Nan e Berenji originates from the Kermanshah region of Iran. Pure delight for me because they are made from rice flour. These delicious little cookies melt in your mouth and are just perfect to nibble on with your afternoon tea. They are just the right size for little mouths too… the children in our family adore them.
I know this recipe looks long and complicated but it’s not. There are three parts to it, unless you already have ghee, in which case there are only two.
NAN E BERENI
- 240 mls or 1 cup of ghee or clarified butter
- 720 mls or 3 cups rice flour
- 4 egg yolks
- 1.5 teaspoons of cardamom powder
- poppy seeds to garnish
- the syrup (below)
Method for clarified butter:
- Either use ghee or clarify your own butter by heating it slowly over a low heat until it boils.
- Allow to simmer for a couple of minutes and remove the bubbly froth
- Remove from heat and put to one side.
- Once it settles and hardens you will have ghee.
Ingredients for the syrup:
- 1.5 cups of sugar
- 1/2 cup of water
- 8 tablespoons of rose-water
- 1/2 teaspoon of lime juice
Method for syrup:
- Add the sugar and water to a pan and bring to the boil.
- Allow to simmer for a few minutes and remove from the heat.
- Add the rose-water and lime juice and leave to cool.
Method for the cookies:
- Pre heat the oven to 180 c and prepare a biscuit baking tray by lining with grease proof paper. Place to one side.
- Make the syrup and leave to cool.
- Take a bowl, preferably a plastic one and beat the egg yolks until thick and creamy
- Add in the cool syrup and place to one side.
- In a another bowl add the rice flour, butter and cardamom and beat well.
- Add the egg yolks and mix for 15-20 minutes to create a dough and to ensure there’s lots of air in the mix.
- Knead the dough briefly. It should not be sticky at this point.
- Take a teaspoon of dough and roll into a small round shape and then flatten slightly and arrange on the baking tray leaving a distance of about 2.5 cm’s between each cookie.
- Decorate the biscuits if you wish and sprinkle with poppy seeds.
- Cook in the middle of the oven for about 12 minutes.
- Remove carefully as they are quite delicate and allow to cool.
Introducing themes to my blog and this week it’s going to be recipes using kashk or whey. You can buy kashk from any Iranian grocery store or you can easily make it at home yourself. It’s not easy to find in your local supermarket but if you don’t live within easy access of an Iranian store, you’ll probably find it in an Indian grocery store too . I’ve always bought it for convenience but there’s a first time for everything!
Kashk or whey is suprising useful, not only for Persian cooking but also in Italian dishes, for soups, cheese, biscuits and pastries , a substitute for cream and you can even make chocolate with it. I’m not going to include all those recipes but you can easily find them via a search engine. Kashk or whey is gluten-free for people with coeliacs, it’s vegetarian and has a high protein content. It’s also high in lactose so for those with lactose intolerance, beware. Swedish nutritionalists have found that kashk promotes the easy release of insulin and therefore is helpful to people with type 2 diabetes. Please talk to your doctor about this if you have diabetes.
HOW TO MAKE KASHK OR WHEY
This recipe will make about 1/2 pt of kashk. If you divide it up and store in airtight containers you can keep it in the freezer for to use as needed.
- 3 pints of natural unsweetened yoghurt
- 1 tablespoon of salt.
- 4 oz of water
- 2 pieces of cheesecloth
- Keep the yoghurt at room temperature for about 2 days or until the yoghurt becomes a little tangy. It should begin to smell quite strong and have a sour taste.
- Using a blender, add the yoghurt along with the water and salt and allow to blend away for about 6 minutes or until smooth.
- Place in a pan and bring to the boil. It should become quite thick and lumpy at this point.
- Take the 2 cheesecloth layers and drain the yogurt through them.
- Make a knot with the ends of the cheesecloth and leave the remaining yoghurt to drip away. The best way to do this is using a wooden spoon suspended over a bowl. If you don’t have any cheesecloth use a fine mesh drainer.
- After 30 mins, the remains of the yoghurt left in the cheesecloth is Kashk or whey. To make the process more speedy, add some weight on the top.
- Take the kashk or whey and form small balls sqeezing the kashk as you go (make the balls about the size of an average ice cube or plum). Then simply leave to dry out a little before freezing.
Another of our favorite rice dishes Sabzi polou is easy to make and served with chicken, fresh herbs and salad it makes a great nutritious and gluten-free meal. We eat the traditional persian way with a sofreh, it’s like a table-cloth on the floor, unless we have guests when we sit at the table. The children love it! It’s a bit like having a picnic indoors!
Taadig is the crusty rice bottom. I have used potatoes in this recipe but you could use flat or unleavened bread. We rarely do because I have Coeliacs Disease, an allergy to gluten found in wheat.
SABZI POLOU BA MORGH
This recipe serves 4.
Ingredients for the rice:
- 4 cups of basmati rice
- 4 handfuls of dried dill
- 1-2 teaspoons of salt ( according to taste)
- vegetable oil
- 1 thinly sliced potato for the taadig
- 1/3 small cup or egg cup of liquid saffron
- Pre soak the rice in salted water for at least 2 hours
- Drain the rice and rinse well under running cold water and put to one side.
- Take a large pan, add plenty of water and bring to the boil.
- Add salt. If you like your rice a little salty add 1.5 – 2 teaspoons. Otherwise add 1 teaspoon.
- I always add a few drops of liquid saffron to the boiling water also but this is optional.
- When the water is boiling, add the rice and allow to boil.
- Add 3- 4 handfuls of dill. I have a medium size hand!
- The rice will swell and you should see them grow in length. Be careful not to let the rice become too soggy. You want the rice to be ‘al dente’ or soft to bite.
- When ‘al dente’ remove from the heat and drain.
- Lightly rinse the rice again and put to the side.
- Meanwhile place a non stick pan on the heat, add a few tablespoons of vegetable oil and a few drops of saffron and mix.
- Take the thinly sliced potato’s and add them to the bottom of the pan. They should sizzle a little. Be careful not to burn yourself.
- Add the rice now
- Take a spoon with holes in and lightly pour on about a tablespoon of oil
- Cover with a lid wrapped in a clean tea towel and leave to cook for about 1.5 hours on the lowest heat setting you can. Please be careful and make sure the tea towel is secure to avoid risk of it catching alight.
- When the cooking time is finished pour the rest of the liquid saffron over the rice. Then take your serving dish (usually a large flat dish or tray) and place over the top of the pan and quickly turn upside down and your rice will come out as in the picture above. Alternatively spoon it onto your serving dish and arrange your crispy potatoes around or over the rice or simply serve the taadig on a separate dish.
I have only made enough for two but just increase the amount of chicken you use if you are cooking for more
- 3-4 Chicken breasts
- 2 teaspoons of liquid saffron
- salt and pepper to taste
- A knob of butter
- Heat your oven to 200 c
- Heat a little oil in a pan and add the chicken pieces.
- Sprinkle with salt and pepper
- Fry until golden
- Place some tin foil in an oven dish and add the chicken
- Pour a few teaspoons of liquid saffron over the chicken and add a knob of butter to each chicken piece.
- Wrap the foil around the chicken and cook in the oven for about 25 mins. This will vary according to the size of the chicken pieces you use.
- Half way through cooking time, remove from the oven and pour the liquid over the chicken again to keep it moist.
- Remove from the oven and pour the remaining liquid over the chicken before serving.
Nooshi joonet. Enjoy