PFB #2: Out of my comfort zone with Iranian cuisine…

September 26th, 2010

I like recipes with a story… this one has a story…

During the summer when I was about thirteen or fourteen, my family had dinner with good friends. An Iranian woman joined us. Now, I was definitely a teenager– self-conscious, unsure of myself and moody. She wanted me to teach her how to dance like an American. I took dance for over twelve years. I love dancing. But that day, I was embarrassed. I had no desire to dance in front of family and friends in a living room. What if I looked like an idiot?

Eventually, I warmed up…perhaps it was the delicious salmon and tahdig… or once I learned that she had been thrown in jail for talking to a male friend on the street… or the fact that she was down right awesome… We ended up dancing the night away in the living room… Sharing a bit of our culture with one another. It was truly one of my best experiences.

When I saw this challenge, I immediately thought of this recipe. After some emails and a wonderful friend who quickly responded with the details, I made the dill salmon with tahdig for our dinner. Tahdig is the crunchy buttery rice from the bottom of the pan. This is a traditional Iranian dish served on the first day of spring. I served it with traditional Sabzi Khordan and Alounak’s Persian Flatbread that I found in Crazy Water Pickled Lemons.

The dinner was amazing! The rice did come out a little mushy, as I always struggle to cook it properly. But I did learn to make homemade pita! and I juiced an onion!  Did you know you can juice an onion?  More importantly, I shared this meal with people important to me. A meal that represents a time when I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and learned so much.

Iranian Salmon with Dill and Lemons

Juice of 1 Medium onion (using a food processor, chop up the onions and then press them through cheesecloth or strainer)
one medium garlic crushed
Lemon juice (about 1/4 cup)
Olive oil (about 1/4 cup)
Dill (about two tablespoons chopped)
2-3 pounds of Salmon

1. Wash the fish first and dry it.
2. Mix all ingredients together and pour over the fish.
3. Leave it in the fridge for 1 to 2 hours.
4. Heat oven 200 or 250 Centigrade
5. Put small pieces of butter over the fish
6. Bake the fish for 15-20 minutes

Rice with Dill

1. Rinse 3 cups rice several times and cover with warm water and salt, let it soak for a at least half a day.
2. Dump out the salt water and rinse with fresh water.
3. Start cooking the rice on the stove on high temp, mix occasionally.
4. Collect and discard the foam from the rice as it is cooking.
5. Add the dill, (I use 2 1/2 small bottles of dill for 2 cups of rice. It should look rather green)
6. Take one or two grain and taste it to see if the centre of the grain is cooked, it should not be too soft, just not hard. (I cooked it for too long. Check it after ten minutes).
7. Pass the rice through a sieve and rinse with warm water.
8. Pour half cup of oil (not olive- I used vegetable) and tablespoon butter in the pan and add half cup of water on medium heat till the butter melts.
9. Pour most of the liquid in a cup and leave small amount on the bottom for tahdig.
10. You can put slices of raw potato or pita bread on the bottom of the pan, then add the rice.
11. Make several holes into the rice with the handle of a long spoon for the steam to be able to come out.
12. Cover the pan and let it be on medium heat till steam builds up on the inside cover of the pan. At this time pour the rest of the liquid all over the rice and turn the heat to very low.
13. Wrapp the cover of the pan in a thick cloth and cover the rice with it. It should cook slowly for at least an hour. This rice should look very flaky and soft to bite on.

23 Responses to “PFB #2: Out of my comfort zone with Iranian cuisine…”

  1. Casey Angelova on September 26, 2010 11:28 am

    I am very ignorant on Iranian/Persian and you make it look amazing. I will have to give this a try. Thanks for expanding my horizons! Good luck with round 2!

  2. sippitysup on September 26, 2010 11:52 am

    Dill finds it way into so many classic Middle Eastern dishes. Yours is spectacular. GREG

  3. Resa on September 27, 2010 6:31 am

    Post bar to Bern? Recreate the amazingness of that evening?

  4. PFB Round 2: Voting Open and… some leftovers… at on September 27, 2010 7:05 am

    [...] PFB #2: Out of my comfort zone with Iranian cuisine… [...]

  5. FoodCents on September 27, 2010 9:12 am

    This looks amazing, G. I have always loved the stories behind your dishes, this being one of the most powerful yet.

  6. Mom on September 27, 2010 2:00 pm

    Looks yummy. Did you use basmati rice?

  7. Evelyne@CheapEthnicEatz on September 27, 2010 2:59 pm

    Great entry and love the dish, love Persian food. Off to vote for you, please check my 2nd entry too!

  8. Tara @ Smells Like Home on September 27, 2010 3:23 pm

    holy cow you made Iranian food! can i give you a high-five for going all out with this dish and sharing a great story at the same time? you’ve got my vote, Ginny! great job!!

  9. Jeanne on September 27, 2010 3:29 pm

    I never knew you could juice an onion! This meal sounds fantastic, you got my vote!

  10. Sweet Swallows on September 27, 2010 4:21 pm

    I did not know you could juice an onion. I’ve learned something new today. I also would have never thought to make an Iranian dish. What a wonderful recipe, and a great story to go along with it!

  11. Gina Ruiz on September 27, 2010 6:28 pm

    What a great post! It all looks delicious. You have one of my votes. Best of luck to you in the competition.

  12. Daily Spud on September 28, 2010 12:01 am

    Well, well, I am learning a lot in this round! Juicing an onion is definitely a new on one on me and anything described as crunchy and buttery gets my vote :)

  13. Jun Belen on September 28, 2010 8:30 am

    Great post! Now Iranian’s really out of my comfort zone, too! Everything looks delicious! Best of luck in PFB!!

  14. Dana on September 28, 2010 10:45 am

    I can totally relate to you being a teenager not wanting to perform in your living room! I am a singer, so growing up there were always livingroom concert requests from friends and family!!

    Good luck in round 2!

  15. Joan in Seattle on September 28, 2010 10:49 am

    Nearly 70 years ago, my mother, uncle and grandparents spent 3 years in a Japanese prison camp in the Philippines. Your post reminded me of a comment she made, that she really liked the “rice crust” that formed on the bottom of the rice pot. And that on her birthday, the commandant, Mr. Tomibe, gave her a banana and an extra banana for her doll. Food brings us together …

  16. Stay-At-Home-Chef on September 28, 2010 11:09 am

    Love your post…very personal and definitely a great story. Good luck in the competition!

  17. eataduckimust on September 28, 2010 12:23 pm

    Wow, Iranian cuisine, i’m impressed! you have our vote :)

  18. Lick My Spoon on September 28, 2010 5:00 pm

    I too, am intrigued by this onion juicing ordeal. Could you just use a power juicer or is the way you mentioned optimal? Awesome post, you’ve got our vote!

    Lick My Spoon

  19. Amy on September 29, 2010 6:58 am

    Thanks for the post! I love learning about all these different cuisines. Rice bits from the bottom of the pan are awesome. I’m glad at least one cuisine has decided to name them and make them important. :)

    Got my vote!

  20. Reeni on September 30, 2010 5:01 am

    This sounds so delicious – especially your description of the rice from the bottom of the pan! Good luck in this round!

  21. Mariko on September 30, 2010 3:32 pm

    Iranian cuisine is something I’ve never tried. This is so cool.

  22. Jean on September 30, 2010 3:56 pm

    I haven’t had had Iranian food too often but what I’ve had, I’ve loved. I think this is the first Iranian dish I’ve seen in the challenge–great job!

  23. Lane aka DinnnerandConversation on September 30, 2010 3:57 pm

    Wow! This looks delicious! I’ve accidentally wound up with rice crust on the bottom of the pan and it is delicious! What a great recipe.

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