I go on and on and on and oooon about all the reasons why I love this blogging business and how much it has enriched my life. But let me begin by saying that last Friday we had a Shirazi dish; today we travel all the way north to the Caspian Sea, specifically, the region of Gilan.
A while back one of the readers left a comment asking me to make Mirza Ghassemi. I scratched my head and reminisced about that one time about 12 years ago when we rented a cabin in the Sequoia National Park. As soon as we drove in and settled a handful of the ladies crowded the small kitchen and enthusiastically began to cook. One of said ladies was in charge of making Mirza Ghassemi. She handed a bunch of eggplants to one of the men and instructed him to grill them on the outside fire pit until the skin was all burned. She then expertly worked on the rest of the components of the dish. It was understood that she was the pro at making Mirza Ghassemi.
I observed from a distance and then I beat feet because heaven forbid if anyone asked me to help in the kitchen. I was in my early-mid twenties and was completely intimidated from all these grownups who knew exactly what they ere doing. In retrospect, I should have hung out and learned. Truth be told, at the time I made eating Persian food my business, not making it!
Fast forward to last week when I decided to make Mirza Ghassemi by consulting a couple of recipes and heavily relying on my taste bud memory. I updated the Fan Page’s status about what I as up to and what do you know one of the fans graciously left a comment. The wheels in my head started spinning like crazy because I had a hunch. My hunch was right, indeed, she turned out to be half Rashti!!!
Today’s recipe found its way to My Persian Kitchen through on of the readers, Laila Kuperman! It wasn’t enough that she is from Rasht, I nearly fell off my chair when she sent me a link to her blog! OH.MY. FOODIEGODS! I hit the Jackpot, or I should say hit the Lailapod! I salivated as I went through all of her Persian recipes. So here is Laila’s recipe for Mirza Ghassemi!
8 eggs, large
2 large eggplants
6 large tomatoes, chopped
2 tablespoons garlic puree
2 teaspoons tumeric
salt, black pepper
1/4 cup liquid shortening
Prick eggplants all over. Place on a cookie sheet and bake at 400º for about 20 minutes or until very tender. Laila’s tip: To check if the eggplant is cooked, pinch the neck. If the neck is soft, the eggplant is cooked.
In the mean time mince the garlic and puree by pressing down your knife and smashing it by firmly dragging the knife over the garlic.
Once the eggplants are ready, take them out of the oven and let them rest for five minutes.
Once they have cooled down peel the skin off. This should be easy and quick.
Rough chop the eggplant and mash with a fork. Also, chop your tomatoes. Although, Laila’s recipe doesn’t ask for this, I removed the tomatoes’ skin. (For a tutorial on how to peel tomatoes click here).
Season eggs with salt and pepper. Whisk until frothy.
Now here comes the fun part! I have to confess that I forgot to buy liquid shortening, instead I used vegetable oil. Warm up the oil and add the garlic. Add turmeric, stir constantly and cook for about 4 minutes.
Add eggs and stir well. Cook eggs as you would when making scrambled eggs. Once the eggs appear to be solid remove them with a slotted spoon and set aside.
There was no oil left in the pot after I removed the eggs, so I added some more oil. Add eggplants and tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper.
Cook covered on medium-high stirring often until the liquid has evaporated. Once the vegetables starts sticking to the bottom add the eggs.
Stir well so that the eggs are uniformly mixed with the eggplant and tomatoes.
Serve Mirza Ghassemi with a side of thinly sliced cucumbers and plain yogurt.
Or serve over rice.
Laila also shared some memories from her time in Iran with me. I trust that you will enjoy reading it as much as I did!
As far as my personal experiences in that region, I have lots of memories from going up there from Tehran for holidays and during the summers. I think my most favorite thing was the locals. They always seem jovial but maybe those were the benefits of not living the middle of the hustle and bustle of Tehran. I remember riding horses on the beach and spending quite a few nights or two in Mosuleh under the stars. I also remember being a young girl and learning how to clean sabzi and lubia sabz from all the older women while sitting on a sheet around huge mounds of it. And of course there is nothing that can match the intense adrenaline rush one gets from traveling on Jadeh Chaloos with crazy drivers, no shoulder and a massive drop off a cliff on the other side of the car.
Anyways, little did I realize when I learned to cook these dishes over the many years that I had learned how to cook the Rashti/Fumani way and that many of our families favorite dishes were not eaten all over Iran. I just always kind of assumed that everyone ate Baghali Ghato with Mahi Sefid and Varageh.
Oh my! How can one ever forget the craziness and intensity of Jadeh Chaloos? To this day I hate curvy roads and huge drop offs!
Thank you Laila for sharing your family recipe! I can’t wait to make more recipes from your blog!