Wednesday, February 10, 2021

The Value of Traditional Food

Most of traditional Iranian meals, if you alter them a little bit, are amongst the beat foods available in the world, both in terms of taste and nutrition and I'm saying that because I've tried different cuisines from different parts of the world. This is what should be done with Iranian stews, which by the way are all delicious and nutritious:

1- Reduce the amount of Red Meat and possibly replace Lamb with Beef to have less fat in the stew
2- Have it without White Rice. Replace that with Whole Wheat Pita Bread or similar. Or A sort whole grain seed, which I am aware that would be impossible to do so for many Iranians! Despite the fact that everyone's body work differently but White Rice has no benefits rather than getting fat and diabetic! 

That's what I have done and I quite enjoy Iranian food. Last week I made a big pot of Zucchini Stew and had it with Whole Wheat Pita Bread and it was amazing. Zucchini, which is not very popular within the majority of people have many benefits. It is even recommended to diabetic people to add sliced Zucchini to their salad. It has zero sugar and reduces blood pressure.
Zucchini Stew is not to hard to make. Here's what you need:

1- Zucchi or as it's called at times Squash Zucchini. Make sure to select the small ones. Big ones have already matured more than enough and are not good. One thing to remember is that you wouldn't skin the Zucchini. Just cut off the top and tail. The amount would depend on you. How much you would like to have in your stew.

2- Cubic cut Beef. The smaller, the better because it'd cook easier and with less heat and time. Again it would depend on you how much to add but I personally wouldn't go as far as a cup for 3 to 4 times Zucchini.

3- Split Peas. I would add as much as a cup. This sort of seed, if I could call it, gives a kind of mild gelatin texture to the stew and is a must. What should be consider is it could simply be overcooked and become puree if it is cooked for longer that it should. 

4- Tomato. Any kind could be used. Diced. 4 or 5 medium ones.

5- Onion. Twice as much as your meat.

6- Tomato Paste. To give not only colour, but taste. Canadian Tomato Paste, as far as I've tried has less salt in comparison with Iranian one, which is good but sometimes I feel I have to add more salt to compensate for that!

7- Dried Lemon. Sour foods and drink is big part of Iranian cuisine. Many foods have something sour added to them. For this stew you need Dried Lemon. This basically is the same size of a Lime but dried and in dark brown colour. This might be be available outside Iran but Iranian grocery stores but is a must. The only think that I can think of replacing it is a Lime itself but not quite because Dried Lemon is eaten. I mean it not only gives a sour and bitter taste to the stew, by poking it at the time cooking, but also many people eat it.

8- Salt and Black Pepper

How to make it?

1) Add oil to a hot pan. I always use Olive Oil because if a real one is found, is much healthier than any other oil. Fry the Onions and then add the Beef. Brown them. Add Tomato, Tomato Paste, Salt, Pepper and water to a pot and cook the beef. Set aside.

2) Add oil to a pan and gently fry both sides of already sliced Zucchinis. The Zucchinis should be cut sliced through length. The aim here just to have some oil absorbed by the Zucchinis and have them browned.

3) Cook the Split Peas. The best way would be using the juice left from steps 1 or 2 and cook in a pressure cooker. Careful not to puree the Split Peas although the same good taste would stay in the stew but you would want to be able to chew them not simply drink them!

4) The last stage would simply be mixing all the above, not stirring(!), and have them simmer for as long as 5 minutes. That allow the stew to have all of the ingredients' flavour. Turn the heat off and let it cool off to your desired temperature. Have it with Whole Wheat Pita Bread, taking bites or add them to your favorite Rice
(Photo: My Zucchini Stew. It could have looked nicer but it certainly tasted so great)

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