Saturday, 25 October 2014

Recipe: Tastes of Iran

The brilliant thing about Australia is that the people within it are so diverse. Last night I sat at a dinner table with two Brazilian brothers, an Iranian couple, a Belgian, a Dutchwoman and one other Aussie.

Earlier in the evening we smoked a shisha (what others may know as a hookah, or to the less educated “a big, giant bong with a hose on it”). But don’t worry folks, this shisha wasn’t packed with pot. My stance against illegal substances still stands! What it was packed with was grape leaves soaked in apple essence heated by chunks of burning charcoal. There’s no side effect, it’s done for socialising more than anything. And despite the apple essence it is actually more like liquorice. It gave way to lots of fun and laughs and I think by the end of the night the boys had smoked the whole packet.

Our hosts for the evening was obviously the Iranian couple. They had left their home country due to the opportunities and freedoms that Australia provides. But their journey hasn’t come without some interesting experiences.

A common misconception about Australia is that every animal wants to kill you and the place is filled with crocodiles, sharks, spiders and snakes. The couple were renting a house in Adelaide when a strange creature had made its way inside through an open door. Catching sight of it the pairs’ immediate reaction was “Crocodile! Crocodile!” They rushed to their neighbours’ house and asked him if he was able to do something about the croc. A little confused he obliged only to find that the invasive reptile was in fact a blue-tongued lizard which he effortlessly scooped up and put back outside in the garden not holding back his fits of laughter.

Mr and Mrs Iran have embraced the Australian way of life but certain traditions, just like the shisha, they have kept alive and in this instance it’s food! She made tzatziki and a tomato based sauce to accompany the Persian kebabs cooked over the barbeque by Mr Iran. The kebabs aren’t what would normally be thought of in terms of chunks of meat on a stick. The Persian way is to use very finely minced beef mixed in with garlic, salt, pepper and very finely diced onion. The prepared beef is encased around long, flat skewers that are about an inch and a half wide. When cooked properly on both sides the meat is slid off the skewers to be served.

The Persian kebabs were accompanied by Mrs Iran’s sauces, tossed salad, warm flat bread, tomatoes also cooked on the skewers and rice sprinkled with saffron grown on Mr Iran’s family farm in the mountains of Iran. Dessert was chocolate cheesecake (traditional out of a Sara Lee packet) and semolina cake made by Mrs Iran. And there’s nothing like a good night with full tummies and good friends.

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