Bismillah ir rahman ir raheem
Ok, so tomorrow for a sisters iftaar I am attending, I am bringing a fresh pot o’ ash-e reshteh…that much beloved and renowned of Persian soups… I cant wait…I always feel healthier after eating it for a few days and contrary to popular belief making it is actually very-very-very easy…and a lot less time consuming than what many people imagine….if you know what your doing.
Unfortunately…or fortunately…I am NOT going to be snapping pics while I make it. LOL I may add a finished product picture but thats about it, instead i culled the internet for pictures of what i’ll be talking about. I just dont have the patience or time to do otherwise.
Also…when I cook..its not really an exact science so i will kind of use generalizations..like a pinch here and a dash there…LOL. I cant get too specific as with practice you’ll learn whats needed.
You dont necessarily need access to a shop selling Persian groceries to make this…yes it WILL help but if you atleast can get some stuff from an Indian or Arab market..and a regular American grocery store, you should be OK. Also…I know its hard to get all the traditional herbs used in this here in the US, esp if you dont have ready access to them (like, erm, ur not in LA or something!) so I have kinda improvised with some ingredients over the years…but I do make a darn good ash-e reshteh, if I may say so.
Traditionally ash-e reshteh is eaten when you are coming back from a journey and also leaving for one…the noodles carry a symbolic meaning…like ties while your away…its also good to fortify you and increase your iron and vitamins. Most Persians will say that this soup is NOT a meal! Even if someone easts 3 bowls…trust me, they will want a “real meal” after 1-2 hours. LOL. I say…um, NO! I just spent x-hours making it…guess what…thats dinner. LOL
Also, for some odd reason some of the recpies ive seen posted for this online on various Persian-American cooking websites have the recipie all wonky and not right. I dont kno whether its because they maybe can’t cook right…LOL, or just dont’ know! I claim ignorance on that end. But, this is the way I learnt it.
Herbs: dried fenugreek, dried parley, dried Irani leek (** see below), fresh/frozen spinach, frozen turnip greens, can use also beet greens and mustard greens…
You can use fresh for them all…but for sake of speed…I use dried and frozen. Otherwise I have to call over 10 women while we sit around and chop herbs all afternoon…you know, old school style *wink*
(** Irani leek…aka tarreh is a type of leek leaf which you dont really see in the US, its NOT the same as american leeks with the large leaves and the bulb…it looks more like long, wide pieces of grass. The ONLY similar type of leek is called American Flag…if you cant get Irani leek OR American flag leek…nix it! dont use!)
***I do NOT recommend the Sadaf dried ash-e reshteh herb mixtures…which come in the small tin. They dont taste right to me. hmmm
Beans: dried lentils (brown kind), canned chickpeas, canned red kidney beans
(I use canned cuz it savessss time! otherwise im pressure cooking beans 1-2 hours beforehand!-be sure to wash the canned beans and pre-soak the lentils for 30min)
Other: sliced white onion (half of a big one, or 1 small one), 1 garlic clove, advieh (**), noodles (reshteh) OR linguini noodles, kaskh (sour whey), ab-gureh (unripe grape juice/ver juice), dried mint, or sour lime juice.
(** advieh is the Persian spice mixture…no, its not spice mixture as like what Indians or Gulf Arabs use…its quite mild in comparison, each town, city, village even family has their on unque mixture…like southern iranian adviehs tend to taste closer to Indian curry or Gulf “baharat”…while Tehrani and Esfahani mixtures are very mild and subtle. If you cant find…just use a pinch of turmeric and black pepper…but its not exactly the same…but oh well)
A) Get a huge stock pot, heat it up and add about enough oil to coat the the bottom. Fry the onions until translucent plus the minced garlic clove. Once its translucent and smells good add 1tblsp advieh-if you dont have access to advieh you can get by with a pinch of turmeric and pepper…but pls, if you can get advieh…get it!…stir for 1 minute more.
B) add like 5-6 cups of water and bring to a boil. Now, some people pre-fry the herbs…I do not, as thats done for gormeh sabzi, NOT ash-e reshteh, as far as Ive ever known. You do need to soak the dried herbs and wash them before using.
C)Once its boiling -throw in the dried, washed herbs…like id say 1/3 cup of fenugreek, 1/2 cup of Persian leek (Tarreh) and 1/2 cup of dried parsley. If you cant get Persian leek-dont substitute America leek (unless its American Flag leek which is an OK substitute)…just nix it and keep to the above qty. You really, really need fenugreek though as it adds a distinctive taste, dont get crazy with it as too much makes it bitter. Turn onto low and simmer.
Once the dried herbs have simmered for like 5 min. Add the frozen spinach and greens. I just buy them frozen in the plastic bags or little boxes…I usually add 1 small bag of froze spinach and 1 small bag of frozen greens…then can adjust from there.
If you have fresh…add several bunches-dice FINE- and add with the dried herbs.
Add the lentils (dried, about 1/2 cup).
Now, at this point, I let it simmer on low, closed for about 30min.
**I also will sometimes add BEETS and BEET GREENS…this is a thing which is done around Esfahan in the small towns/villages…so if I am adding Beets I will add the finely diced beet greens and the skinned, chunked beets at this point-yes it will make the ash red. If you dislike beets or what the regular way…nix the beets.
At this point the pot should be pretty green, rolling simmer with lentils bopping around.
D) After about 40min, the greens will be quite dark…your almost done. add 1 drained/washed can of chick-peas and 1 can of drained/washed kidney beans. Add 3/4th box of linguini noodles OR 1 bag of Persian reshteh noodles. Make sure you break them into small pieces, you dont want big, honkering noodles! Just little things.
Cover…let simmer another 20min. It will start to get sorta thick-ish.
Add salt to taste and about 1 tsp dried mint, you can add more oil if needed. stir, stir, stir.
E) Almost done! Now this part is tricky. Get a bowl, spoon and hot water and flour. You will need to put 1 cup of hot water into the bowl and about 1/2 cup flour, now stir until smooth and no lumps…now, with one hand gently drizzle this flour/water in, WHILE stirring with the other hand! If you just plop it in and dont stir it will make dumplings…LOL…keep stiring…the soup will get greenish grey or pinkish grey if with beets.
stand there and STIR on LOW for 5min. Dont leave it or else it will burn!
F) OK, your done…easy huh, mash’Allah
Now to serve…you really need kashk (sour whey)…Persian speakers call it kashk, Arab speakers call it keshk and its what Jordanians use for their Mensaf… Arabic grocery stores should carry dried or liquid kashk too. You also really need sour, unripe grape juice…if you cant find…you can use sour lime or even lemon juice. But for the most authentic taste…bust out the kashk and the ab-gurreh. Now, some people make an mint/garlic/oil mixture for on top…I honestly never bother. Its too much work! LOL I know some Persian-Americans use sour cream…but honestly…like…ewww…i wouldnt. If you have access to real kashk use it! Or buy online…!
Serve in bowels…dollop with kashk and drizzle ab-gurreh on top. It should have a sour/herby flavor and be quite delicious and tasty. You will probably eat 2-3 bowls…easily 🙂
OK…now go try it…en’sha’Allah.
(ah yes, you can get all fancy dancy with the decorations…LOL)
Next up…way easy, 1 hr fesenjoon…probably next week 🙂