Persian Makaroni

So what exactly is a Persian Makaroni? It’s spaghetti mixed with a meat and potato sauce and it gets steamed for almost 1h to create this golden crust love child at the very bottom of the pot that goes by the name Tahdig.

I guess you could call this dish a love story between a Persian and an Italian… if the love story ended with the Italian getting a heart attack when he found out just how overcooked this pasta was. Forgettooo about the aldenteooo.

Perhaps they would reconcile their relationship if the Italian had a taste of that crispy oily god almighty Tahdig. Yes, that is Tahdig with a Capital T – because that’s the respect it deserves. 

 

Go and ask any Iranian kid and they would say that this is the most nostalgic food of their childhood. Honestly, the reason we probably remember it and get so excited is because 99,9% of our dishes come with rice so you can imagine THE EXCITEMENT over this EXOTIC and REVOLUTIONARY dish. Then we take it and make the pasta EXACTLY the same way we make our Rice loool  

I know it sounds like I’m taking a piss but honestly tho – it’s delicious. It’s the very best of my childhood memories so because of that it will always have a special place in my heart (and gut).

It’s just funny because it technically goes against the traditional way of cooking… but that’s precisely why I love it more. Isn’t that what food is about? Learning from each others cultures… butchering each others cooking techniques lol It’s all about finding a common ground by creating new yummy variations of dishes in this new global world. Imma right?

Hope you enjoy, Bon Shabétit!! xx

Persian Makaroni

Steamed spaghetti with a Meat and Potato sauce and a crispy Tahdig bottom. Can easily be made veg/vegan by using Quorn meat or just chopped mushroom instead of meat.
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 50 mins
Total Time 1 hr 10 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Persian
Servings 4

Ingredients
  

  • 400 g Spaghetti
  • 4-5 small Potatoes - chopped
  • 350-400 g Minced meat
  • 1 large Onion
  • 1 small Chilli pepper
  • 3 cloves Garlic - minced
  • 2 tsp Turmeric
  • 1 tsp Granulated Garlic
  • 1 tsp Onion Granula
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • salt after taste
  • 1 tbsp boiling water

Instructions
 

  • In a large frying pan, heat 2 tablespoon oil with 1 tsp turmeric over medium heat. Add chopped potatoes to the pan and saute until fully cooked.
  • Put the potatoes aside on a plate and now add the onions, garlic and chilli to the same pan and let them saute for 1 minute or so before you add the minced meat. (My dad taught me that when you cook minced meat - it's always better to allow the onion and meat to cook together instead of separate). Add all the spices and let the meat to cook for 6-7 minutes. Add the potatoes and then the the tomato puree and pour in 1 tbsp water to help the puree to mix well (you can add a bit more if needed - or add some oil) and let it simmer for an additional 3 minutes.
  • In the meantime, in a large pot bring water to boil and add some salt to it. Cook spaghetti 2-3 minutes less than the time suggested on its package instructions (This is important because if you leave it to be fully cooked - it will get a bit mushy when you steam it), strain and set aside.
  • In a sauce pan (big enough to fit pasta/sauce), heat 2 tablespoon oil on medium heat and add 2 tbsp of the sauce mixture in make sure it's all over the bottom.
  • Then add some pasta and then a layer of the meat sauce. Keep layering until everything is in the pot. Make 4-5 deep holes (use the handle of a spoon) and pour a liiiittle bit of water in each hole.
  • Decrease heat to low, cover the lid (with a kitchen towel) and cook for 50 minutes. Flip the pot by using a plate as a 'lid' and the Makaron should come out looking like a savoury cake. Serve with a side salad and some yoghurt.
Keyword Meat, Pasta, Tahdig

 

 

Persian Makaroni

Steamed spaghetti with a Meat and Potato sauce and a crispy Tahdig bottom. Can easily be made veg/vegan by using Quorn meat or just chopped mushroom instead of meat.
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 50 mins
Total Time 1 hr 10 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Persian
Servings 4

Ingredients
  

  • 400 g Spaghetti
  • 4-5 small Potatoes - chopped
  • 350-400 g Minced meat
  • 1 large Onion
  • 1 small Chilli pepper
  • 3 cloves Garlic - minced
  • 2 tsp Turmeric
  • 1 tsp Granulated Garlic
  • 1 tsp Onion Granula
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • salt after taste
  • 1 tbsp boiling water

Instructions
 

  • In a large frying pan, heat 2 tablespoon oil with 1 tsp turmeric over medium heat. Add chopped potatoes to the pan and saute until fully cooked.
  • Put the potatoes aside on a plate and now add the onions, garlic and chilli to the same pan and let them saute for 1 minute or so before you add the minced meat. (My dad taught me that when you cook minced meat - it's always better to allow the onion and meat to cook together instead of separate). Add all the spices and let the meat to cook for 6-7 minutes. Add the potatoes and then the the tomato puree and pour in 1 tbsp water to help the puree to mix well (you can add a bit more if needed - or add some oil) and let it simmer for an additional 3 minutes.
  • In the meantime, in a large pot bring water to boil and add some salt to it. Cook spaghetti 2-3 minutes less than the time suggested on its package instructions (This is important because if you leave it to be fully cooked - it will get a bit mushy when you steam it), strain and set aside.
  • In a sauce pan (big enough to fit pasta/sauce), heat 2 tablespoon oil on medium heat and add 2 tbsp of the sauce mixture in make sure it's all over the bottom.
  • Then add some pasta and then a layer of the meat sauce. Keep layering until everything is in the pot. Make 4-5 deep holes (use the handle of a spoon) and pour a liiiittle bit of water in each hole.
  • Decrease heat to low, cover the lid (with a kitchen towel) and cook for 50 minutes. Flip the pot by using a plate as a 'lid' and the Makaron should come out looking like a savoury cake. Serve with a side salad and some yoghurt.
Keyword Meat, Pasta, Tahdig

Lasagna with Cottage Cheese

When you are cooking one of the most beloved dishes of the Italian cuisine, you can’t help but wonder how many people you will offend the f*ck out with this recipe? 🙂

This is grandmas dish –  the most holy thing you can find and then there are people like me that come and add cinnamon AND a ready-made can of white sauce to it. Don’t get me wrong, I can’t wait until I have the privilege to eat my first home cooked lasagne made by the ultimate Italian grandma somewhere on the hilltops of Tuscany with beautiful wineries nearby – but for now I will have to settle with my own easy but yummy touch of this holy dish.

If I borrow the words that the Italian born-and-raised chef Massiomo Bottura said regarding classic traditional Italian cuisines ‘tradition is oppressive, it’s so difficult to be creative with such a heavy heritage’. However, Massiomo was brave enough to reinvent the classic Italian dishes as he took the best from the past into the future. 

*sprinkles a little bit of cinnamon to the meat sauce and then suddenly she thinks she is as revolutionary as Massiomo*

No but in all seriousness, my mom taught me that cinnamon goes amazing with minced meat, it gives it a surprising taste which makes the meat taste so much better.

Although a classic lasagne recipe will always be golden, I’m always open for new varieties of this dish because it can be so versatile. It’s not known for being the easiest dish to make but it really doesn’t have to be that complicated. I think we can all agree on how comforting this dish is, it fills the belly and the heart. You just have to get the flavours right, master that and let your oven do the rest. 

INGREDIENTS

For the filling:

  • Oil for frying
  • 500g minced beef
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic gloves, chopped
  • 1 vegetable stock cube
  • ½ dl water
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • salt after taste 
  • pepper after taste
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 ½ tsp oregano
  • bunch of parsley, chopped
  • 7 plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 4 tbsp tomato purée
  • 400 g chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp butter

For the Lasagna:

  • 470g ready-made Dolmio Creamy Lasagne White sauce
  • 300g Cottage cheese
  • 200 g grated Mozzarella
  • 9 pieces of Lasagna sheets 

To serve:

  • Mix salad

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees.  
  2. Combine the minced beef, onion, turmeric, some oil, salt and pepper in a sauce pan. Cook over medium high heat, breaking apart the meat until no pink remains. Then stir in the garlic, chili flakes, the chopped plum tomatoes, cinnamon, parsley and butter. Add more salt and pepper if you wish.
  3. Let is simmer for 4 minutes and then add the tomato purée, the can of chopped tomatoes and oregano. While you are doing this, dissolve the vegetable cube in a ½ dl cup with water and then pour it in as well. 
  4. Let this simmer in a low heat for 10 minutes – until you have a heavy and meaty tomato sauce. 
  5. Take your baking dish and spread 1/3 of the meat sauce on the bottom, lay three sheets and then pour some white sauce so it covers the sheets. Repeat until you have 3 layers.
  6. Spread out the cottage cheese evenly on top. Season with some pepper and chilli flakes and then sprinkle over the mozzarella cheese.
  7. Cook in the middle of the oven for about 50 minutes – until the top is bubbling and golden brown.

Chestnut Mushrooms and Truffle Oil Pasta

If you look up truffle on the online dictionary, this is the description you’ll get ‘a strong-smelling underground fungus that resembles an irregular, rough-skinned potato, growing chiefly in broadleaved woodland on calcareous soils’

I mean, with that description, anyone would be doomed. But not truffle, instead it has such posh reputation that even Victoria Beckham would have been knocked off from the pedestal. 

I’m aware that a lot of people find the taste of it… bold and strong. But my god, if you train your taste buds, this dish will become the poshest thing you have eaten and it will cost you around £5.

Obviously, I’m not talking about the actual truffle (though… I wish) but instead I need to take the next best thing which is truffle oil. It is a cheaper substitute for truffles, which enhance the flavour and aroma of truffle. I’m aware that most of these oils do not contain actual truffle. The first ever truffle oil I bought was from Lidl’s ‘deluxe range’ which was surprisingly very good. I quickly learned that not all truffle oils will taste the same (hinting at the truffle oil I have in the picture below…). I was expecting the flava flava foo and all I got was foo. So, make sure you get one that has a lot of aroma otherwise you will just end up pouring half of the bottle just to get some flavour.

Ingredients:

250g Chestnut mushrooms
300g spaghetti
salt after taste
pepper after taste
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp chili flakes
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 medium large yellow onion, chopped
bunch flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
3-4 tbsp truffle oil 
2 tbsp butter
grated parmesan, to serve

Method:

  1. Cook pasta according to the package, strain and before you set it aside add little bit of truffle oil and stir around.
  2. Preheat a pan over medium heat, add around 2 tbsp truffle oil and 1 tbsp butter. Add onion, garlic and turmeric. 
  3. Add mushrooms, chili flakes and another tbsp butter. Salt and pepper after taste. Sauté mushrooms until cooked. 
  4. Add parsley and 1-2 tbsp truffle oil. Let it cook for 2 minutes.
  5. Add pasta and stir well.
  6. When serving, add Parmesan and some fresh parsley for garnish.


Honey and Tomato spaghetti

I guess it wouldn’t be right if my first recipe didn’t have the word ‘tomato’ in it.

Everyone that knows me, is aware of my ridiculous and almost obsessive love for tomatoes. I don’t know when or how it started but what I do know is that it is an essential ingredient in my kitchen. Maybe it’s the umami or maybe it’s the juiciness, whatever it is… I absolutely love it. 

This pasta dish is very simple and quick to make which says a lot because I’m not the quickest person you can find in the kitchen. I would like to say that it’s because I like to take my time but others might argue and say that I’m just a tinyyy bit slower than the average…

Two things that might stand out in this recipe from the other tomato sauces out there is the honey and tomato puree. I can’t emphasise the importance of the tomato puree in this recipe so please don’t use a can of chopped tomatoes. After years of observing my mom making her own tomato sauce, I have learned that tomato puree is the key to making the sauce both richer and colourful. As it is concentrated it will give the pasta sauce an intensity and body that is just deliciously good. And the honey –  well you just have to trust me on this.

Ingredients:

  • 450g uncooked spaghetti 
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 onion, chopped 
  • 7-8 cherry tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped 
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tbsp tomato puree
  • 2 tbsp boiled water
  • 3 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp ketchup
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp chili flakes
  • salt after taste 
  • pepper after taste 
  • a little Parmesan (Parmigiano Reggiano), to serve

Method:

  1. Cook spaghetti according to packet instructions.
  2. Peel and finely chop the onion and garlic, do the same with the fresh parsley (but save some for garnish). Cut the cherry tomatoes in half, then roughly chop them.
  3. Put a saucepan on a medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 teaspoon of turmeric and add the onion and garlic, then cook for around 5 minutes or until soft and lightly golden.
  4. Add the chopped tomatoes and add another 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
  5. After one minute, season with a tiny pinch of salt and pepper and 1 teaspoon chili flakes (or add more if you like to have it spicier), then continue cooking for around 3 minutes. 
  6. Add 3 tablespoons of tomato puree and add boiled water and butter, stir until an even paste.
  7. Add the chopped parsley, and 1 teaspoon ketchup and 2 teaspoons full of honey, continue cooking for 6-7 minutes.
  8. Once the pasta is done, drain in colander over the sink and tip the spaghetti in to the pot.
  9. Stir the spaghetti into the tomato sauce for around a minute or so, add a little water or olive oil if it needs to loosen. 
  10. VOILÁ! Now serve it with little bit of Parmesan (LOOOL is there even such thing as ‘little’ parmesan). Also remember to garnish your plate with some fresh parsley to make it extra pretty and insta-worthy.

Bon Shabétit xx