Arugula salad with mango chutney

Sharing our Friday lunch. A delight filled with colours and taste!

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1- Just place gently in a deep plate: arugula, mango, papaya and avocado. All should be fresh and if possible organic.
2- Sprinkle with: fresh ginger root grated, fresh cilantro, lime juice, olive oil and a few blackberries.
3- Place a tablespoon of mango chutney (recipe here), and enjoy with fresh bread or oven-baked corn tostadas.

Rice and lentils with dates and raisins

Rice with lentils is one of those dishes that in any culture, brings the memory of home whether you call it Addas polo in Farsi or Arroz con lentejas in Spanish. Here is a most delicious Iranian version with a topping of onion, dates and raisins. The sweet and sour combination is a delight.

The original recipe as seen in this book, calls for cooking the lentils and the rice together, and for adding walnuts. Here I have not used walnuts thinking that it would make the dish too heavy, and I cooked the rice and lentils separately. I also changed a few spices.

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For the lentils
1- Wash one and half cup of brown lentils and let them soak in water. Since San Miguel is almost 2’000 meters in altitude and it takes longer for anything to cook, I let them soak all night.
2- In a large pot, place some olive oil, one teaspoon of cumin, one teaspoon of cilantro seeds crushed, a little bit of cinnamon grated, one teaspoon of turmeric, one teaspoon of black pepper crushed and some fresh ginger root smashed or grated. When the spices start giving their aroma, add the lentils with the water and add more water to make sure all the lentils are covered.
3- Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and cook until the lentils are done. About 25 minutes.

For the date and raisin topping
1- Slice half a red onion in very thin slices. Place in a bowl and sprinkle with sea salt and a little bit of flour.
2- In a small pan, place a little bit of oil and fry the onion slices until they take a gold color. Add a handful of golden raisins and a handful of dates previously cut in small chunks.
3- Mix well and allow the mix to cook on very low fire (so it does not burn) for about 10 minutes.

For the rice
1- Cook one and half cups of Basmati rice as you would normally do.
2- When the cooking is done, take half a cup of the cooked rice and mix it with three tablespoons of Saffron liquid (recipe here). Return the now yellow rice to the white rice and mix.

To serve: place the rice is a bowl; add the lentils then some of the date and raisin topping. Place a bowl with yoghurt, cumin, fresh mint and cucumbers on the side.

Saffron, lime and yoghurt marinated chicken

Another delight with saffron inspired by a recipe in this book “The Saffron Tales”!

I served it with potato Kuku (recipe here) and a yoghurt salad with cucumber and mint (recipe here, minus the garlic, as there is enough of it with the chicken). I used free range chicken and it was delicious!

I prepared the chicken in cubes from breast filets, and you can also prepare this dish with chicken parts (with bones and skin). The trick to make it really tender is to let it marinate for at least four hours. In my case, I leave it all night, preparing it just before I go to bed and cooking it in time for lunch.

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For two filets of chicken breast
1- Prepare the chicken: cut and clean, and set aside. If you are making it with whole pieces, make sure you discard the excess fat and place some cuts in the meat so that it takes in the marinade.
2- In a bowl mix: three quarters of a cup of Greek styled yoghurt, two garlic cloves crushed, a teaspoon of brown sugar (this helps bring all the flavours together), half a teaspoon of turmeric, the juice of one lime, two tablespoons of Saffron liquid (recipe here), two tablespoons of light olive oil, and some salt and pepper to taste.
3- Place the chicken pieces in a glass (not plastic!) container and make sure they are all well coated. Cover and place in the fridge. As I wrote earlier, let it stand for at least four hours.
4- In an oven baking dish, place the chicken pieces without any excess yoghurt sauce, and cook for 40 to 50 minutes in a 180º c. oven. Mix from time to time so that the pieces cook evenly. All the liquid should have evaporated by the time it is done.

Serve topped with freshly chopped cilantro, accompanied by rice or potatoes, and a nice cucumber salad.

Fish Persian style with Saffron doted rice

This aromatic fish (ماهی – mahi) dish is traditionally served on the first day of the Persian new year in Iran, coinciding with the first day of Spring.

I prepared it with tuna, and it can be made with any fish. The fish can be prepared either cut in cubes, as I did here, or in filet.

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For the fish
1- Cut a fresh tuna steak in cubes (or simply a white fish filet) and sprinkle with the Persian spice mix Adviyeh (recipe here), a little bit of fresh ginger root, some fresh cilantro chopped and tablespoon of olive oil. Mix gently and let it stand while the rice cooks.

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2- Mix in a tablespoon of flour and make sure all the pieces of fish are lightly coated.
3- In a large pan, place a tablespoon of butter (about 30 gr) and place the fish. Cook on high fire until the fish is cooked and slightly golden.

For the rice 
1- Prepare Basmati rice as you would always do mixed with dried fruits. Here I used wonderful golden raisins from the region of Herat in Afghanistan, and I often add dried cranberries as it gives it added colour.
2- When the rice is done, take a few tablespoons and place them in a bowl. Mix that rice with some Saffron liquid (recipe here).

To serve: place the fish and some white rice on a plate. Add some Saffron coloured rice on top of the white rice. Sprinkle with lime (or lemon) juice and fresh cilantro, and place a side plate of fresh cucumbers on the side. Enjoy!