Tomato jam

Yes! Jam with tomatoes! A Mediterranean treat that is so tasty and so easy to make!

It is best served with bread and white cheese. It is most delicious with a smoked cheese, or one similar to Manchego. Personally, I like it simply with Panela. Try it any way you want and serve it as an aperitif or a snack. It will make everyone smile!

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For 500 gr. of tomatoes (one jar of jam)
1- The first thing is to peal the tomatoes. For that, place the tomatoes, preferably medium size and organic, in boiling water for five minutes. Take them out and cut a small line in their skin with a sharp knife. Let them cool enough to be handled.
2- The rest of the process I love to do it by hand, feeling the texture of the tomatoes and wishing well to the ones of cultivated them and the ones who shall eat them. For each tomato:
– Peal it with your hand, cut out the green stem with a knife, then squeeze out gently the seeds and liquid.
– Then squeeze the tomato on top of the cooking pot letting the pulp come out from the sides of your hand.  (alternatively, just cut it in small cubes).
3- In the pot add: one and half teaspoon of freshly crushed black pepper, a generous pinch of salt, a tiny dash of cinnamon (I just scraped a cinnamon stick lightly three of four times) and 220 gr of sugar.
4- Bring the tomato mix to a boil and mix constantly for about 15 to 20 minutes. Most of the liquid should have evaporated. Keep on mixing so that it does not stick to the pan. Even if you see some pinkish foam, just keep on mixing it will eventually blend with the rest.
5- Finally, place in a sterilised jar. Place in the fridge once it has cooled. It can stay up to three months.

Yoghurt salade with cucumbers and raisins

This dish is widely served across the Middle East and South Asia. According to traditional wisdom, its cooling ingredients, especially the yoghurt, cucumber and mint combination, helps with digestion and to off-set any negative effects from eating a spiced dish. I serve it at home with almost everything!

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For one cup of Greek styled yoghurt
1- Wash and peel a cucumber, preferably organic. Slice in the middle and take out the seeds scraping them with a small spoon. Then cut the cucumber in small cubes.

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2- Mix in with the cup of Greek styled yoghurt: one glove of garlic smashed, salt and pepper to taste, a small handful of raisins (preferably golden), the cucumber cubes and  handful of fresh mint leaves. You can also use dried mint if you do not have any fresh one.

Serve in a bowl to accompany the main dish. 

Note: I often use plain natural yoghurt and it is as delicious!

Potato Kuku

Inspired by a recipe from this book “The Saffron Tales,” this is a great way to prepare potatoes. These tasty delights are known as Kuku in Farsi, and are traditionally fried. By using a muffin tray, the Kuku come out fluffy and very light.

You can serve them to accompany a main dish at lunch (as I did with a fish filet broiled with ginger and sesame seeds); or as a light dinner with a yoghurt, cucumber and fresh mint salad on the side.

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For 500 gr of small potatoes
1- Wash the potatoes well and place them in a large pan with cold water. Bring to a boil and cook until a fork can pierce through them. I always cook potatoes with their skin as it contains half of their vitamins.
2- While the potatoes are cooking, fry rapidly a very small red onion and when they become translucent add two cloves of garlic smashed. If the potatoes are still not done, prepare the rest of the ingredients.
3- In a small bowl mix: half a tablespoon of flour, a teaspoon of baking powder, some pepper and salt, and a tablespoon of brown sugar. Set aside.
4- In another bowl, whisk rapidly three organic eggs.
5- Finally, chop some fresh cilantro and set aside.
6- Now drain the potatoes, wait for them to cool a little and peel. Mash the potatoes and set aside.
7- Pre-heat the over at 180º C.
8- Mix in with the potato mash: the flour mixture and mix; the eggs and mix; and finally the cilantro and two tablespoons of Saffron liquid (recipe “Preserving Saffron” here).
9- Place one large tablespoon or a bit more in per paper lined compartment of a muffin baking dish, as you would do for regular muffins. Bake for 25 minutes reducing the oven temperature to 170 C.

To serve: take out each little Kuku from its paper wrap, and place on a serving plate. For the left overs, keep them in a sealed container in the fridge and just heat them up in a toaster oven. They are also delicious at room temperature. 

Carrot jam – Persian delight

This is absolutely delicious. When you take a bite, close your eyes and you will feel you are entering a fragrant garden.

I tasted it recently when I traveled to Iran, but it did not taste so good as the jam was generally of the commercial kind. Preparing it at home, as with any food actually, makes all the difference.

Here a recipe I put together from reading various sources. It is a small portion (only 250 gr of carrots) so that you may first try it, and see how it tastes. I used brown sugar, hence the dark color of the jam.

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1- In a deep pan, bring to a boil: 200 ml of water, 100 gr of brown sugar, the seeds of five cardamon pods and the juice of half an orange. Let it boil then simmer on medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring regularly.
2- Grate 250 gr of organic carrots. I like do to it by hand and never use any machines. It is in many ways my form of meditation.

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3- Add the carrots to the pot and stir well. Let it come to a boil then reduce the fire just a little bit and let it simmer for 20 minutes. Stir from time to time. The mix should become sirupy and the carrots very soft.
4- Finally, add the juice of half a lime and a tablespoon of rose water. I used some I bought in Kashan, Iran, made of the wonderful “Gul Mohammedi” rose. Let it simmer for about five minutes.

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5- Place in sterilised jar and refrigerate once it has cooled down.

Serve with fresh bread, either with butter or a light white cheese. It is delicious for breakfast or a snack. Enjoy!