, which is exactly what she did. Initially focusing strictly on Persian cuisine, Sabrina had soon begun to embrace the influences from the Turkish, Arab, Armenian and Afghani cultures and cuisines celebrated by her family. Today, she has found every shortcut possible to simplify many Persian and Middle Eastern recipes, and has created a style of cooking that fits comfortably into her everyday life.

[[ Photography courtest of Liz & Max Haarala Hamilton ]]

 

YOGHURT, CUCUMBER & MINT MAAST O KHIAR 

For Iranians, this dish serves the purpose of cooling you down in the sweltering summers. As in Turkey, Greece and India, a yogurt dish of this sort is a staple on the table during every family meal. Iranians love to vary the content, often using beetroot or spinach in place of the cucumber. In the height of summer, this dish is virtually treated as a soup, so perhaps it is Iran’s answer to the Spanish gazpacho. It should be served chilled and, on the hottest of occasions,  with ice cubes to help it stay cool.

Serves 6 as part of a mezze

1 large cucumber, coarsely grated  

2 tsp dried mint 

generous handful of golden raisins  

500ml (18fl oz) Greek yogurt 

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper 

To serve (optional) 

olive oil

chopped walnuts

finely chopped fresh mint leaves  

dried edible rose petals 

Carefully squeeze out and discard the excess water from the grate d cucumber – you can do this by hand or in a sieve. Put the drained cucumber pulp into a mixing bowl.

Add the dried mint and golden raisins to the bowl, followed by the yogurt, and mix well. Season to taste with sea salt and black pepper. Cover with clingfilm and chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve. To serve, drizzle with a little olive oil and scatter with chopped walnuts, finely chopped mint leaves and dried rose petals, if desired.

[[ Photography courtest of Liz & Max Haarala Hamilton ]]

TRAY - ROASTED BABY COURGETTES WITH GARLIC & TOMATO

I often struggle to think of interesting things to do with courgettes. I often use them grated in quiches and vegetable fritters, but roasting vegetables always makes life so much easier. You put everything into a roasting pan, season well, drizzle over olive oil, pop it into the oven and you’re done! If, however, you add some tomato, garlic and just a little spice, the vegetables come alive and are no longer a side dish but rather more of a main event.

Serves 6–8 as a side dish

600g (1lb 5oz) baby courgettes 

1 garlic bulb, cloves peeled and thinly sliced 

6 large ripe tomatoes, each cored and cut into 8 pieces 

1 tsp ground cumin
olive oil

sea salt

freshly ground black pepper 

Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/ gas mark 6. Line a baking sheet with nonstick baking paper

Place the baby courgettes on to the prepared baking sheet, scatter over the garlic slices, then squeeze the tomato pieces a little as you scatter them over the courgettes, too. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle over the cumin and a good seasoning of sea salt and black pepper. 

Roast the courgettes for 15 minutes,or until they are cooked through. Serve immediately.

[[ Photography courtest of Liz & Max Haarala Hamilton ]]

 

SAFFRON & LEMON CHICKEN JOOJEH KABAB

One of the most popular poultry dishes of Iran, joojeh kabab probably features on the menu of every Persian restaurant in the world. Traditionally made using poussin, what really makes this dish so special is the way in which the chicken is marinated in yogurt and lemon juice, which breaks down the fibres and tenderizes the flesh beautifully. The addition of saffron and onions creates the signature flavour that makes this a much-loved dish. This is my simplified version of the recipe, which can be made at home in a conventional oven if, like me, you don’t have a barbecue or flame grill. 

4 onions, cut in half and thinly sliced into half moons 

juice of 5 lemons 

4 tbsp olive oil 

1 tsp ground turmeric 

400g (14oz) Greek yogurt 

3 tbsp crushed sea salt 

generous pinch of saffron threads 

3 tbsp boiling water 

6 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 5cm (2in) pieces 

Put the onions, lemon juice, olive oil,turmeric ,yogurt and sea salt into a large mixing bowl and mix well. Using a pestle and mortar, grind the saffron to a powder, then pour over the boiling water and leave to infuse for 5–10 minutes.  

Add the chicken to the mixing bowl. Mix well to evenly coat the chicken pieces in the yogurt, then add the saffron  water to the bowl and mix thoroughly. 

Cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave the chicken in the refrigerator to marinate for a minimum of 1 hour or preferably overnight. ∂ Once the chicken has been marinated, preheat the oven or grill to the highest setting possible. Line a large baking sheet with nonstick baking paper.

Remove each piece of chicken from the marinade using a slotted spoon. Lay out all the pieces of chicken on the prepared baking sheet and bake or grill for 18–20 minutes maximum, or until the pieces have slightly charred edges  but remain beautifully moist on the insides. Serve with flour tortilla wraps or basmati rice with a little salad and some yogurt.

Persiana by Sabrina Ghayour is availiable to buy from Tuesday 6th May 2014.

by Victoria Grier

@VicGrier


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