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!



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)


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!

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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!




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Photography by Samira Ardalan



[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.






  • 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



  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