Jake Cohen’s Shabbat Dinner Series | Persian Feast

Jake Cohen is a nice Jewish boy who loves food. He studied at the Culinary Institute of America, then worked the line at NYC institutions DANIEL and ABC Kitchen before transitioning out of restaurants and into food media. From recipe testing at Saveur Magazine to becoming Food Editor at TastingTable.com, he’s total Shabbat #goals. And trust us, you’re definitely going to want to follow him on Instagram at @jakecohen.

In this blog series, I’m focusing on 3-course Shabbat meals for 10 people. Follow along on insta at @onetableshabbat for how-tos and tips, then find the full recipes here each week.

SHIRAZI SALAD

This salad is always on the table for any Persian feast. Cucumbers and tomatoes come together for a bright and fresh accompaniment to cut through rich stews and fragrant rices.

Ingredients:
4 Persian cucumbers, diced
3 vine ripe tomatoes, cored and diced
1/2 red onion, diced
1 tablespoon fresh mint, minced
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

In a large bowl, toss all the ingredient to combine. Let sit for 10 minutes, then toss again to distribute the dressing and serve.

MUSHROOM TAHCHIN

If you’ve never had tahchin, you’re mind is about to be blown. Basmati rice is perfumed with yogurt and saffron before getting layered with chicken and baked until golden brown. It’s the king of Persian rices. Instead of classic chicken, I switch in sautéed mushrooms for a vegetarian version that’s just as amazing. Make sure you time it out so your tahchin will be ready just in time for dinner.

Ingredients:
3 cups basmati rice, rinsed
3 tablespoons kosher salt, divided
¼ cup olive oil
1 pound mixed mushrooms
4 shallots, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons boiling water
Pinch saffron threads, crushed
1 cup whole yogurt
1 stick unsalted butter, melted

  1. Preheat the heat of the oven to 375°. In a large bowl, cover the rice with cold water and 1 tablespoon of the salt. Let soak for 1 hour, then drain.
  2. While the rice is soaking, in a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat, add the mushrooms and shallots and cook, stirring often, until golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Season with ½ tablespoon of the salt and remove from the heat.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the boiling water and the saffron and let sit until bright red, 10 minutes. Whisk in 1/2 tablespoon of the salt with the yogurt and 2 tablespoons of the melted butter.
  4. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Season with the remaining 1 tablespoon of the salt. Boil the rice until just tender, 5 minutes, then drain.
  5. Grease a 12-inch non-stick skillet with 2 tablespoons of the melted butter. To the yogurt mixture, gently stir in 3 cups of the boiled rice until coated. Spread the coated rice on the bottom of the pan and up 2-inches around the sides. Fill with the roasted vegetables. Top with the remaining rice, then drizzle the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter over top.
  6. Cover with foil and bake until golden brown, 2 hours. Remove from the oven and run a rubber spatula along the sides to ensure it doesn’t stick. Place a platter over the pan and invert so the crispy rice is on top, then serve.

PERSIAN CARROT AND PRUNE STEW

This isn’t the most popular Persian stew, but it should be. Chunks of beef are simmered with carrots and prunes until tender, building a sweet and sour stew unlike anything you’ve ever tried. Like most stews, this beauty tastes so much better the next day, so I encourage you to make it in advance. That way, you just have to reheat it before your guests arrive.

Ingredients:
1/4 cup vegetable oil
4 pounds beef chuck, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
Kosher salt, to taste
2 pounds carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
4 scallions, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
4 cups beef stock
1 cup prunes, halved
1/4 cup lime juice
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses

  1. In a large Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Season the beef with salt, then working in 2 batches, sear, turning as needed, until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes per batch. Transfer to a bowl.
  2. Add the carrots to the pot and cook until the carrots are golden, but not tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to another bowl.
  3. Add the scallions, garlic and onion to the pot and cook, scraping up any fond on the bottom of the pan, until softened and just starting to brown at the edges, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the cardamom, cinnamon and turmeric and sauté until fragrant, 1 minute.
  4. Add back the seared beef and pour in the beef stock, then bring to a simmer. Cook, covered with the lid opened very slightly, for 1 hour. Add in the reserved carrots with the prunes, lime juice and pomegranate molasses. Cover and simmer until the beef and carrots are tender, and the broth is thickened, 1 hour more. Adjust the seasoning with salt, then serve.

CUCUMBER YOGURT SAUCE

This is hands down the best condiment ever. Grated and chopped cucumber mix with yogurt for a tangy and refreshing sauce to drizzle over just about anything. It’s perfect to make in advance so you’ll have one less thing to worry about.

Ingredients:
2 cups whole plain yogurt
2 Persian cucumbers, 1 finely grated and 1 minced
2 tablespoons fresh mint, minced
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 garlic clove, finely grated
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

In a medium bowl, stir all the ingredients to combine, then serve.

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