Happy Persian New Year friends! Okay, okay we are juuuust a little late on this, but this recipe is too good not to share. Over a month ago, on the first calendar day of Spring, Cecelia celebrated Nowruz - also known as Persian New Year - with a good friend who is Iranian. She was overwhelmed and inspired by the array of new ingredients and tastes in the traditional dishes that were served. Tasting a new food for the first time feels so special and reminds both of us that we will always be learning in the kitchen. We decided to tackle one of the traditional Persian recipes and have been working on perfecting it ever since. The recipe is now ready to share, and boy are we excited! Come along with us to discover some cool ingredients and a flavor profile that will blow your mind. Promise!
Pictured above are a few of the new ingredients that combine to make this stunning dish. From top left to bottom: fenugreek, dried limes, and barberries. Starting with fenugreek - an herb native to the Mediterranean region and used in cooking as well as for medicinal uses. Fenugreek's flavor is quite pungent and earthy and a little goes a long way to bring a unique depth of flavor to dishes. Fenugreek also has many medicinal uses primarily treating digestive or inflammatory conditions when taken by mouth or used as a poultice to treat local pain and swelling. The next ingredient, dried limes, we found just as interesting. Using limes dried, instead of fresh, lends the ingredient to being added whole while cooking to impart acidity to the dish. As the limes soften during cooking, they can be broken open to release more flavor and acidity depending on the flavor profile you are looking for in the final dish. Lastly, barberries which are small, tart berries thought to be native to the Middle East. Typically used dried they bring a pop of color and tangy sweetness to dishes.
Vegetarian Ghormeh Sabzi with Saffron Rice
PREP TIME: 20 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 40 minutes
1 cup brown basmati rice
1 tsp saffron + 1/3 cup room temperate water
1 Tbsp olive oil
4 Tbsp barberries, rinsed
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 tsp turmeric
1 Tbsp dried fenugreek leaves
3 cups unsalted vegetable broth
3 cups fresh cilantro, chopped
2 cups spinach, chopped
2 cups green onion tops, sliced
1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
4 dried limes
1 can organic kidney beans, drained and rinsed
10-12 oz 4% milk fat Greek or Icelandic yogurt (optional)
Rinse rice under running water, then place into a large pot and cook according to package instructions. Allow rice to cool, then fluff with a fork and set aside. Meanwhile use your fingers to break saffron threads into small pieces and place in a shallow bowl with 1/3 cup water. Allow saffron to bloom in the water for 5 minutes. In a saute pan set to medium heat, add 1 Tbsp olive oil, barberries, and 1/2 tsp sugar cook for 1-2 minutes until all barberries are evenly coated with oil and sugar and slightly fragrant. Add bloomed saffron water and barberries to the fluffed rice and stir to evenly combine.
To make the ghormeh sabzi, set a large pot over medium heat then add 1/4 cup olive oil, chopped onion, and 1/4 tsp sea salt and stir to combine. Continue cooking until the onion is translucent, ~5-7 minutes. Add 1 tsp turmeric to the onions and continue to cook for another 1 minute then add 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth and reduce to a simmer. In a separate pot set to medium heat, add cilantro, spinach, green onion tops, parsley, and dried fenugreek. Stir constantly until greens are wilted, ~2 minutes. Add the remainder 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth, the 4 dried limes, kidney beans, and the onion mixture to the pot of greens and continue to cook for 15-20 minutes on a low simmer. For a more acidity, puncture the dried limes with a fork. Remove from the heat and spoon ghormeh sabzi over saffron rice and place a dollop of yogurt on top if desired. Store leftovers in separate containers and reheat servings as needed. Leftovers will keep for 3-5 days.
Thoughts, feelings? Are you all as excited about this dish as we were/are? There is just so much goodness going on here. The savory saffron rice highlighted by pops of tangy barberries topped with earthy and acidic greens makes for many delicious bites. This dish is best enjoyed with friends for a special occasion where you share your newest kitchen learning. Finally, this post wouldn't be complete without a huge shout-out to Sophia Ahwazi and the Ahwazi family. Thank you for sharing and teaching your food traditions to us!
Jess and Cecelia
In Our Pantry
From this recipe, our pantries are now stock with Persian ingredients. We shopped at a local Persian Market, Sahar International Supermarket at 4851 N Kedzie, that any Chicagoans should check out! If you aren't local, we found comparable ingredients here:
Jess and Cecelia welcome you to our kitchen. We are fun-loving and passionate foodies working to make the world a healthier, happier place one plant based recipe at a time.