A festive Purim seudah (feast) is a de rigueur part of the holiday celebration. Take inspiration from the megillah's setting in ancient Persia with a meal inspired by the country's delicious cuisine. The recipes include a mix of simple and more labor-intensive dishes. You can make the whole menu, or select just a dish or two -- either way, you're in for a delicious feast that's sure to put you in a celebratory mood.
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Pomegranate, cumin and lime are all important flavor motifs in Persian cuisine, so start with a simple salad that features all three: top baby greens or herb salad with sliced avocado and pomegranate arils (seeds), then dress the salad with a simple Cumin-Lime Vinaigrette.
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Strictly speaking, this isn't a traditional Persian recipe. But the combination of saffron and citrus, so important to that wonderfully complex cuisine, infuses simple roasted chicken with fabulous flavor. We like to use clementines in this recipe because their characteristic sweet and sour notes echo the flavor principles of Persian cuisine. If they aren't in season, you can substitute a small orange.
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Khoresh, (sometimes spelled khoresht) or stew, is a mainstay of Persian cuisine. While Khoresh Bademjan, or Eggplant Stew, often includes meat, this version is vegan. (The optional yogurt herb sauce is a delicious accompaniment if you're skipping the chicken and serving a vegetarian menu.)
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Tahdig, a crusty, crunchy layer of rice from the bottom of the pot, is the best part of a rice dish to many Persians. It takes practice to get a beautiful golden layer of rice, but Saad Fayed offers simple instructions for trying your hand at the dish. His is a basic recipe; it's also wonderful with lots of dill, cooked lima beans, and saffron water added to the dish as well. Wrap your pot lid in a folded tea towel (make sure to keep if far from the heat) to help absorb water and ensure a crisp tahdig.Continue to 5 of 5 below.
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Queen Esther, the heroine of the Purim story, is said to have lived on seeds, legumes, and nuts while living in King Achashverosh's palace, in order to keep kosher. These hazelnut raspberry hamantaschen pay homage to her efforts. Coconut oil, rather than margarine, keeps the pastry pareve and enhances the nuttiness of the hazelnuts. If you can find ground hazelnuts (sometimes called hazelnut flour or hazelnut meal), feel free to use them instead of making your own! (And if you're skipping the chicken in favor of a vegetarian meal, these Rose Water Pistachio Hamantaschen will carry through the Persian flavors through dessert.)