This is what I prepared for a circle of about 20+ classmates/family/colleagues (collectively known as friends) last Saturday night. They were wowed. For most of them, this was their first taste of Iran.
In order of deliciousness (for me, obviously):
1. Kashk-e bademjan
IngredientsMain dish: Eggplants, onions, kashk (purchased at the Persian restaurant on Hollis Street)
Garnish: sauteed garlic with turmeric, saffran (strictly optional), mint, more fried onions
Time to prepare: one hour
Preparation: Peel eggplants and slice into thick wedges. Sprinkle with salt and let sit for a while, for the bitterness to drain. Pat dry and fry the slices on low heat until nicely golden-brown on both sides. Drain fried eggplants on tissue paper to get rid of the extra oil. Separately, dice onions and fry until deep browny colour, also add turmeric while frying. Put fried aubergines and onions together in big deep pan, and some water and let them simmer together for as long as you like. Occasionally mash and mix together. Add some salt, but not too much because of the kashk. Do NOT add the kashk to the mixture while it is cooking, as my father will be upset if you do that.
Serving: Put the aubergine/onion mixture (which should have the consistency of thick yogurt) in a flat dish. Decorate with lots of runny kashk, fried mint, fried onions and fried garlic, walnuts, saffron. Eat with bread and fresh herbs. This is one of my favourite dishes ever, and is hard-core traditional food.
2. Salad Olivier
This time, I garnished it with carrot sticks, baby tomatoes and fresh herbs. Very nice.
3. Rice with lentils
Main dish: rice, and surprisingly enough, lentils.
Garnish: fried onions (yes, we spend a LOT of time frying onions in our part of the world), dates sauteed with turmeric and cinammon
Time: Less than an hour.
Preparation: Wash rice. Bring to boil with about a finger of salted water over it. When the water is almost disappearing, add the lentils which you have already half-cooked. Stir them with a fork. Add a bit more water. Turn the heat low, and leave to “settle”. Meawhile prepare the garnish. Chop dates, and add to oil warmed in the pan, and push them around a bit. We want it lightly heated, not deep fried. Add the onion which have been fried previously (in my case, the evening before), and add tons of cinnamon and slightly less turmeric. Mix well.
For meat eaters, this dish can be served with meat balls or just ground beef fried well with turmeric and cinnamon.
Note: As I explained to my guests, this not really party food, but rather everyday food which moms prepare during weekdays- perhaps with the exception of the eggplant dish. For “proper” formal parties back home, we have kebabs, lots of different kebabs, which I cannot prepare (nor can any other Iranian woman I know). For less formal family gatherings, the usual dishes are one or two types of khoresh (stews), or chicken cooked with saffran and rice. However, I cannot cook khoreshes in large amounts, and in any case, I have noticed non-Iranians are not as fond of khoreshes as we are. So this kind of food worked well in a informal party setting.
Partying while Iran burns. What else can we traitor expats do?