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Ep 16, 17: Aug 2018: The Saffron Tales by Yasmin Khan

Pune folk cooked up a feast on August 2018 with Sheena bringing in two dips - yogurt with spinach and garlic and a burnt aubergine and walnut dip. She also brought the chicken livers with pomegranate molasses. Turns out, the latter is super easy to make - just boil down a freshly juiced pomegranate to a couple of tablespoons. Add some regular sugar, brown sugar or, better still, some jaggery if you’re using fruit that isn’t too sweet.

Lavanya brought in some herby baked falafels with a fennel and watercress salad while Ambica served some ricotta toast with a carrot, cardamon and rose water jam.

Ravi made a hot yogurt and chickpea soup but the mains took the cake - with Ambica making some Chelow (saffron rice) and Ravi making the Fesenjoon (chicken with walnuts and pomegranates) and jujeh kabobs.

Jahnavi ended the afternoon with a yoghurt cake with poached mangoes (instead of fig) and the chocolate pistachio torte.

I'd promised the folk at the Pune Cookbook Club that I'd cook from Yasmin Khan’s The Saffron Tales, but I’ve been travelling a fair bit on work and am usually just too tired on weekends to cook fancy. In keeping with having guests over and cooking from a new book, I invited Shub and her husband and their daughter to dinner last night. I made some muhammara from an Ottolenghi recipe I had at hand.

And a spinach and yoghurt dip (borani-ye esfinaj) from The Saffron Tales. I served those with lavaash (again, from the book), and lots of carrots, cucumbers and radish. There were also some fried olives (half of which I ended up over frying, bummer). When a four year old loves what you’ve cooked, there’s an immense sense of joy and pride that comes out of it.

Mains were stuffed aubergines with a tomato sauce (dolmeh) - I was hoping they'd turn out better, to be honest, a super yummy addas polo (rice with lentils, dates, walnuts and raisins) and my favourite of the evening, ghormeh sabzi (a lamb, bean and mixed herb stew). The recipe called for black lemons, but as usual, the Amazon delivery for them seemed a little skewed.So I put some lemon slices in my oven at the lowest possible temperature for a couple of hours. My kitchen smelt beautiful and they hardened in about 30 minutes of taking them out of the oven. They did the job of imparting a tart and bitter aftertaste to the ghormeh sabzi. Needless to say, I loved them and put a batch away in my fridge to use later. The ghormeh sabzi, in many ways, reminded us of Parsi dhansak and on digging deeper, here’s what I found:

The book is a keeper, often delving into authentic Irani recipes which well remind me of Parsi food I‘ve eaten as a kid. I’m already excited about Yasmin Khan’s new book out early next year.

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