Cooking is both a passion and a nod to tradition for Hamed from Free To Feed
“Both my mother and father are good cooks. I use their dishes in my classes which gives me happiness. I love to tell people about my culture and traditions, it's all new to them so I love to share with them my story”.
Learn 3 of his favourite recipes and cook up your own Persian feast!
Prep Time | 20 mins
Cook Time | 30-40 mins
Serves | 6-8 generously
3 cups (470g) basmati rice, washed and soaked in cold water for 3 hours
1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp of olive oil
1 piece Lebanese bread
125g unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup dried barberries, washed
1tsp saffron threads
pinch of sugar
1 1/2 tbsp sliced pistachio
Bring a large pot of water to boil over a high heat. Drain the rice and add it to the pot along with the salt. Cook until just tender but still undercooked, around 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Place a large pot over a high heat and pour in 1/4 cup of the olive oil. Place the round of Lebanese bread directly into the base of the pot then tumble the half-cooked rice into the pot and dot the butter on top of the rice. Cover the pot with a tea towel–wrapped lid and cook for 1 minute on high, then reduce the heat to low and continue to cook for a further 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a pan over a low heat and gently fry the barberries for 2 minutes and set aside. Grind the saffron with the sugar in a mortar and pestle and transfer to a small bowl. Dissolve with 3 tablespoons of boiling water.
Arrange the rice onto a serving platter and scatter with the barberries, saffron and pistachios along with the crunchy bread from the base of the pan.
“ Fessenjoon is a beautiful chicken dish that marries the flavor of pomegranate molasses, with the aromas of saffron – a very traditional Persian dish. The chicken should melt in your mouth! You can vary the amounts of pomegranate molasses, salt and pepper according to your tastes. Enjoy this comfort food, Persian style! ” - Hamed
Prep Time | 20 mins
Cook Time | 40 mins
Serves | 6
6 brown onions finely diced
1 cup of olive oil
400g of walnuts
4 boneless, skinless chicken leg
1 bottle of pomegranate molasses
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp pepper
1 tbsp turmeric
Crush the walnuts in a mortar and pestle or food processor. Grind 1g of saffron into a powder (add some sugar granules to make this process easier).
Fry 4 of the onions in olive oil until golden brown. When golden brown, add turmeric and the crushed walnuts. Fry for another 5 minutes.
In another pot, cook the chicken in water, turmeric, salt, pepper and 2 chopped onions. When the chicken is cooked, add the chicken mix to the fried onion mix. Leave to simmer on low heat for 30 minutes.
Finally, add the pomegranate molasses, saffron powder, and salt and pepper to taste.
“In Iran, Baghlava is said to be the queen of desserts and it’s easy to see why – it’s sticky, buttery and scented with rosewater. Baghlava is traditionally served at Persian New Year and are especially popular in the cities of Yazd and Qazvin, where they famously produce much of Iran’s baghlava”. Hamed
Prep Time | 25 M
Cook Time | 60 M
Serves | 12
250g caster sugar
1 tbsp rosewater
1 tbsp glucose syrup
1 tsp ground cardamom
Pinch of saffron
Juice of half a lime
100g each of raw unsalted pistachios, cashews and walnuts
1 tbsp ground cardamom
80g caster sugar
10 sheets of filo pastry
Clarified butter, melted
Crushed pistachios, to serve
Preheat the oven to 180C.
Crush the nuts in a mortar and pestle, or by placing them in a paper bag and giving them a good bash. You want them quite finely crushed, but not powdery. Some larger pieces are good for texture too. Transfer nuts to a bowl and combine with the ground cardamom and sugar.
Brush a 20x10cm rectangular tin with some of the clarified butter. Working with one sheet of filo at a time, brush with clarified butter and then fold in half from the shortest side. Arrange this folded sheet into the tin and brush again with butter, trimming the pastry if needed. Repeat with two more sheets, layering them into the tin. Scatter over half of the nut mixture, then repeat the butter and layering process with three more sheets. Scatter over the remaining nut mixture and repeat the butter and layering process with the four remaining sheets.
Brush the final layer with butter and with a very sharp knife, cut the baghlava on the diagonal to create diamond shapes. Bake in preheated oven for 40-45 minutes or until golden. Set aside to cool briefly.
Meanwhile, for the rosewater syrup, combine the sugar, water and rosewater in a small saucepan and bring to the boil over a medium heat, stirring to ensure the sugar has dissolved.
Add the glucose syrup, cardamom and saffron and reduce the heat. Simmer for 5-10 minutes or until thick and glossy. Stir in the lime juice and pour over the warm baghlava.
Top the individual pieces with crushed pistachios and allow to cool completely before serving.
Learn more about Hamed and others in our community via our Life In Colour blog series