Tahchin-Morgh with Quinoa

Samira Ardalan - Saturday, December 10, 2016

 


 

Quinoa is one of the most protein-rich foods we can eat and contains almost twice the amount of fiber as most grains, which is great for our digestive system! This gluten-free, natural ingredient is a beneficial substitute for rice in this traditional delicacy known to Iranians as "Tahchin," or rice cake. This recipe is nutty, savory, moist and full of exotic flavors. Nourishing Persian barberries make this dish colorful and medicinal. Its sharp taste is neutralized in this recipe and most Persian cooking, by sauteing in butter, sugar and saffron water until it's sweet and tart. 

 

Chicken Thighs:

1 lb. skinned and de-boned chicken thighs (heating)

1 large yellow onion, chopped (heating)

1 tsp chopped garlic (heating)

2 tsp saffron water (use a mortar & pestle to grind down the saffron. Once ground, transfer to a small glass bowl, cup or mug. Add a small amount of hot water to the ground spice and let sit for 15-20 minutes before using in your recipes. Refrigerate after use) (heating)

Pinch of turmeric (heating)

1 cup chicken broth (heating)

 

1. Season chicken: Lay out your chicken thighs on a cutting board and lightly drizzle with olive oil on all sides. Next, add salt, pepper and a pinch of turmeric. 

2. Slowly cook: Turn your pot on to medium-low heat. Add a drizzle of olive oil and let that heat up. Add your chicken to the pan, and after a couple of minutes as the temperature slowly rises, add your onions, garlic, and saffron water.

3. Cover the pan: Now that the chicken is slowly cooking, cover the pot and allow the first side of the chicken to cook a bit with the onion, garlic,  and saffron juices, about 20 minutes.

4. Turn the chicken: Remove the lid and turn over your chicken thighs. By now you should notice the onions are a golden yellow color, beginning to caramelize, building flavor and moisture in the meat. Cover and simmer for another 20 minutes.

5. Add your liquid: At any point that you see the pan getting too dry before this step, please add some of your water or broth. If by now, the chicken has accumulated enough natural juices, it's the best time to add your broth to create a rich broth to later combine with a quinoa before baking.

6. Simmer for 3 hours: Simmer your chicken for 3 hours and then turn off the heat and let your chicken cool before shredding.

 

Quinoa Tahchin Mixture:

1 cup cooked quinoa (any variety) (heating)

Olive oil (heating)

4 cups water or chicken broth (heating)

1 1/2 cups plain yogurt (cooling)

1 tsp saffron water (heating)

1 egg (heating)

2 tsp salt (cooling)

1 tsp black pepper (heating)

 

1. Rinse the quinoa: Rinse 2 cups of quinoa with cool water for 2 minutes. Rub and swish the quinoa with your hand while rinsing. Drain.

2. Toast quinoa in saucepan: Heat a nice drizzle of olive oil in the bottom of the pan over medium-high heat, then add drained quinoa with salt and pepper. Toast for 3-4 minutes or until the water evaporates, and the quinoa turns a light golden brown.
3. Add liquid to quinoa: Add all 4 cups of water or broth to the quinoa and bring to a boil.

4. Lower heat to simmer: Cover the pot with a lid and simmer the quinoa for 15 minutes on low heat.

5. Let stand, covered: Let your quinoa stand for 5-7 minutes before fluffing with a fork. Do not remove cover during this time.

6. Create Rice Cake Mixture: Pour half of your cooked and fluffed quinoa to a mixing bowl. Add yogurt, saffron water, egg, salt, pepper and mix until everything's moist and combined.

 

Barberries with Butter Sugar & Saffron Water

2 cups barberries (cooling)

1-2 tbsp sugar (heating)

1 tsp saffron water (heating)

1 tbsp butter (heating)

 

1. Melt butter: on medium low heat until it begins to bubble.

2. Add barberries: saute berries in butter. Add sugar and saffron water and cook together for 2-3 minutes.

3. Turn heat off: stir the mixture to combine and immediately serve on top of quinoa.

 

Layering Your Tahchin:

1. Layer 1: Spray a glass or aluminum Pyrex baking pan with olive oil spray or any healthy cooking oil to grease the pan. Take a little more than half of your mixture and press it into the bottom of the pan in all four corners to create an even layer.

2. Layer 2: Add shredded pieces of saffron chicken on top of the first layer until all the quinoa is evenly covered. 

3. Layer 3: Sprinkle the rest of the quinoa and yogurt mixture on top the chicken and smooth over with the back of a spoon.

4. Layer 4: Add the rest of the plain cook quinoa on top and push down to create a layered cake.

5. Add cooked juices: Poor the remaining chicken, saffron and onion juices on top of the cake.

6. Cover and bake: Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake for approximately 2 hours.

7. Plate and decorate: Top with cooked barberries and toasted almonds.

 





 

 

May Your Soul Be Nourished!

 

Photography by Samira Ardalan

 

 




Spinach & Lamb Stuffed Mushrooms

Samira Ardalan - Monday, December 05, 2016

 

 

Spinach & Lamb Stuffed Mushrooms in Spinach Broth

 

 


 

How it's Done:

 

Lamb & Spinach Stuffing: First, I seared a bone-in lamb steak in a cast iron dutch oven pan, which had been seasoned & marinated overnight with fresh thyme, rosemary, garlic, salt and pepper, then deglazed & simmered with vegetable broth, rainbow carrots and yellow onion. After about 5 hours, the meat became tender, moist and flavorful, creating a nourishing rich broth for soups & sauces. The lamb however, I pulled a part into pieces and mixed with simple sauteed spinach that had been cooked in extra virgin olive oil, garlic, salt, and black pepper. The carrots were succulent and colorful to add alongside the ingredients, so I made sure to add them inside the lamb and spinach mixture before topping off with a fresh shredded mozzarella and parsley blend before broiling. To serve, I poured a bit of that wonderful spinach broth created when sauteing the vegetable on low heat with the garlic and finished with fresh lemon. The lamb preparation is essentially a set it and forget it process and was done in no time. You can even prepare the meat the night before and then assemble these mushrooms as appetizers for your next event!

 

Ingredients:

10-12 cremini (baby portobello) mushrooms, cleaned, stems removed (cooling)

10 oz bone-in Lamb steak or lamb shank (heating)

4-6 garlic cloves (heating)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper (heating)

1/3 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese (heating)

Pinch of grated Parmesan cheese (heating)

1 medium yellow onion, quartered (heating)

6-8 cups of spinach (cooling)

2-3 large rainbow carrots, roughly chopped (heating)

1 Tbsp chopped fresh Rosemary (heating)

1 Tbsp chopped fresh Thyme (heating)

3-4 cups vegetable broth (heating)

6 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (heating)


Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 375°F and arrange the mushrooms on a baking sheet and drizzle with a good amount of extra virgin olive oil, then top with salt and fresh black pepper. Add a few smashed garlic cloves and 1/2 tbsp each of minced rosemary and thyme. Roast for 12 minutes then remove from oven and set aside until it's time to stuff them.

 

Lamb: The night before, or 3-4 hours advance, marinate your bone-in lamb steak in rosemary, thyme, garlic, salt, black pepper and olive oil. When you're ready to prepare it the next day, heat olive oil in a dutch oven pan over medium-high heat and begin to sear the meat on both sides for 3-4 minutes or until golden brown. Add rainbow carrots and onions then add enough vegetable broth to cover the ingredients. Cover with a lid and let simmer for 4-5 hours on low heat until the meat is tender and moist. Once cooked and cooled down a bit, pull the meat off the bone and set aside with a few of the carrots to mix with the spinach.

 

Spinach: Heat olive oil in a sautée pan on medium low heat. Add chopped garlic and let it slowly cook before adding the spinach. Little by little add all your spinach and tiny pinches of salt and pepper each time until it's wilted perfectly. Then, turn off the heat before the spinach browns and add a squeeze of lemon juice. Combine the spinach and braised lamb together in a bowl.

 

Arrange semi-cooked mushrooms stem side up on the baking sheet and begin to fill with the mixture. Once generously filled, sprinkle a fresh blend of mozzarella, Parmesan, and parsley on top for a salty, rich and creamy finish. Broil until cheese is browned and mushrooms are juicy and tender, about 8-10 minutes.

 

May your soul be nourished!






Follow us on social media for all natural, healthy & delicious Persian & Mediterranean cooking, recipes, health tips and more!

 

 


 

 

Photography by Samira Ardalan



Midwest Environmental Changes & Autumn Weeknight Meals

Samira Ardalan - Saturday, November 19, 2016

 

It's mid autumn here in the Midwest, and today we had our first small trickle of snow. While we are all preparing for what some say may be brutal winter, it's a surprise that Chicago's evening and winter temperatures have actually gotten warmer over the last several decades. During a time like this, I always go back to Avicenna's 6 Nurturing essentials to living a healthy lifestyle. Our environment is on this list and is an essential factor in determining our state of health. Air quality and weather conditions may have a negative impact on us, and the food & drink we consume can help assist in preventing imbalances in our body, mind and spirit.

 

According to the EPA (US Environmental Protection Agency), major heat waves have been occurring more frequently across the region for decades, and heat stress is likely to increase in the future as a result of continued rises in temperature and humidity in this region.[1]




Earlier this week I headed to the market for inspiration and decided to pick up a variety of ingredients with complex carbohydrates, such as spaghetti squash, in addition to wholesome meats and vegetables that will store as energy reserves for the body this Autumn.[2] We utilized unique middle eastern and Mediterranean heating spices and herbs to create balance and warming flavors. To understand more about heating and cooling foods, and what ingredients are best for you, visit our step by step instructions.

 


 

You can find a complete tour of our recipes from this week by following us here on Instagram!

 

Turkey Meatballs and Napa Cabbage in Lemon Broth

Spices: Star Anise, Bay Leaf, Carrots, Garlic, Cilantro

 


 

Whole Roasted Cauliflower with White Tahini Lemon Garlic Sauce & Pomegranate

Spices: Saffron water, Parsley, Kosher Salt, Black Pepper

 


 

Grilled Chicken Romaine Caesar Salad

Dressing: Garlic, Anchovy, Olive Oil, Salt, Pepper, Organic Mayo, Dijon Mustard, Parmesan, Lemon

 


 

Persian Tea with Cardamom

Warming and delicious! Did you know if you chew cardamom regularly after meals, it will strengthen the stomach, improve digestion, and increase appetite? Cardamom is one of the most valuable spices in the world due to its rich aroma and therapeutic properties.

 

 

Avicenna's 6 Nurturing Essentials are:

1. Air & Environment

2. Physical Rest & Activity

3. Sleep & Wakefulness

4. Emotions & Aromatherapy

5. Retention & Evacuation

6. Food, Diet & Drink

 

Follow Avicenna Cuisine on social media for all natural, healthy & delicious Persian & Mediterranean cooking, recipes, and health tips!

 


 

 

Our Kindle book is available on Amazon, click here to get your copy!

 

 

Photography by Samira Ardalan

 

References:

[1] EPA - US Environmental Protection Agency "Climate Impacts in the Midwest," 2016.

[2] A 2nd Opinion, by Natural Health Inc, Dr. Gene Ridley, "Articles, Beauty, & Skincare, Food & Nutrition, Mind, Stress & Balance, Seasonal Considerations & Cleansing," 2013.


Ghormeh Sabzi - Persian Herb Stew

Samira Ardalan - Monday, November 07, 2016

To achieve a balanced taste, and therefore a balanced temperament, Persian flavorings such as dried limes, fenugreek, parsley, and saffron are delicately mixed together to create this exotic yet simple, healthy, and colorful dish.

 

 

In the world of hot and cold foods, Ghormeh Sabzi is the perfect representation of a balanced dish. The cool-tempered herbs are cooked together with heating-tempered ingredients such as onions, fenugreek, and turmeric to create a harmonious aroma and nourishing meal for all temperaments. This dish is especially comforting in the colder winter months. You can also substitute dried herbs purchased from your local grocery, but it will not provide the same natural flavor and health benefits. Avicenna always taught us to cook with fresh ingredients, so whenever we cook we try to use ingredients that are seasonal and picked fresh from an organic local farm. Halal beef stew meat is incorporated into this dish to give a rich and savory flavor and if eaten in moderation, beef can provide many positive benefits.

 


 


 


 

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds meat (lamb or beef) washed and cubed
  • 1 cup red kidney beans, soaked overnight (canned will do, but add them at the very end)
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 bunch fresh fenugreek, or 1 tablespoon dried fenugreek
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 4 green onions (green stems only)
  • 4 bunches flat-leaf parsley
  • 3-4 dried lemons (limoo amani), or 1 lemon freshly squeezed
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • water
  • kosher salt & fresh black pepper to taste

 

Instructions:

  1. Rinse the fresh herbs under cold water and pat dry, then finely chop the herbs (or use a food processor).
  2. Cook the fresh herbs on medium high heat with 2 tablespoons of olive oil for 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large stew pot, saute onions on medium heat in 2 tablespoons of olive oil with salt and pepper.
  4. Add your stew meat, turmeric, salt, pepper and begin to brown the meat with the onions on all sides.
  5. Once browned, dd soaked dried beans, cooked fresh herbs, and dried lemons.
  6. Pour in enough water to cover the mixture by 1 1/2 to 2 inches, then bring to a boil and them cover and simmer for 1 1/2 hours.
  7. Adjust salt and add more water if necessary. Let simmer for another 2-3 hours.

 

The longer Ghormeh Sabzi sits, the better! I suggest preparing the night before and serving the next day. Serve with fluffy white basmati rice and plain greek yogurt. You can also make the delicious Persian Cucumber Yogurt Sauce, which pairs perfectly. Comment below if you'd like to see this recipe!

 

Avicenna Cuisine Food & Health Guidebook


Lemon Infused Grapeseed Oil

Samira Ardalan - Thursday, November 12, 2015

 

Picture an all natural liquid spice for all of your drizzling, marinating and dipping in the kitchen! This lemon infused grapeseed oil recipe shines with delicious fresh flavor and is perfect for salad dressings, grilled chicken, fish, cooked vegetables and more. A very special thanks to Chef Aaron, Executive Chef at DIRTT Environmental Solutions in Chicago, IL, for teaching me how to make this scrumptious oil topping- the perfect pantry necessity for Avicenna Cuisine.




Ingredients

18-20 oz. Grapeseed Oil - Cold & Wet

3 Lemons (zested) - Cold & Wet

10 Thyme Sprigs (whole) - Hot & Dry

2 Stalks of Lemongrass (chopped) - Cold & Wet

 

Directions

Gather all of your ingredients. Zest 3 lemons and chop 2 stalks of lemongrass. Add this to a stainless steel mixing bowl with the fresh thyme. Then, add grapeseed oil to a pan and heat on low until it has reached 225 degrees. Remove from the heat and add the oil to the mixing bowl with the other ingredients. Poor into a mason jar. Let sit without placing the lid on until the oil has cooled down. Let the oil infuse overnight until using it and be sure to keep this oil refrigerated as the contents of what's inside can spoil if left out.

  


 

Healing Properties

Grapeseed oil is cold and wet-tempered, just like red, purple and black grapes. This means that it produces more cold and moisture in the body when digested. Hence why this is a great ingredient to add to your dish if you're trying to cool down the properties of it. Grapeseed oil is a great source of the antioxidant, flavonoid 'oligomeric procyanidin', linoleic acid - essential fatty acid and Vitamin E. This oil is also often used in cosmetic applications such as face and body moisturizers, as well as in sunblock and sunburn ointments.

 

 


Lemon zest is cold and wet and contains as much as 5 to 10 times more vitamins than the lemon juice itself. To name a few: Vitamin C, Vitamin A, beta carotene, folate, calcium, magnesium, and potassium. Lemon is also helpful in maintaining cholesterol level and also lowers blood sugar level. 

 

Lemongrass is cold and wet helps in cleansing and flushing harmful toxic wastes out of the body and helps treat various types of cancers without affecting the healthy normal cells of the body. For a full list of health benefits, visit Organic Facts.

 

Thyme is hot and dry and packed with Vitamin C and is also a good source of Vitamin A. If you feel a cold coming on, this lemon infused oil in addition to Thyme as an ingredient itself, can help you bring you back to balance in no time.  


Happy Cooking!

To learn more about Avicenna Cuisine, please visit www.avicennacuisine.com or contact us at info@avicennacuisine.com.

Photos & Videos by Samira Ardalan


Fall Vegetables with Citrus Herb Yogurt Sauce

Samira Ardalan - Thursday, November 05, 2015

Welcome to Avicenna Cuisine! It is here that you will discover your in-born Temperament through a 5-Minute Test, and then find out what foods balance you best, using the renowned hot, cold, wet and dry system. If you haven't had a chance to already, I would love for you to get yourself a copy of my book via:

"Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food."- Hippocrates 

Avicenna Cuisine 101

There are 16 possible Temperament results once you take your test. There are four balanced and twelve imbalanced temperaments. All 16 combinations feature one or two of the four elements of Earth, Air, Fire and Water depending if you have a primary and or secondary temperament as well. There is a high likelihood that you possess two qualities instead of just one, for instance being primarily Fiery (hot and dry) and secondarily Airy (hot and wet). As you may have noticed, this individual has an overall dominant quality of heat.


A Quick Way to Understand How to Treat Your Temperament

In order to maintain this heat level and stay healthy, you should consume mainly hot-tempered foods. For example, if an individual has a balanced  Fiery or Airy (hot) temperament and they want to keep the fire burning, they have to continue adding fire to it (hot foods). On the contrary, if an individual has a balanced Watery or Earthy (cold) temperament, think of a glass of ice water. If we want to keep it cold we have to add more ice (cold foods).

 

How Do I Know What Foods Are HOT vs COLD?

Tastes have everything to do with temperament. If you can tell the difference between sour (cold) and sweet (hot) you are off to a good start! For a full database of ingredients and their Temperaments, visit our website under the Temperament Test section on your results page. 


Tastes of COLD Foods

Acrid - unripened fruit such as grapes, olives and berries

Biting - radishes, horseradish

Sour - apple, grape, lemon, pineapple, vinegar


Tastes of HOT Foods

Bitter - Arugula, Coffee, Grapefruit

Salty - Capers, Oysters, Seaweed

Pungent -Mustard, Garlic, Onion

Greasy - Fried Foods, Pizza

Sweet -Banana, Coconut, Shrimp

 

Creating A Dish That Balances Your Temperament 

There are two ways to create your dishes, whether it's breakfast, lunch, dinner, side or snack. First, if you are feeling balanced and healthy, continue to eat foods that are similar to your temperament. Second, if you are feeling imbalanced and sick, you must eat foods that are the opposite of your temperament to bring you back to balance.

 

So if you are feeling good, use ingredients that suit your temperament to prepare something delicious to your liking. You can definitely incorporate a variety of hot and cold foods, but when you add up how many cold vs hot ingredients you have, you should have more of either hot or cold, depending on what you are trying to achieve. For instance, to create a hot dish, you may have 7 ingredients. 4 of them are hot, and 3 are cold. This is considered a hot dish since there are more hot-tempered ingredients present. But, you have to consider the quantity of ingredients as well. If the main ingredient is cold, but there are still 4 hot ingredients, the cold ingredient such as broccoli can take over the dish and make it cold instead of hot. Use balance and moderation when preparing recipes. By the way, salt and pepper should be treated as ingredients and can change the entire temperament of a dish! Adding a lot of salt and/or pepper makes the dish hot tempered. Adding a little bit of salt to a cold dish is fine, so long as the amount of hot-tempered ingredients is much more than the amount of salt.    

 

If you are imbalanced and not feeling well, use ingredients that are the opposite of your temperament to prepare a medicinal dish that is delicious and to your liking. For instance, to create a cold dish for a hot tempered person, use cold-tempered ingredients like Broccoli, Lentils, and Lemon. Again, be sure to take a look at the Avicenna Cuisine ingredient database for help.

 

Fall Vegetables with Citrus Herb Yogurt Sauce

This dish was inspired by seasonal healthy ingredients for the Cold-tempered (Earth and Water). If you are trying to eat healthier, cruciferous vegetables like broccoli should be at the very top of your grocery list. The main ingredients, broccoli and mushrooms are both cold-tempered. The red onion, garlic and thyme are hot-tempered, but don't play the star roll in this dish. The al dente broccoli and crispy mushrooms give a nice crunch, while the yogurt aids in creating a creamy herb flavor and texture. Add a few grilled shrimp (cold) and this is a great weeknight meal in 30 minutes or less. 




Ingredients

1 bunch of Broccoli (broken up piece by piece) - Cold and Wet

1 1/2 cups of Mushrooms (thinly sliced) - Cold and Dry

1/4 cup Red Onion (thinly sliced) - Hot and Dry

1 tsp. Garlic (minced) - Hot and Dry

1/4 cup Fresh Parsley (bunch) - Cold and Dry

1 tbsp. Fresh Thyme - Hot and Dry

1 1/2 cups Plain Yogurt - Cold and Dry

1 tbsp. Fresh Lemon Juice - Cold and Wet

1 tbsp. Lemon Zest - Cold and Wet

1 tsp. White Wine Vinegar - Hot and Wet

2 tsp. Olive Oil - Cold and Wet

1 tsp. Salt - Hot and Dry

 

Directions

On two different sheet pans place your broccoli on one and the red onions on the other. Drizzle with olive oil and a little bit of salt. Roast in a 425 degree oven for 15 minutes or until the vegetables are lightly browned and crispy. While that's cooking, preheat your pan on medium high heat. Add the olive oil and a few seconds later, add your mushrooms (I used oyster, shiitake and portabella). Let cook for a few minutes then add a pinch of salt. Once they begin to brown and crisp up, add almost all of your garlic and half of the fresh herbs. Let this cook for a few minutes until the mushrooms have reached a golden brown crispy texture. Careful not to burn your garlic! Once the veggies and mushrooms are done, combine them together in a bowl and set aside in a warm area for a few minutes until you make the yogurt sauce. For the sauce, place the yogurt in a bowl and add a pinch of salt, lemon juice, lemon zest, vinegar, rest of minced garlic, and your fresh herbs. Combine and serve along side the vegetables.

 



Healing Properties of Broccoli
  • Looking younger- the antioxidant vitamin C can help fight skin damage, reduce wrinkles, and improve skin texture.
  • Natural fiber prevents constipation and helps to maintain a healthy digestive tract in addition to protection from chronic diseases. 
  • This dish provides your daily need for vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin A, folate and potassium. 
 
To learn more about Avicenna Cuisine, please visit www.avicennacuisine.com or contact us at info@avicennacuisine.com.

Photos by Samira Ardalan