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Persiana: Recipes from the Middle East & Beyond by Sabrina Ghayour

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Notes about this book

  • kitchen_chick on June 29, 2016

    3) Herbs are listed very oddly. For example 2 x 3/4oz packages of dill. Where I live, herbs are usually sold in large bundles. Yes, you can buy the tiny packages, but that’s really expensive. I have a digital scale, so it's no problem weighing them out, but I find the assumption in packaging odd for produce. 4) A pantry section that explains the difference between pomegranate molasses and pomegranate syrup, the different bulgur wheat textures (the recipes never say whether to use fine, medium, or coarse grain), etc. would have been nice addition for novice cooks or those new to the cuisine.

  • kitchen_chick on June 29, 2016

    I love this cookbook. I've cooked about 40% of the recipes in it. I turn to this book frequently, especially for potluck dishes. That said, there are flaws that could have been fixed with better editing and testing, but fortunately they are easy to work around. 1) Salt amounts can be way off. She often calls for flaked sea salt. If you use kosher or regular salt, you will have to adjust the amount downward. Sometimes by quite a bit. For example, the herb frittata recipe called for two (? I don’t have the book at hand) tablespoons of sea salt. I reduced the salt to 1/3 of the amount and it was still way too much. 2) There are inconsistencies across the recipes. One recipe will tell you how to cook the quinoa, and another says "cook according to package instructions". If you buy your quinoa bulk, this is a problem. (I just find the other recipe with the actual cooking instructions and use those.)

Notes about Recipes in this book

  • Hummus

    • Breadcrumbs on March 01, 2015

      p. 28 – First use of this book and I was disappointed. Here’s why: I was surprised to see the recipe called for canned chickpeas vs dried. It doesn’t seem that it was the author’s intent to create a shortcut book. Next, I was surprised the recipe called for 3 cans of chickpeas and claims to serve 8. Perhaps if the hummus was the only item on the menu but otherwise one can should suffice to feed 8 as an appetizer and I adjusted the recipe accordingly. The author also calls for the use of the liquid in the can…yuk! I didn’t use it. Finally, it only called for 4tbsp of tahini for 1200g of chickpeas. I upped the ante. What I did like about this recipe was the lack of any spice. Normally I would add cumin and this simpler version was really nice for a change of pace. Finally, I found it odd to top the dish with paprika vs sumac. I hope this recipe isn’t a barometer for what the rest of the book holds. Photo here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/1006193?commentId=9456792#9456792

    • kitchen_chick on June 29, 2016

      I start with dried chickpeas. I don't stock garlic oil in my pantry, so I add just a touch of garlic. (I don't want the garlic to overpower the dip.) I guess I use it more as a guideline rather than following it strictly, and based on that I get a nice creamy hummus. It does make A LOT of hummus.

    • ihavetwofeet on January 26, 2016

      I made this recipe as directed, but found the use of garlic oil a bit too overpowering. Next time I would just add extra tahini, skip the oil, and add a clove of fresh garlic.

  • Salad olivieh

    • vinochic on May 02, 2015

      This was just average. A bit bland...

  • Saffron and lemon chicken (Joojeh kabab)

    • Cati on May 25, 2016

      Used chicken tenderloins and only juice of 1 lemon, thought 5 lemons as listed in recipe would be too much for me. Very easy, most of time was for marinating. Found it very tasty and chicken was perfectly cooked. Note that the recipe says cook for 18-20 minutes maximum. It does not say to cook 20 minutes at maximum heat!!

    • Astrid5555 on April 05, 2015

      Disappointing. By the time the chicken was finally done the meat was very dry not juicy as intended. Maybe an issue of the method where you have to broil the chicken breast at the highest setting for 20 minutes. On top, kids did not like the saffron in the marinade. Will not repeat.

    • Jojobuch on May 24, 2016

      The flavour was great but I agree with the last poster that the chicken unfortunately dried out - next time, I would cook at lower heat, then turn on grill setting in oven until browned

  • Saffron and rosemary chicken fillets

    • okcook on April 19, 2016

      I sous vide the chicken breasts at 140F for 3.5 hours then sliced them and quickly browned them. Dumped in the saffron/rosemary seasonings, stirred and served. This was very flavourful with the saffron shining through. I did not use all the rosemary called for because it seemed like A LOT OF ROSEMARY!

    • joneshayley on November 09, 2018

      Delicious, both the rosemary and the saffron sang, and made for a succulent and delicious chicken

  • Spiced rack of lamb with pomegranate sauce

    • okcook on February 09, 2019

      The sauce overpowers the flavour of the lamb. A shame, ruined my beautiful free range grass fed rack of lamb. Be warned.

  • Turkish Adana köfte kebabs

    • okcook on April 19, 2016

      I made the mixture into meat balls and grilled on top of the stove for convenience. The meat mixture seemed a little sloppy to me so I added a couple of handfuls of breadcrumbs, formed the meatballs, covered and refrigerated overnight allowing them to set up. They stayed together well on the grill. Cooked to 165F in the centre. Didn't want to dry them out. They were really lovely with a delicate texture and deep lamb flavour.

  • Tray-baked rose petal lamb chops with chilli and herbs

    • okcook on March 04, 2016

      This was very nice. Loads of different flavours that we have not had before with the rose petals. One could cook this on the grill as well as in the oven. We used some tender lamb leg pieces instead of the chops. Works a treat. Will make this again.

    • joneshayley on May 02, 2019

      The rose is very mild, but adds another dimension to this. The chops are heady and fragrant, juicy and delicious. Served with a cous cous salad and the suggested herb chilli oil. Delicious

  • Quinoa salad with toasted pistachios, preserved lemons and courgettes

    • okcook on March 04, 2016

      I made this with some frozen grated summer zucchini I had in the freezer and it worked quite well although not as pretty as slices. I thought the amount of preserved lemon seemed like it would take over the dish so I cut back a lot on it and we found it to our liking. The pistachios added a nice crunch.

    • Hellyloves2cook on December 24, 2015

      Husband made this for Christmas Eve. He said it was very easy to prepare. The hardest part was chopping courgettes and frying those off!!! The preserved lemons were a nice addition and the crunch of the pistachios gave it some texture. Eldest son had a huge pile on his plate ( with roast salmon) and made very positive noises when eating this.

  • Turkish feta pastry cigars (Sigara börek peynir)

    • Astrid5555 on January 02, 2015

      The pastry to filling ratio was way off (not enough filling), so I could only make half the pastries stated in the recipe. On top, while baking, the pastry cracked on both sides and released the filling. Despite all this, nice taste, but not sure whether to repeat.

  • Baked eggs with feta, harissa tomato sauce and coriander

    • Astrid5555 on January 02, 2015

      Best Shahshuka variation in a long time! Reduced the harissa to my liking, otherwise made as written.

  • Za'atar cod with relish

    • saladdays on October 07, 2014

      A really delicious way of serving cod, which can often taste rather dull. The relish is particularly fresh and zingy and is very quick to make. Highly recommended.

    • Foodycat on December 23, 2014

      My fish fell apart, but no harm in that! If I really needed the presentation to be pretty I might roast it instead of cooking it in a pan. The relish is beautiful - I added a spring onion and used (fewer) home made pickled habaneros instead of the pickled chillies that were called for.

    • mpselvag on February 28, 2015

      full recipe at http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/zaatar_cod_with_relish_98478

    • saarwouters on February 10, 2018

      Good fish dish! It was new for me to serve cod in a Middle-Eastern style. The za'atar marinade was really delicious! I also felt that the relish was a bit too strong for my taste, but my husband really loved it.

    • lizabetina on January 01, 2018

      My fish fell apart too, but it tasted nice! Roasting would be better. Didn’t need as long in the pan as the recipe said. The relish was a bit overpowering, so I’m not sure I would make it again. Or at least if I did, I would experiment with the number of pickled chillies.

  • Chicken, preserved lemon and olive tagine

    • FJT on March 26, 2017

      Very tasty. As with all stews it was even better the day after it was made.

    • MichelleWoods on January 02, 2017

      Sorry but I completely disagree, I'm always surprised by the deep flavour of such an easy-to-cook dish and I make this ALOT...

    • FritB on August 12, 2016

      I am sorry to say that this was a tasteless recipe

  • Puy lentil and quinoa salad with lemon and sumac

    • Melanie on November 25, 2014

      Delicious - I loved the mix of flavours. With the added lentils, this keeps you filled up.

    • redbirdo on July 20, 2016

      Made this for a dinner party as a starter with grilled halloumi and it went down very well. This salad is very refreshing, great to have in the fridge for lunch on a warm day.

  • Shirazi salad

    • Melanie on November 25, 2014

      I enjoyed the mix of flavours and loved the crunch. This one tastes best freshly made.

  • Smoked aubergine salad (Batijan al rahib)

    • Senkimekia on August 27, 2016

      Was ok, nothing spectacular, but will say my husband subbed some eggplant for Japanese eggplant that was part of our CSA and it might have not been enough eggplant, and he did not impart enough smokiness to the eggplant in my opinion. These things may have impacted our end result.

  • Spicy tomato and pepper dip (Ezme)

    • Senkimekia on August 27, 2016

      This was good and fresh we enjoyed it.

    • Agaillard on April 03, 2016

      This is good - not wow this is beyond belief good - but interesting, fresh, flavourful, and a bit different. I would not call it "dip" though, I mean this is more like a very finely cut salad, you couldn't really "dip" in it!

  • Yogurt, cucumber and mint (Maast o khiar)

    • aberne on May 13, 2019

      Can just eat this by the spoonful on rice as a meal.

  • Harissa and preserved lemon roasted poussins

    • aberne on May 11, 2019

      Marinade is amazing. I used it for lamb chops for the grill, and it stood up to lamb nicely. I didn't have so many preserved lemons, so used about half, and all worked a charm (in fact, I don't think I would double them next time). Brilliant.

  • Tomato salad with pomegranate molasses (Gavurdagi salatasi)

    • aberne on May 03, 2019

      Simple but perfect, especially with grilled meat of any kind. Fresh tomatoes with the pomegranate molasses make for an interesting fresh sweet and sour combination.

    • Hellyloves2cook on December 25, 2015

      OMG!! So simple but delicious. What a stunning salad this is to have in ones repertoire. The pomegranate molasses dressing is zingy and sweet and marries so well with the green pepper and tomatoes. Love this !!

    • Jojobuch on January 23, 2016

      Very simple to prepare but a great salad. I have substituted green bell peppers, which work very well.

    • Foodycat on January 15, 2016

      Simple and wonderful

  • Turkish white bean salad (Piyaz)

    • aberne on May 11, 2019

      A little boring, so I cooked up some chard with garlic and lemon to mix in.

  • Belly-stuffed rainbow trout (Mahi shekampor)

    • ncollyer on September 27, 2015

      Very tasty. Cooked this on the BBQ and it worked well. The preserved lemon and pine nut stuffing added complexity, richness and some contrasting texture to the trout. Will make again.

  • Spiced carrot, pistachio and almond cake with rosewater cream

    • ncollyer on November 16, 2015

      Very moist, and as advertised, it tastes better the next morning.

    • Jojobuch on January 23, 2016

      Moist, fragrant and delicious. Great with the rose water cream even for a skeptic of rose water.

    • Mayandbill on October 13, 2015

      Flourless, so good for the gluten intolerant.

  • Lamb and sour cherry meatballs

    • hirsheys on January 02, 2018

      I thought these were good, but they didn't quite live up to my expectations. They are definitely tasty - I think I found them almost too spiced.

    • Foodycat on December 11, 2014

      These are so good! Lightest meatballs I have ever made.

    • tekobo on January 13, 2017

      Yummy. Would use this tomato sauce for other recipes, it is soooo good.

    • raybun on November 22, 2016

      I made these tonight for the family. After the apricot & fennel ones from Sirocco the bar was set high and I was not disappointed. Excellent flavour and texture, I served them with couscous. I used the suggested cranberries instead of sour cherries and dried dill as I was out of fresh. I used marinara sauce as I didn't have time to make the one Ms Ghayour suggests.

  • Rice with lentils and crispy onions (Mojardara)

    • Hellyloves2cook on December 25, 2015

      My husband made this for Christmas day lunch. Easy and very tasty. The crispy onions are the deal breakers here. Don't skip this part of the recipe. They do make a difference with both flavour and texture. My husband served this with the Spice -Perfumed Shoulder of Lamb (pg 128) and the Tomato Salad with Pomegranate Molasses (pg 160) and another side (not from a cookbook) As the author points out she makes double as she likes to eat it for several days afterwards. So my husband decided to do just that. Looking forward to having more over the next few days.

  • Spice-perfumed shoulder of lamb

    • Hellyloves2cook on December 25, 2015

      Husband made this for Christmas day lunch. I don't eat meat so I can't comment except to say my Husband and my 3 sons thoroughly enjoyed this. The meat fell off the bone and the spice combo was quite subtle but distinctive. I am sure this will become a favourite!

  • Cod in tamarind, coriander and fenugreek sauce (Ghelyeh mahi)

    • Hellyloves2cook on December 23, 2015

      My husband, who loves cooking, made this last night. He did say that instead of fenugreek leaves he used the seeds and that he could not find the cayenne pepper so used paprika instead. very delicate and subtle flavours. We all agreed it need a little more oomph... perhaps that was due to the omission of the heat factor. will be interested to repeat this with all the ingredients.

  • Red rice salad with barberries, grilled vegetables and toasted almonds

    • Hellyloves2cook on February 02, 2016

      Another recipe that my husband tested from this book. He's made a few now. Well ,after all, I did buy it for him for last year. He used a combination of red, brown and black rice for this as we decided to use what we had already. Unfortunately living in a small city it was impossible to find barberries and so these were omitted.Everything else was spot on! Hubby enjoyed making this dish and even more eating it. I have to say it was really nice and with the zingy dressing that had soaked into the rice just gave that nice balance of flavours. I am sure having the barberries would have made it pop a little more with flavour and although they could have been substituted with dried cranberries or sour cherries it was decided to just carry on without. There was even enough to take for lunch the following day- bonus!

  • Pistachio and feta dip

    • stockholm28 on December 14, 2014

      I liked this, but I think I was too heavy-handed with the dill and cilantro. She calls for a handful of dill and two handfuls of cilantro. I'm not sure what a handful really means. The herbs overpowered the pistachio and I wanted more pistachio flavor.

    • VineTomato on June 24, 2017

      Delicious but incredibly rich, only possible to have a small serving, which is a good thing given I calorie count for this dip! Great the next day.

    • lizabetina on January 01, 2018

      Very good and easy to make!

  • Citrus spiced salmon

    • VineTomato on June 24, 2017

      Best recipe in the book, and my go to for salmon.

    • Agaillard on September 24, 2017

      The marinade was excellent, I couldn't keep dipping my bread in it! I served with plain couscous, mostly because I am on a very restrictive diet at the moment (thankfully won't last!). I made more marinade than indicated (I used the same amount for just one salmon fillet) and I am very glad I did :) I reserve my decision over best recipe in the book, or salmon recipe though definitely a good one.

  • Eastern mess

    • redbirdo on July 20, 2016

      If you like rose water this is a must, absolutely delicious. NB - I used Nielson and Massey rose water and only put 1tbsp in the cream, which was plenty.

  • Pomegranate soup with meatballs (Ash e anar)

    • ediepop on March 08, 2015

      Most of the recipes I have tried from this book have been delicious, however this one was inedible - far too sweet. I would suggest omitting the sugar and possibly the pomegranate juice.

  • Safavid-style beef pastries

    • joneshayley on November 15, 2018

      I don’t think that the pastry “goes” with the subtly fragranced middle eastern style filling. I won’t make again.

  • Eastern-style focaccia

    • joneshayley on November 07, 2018

      Very good focaccia. A lovely fusion, which is easy to make and was enjoyed by the whole family.

  • Chicken, walnut and pomegranate stew (Khoresh-e-fesenjan)

    • NikkiPixie on October 14, 2014

      Best fesenjan recipe I've ever tried - and I've tried a LOT!

  • Lamb shank, black garlic and tomato tagine

    • Jojobuch on January 23, 2016

      Added only half the black garlic as it's a little pricey but this is an amazing recipe. Simple preparation (as long as you have some time) but complex flavours. I skimmed off a significant amount of fat at the two hour mark and while I was worried it wouldn't thicken in the final hour, it came out as advertised in the pictures.

    • Foodycat on January 16, 2015

      Very nice. I cooked it in the oven instead of on the stove top, so only stirred less frequently. I also added a chopped aubergine when I added the black garlic, and kept cooking it with the lid on. The sauce was beautifully fragrant and thick and the lamb was meltingly tender.

  • Mechouia style lamb leg with cumin dipping salt

    • Jojobuch on January 23, 2016

      Amazingly fragrant. I was worried the lamb would be too dry and overlooked but despite being well done it did not dry out. Don't skip the cumin salt - it provides a pleasant crunch and boosts the flavour.

  • Lahmacun

    • Foodycat on December 31, 2014

      Good crust recipe, and very straightforward, but I am sure the lahmacun I have had in the past has had much more complex flavouring.

  • Persian herb rice (Sabzi polow)

    • Foodycat on January 16, 2015

      There should also be dill in the list of ingredients. I'm in two minds about this one. It was tasty rice, but only the very subtlest of herb flavours because you boil and strain the herby rice before the final steaming. It was also a lot of fuss - rinsing the rice, then soaking, then picking all the herb leaves before finely chopping (my processor did NOT like chopping dry herbs, so they had to come out of the processor and be done by hand) then parboiling and draining before steaming for half an hour with a lot of butter. Such a palaver. I also only used about a quarter of the suggested quantity of salt, and the seasoning was just right.

    • Silverscreensuppers on April 25, 2018

      This drove my boyfriend berserk. I have never heard so much effing and blinding coming from the kitchen. He followed everything to the letter and ended up with an ENORMOUS amount of soggy rice, which wasn't even that tasty. He said he felt like he'd been "making it all day" and was very disappointed as he really wanted to make me a nice dinner! Luckily, the Ottolenghi pork he made as the main part of the meal was DIVINE! We both usually use up every tiny little bit of leftover food but he was so annoyed by this recipe he threw the whole lot in the bin (and there was a LOT of it).

    • kitchen_chick on August 27, 2016

      I remove the thickest parts of herb stems and don't worry about the thinner parts. "Picking the leaves" is tedious, and the food processor takes care of the smaller stems well enough.

  • Quince and pomegranate glazed pork

    • Foodycat on December 20, 2014

      I used home made quince, apple & pear butter instead of membrillo. The marinade had a lovely aroma, but none of that transferred to the pork.

  • Bulgur wheat salad (Kisir)

    • ptkcollins on August 27, 2015

      A I wasn't able to find pomegranate molasses I replaced it with a good balsamic vinegar and I also replaced the pomegranate seeds with sultanas. It still turned out very well.

  • Yogurt with cucumber, garlic and dill (Cacik)

    • saarwouters on February 10, 2018

      Good and very easy recipe for a tzaziki type dip. Served it with Turkish bread.

  • Ras el hanout chicken wraps

    • saarwouters on December 29, 2018

      Ideal for a quick dinner, or to take to work for lunch. Original flavours. A good variation on other wraps.

  • Lamb and vegetable tagine

    • e_ballad on May 09, 2018

      Very bland. With the cooking times provided, the meat disintegrated into the rest of the dish, rather than remaining in discernible pieces. Can’t recommend.

  • Persian dried lime, lamb and split pea stew (Khoresh-e-gheymeh)

    • tekobo on March 19, 2017

      Came out a little bitter at the end of the cooking time. Adjusted with agave syrup. Used split mung beans in place of yellow split peas trimmed mutton neck chops in place of lamb neck fillet. Nice rounded flavour and comforting textures.

  • Roasted garlic and sweet potato purée

    • tekobo on July 03, 2016

      Tastes very sweet but this was lifted by adding the pomegranate molasses.

  • Spiced beef and potato cakes (Kotlet)

    • Agaillard on September 25, 2017

      I LOVED it :) My favourite staple in the book so far. I respected exactly the instructions and it was perfect. I served it with yogurt mixed up with lime juice, salt, pepper and coriander which I used as a dip for the kotlets. Will definitely do again. Also lovely as an "aperitif" staple / nibble with drinks before dinner, or as a snack :)

  • Persian herb frittata (Kuku sabzi)

    • kitchen_chick on August 27, 2016

      A local restaurant serves a Syrian version of this that is amazing, and it is the standard I compare all other versions to. This one never quite lives up to the promise. Note: she calls for two TABLESPOONS of crushed sea salt flakes and simply says use less if using table salt. I tried two teaspoons kosher salt the first time (1/3rd seemed reasonable) and it was too salty. It took three tries to narrow in one 1 tsp (1/6th the amount!) of kosher salt. I'm just not sure this version is really what I'm looking for so I dunno if I'll make it a fourth time to confirm the salt amount.

  • Blood orange and radicchio salad

    • Tiganna on January 21, 2018

      Excellent. Very fresh and easy. For my taste, her vinaigrette is slightly too sour. Next time, a bit less molasses (mine are quite astringent) and vinegar. But definitely a keeper.

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Reviews about this book

  • Saveur.com

    When I found Persiana: Recipes from the Middle East & Beyond, I was immediately transported back to Iran and that trip. The recipes are enchanting and the photographs inspiring.

    Full review
  • ISBN 10 184533910X
  • ISBN 13 9781845339104
  • Linked ISBNs
  • Published May 06 2014
  • Format Hardcover
  • Page Count 240
  • Language English
  • Countries United Kingdom
  • Publisher Octopus Publishing Group
  • Imprint Mitchell Beazley

Publishers Text

Sabrina Ghayour's first cookbook is a celebration of the food and flavours from the regions near the Southern and Eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea, with over 100 recipes for modern and accessible Middle Eastern dishes. Examples include Lamb & Sour Cherry Meatballs, Blood Orange & Radicchio Salad and Spiced Carrot, Pistachio & Coconut Cake with Rosewater Cream.

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