Hi lovelies & Happy Yalda!
Winter has arrived for those of you in northern hemisphere! Living in the beautiful Melbourne, I haven’t seen snow for so long, I can’t help but to wish that I was somewhere chilly and snowy this time of year!
A snowy day in Tehran
Persians call the night before the first day of winter, YALDA. This is the longest night of the year. It is an ancient Persian tradition to gather around family and celebrate this night with delicious food! Usually a spread of nuts, watermelon and pomegranates are served along with dinner afterwards. Families might read a few poems of the Persian poet Hafez of Shiraz and dance and eat together.
THE TALE OF PROBLEM SOLVER NUT MIX
The nut mix served on this night is not just your typical trail mix! It is a special mix that if you think of a wish while eating it, they say your wish will come true! Maybe its the magic of this night, maybe it’s just a story 😉
Either way, if you want to try your luck, here is the “magic” mixture:
Shelled pistachio kernels, raw hazelnuts, raw almonds, green raisins, walnuts, dried apricots, roasted chickpeas and mulberries.
THE PERSIAN SPREAD
A spread, called “sofreh” in Farsi, is what you always have when lunch or dinner is served. Basically, you just don’t serve the main meal as it. It is always accompanied by a variety of sides, like salads, pickles, minted yoghurt to name a few. This is especially the case when the spread is put out for a guest. Big families sometimes put these spreads on the carpet and everyone sits around it on the floor eating together. In large parties, these spreads can be a few meters long!
My “Sofreh” this year for yalda has a unique Persian dish which is called: “Koofteh Tabrizi”. “Koofteh” in Farsi means meatball and “Tabrizi” means “of Tabriz”, a city in north western part of Iran. These “koofteh”‘s are not your typical small meatballs! They are made with rice and minced beef and made to a size of an average hand, plus they have a hard-boiled egg inside. This way when you cut through it, you will see all the beautiful layers!
It looks hard to make, but it is actually quite easy if you follow the proportions of the recipe so that the “koofteh”‘s hold their shape while cooking. Just put on some Persian music, and start cooking! I’ll guarantee you you’ll love these and impress everyone around you with your cooking! 😀
Last, but not least, my super talented fellow Persian food bloggers each have cooked something special for this year’s yalda. Don’t forget to checkout their pages here!
500g lean beef mince
1/2 cup split yellow peas
1 can (400g) of diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons Persian spices
2 tablespoons of each dried coriander, tarragon and mint
1 brown onion
3/4 cup long grain Basmari rice
Olive oil, for frying
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/3 cup chicken stock
- Cook 4 eggs in boiling water for 10 minutes.
- Let cool then peal the shell off and set aside.
- Put the rice and 1/3 of can of tomatoes in a pan and bring to boil.
- Simmer until rice is cooked completely and is soft and it has absorbed all the liquid.
- Place the split peas in another pot with enough water to cover them completely.
- Bring to boil, then cook until the peas are very soft.
- Place the minced beef, herbs, peas, and 1 tablespoon of Persian spices in a mixing bowl and mix well.
- Add the 3 remaining eggs and mix well.
- Now the fun part, making the meatballs! Put a ladle flu of the beef mixture in your hand, place one hard boiled egg in it, then place more beef mixture on top of it and with your hands shape it into a ball. Do not put a lot of beef mixture around the egg, just enough to cover around the egg. Set aside.
Now to cook the meatballs:
- Dice the brown onion, then fry in olive oil, util the onions are translucent.
- Add 1 tablespoon of Persian spices and the rest of tomato can, with 1/3 cup of chicken stock.
- Add the meatballs gently and one at a time to the pot. Simmer on the lowest heat possible until the meatballs have cooked though (around 30 minutes) and the sauce has thickened a bit.
- That’s it! Enjoy with a side of salad shirazi (mixture of diced tomatoes, cucumbers, brown onions, mint, lemon juice and salt and pepper), pickles and minted yoghurt! ~~~~~