Shirazi Salad with Pickled Shallots and Feta


I love to entertain, but I especially love summer entertaining. Throw something on the BBQ, serve a salad or two, something frozen for dessert, a chilled bottle of white wine and you’re ready to go!

Salad Shirazi is a classic Persian salad with chopped tomatoes, cucumber, onions and herbs. It is one of my favourite side dishes for Persian Kabobs. I wanted to slightly update this classic salad by using rainbow grape and cherry tomatoes, baby cucumbers, fresh mint and tangy feta cheese. I’ve also pickled the shallots to cut the harsh onion flavour and add a slight sweetness to this salad.The result is a fresh, vibrant, flavourful and  visually beautiful summer salad that is the perfect complement to any BBQ dish.

Shirazi Salad with Pickled Shallots and Feta
(serves 4-6)

3 small shallots (or one large), sliced thinly
1/2 cup vinegar (white or apple cider)
500 g grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
3 baby seedless cucumbers, split lengthwise and chopped into half moons.
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
200 g feta, cubed
kosher salt & fresh ground pepper

To pickle the shallots, put the shallots in a bowl and pour vinegar over them along with 1/2 cup water. Set aside for 30-60 minutes.


In a large bowl put in the tomatoes, cucumbers, fresh chopped mint and feta. Drain the shallots and add to the salad.

Add the feta cheese, olive oil, lemon juice, 1/2 tsp kosher salt and 1/4 tsp pepper.


Toss the salad. Taste and season with more salt, pepper or lemon juice if necessary. Enjoy!




Khorest-e Kadu (Persian Chicken and Zucchini Stew)


Cooking Persian food can seem to be a daunting task. I’ll admit, I was intimidated at first. It’s the number one reason most of my Iranian friends don’t cook Persian food. Most complain that it’s too difficult or time consuming. But when you actually try it, it’s much easier than it seems. Trust me, if my little brother can make Fesenjoon off my recipe, anyone can!

I wanted to include a Khorest (Persian stew) recipe that even the most novice cook could make. This simplified recipe for Khorest-e Kadu is very easy to prepare and can be made in about an hour. The prep work is minimal and you only get one pot dirty. Just to put it in perspective……during my son’s afternoon nap, which is usually only an hour and a half, I was able to eat my lunch, prepare this stew, clean up the kitchen and still have time to do an art project with my daughter!

Khorest-e Kadu

(Serves 6)

vegetable oil
1.5 lb skinless boneless chicken thighs
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 tsp turmeric
2 medium zucchini, cut into 1 inch pieces
4 heaping tbsp tomato paste (approx a small can)
1.5 cups low sodium chicken broth
juice of one lemon
1/4 tsp of ground saffron dissolved in two tbsp hot water
salt & pepper
8-10 whole grape tomatoes

Heat 2 tbsp of vegetable oil over medium high heat in a large heavy saucepan or dutch oven. When the oil is  hot, brown the chicken, about 3 minutes per side.


Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside. If necessary add another tbsp of vegetable oil and add the sliced onions.  Fry the onions for 8-10 minutes or until they are slightly golden. Add the turmeric and fry for one more minute.



Add the zucchini and fry, stirring frequently for about 4 minutes. If you find that the bottom of the pan is getting too brown, turn the heat down slightly, add a few tablespoons of water and scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pan.


Add the tomato paste and fry for one more minute. Return the chicken to the pan. Then add the chicken broth, the saffron water, lemon juice, one tsp of salt and 1/2 tsp of pepper. Bring to a boil and turn down heat to medium low. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. In the last 20 minutes add the grape tomatoes.


When ready, check for seasoning. Add more salt, pepper or lemon juice if desired. The stew might seem very watery when it is very hot. It will thicken up a bit as it cooks down. What I personally like to do is cool it completely and then heat it up again before I serve it.


Serve with steamed rice. Enjoy!




Havij Polo bah Morgh-e Ab Paz (Persian Carrot Rice and Braised Chicken)


I have one culinary regret I have in my life…..I wish I had introduced Persian food to my daughter at an earlier age. I was a first time parent and so worried about strong flavours and exotic ingredients, that I don’t think I gave my little girl Persian food until after her second birthday. My poor daughter had a very bland (but healthy) diet up to that point….as a result, at five years old she still tends to prefer bland foods. Although she eats Persian food, she still sometimes asks if she can have her plain rice without “Farsi sauce”.

I vowed not to make the same mistake with my son and I’m proud to say that at 14 months he is a Persian food lover! I may go so far as to say that I think it’s his favourite cuisine. Havij Polo and Morgh-e Ab Pas was my son’s first taste of Persian food. Simple, delicious, aromatic and slightly sweet, I thought this dish was the perfect introduction to the spices that are common to Persian food. Since then, he has tried numerous Persian stew and rice dishes which he has happily gobbled up.

Havij Polo can be served on its own or as a side dish for any meat dish. Some people like to layer chicken within the rice during the cooking process, but I personally love serving Morgh-e Ab Pas (Persian Braised Chicken) on the side because I love pouring some of the flavourful braising liquid over my rice.

Havij Polo
(Serves 4)

2 cups basmati rice
4 tbsp butter
300 grams carrots (about 3-4), peeled and coarsely grated*
2 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp ground saffron dissolved in 2 tbsp boiling water
canola oil
braised chicken (recipe to follow)

In a medium non-stick frying pan, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add the grated carrots and fry for 3 minutes. Add sugar, 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 cup water, bring to a boil and cook for another two minutes (most of the water will evaporate). Turn off heat and set aside.


Wash as much starch off the rice as possible. To do this put the rice in a large bowl, cover with cold water and agitate with your hands. You will notice that the water will become milky. Drain the water and repeat. Keep doing this until the water is clear (about 4-5 times).

After the rice is washed, cover with 6 cups lukewarm water and 1 tsp of salt. Allow the rice to soak for at least 30 minutes (this step is optional, but the rice will be tastier and fluffier if you do it).

Fill a large non-stick pot ¾ full with water and 1 tbsp salt. Bring to a boil over high heat. Drain the soaked rice and add to the pot of boiling water. Turn down the heat slightly to medium-high (it should still be boiling) and boil for 6-10 minutes stirring occasionally. Make sure to taste the rice as you go along. When it is ready it should be soft but not mushy and over-cooked. It should be the texture of al-dente pasta. For me, I find that 6 minutes usually is enough.


Drain the rice in a wire sieve.

Using a paper towel, dry your pot. Pour enough canola oil into your pot to just cover the bottom. Add the saffron water to the oil.

Using a spatula, add 1/3 of the rice to form a layer to cover the bottom of the pot and form the ta-dig (the golden rice crust).

Sprinkle half of the carrot mixture over the rice. Then layer another third of the rice on top and then the rest of the carrot mixture. Top with the last third of the rice. The layers should resemble sort of a pyramid.


Using the handle of a wooden spoon poke three holes in the rice and pour over 1/4 cup water. Top with two tbsp butter. Cover and cook over medium-high heat for 10 minutes.

Turn down the heat to medium low and take a clean dish towel and cover the lid of the pot. Make sure that the lid is on tightly. Alternatively you can use a double layer of paper towel between the pot and lid. Let the rice steam for 40 minutes.


When the rice is ready, use a spatula to transfer the rice to a serving dish. Gently, mix the carrot and rice. Season with salt if necessary. Loosen the ta-dig with your spatula or a wooden spoon.


Serve with Morgh-e Ab Paz (recipe to follow) or Persian Roasted Saffron and Lemon Chicken.

*I grate my carrots in the food processor using the grating attachment. You may also cut the carrots in small match sticks if you prefer.

Morgh-e Ab Paz (Braised Chicken)

6-8 chicken thighs (bone-in and skin-on preferred)
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp turmeric

Spread the onions on the bottom of a large heavy pot with a tight-fitting lid (I prefer a dutch oven). Put the chicken pieces on top of the onions. Sprinkle salt, pepper and turmeric on top and pour 1 cup of water over it. Bring to a boil over high heat. Turn down heat to medium-low and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour, turning the chicken over half way.


Serve the chicken and braising liquid with the rice. Enjoy!

Nargessi Esfanaj (Persian Spinach and Eggs)


Since my son started crawling  a few months ago my culinary world has been turned upside down! Not content to sit still for more than 5 minutes, my son requires that I spend most of my day on my hands and knees chasing after him.  I find myself either cooking or prepping during his afternoon nap or making super speedy dinners during the very short time he will  bounce contentedly in his exersaucer.

It is for this reason that a recipe like Nargessi Esfanaj is a godsend! This dish takes little prep work and can be made in no time flat. And the icing on the cake is that it’s extremely healthy providing you with a mega dose of leafy greens and protein.

Delicate poached eggs on a bed of sauteed spinach, garlic and golden onions, Nargessi gets it’s name from the Narcissus flower (known in Farsi as Nargess). The Narcissus flower is white with a yellow centre which is the egg and the spinach is likened to the grassy meadow where the flowers bloom. Poetic huh?

Nargessi Esfanaj
(serves 2-4)

canola or olive oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp turmeric
10 ounces baby spinach, washed and dried
4 large eggs
salt and pepper

In a large (preferably non-stick) frying pan heat 3 tbsp of canola or olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onions and saute for 8 minutes. Then add the minced garlic. and saute for another 2-3 minutes or until the onions are lightly golden. Add the turmeric and saute for another minute.


Add another tbsp of olive oil and half the spinach to the pan and when it starts to wilt add the other half of the spinach. Saute for about five minutes or until the spinach is wilted but still bright green. Season with about 1/2 tsp of salt and 1/2 tsp of pepper.


Spread the spinach mixture evenly in the pan and crack four eggs on top. Cover the pan (if you do not have a lid, you can cover with foil)  Turn the heat down to medium low and cook for about 5-10 minutes until the whites are just set (or to your own liking). Season with more salt and pepper to your own taste.


Serve with toasted bread, pita or barbarry. You can also serve this with steamed rice. Enjoy!


Khorest-e Sib o Aloo (Persian Chicken, Apple and Dried Plum Stew)


Ten years ago tomorrow I married the love of my life. Our wedding was a grand affair and  the meeting of two completely different cultures. My husband is about 10th generation Canadian, so it was quite a sight to see some of his extended relatives from rural Ontario (who I’m sure had never set eyes on a Middle Eastern person before our wedding) dancing to Persian music. It was truly spectacular!

Before and after the wedding was filled with parties and celebrations. I don’t think any of us had anticipated that our wedding festivities would go on for a full year! Leading up to the wedding I had three bridal showers, but probably my most memorable shower was the one our dear family friend Behi-joon threw for me……it was like a wedding in itself!

One of my favourite keepsakes from this shower was a recipe book that she had put together for me in which all ladies in attendance submitted their favourite recipe. In celebration of my anniversary, I thought I would include one of the delicious recipes from this collection. Our family friend Pouri-joon had graciously given me her recipe for Khorest-e Sib o Aloo, which was her specialty.

With braised chicken, apples, dried plumes, pomegranate and aromatic spices, this sweet and slightly tart stew is not only easy to make, but also nourishing and the perfect Fall dish.

Khorest-e Sib o Aloo
(Serves 4-6)

2 tbsp canola oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 tsp turmeric
10-12 boneless skinless chicken thighs
3 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp pomegranate paste
1 tbsp sugar
2 cups chicken broth
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
3 cooking apples (I used Fuji), peeled, cored and sliced
1 cup pitted dried plums (prunes)
1/4 tsp ground saffron dissolved in hot water
salt and pepper

Heat canola oil in a heavy pot over medium heat.  Add the onions and saute for 8-10 minutes until lightly golden. Add the turmeric and saute for another minute.


Add the chicken pieces and brown for 10 minutes over medium heat.


Add the tomato paste and saute for one minute. Add the chicken broth, cinnamon, pomegranate paste and sugar. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Once boiling turn down the heat to low, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir occasionally.


Add the apples, prunes, lime juice, saffron water, one tsp of salt and 1/2 tsp of pepper. Cover and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust seasoning adding more salt, pepper, sugar or lime juice if necessary. The stew should be a little sweet and a little sour – if it’s too sweet for your taste, add some lime juice. If it’s too sour add a bit of sugar.


Serve with steamed rice. Enjoy!

Wedding photo

Kabab Torsh (Persian Pomegranate and Walnut Marinated Beef Kabab)


Until about seven years ago I had never heard of Kabab Torsh. My (non-Persian) husband claims that he is the one that discovered it at a Persian restaurant called Shomal in Toronto that specializes in Northern Iranian cuisine. My memory of the discovery is a little foggy and I am not sure how accurate his story is, but according to him it was HE who introduced this delicious regional dish from the province of Gilan to us.  His story is that when we looked at the menu, we all overlooked Kabab Torsh in favour of our usual order of Kabab Sultani. He, on the other hand, found the description of this new unfamiliar Kabab intriguing and ordered it despite our naysaying. His story is that once he gave us a little taste we were all hooked!

Now I’m not sure if I’m ready to give him all the credit but I will say that he is right in the fact that once we tried it we were hooked. Tender beef marinated in pomegranate, ground walnuts and garlic, Kabab Torsh is a perfect balance of slightly sweet and sour. My husband is such a fan that when we are invited to a Persian restaurant the first thing he asks is if they have Kabab Torsh on the menu and if they don’t he sulks and whines.

Kabab Torsh
(Serves 4-6)

2 lb beef tenderloin*, cut into  1 1/2 inch pieces
1 1/4 cups walnuts
3/4 cup pomegranate paste
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves
1/4 cup plain yogurt
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Using a food processor, chop the walnuts until very fine.


Add the pomegranate paste, garlic, olive oil, sugar, salt and pepper and process until it resembled a thick paste.


Add the yogurt to the food processor and pulse a few times until its incorporated.


Put your beef pieces in a large glass or plastic bowl (or you may use a big ziplock bag) and pour the marinade over it. Stir to cover all the pieces. Refrigerate and let marinate at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours.


When ready, take out of the fridge and let come up to room temperate (about 20-30 minutes).  Thread onto skewers. I prefer to use metal skewers but if you use wood ones make sure to soak them for at least an hour so they do not burn.

Barbeque all sides over high heat for approximately 8-12 minutes total depending on your preferred doneness (8 minutes will usually result in a nice medium-rare).


When done, cover with foil and let sit for 10 minutes at room temperature.

I like to serve my kabab with steamed basmati rice, lavash bread, bbq tomatoes and mast-o-khiar (and a nice cold beer!) Enjoy!


*You may use sirloin if you wish. It will be delicious but not as tender.

Loobia Polo (Persian Rice with Beef and Green Beans)


In a cruel twist of fate, an adventurous food lover like myself gave birth to a  picky eater. Before I had kids, I would  see other children turn up their noses at food and watch their mothers turn into short order cooks and I would laugh and think that would never be my child. My child would NEVER eat noodles and butter or chicken fingers. I had images of my kids diving into bowls of curry and picking up salmon sashimi with chopsticks. They say that a parent’s eating habits are the biggest influence on children and since I eat pretty much everything on earth and love it, I assumed my children would too.  During my pregnancy with my daughter, I ate Indian, Thai, Korean, Persian, Japanese and I had a huge craving for spice. Every night I would eat a feta stuffed jalapeno pepper.

My daughter is not the typical picky eater. She LOVES fruits and vegetables. Getting her to eat her greens has never been a problem……she happily eats broccoli, green beans, avocados, cherries, grapes (her favourite), apples, you name it. She’s a natural healthy eater. Getting her to eat “meals” has always been a struggle. She is one of those kids that  likes everything separate. In fact, until recently, all her meals were in TV dinner style plates where all the components of her meal had to be in different compartments. So therefore dinners where things were mixed such as lasagna, stews,  pasta with sauce and even pizza were a no-go. Lily prefers everything plain (or as she calls it “clean”).

That was until she had Loobia Polo.  Loobia Polo was the first dish that she did not complain that her rice was not “clean”. She loved every bite and what’s not to love – a delicious and aromatic mix of rice, tender beef, green beans, mushrooms, tomato, cinnamon and other spices. Loobia Polo is a fabulous family meal – nutritious and balanced, it is a guaranteed hit for adults and kids – even the most picky!

Loobia Polo
Serves 4-6

3 cups basmati rice
vegetable oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
3 tsp turmeric
1 lb stewing beef, 1/2 inch pieces
1 lb green beans trimmed, 1/2 inch
8 ounces mushrooms, stems removed, halved and sliced (optional)
1 heaping tbsp tomato paste
1 cup drained canned diced tomato (you may also use fresh if you wish)
1/8 tsp ground saffron
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp ground saffron dissolved in 2 tbsp hot water (for the ta-dig)
2 tbsp butter, cut into pieces
salt and pepper

Wash rice and soak in warm water for at least 30 minutes. For detailed instructions on washing rice, please see the following link Persian Rice with Golden Crust.

While the rice is soaking, in a separate pot (or Dutch Oven), heat 2 tbsp canola oil over medium heat. Fry the onions, stirring occasionally until soft and golden, about 10 minutes. Add the turmeric and fry for another minute.


Turn up the heat to medium-high and add another tbsp of oil and brown the beef for about 5 minutes.


Add the green beans, the sliced mushrooms and another tbsp of oil and saute for about 2 minutes.


Add the tomato paste and fry for one minute. Then add the tomatoes, 1 tbsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper and 1/2 cup of water.    Bring to a boil, then turn down to low heat and simmer covered for about 15 minutes. Set aside when done.


In a small bowl mix together the cinnamon, cumin and ground saffron. Set the spice mixture aside.

Fill a large non-stick pot ¾ full with water and 1 tbsp salt.  Bring to a boil over high heat. Drain the soaked rice and add to the pot of boiling water.  Turn down the heat slightly to medium-high (it should still be boiling) and boil for 6 minutes stirring occasionally.

Drain the rice in a wire sieve.

Using a paper towel, dry your pot. Pour enough canola oil into your pot to just cover the bottom. Add the saffron water to the oil.

Using a spatula, add enough rice to form a layer to cover the bottom of the pot and form the ta-dig (the golden rice crust).

Sprinkle about 1/3 of the beef and green bean mixture on top. Then add 1/3 of the spice mixture.


Repeat the layers (rice, meat mixture, spices) forming a sort of pyramid.


Top with the butter pieces.

Using the handle of a wooden spoon poke three holes in the rice and pour over 1/4 cup water mixed with 1 tbsp canola oil. Cover and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes.

Turn down the heat to medium low and take a clean dish towel and cover the lid of the pot. Make sure that the lid is on tightly. Alternatively you can use a double layer of paper towel between the pot and lid. Let the rice steam for 40-50 minutes.


When rice is ready very gently mix the rice. Season with salt and pepper if necessary. Using a spatula transfer the rice to a serving dish.


Loosen the ta-dig (the crispy rice) with your spatula or a wooden spoon and serve with the rice. Enjoy!