Let’s face it, as a Mom you are forever in search of the perfect nutritional dishes for your little bundles of joy. Being Persian, I benefit from centuries of culinary wisdom and deliciousness. With the Iranian new -year coming up, I thought I would share with you our gift of tasty treats that Iran has to offer. Not only are they easy to make, they are also full of nutrients that every kid could benefit from.
First, let’s address a question that often confuses non-Iranians. “What is the difference between Persians and Iranians?” They are used interchangeable to pertain to the people of Iran. Iran is the current name, while Persia was an ancient kingdom within Iran. It is located in Southwest Asia (yes we are Asians, even if the little gender specification box in job applications forces us to choose “white.” The country is slightly bigger than the state of Alaska. The Persian Empire extended as far east as India and as far west as Turkey. This explains the similarities among Greek, Turkish, and Indian dishes. Many say that Alexander the great, who fell in love with Persian dishes, was a main factor of exporting our recipes and dishes to other countries under his rule.
Iran is a rich country full of diverse ethnicities such as: Persians, Kurds, Jews, Gilakis, Mazandaranis, Lurs, Tats, Talyshs, Baluchs, Arabs, Assyrians, Armenians, Georgians, and other Indo-Europeans. Most of these subcultures have preserved their delicious cuisines and traditional languages. So, when you meet someone from Iran who refers to herself/himself as Persian, it means that they identify themselves with the Persian culture, speak Persian or Farsi at home, and grew up on typical Persian dishes.
No matter what ethnicity you belong to, all Iranians, love the following healthy dishes and ensure their children get to try them while growing up.
- KoKo Sabzi is like an Italian herb frittata. Beautiful medley of herbs including parsley, cilantro, and spinach join eggs to form Iran’s most delicious yet healthy fast food. Kids love helping prepare this dish because it involves cutting herbs, steering, and cracking eggs. Persian moms love greens that are high in Vitamin A, K & C and feel assured about the amount of antioxidants their kids will get.
- Koofteh is a dish made of meatballs with rice and herbs. Kids love shaping the meatballs and it is a great way to feed lean red meat to kids who don’t like it.
- Kotlet is made of meat and potato patties. Iranian families love to serve these delicious patties during picnics and parties. The ingredients are very simple which comprises of meat, potatoes, eggs, and onions. We have taught this recipe during many Chef Koochooloo classes and kids simply love getting creative with the shapes of Kotlet. Moms love getting lots of protein, vitamin B6, and potassium from this dish.
- Dolmeh Kalam is stuffed cabbage leaves. Typically found in Mediterranean restaurants, Dolmeh is a perfect dish to pack in lunch boxes, as it tastes delicious whether cold or hot. We made these at various Chef Koochooloo sessions and kids will love making it because they can wrap the leaves like they were wrapping gifts. The main ingredients include minced meat (turkey or beef- vegetarian option soy), rice, and fresh herbs such as coriander. Moms love feeding their kids cabbage, as it is an excellent source of vitamin K, vitamin C, and vitamin B6.
- Masto Kheiar is a dish with yogurt and cucumber sauce. It is an all time Mediterranean favorite. Kids love to make it because they can own the process from beginning to end (my daughter who is 5 is a master chef at this) and Moms love ensuring their kids are getting calcium and a good amount of vitamin k and potassium from the cucumbers.