Persian cuisine makes dinner exotic. Traditional ingredients such as chickpeas, rice, saffron, and nuts blend with Eastern spices to create a sumptuous meal.
In Canada, we encounter many cultures and fabulous foods reflective of the mosaic of our nationality. This is particularly true of the Persian influences that have brought new flavours and tastes to our tables, coast to coast. It may be new to you, but the Persian culture has been around long before the first century.
Ancient Persia (or since 1935 known as Iran) has cultivated various ingredients: rice, saffron, pomegranates, and rose water, for example, as the mainstays of many dishes for more than 2,000 years. Coupled with cinnamon, mint, nuts and dried fruits, Persian ingredients have been an influential foundation of recipes throughout the Middle and Far East.
If contemporary Persian food shops or restaurants are difficult to find in your area, we’ve compiled a few recipes so you can make the Persian experience happen at home. Make no mistake, the long-simmering scent of onions and garlic cooked to caramelized perfection is a tradition that can’t be compromised. We’ve focused on a few time-honoured favourites that incorporate easy steps to get you started.
Lime and Saffron Chicken Kabobs bring a unique blend of citrus and saffron with a hint of sumac to the table. Dried chickpeas and navy beans simmered in stock with barley creates a comfort soup that’s a meal unto itself. And the eggplant dish marries all the flavours of fresh herbs and caramelized onion together—excellent for scooping onto fresh chunks of sangak bread with dollops of yogurt.
Try the following recipes and you’ll see how simple and flavourful Persian cooking truly is.
- Winter Soup with Beans and Leafy Greens (Ash-e-Reshteh)
- Persian Eggplant and Herb Salad with Caramelized Onions
- Lime and Saffron Chicken Kabobs (Joojeh Kabab)
- Carrot and Pistachio Halwa
Pistachios are a standout nut full of heart-healthy unsaturated fats. Also packed with protein, they keep us feeling full and are a great addition to any athlete’s diet.
Concerned about their high fat content? Worry not: studies have shown that pumping up our intake of pistachios does not lead to weight gain (and can actually promote healthy weight management). Try them in our Carrot and Pistachio Halwa, or eat them out of hand for a post-workout pick-me-up. For the healthiest option, choose raw, unsalted nuts.