Please use the recipes below as a guide. Varying heat sources, pots, pans, size of fruit or vegetables and the freshness of your herbs and spices mean you will need to use your own judgement and alter elements to your taste. They are frugal, seasonal and mostly vegetarian, gluten and dairy free (if you use a vegetable oil).
Nowruz – Persian New Year Recipes
You will notice the recipes below are inspired by the vegetables and herbs in season in springtime.
Literally translated, eating greens and that is what we are doing. From spring through to the end of summer most meals are accompanied with a plate of soft herbs such as parsley, coriander, basil, tarragon, chives, radish, sorrel and any other seasonal herbs. It is occasionally offered as a starter on menus in Persian restaurants. In this case it is served with feta cheese and flat bread. This is probably one of my most favourite things to eat, the flavours, textures and its freshness is quite invigorating.
In the photo above I have the greens I picked in Bath in March with shop bought radishes & spring onions. The greens are sorrel, salad burnet, parsley, wild garlic and fennel.
This is a simple sweet and sour dip which we eat with lettuce. I’ve also heard it can be kept in the fridge and makes for a refreshing cordial on a summer’s day. You just mix to taste with still or sparkling water!
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons water (more if it is too thick)
1/3 of a cup vinegar I used cider vinegar
Put the sugar and water in a pot and heat until sugar has dissolved and is clear then stand back a bit and add the vinegar – it evaporates and steam rises. Swirl the pot so it is all incorporated and the sekanjebeen is ready. Leave it to cool and it becomes quite thick like honey.
Separate and wash your favourite lettuce leaves then dip it in the sekanjebeen and enjoy.
This is my family’s recipe. It is mainly almonds and uses less pastry than the baklava sold here in the UK and has a strong taste of cardamom.
500g good ground almonds mixed with 250g icing sugar
1 – 1 1/2 tbsp fresh ground cardamom. Smell the cardamom and if it is mild then add more.
200g of melted butter
8 sheets of Filo pastry
500g granulated sugar
1 egg yolk for glazing
A handful of either slivered almonds or pistachios
21 x 32 cm tin
Put the oven on 180c fan, 350f or gas mark 4.
Make sure your pastry is at room temperature and you have 8 sheets the size of your tin. Keep the pastry covered with a damp cloth as it dries out quickly. Melt the butter and coat the inside of the tin thoroughly then lay one sheet at a time and coat each sheet with butter until you have four sheets. Pour half of your almond and sugar mix then put an even sprinkling of cardamom powder all over almonds then the remainder of your almond mix and gently tamp it down with your clean hand or back of a spoon. Now lay the remaining pastry brushing each sheet with butter.
Cut the baghlava in the tin. I cut mine into diamond shapes 2.5 cm by 3cm. Once you’ve got your cut grooves pour any remaining melted butter in these grooves. Gently dab the tops with the egg yolk (this can be tricky) and then place a slivered nut in the middle of each cut piece. Put the tin on the middle shelf of your oven and cook for about 15 minutes. After 15 minutes check to see if it is golden. If not leave in for another 5 minutes and check again. You want it to be uniformly golden on top.
Whilst the baghlava is in the oven, put the 500g of sugar in a pan with the water, let it dissolve and then come to a boil. This should not become so reduced so that is it like honey neither should it be too watery. As I ground the cardamom myself I used the green husks in this syrup which gave it a slight cardamom scent. I leave the syrup to one side to cool. Once cool I pour it into a jug so that I can pour it into the cut grooves of the baghlava easily.
When the baghlava is cool, I usually run my knife through the cuts to ensure they are still cut all the way through then I gently pour the half syrup into the gaps. I wait a couple of hours before I check to see if the syrup has been absorbed and if so I add more syrup if it needs it. This syrup will keep in the fridge and can be used for cocktails with a hint of cardamom. Baghlava is usually better if left for a couple of days. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try a little end piece daily to see how it is developing!
Should you wish to make this baghlava vegan, replace the butter with a good quality vegetable oil and leave out the egg wash.
Wild Garlic or Ramsons Recipes
I pick wild garlic on the Bath Skyline Walk from mid March till early May.
Please identify the plant buy picking a bit of the leaf and squeezing it between your fingers it should smell of fresh garlic. Pick carefully as to not damage the bulbs & just as much as you need. Do not eat anything you are unsure about and try a little first to test your tolerance. Here is a brief video where I show you how to identify and pick wild garlic.
The following are original recipes I have created, shared, sold and demonstrated in various venues in Bath.
Simi’s Spicy Potato & Wild Garlic Curry
Gluten, dairy free & vegan
500g left over cooked potatoes or waxy/salad potatoes, 2 large handfuls of washed & sliced (into ribbons, not too thin) wild garlic leaves, 1 medium onion, 2 fat cloves of garlic crushed, 3 cm ginger grated, 1 tsp each of whole cumin, caraway and mustard seeds, 1/2 tsp turmeric, 1 tbls tomato puree, 1 tablespoon of oil of your choice, pinch of sugar, chilli & salt to taste. Wild garlic flower to add a fresh hit of garlic and to decorate. You can put whole flower, or pinch off each small star and scatter.
Should you wish to add or omit spices do, it is your food.
If your potatoes are raw make 4 cm cubes and boil in salted water until tender but still holding their shape then strain. If you have leftover potatoes then cut into bite size pieces. Slice and fry the onions on a gentle heat for about 30 – 40 minutes. When caramelised reserve a tablespoon to scatter on top later. Turn the heat up just a little to get a sizzle going, and add the grated ginger, garlic and the whole spices, mix and fry for 2 mins. Add the turmeric fry. Now push this fragrant mix to one side of frying pan, lift the pan so a bit of oil comes out and stir in the tomato puree into the oil and cook it out. The oil turns a lovely colour. Throw in cubed boiled potatoes and coat. Once potatoes are coated in the mix and heated through add your chopped wild garlic to wilt and mix. Plate the dish and scatter with reserved onions and wild garlic flower. I like to eat it with mayonnaise. Can be eaten hot, warm or cold and makes a great filling for tortillas, pitta pocket and soft baps.
Simi’s Courgette & Wild Garlic Pancakes
Gluten/dairy free & vegan.
2 medium courgette, 2 tablespoons grated or finely chopped onion, 1 small handful of shredded wild garlic (if you’d like more you can add half a handful more)
2 large eggs, slightly beaten, 6 to 8 tablespoons all-purpose flour or if gluten free use gram (chickpea) flour Use ¼ teaspoon of all or any of the following spices if you have and like them: I used ajwain, caraway, fennel seed, cumin, turmeric, paprika, and chilli. 1 teaspoon of salt & pinch of pepper 1 teaspoon baking powder, unsalted butter and vegetable oil, lemon wedges to squeeze on top.
Grate the courgette into a bowl using the large side of a box grater. Immediately stir in the onion and eggs. Stir in 6 tablespoons of the flour, the baking soda, salt and pepper. If the batter gets too thin from the liquid in the courgette, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of flour. Heat oil in pan add butter then add spoonfuls of the batter and fry for 3 to 4 mins on a medium heat until golden. Drain on kitchen paper and enjoy with a squeeze of lemon, pickle, salad or a yoghurt dip. Great for picnics. I made a quails egg salad, hummus and the fritters when we went ploughing in Dry Arch on April Fools Day.
Simi’s Wild Garlic & Chorizo Pasta
1 medium onion, 1 crushed fat clove of garlic, 1 medium chorizo sausage diced, 2 handfuls wild garlic shredded, 250g pasta such as penne or fusilli, parmesan or other cheese, salt & pepper to taste, 1 tablespoon olive oil.
Slice and fry the onion in oil until light brown, now add crushed garlic and chorizo. Fry for 4 minutes, the chorizo will give the oil a lovely colour. Fry it gently for 3 minutes. Whilst that is frying cook the pasta to packet instructions and strain. Add the pasta to your sauce mix through and serve with cheese and a drizzle of olive oil and pepper. You can throw in some shredded wild garlic, basil or thyme if you like.
Having made these recipes once you can decide if the next time you make them whether you’d like to use more or less of each element. For example with the baghlava you can decide to make it more or less sweet or use another spice so that your baghlava is to your own taste.