Did you ever hear the rumor that Sephardic men never ever, ever do any housework? Well, I can testify that my father-in-law, Ezzy, has never, ever changed a diaper! However, he is the best fruit-and-vegetable-cutter there is! If you want anything peeled, chopped, or cut—he is the man! So, whenever he comes to visit I know I can count on him to do all my chopping! So much for stereotypes! When it comes to Shirazi salad, he is my personal chopper! You might think this salad is almost identical to Israeli salad, and you might be right—just don’t say it to any one born in Shiraz! Many people use cilantro in this recipe instead of mint. It is fabulous either way.
2 large tomatoes, washed and diced into ¼ inch squares
½ red onion, peeled and diced into ¼ inch squares
1 large English seedless cucumber (or
1 regular cucumber, seeded), diced into ¼ inch squares
¾ cup chopped mint leaves or
¼ cup dried mint leaves or cilantro
¼ cup olive oil
juice of 3 limes (½ cup lime juice)
1 tablespoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
fresh mint or cilantro leaves (optional)
- Mix all vegetables together.
- Right before serving pour dressing over and toss salad.
- Garnish with fresh mint leaves.
Yield: 3 cups
Persian Steamed White Rice
Many people become extremely intimidated when it comes to making Persian rice. You have to trust me when I tell you it is really not a big deal (just don’t tell anyone Persian I said that!). All you need to do is to imagine that instead of making rice, you are making pasta. Most of us know how to make pasta; it is probably what you ate everyday when you went to college! You are going to cook this rice in boiling water with oil and salt, just like pasta. You are going to wait until the rice is “al dente” (when you bite a grain of rice it should still have a white dot in the middle), just like pasta. Do not overcook Persian rice or your reputation as a Persian cook will suffer! And last, you are going to drain it, just like pasta.The only difference comes next: Persian rice has one cooking step that pasta doesn’t have. Persian rice gets steamed. Think of it this way—since this rice is fancy…it requires a “spa treatment.” What is the result when you pamper yourself at the sauna? A new you! What is the result when you treat your rice to a “spa treatment”? Each and every grain of rice becomes its own entity and a pearl from heaven! What is the best after-effect of a “spa treatment” for a woman? It makes her a better wife, a better mother—and a better cook! What is the best after-effect of a “spa treatment” for Persian rice? The most scrumptious, crunchy, golden crust: TADIG! If you are having issues with tadig making, watch my video on tadig troubleshooting!
If you want to make a smaller quantity, try only 3 cups rice, 8 cups water, ¼ cup oil, and 1 tablespoon salt.
Part 1: Cooking the rice
5 cups basmati rice, checked and rinse
12 cups water
½ cup canola oil
3 tablespoons salt
Part 2: Steaming the rice and making tadig
¼-inch oil poured into the bottom of the saucepan.
2 tablespoons water
¼ tsp turmeric or powdered saffron (optional, for a more authentic flavor)
To cook the rice:
- Fill a large nonstick saucepan (at least 6 quarts) with 12 cups water; add oil and salt. Cover and bring to a brisk boil over high heat.
- Add the rice and continue cooking over medium to high heat, stirring occasionally.
- After 3–5 minutes, use a slotted spoon to scoop some grains from the water. Break one grain in half to make sure it is “al dente” (see above). Turn off the heat and pour rice into the colander to drain; set aside.
To steam and make tadig:
- Place the empty 6-quart saucepan back onto the stovetop over medium heat. Add ¼-inch canola oil and 2 tablespoons water. Add turmeric and/or saffron powder. Stir together.
- Add the drained rice and shape it into a pyramid. Cover the pot and cook for 5–7 minutes until rice begins to steam.
- Uncover and place 2 paper towels (one on top of the other) over the rice. The ends will extend outside the pot. Replace the lid tightly.
- Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 45 minutes. Turn off the heat and tilt the lid until ready to serve.
- With a wide spatula, scoop the rice from the pot, making sure to not disturb the crust (tadig) that formed on the bottom of the pot. Serve the rice on a flat serving platter, mounding it into the shape of a pyramid. Turn the tadig out onto a flat serving platter by inverting the pot, as you would invert a cake pan, or cut it into pieces and serve around the rice.
Yield: 8 servings
This is by far the most popular dessert at my Shabbat table! It is grand to see people’s eyes when I bring it to the table and also witness their puzzled faces while they try to figure out what is that extra flavor they can’t get their taste buds to decipher (rose water). Versatility is what is great about this recipe! You can use the same cake recipe I provide you but the fillings are endless. Raspberry jam, Nutella (if dairy), and even date butter are all amazing fillings. I also like to use rum or brandy mixed with a bit of water to moisten the cake if I do not have rose water handy…this is a sure hit! I promise! Check out the video for this recipe on my website, kosherpersianfood.com.
Tricks of the trade:
The eggs should be at room temperature so that they will whip up to maximum volume. The secret to make the parchment paper stay in the baking pan is to spray the pan with a little oil or water before lining it. Cut slits in the corners of the paper to create a snug fit. This cake freezes beautifully; just wrap in parchment paper and then in foil. Also, it is important to use parchment paper rather than not wax paper; these have different uses. Be sure to not overbake this cake or it will crack. You can drizzle some powdered sugar on the cake before rolling it so it doesn’t stick to the parchment paper. For a cleaner look, you can cut both ends of the cake…I’ll bet you can’t resist eating them!
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup flour
⅓ cup rose water (to moisten cake)
1 pint of parve whipping cream (e.g., Rich Whip)
1 cup powdered (confectioner’s) sugar
powdered (confectioner’s) sugar
whipping cream (parve)
chocolate shavings or melted chocolate chips (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 17″x12″x1″ jellyroll pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
- Mix the eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer for 1 minute or until fluffy. Add the sugar and vanilla and continue beating for additional 3 minutes or until the mixture becomes pale yellow.
- Use a flat spatula to gently and thoroughly fold in baking powder and flour, making sure not to deflate the eggs. Spread batter evenly onto the prepared pan. Bake for 15 minutes or until center springs back when lightly pressed.
- In the meantime, whip the nondairy whip until peaks form. Add the sugar and combine. Set aside.
- When cake is ready, hold the corners of the paper to lift the cake out onto a flat surface. Peel paper off cake. Roll from shorter side along with the parchment paper. Set aside for a few minutes.
- Unroll and remove parchment paper. Use a pastry brush to moisten the top of the cake with rose water. Spread cream evenly on the cake. Reroll cake with crean on the inside.
- Place on a platter, seam side down, and garnish with powdered sugar, melted chocolate, whipped cream, and strawberries. Refrigerate if not serving immediately.
Yield: 10 slices