Feta and mint Persian sandwiches

February 14, 2009 at 6:59 am (My brain, Persian, Quick weeknight recipe, restaurant inspired, unrated)

There’s a tiny little tea and coffee shop in Saarbruecken that’s owned by a Persian family.  Everyday they offer a traditional Persian lunch, but the hot special is rarely vegetarian.  I do like their sandwiches, however.  The first one I tried was the feta and mint sandwich: half of a baguette spread with creamy feta, lots of fresh mint, and cucumber slices.  It was delicious–much better than the typical German cheese sandwiches.  I liked the sandwich so much I decided to make it at home.  However, I used up all my cucumbers making sesame noodles.  To replace the cucumbers, I added diced kalamata olives and thin slices of a fresh red chili from the Turkish market.  I don’t know what kind of chili it is, but it’s bright tasting and hot but not too hot.  My version of the feta and mint sandwich was delicious, even without the cucumber.  Derek was skeptical at first, but after eating his sandwich he asked for another!  I was out of the red chili, so I spread the bread with a little harissa, which was also tasty, but slightly bitter.

Permalink Leave a Comment

Zereshk Polo, sort of (B)

August 31, 2006 at 6:07 pm (B_minus (2 stars, okay), Grains, My brain, Persian, Quick weeknight recipe)

3I have some ancient barberries that I bought at a Persian grocery when I was in Vancouver ages ago. Since I had some leftover basmati rice I thought I might throw together a dish inspired by the great Persian rice dish Zereshk Polo, but without the chicken and butter.

1 tsp. olive oil
1/4 cup barberries, dry
10 cashews, coarsely chopped
1/2 tsp. fennel seeds
1 cup basmati rice, cooked

I heated the oil then added everything but the rice and fried it a bit, then added the rice to heat it and mixed it all thoroughly.

Despite their senectitude, the barberries added a vivid sweet/sour dimension. The fennel flavor came through nicely, and the cashews added a bit of crunch if not much flavor. The rice didn’t have that buttery rich mouthfeel that makes Persian rice so decadent, but it only had 1 tsp. oil so that was kind of to be expected.

In looking up a recipe for the real zereshk polo (or polow as it’s sometimes spelt), I discovered that it typically has not only basmatic rice, lots of butter and chicken, and barberries, but also saffron. Some recipes also call for onions and/or sliced almonds. I think that next time I’ll leave the cashews out and add carmelized onions and saffron instead.

My barberries (zereshk) have gotten quite dark over time. In reading recipes I found recommendations to keep them in the freezer to prevent this from happening. Another site suggested rinsing them, then soaking them in a few tablesoons of water and a couple of spoons of sugar, until they get plump and bright red.

I would really like to come up with some more recipes that use barberries. I love the flavor, but never know what to do with them. Maybe I can use them instead of currants sometimes? Other ideas are welcome.

Rating: B

Permalink Leave a Comment