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Maast-o-Khiar - Persian Chilled Yohurt Soup

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TasunkaWitko View Drop Down
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    Posted: 07 February 2016 at 13:12

Maast-o-Khiar

Iranian Chilled Yogurt Soup

سرد سوپ ماست


I always love how a side project can turn into a real learning experience; this happened yet again while I was contemplating a possible side for the Persian Fried Chicken that Brook recently posted:


http://foodsoftheworld.activeboards.net/persian-fried-chicken_topic4567.html


During my research, I remembered a supplementary segment in my Foods of the World volume on the Middle East that talked about a cucumber and yoghurt soup that an Iranian family in Isfahan was making, accompanied by some pretty nice photos. I took a look in the volume, and there it was, but the write-up only had a list of the ingredients (no amounts) with a vague description of the process. The companion spiral-bound recipe book listed an Iranian chilled cucumber soup, but it's a little different than the one featured in the main volume. Using these clues, I also did a little more looking around on the Internet. I found several recipes - each with only slight variation - and eventually compiled enough information to become fairly confident that I can turn the concept into a working recipe.


Essentially, it is a very simple thing. Here is the list of ingredients and summary of the process featured in Time-Life's Foods of the World - Middle Eastern Cooking, 1969:



Yogurt

Cucumber

Finely chopped onion (perhaps a shallot?)

Water

Salt

Raisins

Fresh mint leaves

Ice cubes


Grate the cucumber, add to yoghurt, add chopped onions, thin with a little water and add salt to taste.


Just before serving, stir in ice cubes and sprinkle the top with raisins and fresh mint leaves.



Here is the very similar version listed in the spiral-bound recipe index:


Quote To serve 2 to 4:


1 pint yoghurt

Salt and pepper

1 teaspoon mint

1 oz raisins (stoned)

1/2 cucumber

1/4 pint water


Put the yoghurt into a cold bowl and beat very thoroughly with the seasoning and the mint, which has been finely chopped. Stir in the raisins, the peeled, diced cucumber and the water. Chill before serving.


Finally, here is what I found to be the most probable and typical of the recipes resulting from my research on the Internet (follow the link for photos, expanded comments etc.):


Quote Maast-o-Khiar

Persian Yogurt & Cucumber Soup


From MyPersianKitchen.com


http://www.mypersiankitchen.com/mast-o-khiar-persian-yogurt-cucumber-soup/


Ingredients:


2 Persian cucumbers

3 cups yogurt

1/2 cup walnuts

1/2 cup raisins

2 tablespoons fresh mint (finely chopped)

Dried rose petals for garnish

Salt & pepper


I would like to start this recipe by saying that for better results it is best to use Persian cucumbers. These are smaller than the regular cucumbers seen in grocery stores. Additionally, their skin is also much much thinner, and therefore, they can be eaten with their skin on.  If using regular cucumbers then it is best to discard the middle part where the seeds are.  A good alternate to Persian cucumbers is Japanese cucumbers.  You can play around with the ratio of the ingredients to better  suite your taste buds.   The general rule of thumb for me is one Persian cucumber per person.  This recipe is good for two people.


I always like to toast nuts as it not only brings out their flavor but it also makes them crunchy. You can toast your walnuts either in a toaster oven, in the actual oven, or in  a pan.  Just keep an eye on it because they burn quickly. This should take only a few minutes.


Cut each cucumber in quarters lengthwise.


Now chop them up. I like my cucumbers somewhat chunky so that they are crunchy.


Place all ingredients in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper and mix well.


For this dish we want a soup consistency, so you can use any yogurt you want.  I am somewhat picky about my yogurt, I don’t like it too tart or runny.  If using yogurt purchased at a Persian or Middle Eastern store, before placing the yogurt in the mix make sure that you give it a nice stir in order to make it smooth so that it is not clumpy.


Mix everything together and adjust seasoning if needed.  Some people like to add water to make it more soupy, but I personally don’t like it that way…


Garnish the top with some walnuts, raisins, and rose petals.  On a very hot day you can even throw a couple of ice cubes in there. That’s is going to make it even more refreshing.


I love how every spoonful of Mast-o-khiar is filled with the cool and delicate taste of the cucumbers along with the sweetness of the raisins, nuttiness of the walnuts, and the refreshing taste of mint.  What’s even better are the spoonfuls that catch the rose petals. YUM!


As I mentioned above, my research turned quite a few other interpretations of this concept. All of the recipes for this soup have the base of yoghurt and cucumbers, and the final product is usually served with ice cubes (sometimes crushed) to keep it cold. Finely-chopped onion, shallot and/or garlic occasionally find their way into some versions, as well. Alternative toppings for Persian Chilled Cucumber and Yoghurt Soup include mint, raisins, dill, toasted walnuts, rose petals, black pepper and chives.


I found this all to be very interesting, and plan to make a version of this when I eventually make the Persian chicken. If you are inspired to try this soup, please add your experiences to this thread!


Ron

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