Author Notes: In the summer of 1976, I visited Iran, where I was visiting a boyfriend and his family. I landed in Tehran. After a few days, we went with his sister and parents to a resort on the Caspian Sea, stopping by a riverside restaurant for grilled fresh fish. Later I found myself in to Isfahan, with its exquisite palaces and mosques, its silk looms and silversmiths. The soft colors--peaches, blues, greens-- and sinuous lines of the frescoes and brilliant blues of the exterior tilework were breathtakingly beautiful.
The foods likewise were refined and exotic. There were herbed stews, delicious condiments (garlic cloves pickled, for years I was told, in red wine), a brilliant red cherry jam and buttered flatbread fresh from the brick oven for breakfast, lamb kebabs marinated in lemon and herbs for dinner. With almost every meal there was chello, long grain white rice, with a crispy, golden crust. If you got a large piece of tahdig with your serving, you knew you were an honored guest. A perfectly-made tahdig, crunchy yet delicate, was the mark of a fine cook.
A simple, refreshing yogurt soup is frequently served during the hot, humid summers. Here, the pistachios, raisins and pomegranate arils add bursts of color, crunch and flavor, tempering the tartness of the yogurt. - creamtea
- 1/4 cup golden raisins
- 4 small Persian cucumbers, diced
- 2 cloves of shallot, thinly sliced
- 3 cups Yogurt
- 1/2 cup filtered cold water
- 1/2 cup milk, whole or 2%
- a few sprinkles of white-wine vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- ground pepper to taste
- 3 scallions, white part and some of the green, cut lengthwise most of the way (allow to remain still attached--this is all to make a finer mince) and sliced finely crosswise
- 3 tablespoons minced fresh dill, plus extra dill fronds for garnish
- 1/4 cup shelled unsalted pistachios
- fresh pomegranate arils for garnish
- flatbread such as pita or naan or crisp whole grain crackers as an accompaniement
- In a small dish, combine the raisins and about one cup of warm to hot water. Set aside for 20 minutes or so to plump up, then drain and pat dry with a paper towel.
- While the raisins are soaking, combine the cucumbers and shallots in a small bowl and add the salt. Combine well and allow to sit for 15 minutes. Rinse, drain and pat dry with a paper towel.
- In a large bowl, combine yogurt, water and milk, whisk together and season to taste with vinegar, salt and pepper. You should have a tart taste but not overwhelmingly so. Stir in the dill, scallions and cucumber mixture. Chill, then ladle into individual bowls, garnishing each with the raisins, pistachios, pomegranate seeds and dill fronds. Serve as a starter with flatbread as an accompaniment.
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Recipe with Vinegar
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Spring Alliums
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Dish in the Raw