Reyna Simnegar‘s Persian Food from The Non-Persian Bride is a beautifully produced book, with many a mouthwatering recipe. The accompanying text is well written regaling us with tidbits of Persian and Sephardic tradition, the photography with its generally darkish background lures us into wanting to discover more of its mystical, delectable promises.
Many of the recipes also have variations, to accommodate every taste and every cook’s level of comfort. The Appetizers and Side Dishes section is subdivided into Persian Breads, Dips and Salads; Fish and Soups follows, then come Poultry and Meat, Persian Stews and Sephardic Shabbat Stews. A long section on Persian Rice is next, followed by Dairy food, Egg Dishes and Persian Snacks subdivided into Persian Breakfast and Persian Snacks, Persian Beverages and Desserts comes next.
After the recipes comes a section on Persian Holiday Tutorial, it briefly explains various holiday traditions and suggest traditional Persian menus. This section end with The Laws of Tarof – And Other Persian Peculiarities I Happen to Love, written with humor and obvious deep love for her newly acquired customs. The book ends with a Glossary and a Culinary Glossary. Advanced or beginning cooks, this cookbook has something for everyone!
I always liked the diminutive Cornish hens, one of my favorite delicacies. Here Mrs. Simnegar takes a recipe and dresses it up in Persian trappings:
Stuffed Cornish Hens With Rose Petals
This dish doesn’t really exist in Persian cuisine, but you it totally sounds Persian! Even Persians will think it comes from an ancient Persian cookbook! In fact, I got this recipe from the book Like Water from Chocolate, by Laura Esquivel, but I reinvented it with a Persian flair. The rose petals look stunning next to the poultry, but I use them only for garnish. If you want to eat them you need edible roses, which come free of pesticides and you must also the check the petals for bugs — way too much work for me!
4 Cornish hens or 2 whole chickens or 2 cut up chickens
- 2 garlic cloves, pressed or 2 tablespoons garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon cardamon
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 3 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed or 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1/4 cup dried barberries (optional)
- 1/4 cup currant raisins or regular black raisins
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- pinch saffron powder
- 1 cup leftover rice
- 1 teaspoon salt
Rose Petal Sauce
- 1 cup pan juices
- 1/2 cup rose jam or quince jam
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 lemon, juiced or 1 teaspoon lemon concentrate
- Fresh Rose petals (from about 2 roses)
- 1/4 cup slivered pistachios
- Preheat oven to 350 F
- Combine all marinade ingredients and rub all sides of the Cornish hens. Place into a dish and marinate for 2 hours, overnight, or not at all.
- Meanwhile, make the stuffing. In a small saucepan, saute the oil, onion, garlic, barberries, raisins, slivered almonds, lime juice, and saffrons for 1 minute. Mix in the rice and remove from heat. Check seasoning and add 1/2 teaspoon salt if necessary. Stuff the poultry; there is no need to sew the cavities.
- Bake, uncovered, for 1 1/2 hours or until the meat is no longer pink and an instant-read thermometer reads 160 F when inserted in the thickest part of the thigh. If the hens still look pale, put under broiler for 5 minutes or until desired color is reached.
- Mix all ingredients for the rose petal sauce and drizzle over the hens. Garnish with fresh rose petals and slivered pistachios.
Yield: 4 to 8 servings, depending on the size of the hens.
Tomorrow evening at 8:00pm, (Eastern Time) Reyna Simnegar will be the guest on our BlogTalkRadio.com show. We will discuss her cookbook, how she adapted to her new culture and a lot more. In case you missed it, last week we had an interesting conversation with Rukhl Schaechter, the news editor of the Yiddish Forverts. You can catch the archived show right here.
Meanwhile… enjoy, gentle reader enjoy!