Persian and MiddleEastern chef, Sabrina Ghayour has come out with her debut cookbook, Persiana: Recipes from the Middle East & Beyond.
Unlike other Middle Eastern cookbooks, this one is easy to decipher, packed with lots of flavour and recipes are surprisingly easy to pull off. What takes your fancy?
Broad Beans with Garlic, Dill & Eggs (serves 4)
1 garlic bulb, cloves bashed and
1kg (2lb 4oz) podded fresh or frozen
broad beans, skins removed
3 tsp turmeric
generous tsp crushed sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
3 x 20g packets of dill, stalks and leaves
knob of butter (about 25g/1oz)
4 large free-range eggs
- Heat a large deep frying pan over a low-medium heat, add a generous drizzle of olive oil and sweat the garlic until it softens and becomes slightly translucent.
- Add the broad beans and increase the heat to medium, then add the turmeric, sea salt and some black pepper and stir well. After 5 minutes, mix in the chopped dill and cook for a
- further 8 minutes or so.
- Add the butter to the pan and let it melt into the beans. Crack the eggs on to the surface of the beans in different areas and allow them to cook through using the heat from the beans.
- Give the pan a shake to distribute the egg whites. This will take about 15 minutes, at which point the beans will have changed from a bright green to a slightly more dull green – but don’t panic because this is how they should be.
- Serve this dish with Persian Flatbread, which is perfect for scooping up the delicious garlicky beans and soft oozy eggs. Alternatively, serve with naan or flour tortilla wraps.
Spiced Rack of Lamb with Pomegranate Sauce (serves 4)
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
5 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp turmeric
pinch of ground nutmeg
2 racks of lamb, French trimmed
For the Pomegranate Sauce
4 tbsp pomegranate molasses
100ml (3½fl oz) pomegranate juice
1 tbsp clear honey
2 tbsp syrupy balsamic vinegar
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/gas mark 6. Put the cumin seeds and coriander seeds in a large, dry
- heavy-based frying pan over a medium-high heat and toast the seeds, shaking the pan now and then, until they release
- an aroma, then grind with a pestle and mortar.
- Combine the olive oil with all the dry spices in a small bowl until they form a paste, then rub the paste all over the racks of lamb, including some on the undersides. Put the pan back on the heat and sear the lamb on all exposed sides
- until each side becomes lightly browned, which should take no more than a couple of minutes per side.
- Transfer the racks of lamb to a roasting dish and season the lamb all over with sea salt. Roast in the oven for about 15 minutes, then remove, cover the dish with kitchen foil and allow the lamb to rest for 6–8 minutes.
- While the lamb is resting, make the pomegranate sauce. Pour the cooking juices from the roasting dish into the frying pan in which you seared the lamb along with the pomegranate molasses, pomegranate juice, honey and balsamic vinegar and bring the mixture to a gentle boil. Cook until the sauce is glossy and even.
- Using a sharp knife, slice through the rack of lamb in between the bones and serve the cutlets immediately, with the pomegranate sauce drizzled over.
Butternut Squash with Pistachio, Pesto, Feta & Pomegranate Seeds (serves 2)
1 large butternut squash, quartered
lengthways and deseeded
4 tbsp olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
150g (5½oz) feta cheese
100g (3½oz) pomegranate seeds
For the pesto
100g (3½oz) shelled pistachio nuts
70g (2½oz) Parmesan or Grana Padano
cheese, chopped into rough chunks
1 small bunch of coriander, leaves picked
1 small bunch of parsley, leaves picked
1 small bunch of dill, leaves picked
3 tbsp chilli oil
juice of 1 lemon
- In a food processor, blitz the pistachios and cheese together, adding a generous amount of olive oil to slacken the mixture. Put all the herbs into the food processor with a little more olive oil as well as the chilli oil and lemon juice and blitz again, then add a handful of crushed sea salt and give the mixture one last blitz. Taste the pesto, ensuring it has enough salt and acidity, then allow it to rest in the refrigerator until you need it.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/gas mark 6. Once the oven is hot, rub each wedge of butternut squash with the oil, season generously with sea salt and black pepper and place it on a baking sheet lined with non-stick baking paper.
- Roast the squash for about 45–50 minutes, or just until the edges have begun to char slightly. You want to blacken the edges a little – this gives them a nice chewy texture. To check the squash to see if it is properly cooked, insert a knife into the flesh – if it slides clean through, the squash is ready. If you feel resistance, return the squash to the oven for a few more minutes.
- Serve each wedge of butternut squash on a plate, drizzled generously with the vibrant green pesto. Crumble the feta cheese on top and scatter over the pomegranate seeds to finish.
Want to explore more of the Middle Eastern culinary wonders? Check out Sabrina Ghayour's debut cookbook, Persiana: Recipes from the Middle East & Beyond.