Split Peas

Iranian Aubergine Stew - Khoresht-e Bademjoun

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Last year a dear friend gave me the best cook book for my birthday. This is the book I had dreamt of for a long time as a student abroad when I missed home cooked Iranian food. Unfortunately as much as I searched, all the books I found weren't great. It happened to find me a bit later in life but either way I'm glad it did! It's called The New Persian Kitchen by Louisa Shafia, and is filled with healthy versions of the traditional dishes without compromising on the flavour and topped with some very creative modern additions which are influenced by the Iranian/Persian pallet. And even better yet, for all the meat dishes she has a vegetarian option which suggests what you can substitute the meat with!

This dish takes some time to make and the longer you cook it and let it rest for the more delicious it will taste, so I would suggest making it on a day where you know you won't have much going on and are willing to spend the most part of it in the kitchen. Please don't let this put you off because  it's definitely worth it! This is Louisa's take on a very traditional dish with some minor adjustments by me and I do hope you enjoy this as much as we did.

Note: the book says it serves 4, however it could definitely serve 6.

Ingredients (serves 4-6)

3 large aubergine, diced sea salt 1 tbs coconut oil 1/2 cup split peas 8 cups water 4 tbs olive oil 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced 6 medium vine tomatoes, roughly chopped 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/4 cup pomegranate molasses (unsweetened) 1 tbs honey/liquid sweetener of your choice 3 cloves garlic, minced 4 cups vegetable stock Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius and line a baking tray with parchment paper.

Spread the aubergine onto the prepared baking tray and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of coconut oil. Bake for 40 mins stirring gently every 10 or so minutes to prevent them from sticking. When the aubergine is nice and soft, remove from oven and let it cool to room temperature.

While the aubergine is cooks, put the split peas and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer, covered, for about 40 minutes. Drain and season with 1 teaspoon salt.

Heat the olive oil in large deep pan over medium to high heat. Add the onion and cook for 10 minutes until it starts to darken, then cook slowly over low heat for about 30 minutes, until it's dark brown and about half the original volume. Add the aubergine, tomatoes, turmeric, cinnamon, pomegranate molasses, liquid sweetener, garlic, split peas, and 1 teaspoon salt. Add the stock and bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, partially covered for 1 hour. Uncover and simmer for 15 minutes, until the stew is thick.

Turn off the heat and let the stew rest for 15-30 mins. Season with salt and pepper and serve with brown basmati rice and if you have some, iranian pickle (torshi).

Enjoy!

Curried Butternut Squash and Ginger Soup

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I have started juicing a lot of vegetables lately and when I do, I save the pulp from the juicer, which is full of fibre, and try to reuse it. It seems like such a waste not to, and if you know me you will know that one thing I hate is wasting food. So the original recipe was made with carrot, fennel and ginger juice pulp but you can also make it with grated carrot, fennel and ginger too. I made this soup the other night for some friends and accompanied it with some delicious fresh Turkish bread from the shop up the road.

Ingredients (serves 4)

1 medium butternut squash 2 tablespoons coconut oil 1/2 yellow onion (diced) 2 cloves garlic (crushed) 2 teaspoons curry powder 1/2 teaspoon paprika 1 teaspoon cumin 1 teaspoon turmeric 2 carrots (grated) 1/2 fennel bulb (grated) 1 relatively large piece of ginger (grated) 1 litre vegetable stock (I use Marigold) 1/2 cup yellow split peas Chilli infused olive oil or olive oil & chilli flakes 6 stalks Tuscan kale/cavolo nero (de-stemmed) Sea salt & black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Peel and chop the butternut squash into small pieces, season with salt and pepper, place on a lined baking tray and pop in the oven for 20 mins. Get your largest soup pot and heat up the coconut oil in it. Then place the onion in the pot and let cook on medium heat for a couple of minutes, followed by the crushed garlic. Add all the spices and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the grated vegetables/juice pulp and leave to cook for about 5 minutes until the flavours infuse. Then add the vegetable stock to the pot and bring to a boil, reduce the heat and let simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and with a handheld blender, blend the soup into a nice smooth consistency. If you are using juice pulp I would recommend sieving out the soup into a large bowl after blending to avoid having pieces of ginger fibre in the smooth soup. Put the pot back on medium heat and add the yellow split peas, and salt and pepper to taste and then let cook for at least 25 mins. In the meantime de-stem the kale so that you are left with the leaves. Just before you serve the soup, put a pan on low heat and warm up the chilli infused olive oil/olive oil & chilli flakes and quickly cook the kale for approx. 2 minutes. Divide the soup up into bowls and place the kale on top. Enjoy!