Anyone who knows me, knows that I love books that transport me to another culture and my crush of late has been on books dealing with Middle Eastern cuisines. One such new title, The Enchantingly Easy Persian Cookbook by Shadi HasanzadeNemati is a wonderful introduction to Persian cuisine.
Packed with easy but flavorful recipes, most of which don’t require a great deal of preparation in advance, it is very approachable by any level of cook. A guide to the recipes are set out with star ratings. One star represents a very easy recipe through four stars being more complex. She warns not to be put off by the four-star recipes though, that they just require a few more steps and a bit of patience.
The author was born and raised in Tehran, a melting pot of cultures and traditions, as people from all areas of Iran have relocated there ,blending their food traditions. After a few moves from Tehran to Turkey (where she met her husband) and then relocating to the United States, she realized what an enormous portion of her heart was dedicated to Persian food, especially her maman’s (mother) cooking. This cookbook was written to bring Persian flavors to our kitchens and as a way to chronicle her family recipes. She also is the writer of the food blog, Unicorn in the Kitchen.
Shadi starts this cookbook with a background of this ancient cuisine along with pantry, equipment and general basics of what we need to know to make the most out of these dishes. This chapter is then followed by Appetizers & Snacks, Kookoos (egg based dishes) & Egg Dishes, Soups & Ash (ash is a thick soup or stew), Stews & Accompanying Rice Dishes, Chicken, Meat & Fish, Mixed Rice Dishes, Drinks, Desserts & Sweet Treats. Sprinkled throughout the book are stories that recount the memories particular dishes bring back to her.
Recipes range from quick weeknight meals to weekend feasts: Saffron Chicken, Potato Frittata, Beef & Carrot Meatballs to Lamb Shanks that take a few hours. Don’t let the recipe titles fool you, they sound basic, right? The spices and herbs in these dishes are anything but. In the Potato Frittata alone, saffron, mint and turmeric elevate this simple dish into something spectacular. I would be remiss to not mention the Desserts & Sweet Treats chapter: Coconut Cookies, Persian Crepes with Syrup and Saffron Syrup Cake sound delicious and the perfect way to end a Sunday supper.
I made two recipes from this book, the Persian Rice (which was great) and the Pomegranate & Walnut Meatballs. The meatballs were flavor-packed and a wonderful alternative to a typical meatball. I loved the little bite from the walnut, the heat from the cayenne and the pomegranate glaze provided the perfect sweet balance to the dish. I made my own pomegranate molasses which was easy to do – a reduction of pomegranate juice, sugar and water. There are many recipes online for the particulars if you cannot find pomegranate molasses at your grocery. My family and our guest loved this dish and so did I. It will make a frequent appearance in my kitchen.
This book brings approachable Persian cuisine to our table and opens my heart to learning more about the food and people of this part of the world.
- 1 medium yellow onion
- 8 ounces lean ground beef
- 8 ounces ground lamb
- 1 cup finely chopped walnuts
- ⅓ cup finely chopped fresh parsley
- 1 large egg
- 1⁄4 cup breadcrumbs
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1⁄2 teaspoon ground turmeric 1⁄2 teaspoon cayenne pepper 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, finely sliced
- 1⁄2 cup pomegranate molasses 1 tablespoon sugar (optional) 1⁄2 cup water
- Grate the onion. Squeeze it well in a clean kitchen towel or place it in a fine-mesh colander and press it with the back of a wooden spoon to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard the excess water.
- In a large bowl, combine the beef, lamb, walnuts, and parsley. Knead the mixture with your hands until everything is well combined. Crack the egg into the bowl, then add the breadcrumbs, salt, turmeric, and cayenne. Knead well.
- Wet your hands and form the mixture into 11⁄2-inch- diameter meatballs.
- Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the meatballs to the skillet and cook them until they are brown on all sides, 6 to 8 minutes total. Remove the skillet from the heat and set it aside.
- Heat the vegetable oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the onion and sauté until it’s caramelized and golden, about 10 minutes.
- Add the pomegranate molasses and sugar (if using), then pour in the water. Bring the liquid to a boil and reduce the heat to medium.
- Place the meatballs in the simmering sauce in a single layer and cook for 20 to 30 minutes, spooning the sauce over the top every 10 minutes, until the meatballs are browned all the way through. Serve warm.
- MAKE IT EASIER Preheat the oven to 375°F and roast the meatballs on a baking sheet for 20 minutes. Then place them in the sauce to cook.
Editor’s note: This recipe is printed courtesy of the publisher. The author of this review received a copy of the cookbook, The Enchantingly Easy Persian Cookbook: 100 Simple Recipes for Beloved Persian Food Favorites. No other compensation was received from the publisher. Links to the cookbook are affiliate links.
Many thanks to the publisher Rockridge Press, an imprint of Callisto Media, who is sponsoring one copy of this wonderful cookbook for a giveaway, open to US residents only. Please check out the book on Amazon and leave a comment on the post – What recipe from The Enchantingly Easy Persian Cookbook would you try first? – to enter. The rafflecopter has several options for earning more chances to win! The more you do, the better your chances. No purchase necessary. The winner will be notified by email. If the winner does not respond in 48 hours, an alternate winner will be selected.
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