Monday, June 25, 2012

Simple Iranian Salad: The highlight of the meal

I was nine years old when I visited Iran for the first time. We stayed there for about a month. Coming from industrialized, deserted Kuwait, this was the first time in my life that I see mountains, rivers, flowers and greens as far as the eye can go. I never experienced such a beauty before, it was like stepping into a fairytale , a story or a movie. For most of you that may seem like an ordinary/everyday scene but we really didn't get to see these things except in  movies and read about them in poems.

My brother looking at the street shops near our hotel

On the way to the Haram ( the holy shrine of Imam Ridda) in Mash'had, streets are full of small shops selling everything from ripe, delicious fruits and vegetables, Bastani (traditional Persian ice-cream) , aromatic spices, colorful dresses and hijabs, freshly cut meat, jewelry and gemstones, books, souvenirs  and everything in between.

The streets leading to the Holy Shrine, so busy and packed with people 24 hours a day

I entered the sanctuary of Imam Ridda, and everything ; all the noise from the street, people talking, beggars begging, women fighting who to enter first, kids crying: everything seems to get quiet…I am in the Holy Shrine of the Imam…where wishes are granted and quests are answered…..such a peaceful place…yet full of energy.

Very blurry image, but the  blue dome of the Mosque near the Holy Shrine is visible
A car that has been parked near my Granma's apartment in Mash'had for ages

After we are done from our prayes and dua's, we take a taxi to the many restaurants in Mash'had. Dinner is as usual ; hot delicious saffron rice with some butter melting on top,  grilled marinated meat or chicken kabob, and soft drinks. But it wasn't  that that I always looked was the small things…the appetizers they bring even without  ordering them: Mass' O Moussir ( thick tangy yogurt with mountain garlic) , freshly baked Barbari bread and this salad ( fresh ripe vegetable with some kind of a mayonnaise  dressing). We would actually be half full by the time the real dinner arrives.

Mariam trying out Chador at a fiend's house

Iran was so cheap at that time. We felt instantly so rich because we could afford things  we couldn't back home. We could ride on first class airplanes and trains, and we probably would have afford the whole candy store by our place with only our weekly allowance.

Unfortunately I don't have many pictures to show you. The few pictures here are from 4 years ago when I last visited Iran with my family. I will make sure though that I don't' miss any photo opportunity the next time I am there, which I pray not to be too long from now.

What's your most memorable vacation?

Monday, June 4, 2012

Basboosah: Just a Kiss

Finally I am able to put on a new post. The past month has been very hectic and busy. From designing the new look for the blog (hope you like it) , to buying , selling , packing and donating. We're moving in less than two months and the house, as well as my mind, is a complete mess.

Now that my husband passed the defense and completed his Ph.D, things has calmed down a little. There are less tension in the air and he has more time to sit down, relax,take care of the house and the kids. Which means I have more time to do what I love to do: cooking and taking pictures.

The other day, I was at my friend's house and I tasted a Basboosah that her daughter had made and it was really good I had to copy the recipe. Which actually belonged to Khale Zahra..a friend they knew for  a long time . We also discussed the topic of holding back recipes and keeping them a secret versus sharing everything, which is a topic I would like to expand on , but I'll leave that for another post.

Basboosah is a Middle Eastern/ Mediterranean   sweet that consists mainly of coconut , sugar and semolina. It is very dense and sweet and is often eaten with tea or coffee. The name have always puzzled me. Because in Arabic it sounds like Bas (just) Boosah ( a kiss) . I have no idea what is the story behind the sweet or the name. I read somewhere on the internet that the story behind the naming is that one day  a wife made this sweet for her husband and he liked it and asked her what would she like in return for this dish and she replied : bas boosah ( just a kiss) ! I don't know. I think this is too cheesy to believe, but who know?

Wherever its origin, and whatever the story behind it, this  dessert is very good and very unique as well. In fact, it is so good that I am making a Basboosah mix kit  to give to my daughter's teacher for teachers' appreciation day. Now that is a gift worth giving.

how i like it:  I really like that this recipe for Basboosah is egg-less. Basboosah is traditionally prepared with coarse semolina , but it is very hard to find it in stores here in the U.S , so I prepared it with ground semolina and you can also use cream of wheat and it will turn equally delicious.