Monday, March 23, 2009
I was lucky enough, growing up, to have a multitude of flavors introduced to my palette. My parents were very good at taking my brother and I to try many types of food: Moroccan, Greek, French, Italian, Mexican, American.... granted we never tried anything too crazy, and I did go through my phases where I'd only eat noodles with butter or Fried Cheese Sticks (but only from Chili's) or Macaroni and Cheese but only from Kraft (sort of still in that phase...), but we tried a lot of different things. For example I've eaten lamb since I was a kid, I knew what pine nuts were before any of my friends, and I've been in love with vegetables since forever.
Also, my mom was once married to a Middle Eastern man. From him she learned a lot of Middle Eastern recipes, but really only made one. No, it's not this one. It was a beef with lemon and pine nuts. She always made hummus and couscous or tabbouleh with it... and while I never was and still am not a fan of tabbouleh, the rest I love.
Another inspiration for my love of Middle Eastern/Persian flavors -- yes, that's what this is about-- is my best friend. Sarah's mom is from Iran. Mariyam (I belive that's how it's spelled) didn't like me at first because I wore dark clothes and I wasn't very good at being polite when I first met people in High School. I was kind of goth, kind of angsty, and not particularly fond of parents. After some time, however, we grew on one another. I love Sarah's mom, she's a hoot-- she says some of the most amazing things, and Sarah's impression of her is hillarious. During High School (or, when we came home from college even, a few times), we'd go to Sarah's house where her mom would have made gormeh sabzi or kibbeh or other persian things that I don't know the names of right off hand. I loveloveloveloved these meals. I would have so many helpings of them it was amazing. When I went to visit Sarah in Missouri, where her parents now live, I got to have another helping of Persian yumminess made by her mom and her nana.
I miss these meals.
While I've graduated to making my own Persian food, I can't really compare. I love my version of gormeh sabzi, but no, it's never quite the same. Mine is good, I really like it, but I think it was also the feeling of having this great woman make me great homemade food. Plus, I usually have a problem with somehow getting sand in mine (sigh).
A few Christmases ago (I believe, or maybe it was a birthday), I got a persian cookbook from a dear dear friend of mine. I haven't made a lot out of it, but decided to try something new, and chose Kuku Sabzi. Basically, baked herb omlette-- heck, since I made japanese omuraisu omlettes earlier, why not try a persian omlette too, right?
I halved the recipe, and it made four triangles. You're supposed to eat it with yogurt and pita, but I have neither, so I ate it with a low carb tortillia (cough, ahem). I know, I'm a sham, but it's all I had... and none the less, it was still pretty good. Kuku sabzi is a very lite, nice dish-- it's got a strong herby flavor, which is nice, but I wish I had added more salt. I think the yogurt would really help give it some more flavor, and I wish I had some.
The walnuts are a nice treat because they add some crunch and a different, warmer flavor than the mild eggs and the potency of the mixed herbs.
I think I'd like to try making this again, when I have more time to eat it (honestly, it's been a week since I've made this and I have two helpings left and I'm really not sure if I can eat leftover eggs after that long).
But it was fun to make something new and out of my normal comfort zone. :) I'm excited to try more recipes from this persian book 'o mine.
From Cooking Around The World : Middle Eastern, by Soheila Kimberly
1-2 saffron strands
1 leek, chopped
2 oz spinach (I used frozen, which I microwaved to unfreeze)
1/4 head romaine lettuce, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
2 chopped fresh spring onions
1 1/2 teaspoons coriander
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tablespoon chopped walnuts
1 tablespoon butter
salt and pepper
Oven at 350 Degrees Farenheit
Soak the saffron strands in 1 tablespoon boiling water.
Beat the eggs in a large bowl. Add in all the chopped vegetables, herbs, garlic, and walnuts. Season with salt and pepper, then add the saffron water. Stir thoroughly to mix.
Melt the butter in a large ovenproof dish and pour in the vegetable and egg mxiture.
Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes until the egg mixture is set and the top is golden. Serve hot or cold, cut into wedges, with yogurt and pita bread.