Culinary Communion: Persian Cuisine

For our first anniversary, my gift to Aaron was to take him to a class on cooking Persian food last night. The class was offered by Culinary Communion, and took place in the home of Chef Gabriel Claycamp. There were 7 students and the chef so it was a very nice intimate group. The class was fun, and we both learned alot, not just about Persian food, but cooking in general.

What did we learn?
– Saffron is water soluble, not oil soluble. Thats why you really need to dissolve it in hot water before you add it to the dish. If you just toss it in with what ever you are sauteing, it will give it a beautiful color but it just wont give up the love. Also, if you think you don’t like saffron because it tastes metalic, try Persion saffron rather than Spanish, its a whole lot cheaper and the flavor is much less tinny.
– Eggplant is like a sponge and soaks up a lot of oil. If you brush the eggplant with eggwhite before adding it to the pan the eggplant will soak up a significantly smaller amount of oil.

– Juicing citrus – roll or knead the lime to break it down inside and then zap it in the microwave for 20 seconds to increase viscosity before slicing and juicing the fruit – you’ll get out a whole lot more juice with a whole lot less effort.

– When cooking basmati rice – the old saying about washing the rice 5 times is there for a reason. I was the one that washed the rice, and it was amazing by the time I got the the third or fouth washing the aroma was really starting to come out. The five washings really help to release the aroma and flavor of the rice.

On the menu we had:

  • pistachio soup
  • feta and walnut spread with lavash bread
  • stuffed peppers
  • Eggplant Koresh
  • Dill and Fava Polow
  • Lamb Kababs
  • Saffron Brownie (halveh)

The food was great, but maybe not to the level of Alborz or Caspian Sea. I loved the pistachio soup, the cheese/nut spread was good be we found we needed to add a whole extra lime and a lot of extra plack pepper and mint to hit the right note. Bell peppers are never my thing, so as a whole the dish meant nothing to me, but the filling was quite succulent before in went into the pepper (after of course it was completely infused with the pepper flavor which I just don’t like). I may have to think of something else to stuff – because the filling was really quite tasty. The dill and fava palow was good, and we even made it with the tadiq which was especially cool as most restaurants don’t even serve that. The lamb kebabs were amazing and I seriously recommend you try the recipe when I get it posted. The saffron brownies were a variation on halveh which is common throughout the middle east, I dodn’t think much of this particular recipe but I’ll post it anyways.

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