This month's Kitchen Trotter box has just arrived and it's destination is Iran, somewhere I knew very little about. I knew that it used to be called Persia, that it's in the Middle East and that it was at war with Iraq in the 1980s, but that was about as far as my knowledge went. In terms of food, I had no idea whatsoever, so I was excited to see what I'd discover in the box.
The first thing I pulled out was a huge bag of dried herbs. I looked at the back and discovered that it's a mix called Sabzi Polo Herbs that is specially made for the traditional New Year meal, rice (polo) with herbs (sabzi). I guess that tells me what one of the recipes will be then !
The next product was more recognisable - yellow split peas, which are often used in stews in Iran.
On to something very intriguing - Persian Blue Salt. It's a coarse salt studded with sapphire-coloured rock crystals that is extracted from crystallised sea salt which formed over 260 million years ago. How amazing is that ?
Next I found a trio of products reflecting the Middle Eastern flavours I was half expecting - rose petals, rose water and Anatolia mint. Mint is apparently one of the most widely used herbs in Iranian cooking but rose is another popular flavour, both in sweet and savoury dishes.
I was intrigued by the contents of the sachet - Limu Amâni or Dried Lemons. Funnily enough, we made some of these ourselves quite by accident when the Madhouse kids brought back some limes and lemons that had fallen off the citrus trees in our hotel in Morocco one year ! They can be used to give a zesty hit to casseroles apparently.
The extras this month were Iranian nougat, some Persian carpet-themed coasters and some kitchen cannister labels.
Time to discover the recipes, and this month, they are all things I've never heard of - just the way I like it !
Mâsi O Khiâr which looks similar to raita
Gheymeh Bademjan - imagine channa dhal with meat, aubergine and dried lemons
Sabzi Polo Mahi - the herby rice that I mentioned above with fish
And for dessert, Shir Berenja, which looks like a rose flavoured rice pudding.
I can't wait to try these out because the flavours sound very exotic. I'll be back to tell you how we get on as usual.
*** Don't miss my country-by-country globecooking recipe index ! ***