Spoon and travel: from Persia to Iran


Persian cooking is one of the most ancient traditions on Earth. It is characterized by an incredible variety of flavors, colors and smells, it usually requires lots of time to prepare most of the typical dishes. Middle East culture applies in all of its arts an extreme sensitivity towards spirituality, always trying to activate those hidden parts of human beings that Western culture usually tries to doze off. Middle East cooking and in particular Persian one, is extremely conceptual and laborious, it tries to merge contrasting flavors, opposite consistencies and different temperatures of food. It is a real artistic process in which the result is a unique sensitive experience that encloses the world of Iranian culture and history.

Today we introduce one of the most complex dishes of Persian cooking: the Tah chin-e barreh, a timbale made of rice and lamb, enriched by spices, jogurt, orange skin, cranberries, dried fruits, saffron and rose petals. The final timbale is the result of the harmony of different parts of this recipe, so first we prepare a saffron infusion, then we cook lamb with onions, garlic, black pepper and turmeric. The marinading is made with jogurt, orange skin, butter and onions. There is basmati rice and its shell (tah-dig) made with 4 egg yolks, the saffron infusion, black pepper, persian spices, cranberries, pistachio nuts and butter. Finally the spice mix is made of rose petals, cinnamon, cardamom and cumin. The final result is a rice timbale seasoned with saffron with different layers made of meat, spices, dried fruits and covered with a crispy shell.


Despite the difficulties to visit Iran because of the extremely delicate political situation, this country is a real beauty and it alternates pure natural landscapes with cities aiming to gradually lose their traditional model, like Teheran. It is a mainly mountainous country, whose biggest exponents are Zagros and Elburz mountains. Iran has also astonishing desert landscapes, such as the Dasht-e Kavir. The Northern part of the country is characterized by deep and rainy forests, the most popular one is in Gilan region.


The story of timbales in Italy is very old, we dare say there is one recipe for each region or maybe, even one recipe for each family. The timbale is a pure expression of poor cooking, it mixes different ingredients and it give the chance to use even the left-over food from the last meals, just adding rice or pasta. The timbale that has mostly signed my childhood is the “bomba di riso emiliana”, made with pigeon meat, nutmegs, pepper, butter, eggs, onions and parmesan cheese. Certainly is not as spiced and aromatic as the Tah chin-e barreh, but this is also the strength of Italian cooking: using few ingredients to maximize the final taste.


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