Family feasting

I had the opportunity to cook for part of my family this weekend – which doesn’t happen very often – so I decided to experiment. Which is perhaps dangerous, but that’s How I Roll.

9781743368565Dinner #1: Indian Made Easy

Chana Masala – chickpea stew basically. It was ok, although not as large as I had hoped. So it’s a good thing that I also made…

Stuffed potato and pea cakes – mashed potato with spices, wrapped around pulsed peas and paneer and more spices, lightly fried. 110% would make again. So good.

UnknownDinner #2: Saffron Tales

Chicken with walnuts and pomegranate – I’ve looked at this a couple times but been put off by the amount of time required with the walnuts. You need to cook the blitzed walnuts with water for two hours, so that it turns into a porridge-like consistency. But you don’t really need to do anything with it, just stir it occasionally, so if you’re home anyway it’s pretty easy. Then you add chicken (or eggplant) and pomegranate molasses and leave it for another 40 or so minutes and… absolute culinary delight; my sister thought it looked like mole (she’s just back from Mexico). Can’t wait to eat this again. Served with…

Coconut rice (because I couldn’t be bothered with proper Persian rice with saffron etc), and a play on salad shirazi (we removed the red onion and added avocado).

But wait! You’re all saying. What about dessert?! My sister made Nigella’s boiled mandarine cake. Which was good… after, um, a slight mandarine+saucepan malfunction. Probably the less said about that the better, if I want to stay on her good side…

The Saffron Tales #2

Yesterday I talked about the book itself; today, it’s the recipes.

UnknownThey, too, are great.


Sour cherry and dark chocolate biscuits: the first time I made these I couldn’t find sour cherries; that has since been rectified. That first time I used dried blueberries, and they were ok. I really like them with sour cherries – these are some new favourites.

Persian love cake: even though I had no rose water, so I used orange blossom water, this was fantastic. And as Khan herself notes, the cake keeps quite well – I think we ate it over about five days and it didn’t go stale just under plastic wrap in the fridge.

Mains Continue reading “The Saffron Tales #2”

The Saffron Tales

This was sent to me by Bloomsbury at no cost. It appears to already be out overseas, but the Bloomsbury website says it’s out in mid July in Australia. RRP $33.99.


The book

I love a cookbook with a ribbon.

This is a lovely book. I got a hardback version; as you can see, the front cover is gorgeous. I’m a bit torn because the inside cover is also gorgeous, blue with gold writing.

There are photos throughout, not quite of every recipe but close. While I know all of them are staged, they’re not so pretentious as to make me depressed. Each recipe is presented with a little story or explanation in italics to the side, and the recipes are all straightforward to follow.

As well as recipes, Khan presents stories about Iran itself, and some of the people she met during her travels. These are geographical, with sections of Tehran, Isfahan and Shiraz, and Tabriz, for example. Khan doesn’t take the current fashion for Persian food for granted, with an introduction that talks a bit about Iranian culture (she alternates between Persian and Iranian, and explains why at the start of the book) and – admittedly generic – attitudes to food. Plus, and this is something that I really like, there’s an opening discussion of the “The Persian store cupboard”. She given an alphabetical run-down of everything from barberries to yoghurt, explaining their taste and their uses (I’d never heard of golpar before and it’s proving difficult to find). I ALSO really like that she ends this section with the recommendation to “do as the Iranians do and use your taste buds and your eyes to determine which direction a dish should go.” The direction to “just enjoy the process of cooking something new” makes her my new cooking BFF.

Finally, the book ends with a section called Planning a meal (ok, there is also an index, but whatever). Iranian New Year? Persian Picnic? Vegan Feast? Easy weekday suppers? Got you covered.

So, yes, I think it’s clear that this book is a winner. Stay tuned tomorrow for discussion of the actual recipes.

There’s a website!  And the book is available from Fishpond.