Persian-Style Roast Turkey

Cook Time: 250 minutes
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 8


  • 5 cloves garlic, 2 finely grated and 3 whole and unpeeled
  • 2 tbsp. ground turmeric
  • 1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp. sweet paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 turkey (12 to 15 lbs.)
  • Kosher salt
  • 4 cups pomegranate juice
  • 1 cup pomegranate molasses
  • 4 dried Persian limes, smashed (optional)
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken stock, plus more for the gravy
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 1 orange, halved
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 3 tbsp. flour
  • 2 tsp. honey
  • 1 1/2 cups walnuts, toasted and finely chopped


1. For the turkey, in a small bowl, mix the grated garlic, turmeric, 1 tbsp. cumin, the paprika, and cayenne. Rub the oil and then the spice mixture inside the cavity and all over the turkey; season generously with kosher salt inside and out. Let the turkey marinate at room temperature for 1 hour.

2. While the turkey is marinating, make the pomegranate sauce. In a large pot, bring the pomegranate juice, pomegranate molasses, limes (if using), and the remaining 1 tsp. cumin to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring often, until thickened, about 30 minutes. Transfer 1/2 cup of the sauce to a small bowl and reserve for the gravy.

3. Position a rack in the bottom third of the oven and preheat to 350°. Place the turkey on a rack set inside a large roasting pan. Pour 2 cups stock in the pan. Stuff the whole garlic, the onion, orange, lemon, and herb sprigs into the cavity. Tuck the wing tips under the turkey and loosely tie the legs together with kitchen twine. Generously brush the turkey with the pomegranate sauce. Tent loosely with foil and roast the turkey, brushing every 20 to 30 minutes with more of the sauce, until an instant-read thermometer registers 165° when inserted into the thickest part of the thigh without touching the bone, 3 1/2 to 4 hours. Transfer the turkey to a cutting board and let rest for 30 minutes.

4. While the turkey rests, make the gravy. Strain the pan drippings into a large heatproof 2-cup measuring cup. Let sit until the fat rises to the top, about 5 minutes. Skim off the fat; transfer to a small bowl. Transfer 1/4 cup of the fat to a saucepan; heat over medium-high. Add the flour and whisk to blend. Cook, whisking often, until it begins to bubble, 1 to 2 minutes. If needed, add enough stock to the drippings to measure 1 1/2 cups, then add to the pan. Cook, whisking constantly, until thick, about 3 minutes. Whisk in the reserved 1/2 cup pomegranate sauce and the honey. Thin with more stock, if desired. Stir in the walnuts; season with kosher salt. Carve the turkey; serve with the gravy.


For those adventurous enough to try this for the first time, it is much like Baba Ghanoush, but the flavors are very different.  It’s also a bit heavier than Baba Ghanoush, but also one of my faves.

3 medium eggplants
2 egg whites, beaten
1/4 cup oil
3 large onions, peeled and thinly sliced
5 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 tsp turmeric
2 tbsp dried mint flakes
1/2 cup water
2 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

5 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 tbsp oil
1 tbsp dried mint, crumbled
1/2 cup liquid whey (kashk), diluted in 1/4 cup water
1/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
1/4 tsp ground saffron dissolved in 1 tbsp hot water


1. Peel eggplants and cut into four lengthwise slices. Place in a colander and soak in water and 2 tbsp salt to remove bitterness. Let stand for 20 minutes. Rinse with cold water and pat dry.
2. Brush the eggplant with egg white on all sides to use less oil in the frying process.
3. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a skillet and brown eggplant slices on all sides over medium heat. Drain over a paper towel.
4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
5. Brown the onions and garlic in 2 tbsp oil, add turmeric and mint flakes and set aside.
6. Alternate layers of eggplant with layers of onion and garlic mixture in a long ovenproof dish. Pour 1.2 cup water over the layers, sprinkle with salt and pepper, cover, and bake in the oven for about 20 minutes or until tender.
7. For the garnish, just before serving, lightly brown the garlic in oil. Remove skillet from heat and add mint, whey, walnuts, and saffron water. Pour over the eggplant, cover, and bake for another 15 minutes in a 300 degree Fahrenheit oven.
8. When the eggplant is done, adjust seasoning with salt and pepper and keep it warm until serving. Serve from the baking dish with bread, onions, chopped herbs, and (my personal favorite) grapes. Delicious!

Rose-Petal Preserves (Moraba-ye gol-e-Mohammadi)

1 pound fresh or 2 cups dried rose petals
1/4 cup lime juice
2 1/2 cups sugar
2 cups water
1 cup slivered pistachios
2 tbsp rose water (if using dried rose petals)

1. Select fresh pink rose petals. Cut off the white ends and of the petals and wash carefully, especially if they have been sprayed with pesticides. Place rose petals in a container and cover with cool water. Let stand for 15 minutes, then drain. If using dried rose petals, place in a pot, cover with water and bring to a boil. Drain in a colander. Sprinkle with 1 tbsp lime juice and let sit.
2. Place sugar and water in a laminated pot. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and let simmer over medium heat for 35 minutes, or until the syrup has thickened.
3. Add the rest of the lime juice, rose petals, slivered pistachios, and rose water, mix well, cover and simmer over medium heat for 20 minutes longer, or until the syrup sticks to the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and let cool.
4. Sterilize jelly jars in boiling water; drain and let dry. Fill the jars with the hot jelly and seal. Store in a cool, dark place.


This drink is called “doogh” in Farsi and “ayran” in Turkish.

1 cup whole-milk yogurt
1 tsp chopped fresh mint or a dash of dried mint flakes, crushed
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups club soda or spring water, chilled

1. Pour yogurt, mint, salt, and pepper into a pitcher. Stir well.
2. Add club soda or spring water gradually, stirring constantly. Add 3 or 4 ice cubes and mix again.
3. Serve chilled.

Saffron Pistachio Ice Cream (Bastani Irani)

2 Tbsp powdered sahlab or cornstarch
4 cups milk
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp ground mastic (Arabic gum)
1/4 tsp ground saffron dissolved in 3 Tbsp rose water
1/2 cup whipping cream
2 Tbsp slivered pistachios for decoration

1. Dissolve the sahlab or cornstarch in 1 cup cold milk. Mix very well until the mixture is quite smooth.
2. In a large saucepan, stir the rest of the milk and sugar together and bring to a boil over medium heat.
3. Add the sahlab mixture and mastic to the warm milk in the saucepan. Simmer over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens. At this stage, the mixture should be slightly elastic. Remove the pan from the heat.
4. Add saffron-rose water. Mix well. Allow to cool for 2 hours. Pour the entire mixture into an ice-cream machine.
5. Follow your ice-cream machine’s directions for making ice cream.
6. Pour a thin layer of whipping cream into a flat plate and place it in the freezer until a 1/4 inch frozen creamy crust forms. Remove the crust from the freezer, let it stand for 2 minutes, then break off 1/2 inch pieces of the crust and mix them with the finished ice cream.
7. Serve ice cream in bowls; spring the top with ground pistachios.

Variation: You may simply use 1 pint vanilla ice cream. Simply add frozen cream pieces, saffron-rose water, and slivered pistachios. Mix well.

Albaloo Polo (Sour Cherries and Rice)

This is one of my all time favorite Persian dishes.  And since sour cherries are in season this time of year…it’s a perfect addition to your repertoire.  I will also admit that while I am a huge fan of old fashioned food, I don’t spend all day in the kitchen.  that is why this particular recipes involves the rice cooker and doesn’t take long at all.

1 24oz. bottle of pitted sour cherries (found in any Persian store)
1 cup sugar
3 cups Basmati rice (found in any Persian store)
1/2 tsp. saffron
1 tsp. salt
1 tablespoon ghee


1.  Pour three cups of Basmati rice in your rice cooker bowl.  Pour more water than you need to cover the rice.  Wash by swirling the rice around in the water with your hands.
2.  Pour the water out.
3.  Repeat steps 1 & 2.  You basically want clean rice, but you don’t want it to so clean that the vitamins and minerals are no longer there.  So I normally wash the rice two to three times.
4.  Once you have washed the rice to your desired level of cleanliness, and emptied the dirty/starchy water, fill the bowl with 3 more cups clean, cool water.  You should have somewhere between 3 1/4 – 3 1/2 cups of water in your rice cooker.  (Some rice cookers will differ.)
5.  Add 1 tsp. salt and let the rice soak in the water for at least 2 hours.  Often times, I let it sit overnight.
6.  Add 1 tbsp. ghee and mix it into the soaked rice.  Turn on the rice cooker.  Your rice should be ready in almost no time.
7.  Drain the sour cherries.  You can save the liquid for “sharbat-e-albaloo” which is a really nice, cool summer drink.
8.  Pour the sour cherries into a pot.  Also pour in 1 cup of sugar.  I leave this on medium-low for 25 minutes.  I stir every now and then, as it is really easy to burn the sour cherries.  The cooked cherries and sugar will produce a liquid.  You want a liquid that is slightly thick.  If it resembles molasses, you’re overcooking and will burn the food.
9.  Boil 1/3 cup water.
10.  Grind the saffron (either in a food processor or with a mortar and pestle).  Add the boiled water to the saffron.
11.  Once your rice is done, either scoop it out or flip the rice cooker.  If you have a rice cooker which produces “tah-dig” then you are just that much cooler than I am 😉
12.  Pour the saffron over the rice.
13.  Pour the sour cherries and syrup over the rice.

You will have a beautiful multi-colored concoction.  Much sweeter than sour.  The saffron really does add a wonderfully strong, subtle flavor to the rice.

Also, this dish is normally served with chicken.  The chicken will need to be prepared separately and served on the side.  Being vegetarian, however, I cannot give you the appropriate chicken recipe.


Parsee Omelet

Just a bit of historical context, the Parsees were the Persians who moved to India.  So I think of this recipe as a little of both worlds.  “Pars” means “Persia”.

I have yet to make these, but I have a friend who has made them on numerous occasions and they are a feast for the taste buds.

1 lb. small zucchini
1 3/4 tsp. salt
5 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 large or 2 small potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch dice
1 – 3 fresh, hot green chillies, finely chopped
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 1/2 tsp, ground cumin seeds
1/8 – 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper, optional
freshly ground black pepper
9 large eggs
3 tbsp. finely chopped fresh coriander (use parsley as a substitute)
1/4 tsp. baking soda

Trim and discard the ends of the zucchini. Grate the zucchini
coarsely.  Put the grated zucchini in a bowl.  Sprinkle 3/4 tsp. salt
over them and mix thoroughly.  Set aside for 30 minutes.  Squeeze all
the liquid out of the grated zucchini and then separate the strands so
they are no longer bunched up.

Heat 3 tbsp. oil in a non-stick frying pan over a medium flame.  When
hot, put in the onion.  Stir and fry for a minute.  Now put in the
potatoes and the green chillies.  Stir and fry for about 5 minutes or
until the potato pieces are about tender.  Add the zucchini, tomatoes,
cumin, the remaining 1 tsp. salt, cayenne, and a generous amount of
black pepper.  Stir and cook for 2-3 minutes or until the tomato
pieces are soft.  Set aside to cool.

Break the eggs into a bowl and beat well.  Empty the cooled vegetable
mixture into the beaten eggs and add the fresh green coriander.  Stir
to mix,  Sprinkle in the baking soda, making sure that it is lump-
free.  Mix again.

Wipe out the frying pan with a piece of paper towel.  Pour in the
remaining 2 tbsp. of oil and set to heat on a low flame.  When hot,
pour in the egg mixture.