Gondi Nochodi

This recipe may look like Matzah ball soup, but it is actually a Jewish Persian dish, very popular among Persian Jews.  It is made of ground chicken and chickpeas.

Gondi, is perhaps the single most unique food to the Jews of Iran. While Persian Jews have over the centuries adopted the Persian cuisine in their kitchen (kosher style, of course), Gondi has been one of their few culinary innovations that they can claim as their own.

It is usually served as an appetizer together with Sabzi – raw green vegetables including tarragon, basil, mint, and radishes. In our home, we used to eat it as a main dish.

5-6 oz roasted chickpea (found in Middle Eastern grocery stores)
1 lb ground chicken breast
2 large onions, shredded
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp salt
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp black pepper
¼ cup canola oil or rendered chicken fat
4 tsp rose water (found in Middle Eastern grocery stores)
Homemade chicken soup (recipe follows) or 8 cups of good chicken stock
salt and pepper to taste

In a food processor, grind the roasted chickpeas only until they turn into crumbs. Be careful not to over grind it. You don’t want chickpea flour. You may find chickpea already coarsely ground in Middle Eastern grocery stores. Do not buy chickpea flour. It is too powdery.

Place the chickpea crumbs in a large bowl. Add all other ingredients except for the chicken soup, and mix well by hand, until mixture is well combined.

In a large saucepan, bring the chicken soup to a boil. If needed, add salt and pepper.

Make plum size balls of the chickpea mixture, and add them gently, one by one, to the soup. If the balls stick to your hands, use a small bowl with water to wet your hands lightly.

Lower the heat to medium and cook for about 30 minutes.

Place 1-2 balls in a soup bowl, add some soup and serve.


Chicken soup

2 lb chicken bones (necks, backs) or other parts
8 cups water
1 large onion, quartered
1 small bunch cilantro
4 carrots, peeled and sliced into ¼ inch rings
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
1 tsp turmeric
2 tbs chicken soup powder

Place the chicken in a large saucepan. Cover with 8 cups of water and bring to a boil. Using a large spoon, clean all the foam formed on the water.

Lower the heat to medium and add the onion, carrots, cilantro, and spices and cook for about an hour, covered.

Discard of the cilantro. You may use the soup as is to cook the Gondi dumplings in, or you may strain it, and have a clear broth for the Gondi.

Gondi is served with a plate of fresh green herbs such as basil, tarragon, mint, and sliced radishes.IMG_2324

Corn soup Mexican Style

I was in the mood for a flavorful chunky soup to accompany our taco dinner. Mexican style sounded good, so I winged it using stuff I have at home. It’s really an easy soup that only takes 10 minutes of preparation. And it comes out delicious. We enjoyed it so much so now we have a new keeper.

2 tbs oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 cans sweet corn
1 can diced tomatoes
1 tbs chipotle pepper in adobe sauce, minced
3 cups water
2 tbs chicken soup powder
½ tsp thyme
1 tbs ground coriander seeds
1 cup chopped cilantro
Plantain/tortilla chips (optional)

In a large saucepan, heat the oil and sauté the onion until golden brown.

Add the corn including the liquid, the diced tomatoes with the juice, the chipotle, water, and spices.

Bring to a boil, lower the heat and cook for 20 minutes. Turn off the heat.

Using a hand blender, partially blend the soup, leaving almost half the content chunky.

Add the chopped cilantro and top with some crunchy plantain or tortilla chips before serving.

Kubbeh Hamousta

Kubbeh hamousta (sour kubbeh in Kurdish) is one of the better known Kurdish classics. It was also one of my grandmother’s signature dishes. When she wanted to make sure we’d come visit, she would make kubbeh hamousta and call all her children to let them know. Not that we didn’t go see her anyway, but it was certainly a great pleasure to enjoy her kubbeh and see how happy it made her. Even when she got very old and could barely use her broken, aching hands, my grandma still insisted on making kubbeh hamousta for us. That was only one of her many ways to show her love to her six children, twenty-two grandchildren, and forty-four great grandchildren.

I had the privilege to spend many precious hours with my grandma, and learn from her the art that is Kurdish cuisine. The recipe below is my grandmother’s version for kubbeh hamousta. Although there are other versions out there, I wanted to remain true to her flavors and techniques. This way I feel I can pass on her legacy and continue my old world tradition.

For the filling:
2 tbs vegetable oil
1 medium onion
1lb fatty meat (like chuck), cut into ½ inch cubes (I buy it pre-cut as Carne Picada)
Salt (to your liking)
½ tsp Black pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup celery leaves, chopped very thinly

For the soup:
1 large onion, chopped
1 celery bunch with leaves, rinsed and cut into ½ inch strips
1 Swiss chard bunch (6-7 leaves), rinsed and cut into 1 inch strips
3 leeks
1 head garlic, cloves peeled and sliced
8 cups water
½ tsp. citric acid or juice from 2 lemons
2 heaping tbs. chicken soup powder
Black pepper

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large sauté pan. Add the chopped onion and sauté until onion is translucent. Add the meat, salt, and pepper, and sauté over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the meat is crispy and well browned.

Remove the pan from the heat and add the celery and the garlic. Mix well and set aside to cool. The filling can be made in advance and kept in the refrigerator.

To make the soup, cut off the dark green part of the leeks and use only the white and light green parts. Cut the leeks lengthwise, then rinse under running water to remove all dirt and sand, inside and out. Slice the leeks into ½ inch strips.

In a large soup pot, heat the oil and sauté the onions.

Add the celery, Swiss chard, leeks, and garlic and sweat to extract the flavors of the veggies.

Add water and spices and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer on medium low heat for about 30 minutes.

* Be very cautious when using citric acid. It is very strong and powerful when added to food. A tiny bit goes a long way, so be super careful with the quantities. The soup needs to be sour but in a pleasant way. You may want to adjust the amount of the citric acid to your liking.

While soup is simmering, make the Kubbeh dumplings following the picture step by step recipe in my blog.

Once done, you’ll have a tiny adjustment to make for the hamousta recipe. The shape of the kubbeh is slightly different. After you’ve created perfect balls, place each ball between the palms of your hands and slightly press to flatten it.

hamousta uncooked

Very gently, add the kubbeh dumplings to the soup, moving them gently occasionally, using a wooden spoon, to make room for more kubbeh dumplings to be added. Once you have all the kubbeh in the soup, cover the pot and simmer for 45 minutes.

Sweet Potato and Coconut Milk Soup

Thanksgiving has always been one of those holidays that makes me want to get in the kitchen and cook up a storm. The question was always, though, what to cook?

On the one hand, there is the traditional American menu with the turkey, mashed potatoes, string bean casserole, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, etc, which is the unbeatable menu for this holiday, especially during the years when we did not live in America.

On the other hand, I’m not crazy about the whole turkey idea. No matter how you treat it, before and during cooking, it doesn’t taste good enough, and every year I’m disappointed all over again. There were times when instead of cooking the turkey in one piece, I cut it into pieces and made different dishes out of the different parts. It did taste better, I must say, but we were missing the sight of the whole bird sitting on the table.

With time, my husband Doron and I picked up recipes that we liked. We ended up composing our own Thanksgiving meals, with the idea of using the ingredients commonly used in the original menu, but cooked differently. Since both Doron and I like to innovate and discover new recipes, no Thanksgiving meal in our house is similar to its predecessors.

This year, though, we are invited to our friend’s house, and I’m only in charge of dessert. I plan on baking a mixed nut tart, a recipe I have from a book by one of my favorite bakers, Karin Goren. Expect a post on that in the next few days.

In the meantime, here is a recipe that I love, that I think would make a great Thanksgiving first course.

2 oz (50g) butter
3 tbs canola oil
1 large onion finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, sliced
3 lb (1.5kg) sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into large cubes
2 tbs fresh ginger, finely chopped
1 tsp lemon zest
salt and black pepper to  taste
6 cups chicken stock or water
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup coconut milk
½ cup cilantro chopped for decoration

In a large pot, melt the butter with the oil. Add the onion, garlic, sweet potatoes, lemon zest, ginger, salt and pepper, and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the chicken stock, cover the pot and bring to a boil. Cook over low heat for 45 minutes.

Add the cream and the coconut milk. Using a hand blender or a food processor, blend the soup until smooth. Heat the soup until it almost comes to a boil, then turn off the heat. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

When serving, mount some fried onions in the middle of the bowl , swirl a bit with some coconut milk around, and drip some sweet chili sauce on top. Garnish with some parsley.

My Dad’s Very Yummy Veggie Delight

Raw diet is a big trend in the U.S, but my parents are not from here. They haven’t heard of veggie shakes and raw food diet. Yet, they eat very healthy. For the last 30 years (at least), they have been having a large bowl of vegetable salad, made fresh by my mother, as their dinner every night.

My dad, with a stroke of genius, came up one day with this amazing pureed vegetable salad that makes you want to eat raw vegetables three meals a day. It immediately became a staple dish in my parents’ home, although not instead of the traditional salad. This shake has become one of our favorite breakfasts.

Whether you are into health food or not, this is a wonderful and a very yummy way to eat your veggies. This is not a shake, so don’t expect it to be smooth or liquid. You eat it in a bowl with a spoon.

We like to wash and chop enough veggies for 3-4 days at a time. We divide them into daily portions, so every morning we blend the contents of one bag for breakfast (enough for 2-3 people). It saves us time in the morning and we also don’t end up not eating the veggies just because we get lazy preparing them. The things we add fresh at the last minute are the avocado, lemon juice, oil and spices. The amounts given below are a daily portion ( for 2-3 people).

1 large tomato
1 small cucumber or ½ large cucumber
½ red bell pepper
1 medium carrot
¼ of a small onion
½ bunch cilantro (1 packed cup)
½ bunch flat parsley, leaves only (1 packed cup)
½ packed cup fresh mint leaves
1 piece of fresh ginger, peeled (about 1 inch in diameter)
¼ avocado
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or cold pressed flaxseed oil
Freshly squeezed lemon juice from 1 lemon
Salt to taste

Cut the tomato, cucumber, pepper, carrot and onion to large pieces and place in a food processor.

Add the rest of the ingredients and process until veggies are all well pureed. The consistency should be of a somewhat thick soup. If the mixture is too thick, add a little bit of water and pulse it a little longer.

The puree is best eaten fresh, but can also be refrigerated for up to one day. After that, it loses its wonderful fresh flavors and probably some of the nutrients as well.

Leek, Zucchini and Bean Soup

A fun soup that was born yesterday in my kitchen, from vegetables that needed to be cooked already and some pantry items. I was going for something soothing with mild flavors and colors. I think I nailed it…

1 tbs butter
2 tbs oil
2 leeks, white parts, sliced
1 medium onion, chopped
3 zucchinis
1 large wax potato
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 14oz cans cannellini beans, liquid included
3 cups water
1 tbs chicken soup powder
1 tsp salt
½ tsp white pepper
1 cup flat parsley leaves, chopped

In a large pot, melt the butter and oil. Add the chopped onion and the sliced leek and saute for 5 minutes on medium high heat.

Cut the zucchini and the potato into ¼ inch cubes.

Add the zucchini, potato, and the garlic to the pot and keep sautéing for 5 more minutes.

Add the beans with their liquid, the 3 cups water, and the spices. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the chopped parsley and remove from the heat.