Especially during winter time, Persians have a craving for ásh (pronounced like squash).
Ásh is similar to soup but some are thicker and usually served hot. Depending on the ingredients, ásh can be considered a full meal.
Ásh may contain different types of grain, beans, vegetables/herbs (parsley, spinach, dill, spring onion, leek, coriander/cilantro, dried mint), fruits (pomegranate, prunes, apricots), nuts (pistachios, walnuts) onions, meat, yogurt, garlic, noodles, spices (salt, pepper, turmeric, saffron).
The top of ásh is garnished/decorated with crispy caramelized onions, crispy caramelized garlic, fried mint, yogurt and/or whey.
In Persian, cooks are called ásh-paz (soup cook) and the kitchen is called ásh-paz kháneh (house in which soup is cooked).
Ásh can be prepared completely vegan, or a variety of options will be given for you to be creative and adjust to your palate.
Ásh tastes best when made a day in advance, giving flavors a chance to meld. Reheat it just before serving. Garnish should be added when ready to serve.
Basic Vegan Herb Ásh
7 cups water (add more later if needed)
1 ½ tsp salt
2 cups parsley (1 large bunch) finely chopped
3 cups cilantro (2 large bunches) finely chopped
1 cup scallions/leek finely chopped
1 cup spinach (small bunch) finely chopped
3 Tbsp dried dill
½ tsp dried mint
1 clove garlic, crushed and minced
¼ tsp black pepper
½ tsp turmeric
½ cup lentils
1 Tbsp basmati rice (no more)
- In a medium-large pot, bring 7 cups of water to boil. Add salt first.
- Add parsley, cilantro, scallions, spinach, dill, mint, garlic pepper and turmeric and stir a few times until boiling.
- Lower the heat to medium or a little lower and let simmer for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a medium sauce pan, add 2 cups of water and lentils and bring to a boil. Boil for 3 minutes. Drain and rinse (this process helps keep beans from causing digestion problem/gas for some).
- Add partially boiled/rinsed/drained lentils to the pot with the herbs, after herbs have cooked for 30 minutes.
- Let it simmer for another 20 minutes. After that, add rice and cook for another 15 minutes.
VARIETIES OF OPTIONS
–To add beef meatballs–
½ lb lean ground beef
1 small onion, grated
½ tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
¼ tsp turmeric
½ Tbsp vegetable oil
- Mix all ingredients and knead. Make meat balls as small as you have patience for.
- Layer meat balls in a greased, medium-large pot, put on lid and on medium-heat, bring to a boil and cook for 30 minutes.
At this point, you can start the above step by adding 7 cups of hot water and so on…
–To add chicken meat–
2 boneless/skinless thigh meat cut into bite sizes
1 small onion, chopped
½ tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
- In a medium-large pot, add all ingredients and cook for 20 minutes (scoop out any foam that forms). At this point, you may begin the above step by adding more water to make 7 cups of hot water and so on…
–Adding cooked lamb shank meat goes well too–
–To get a touch of sweet-and-sour taste–
Add 8~12 pieces of pitted-dried-plums or golden-Persian- plums (álu) when you add the lentils.
Noushe jan / Bon Appétit!
Azita of Fig & Quince posted an excellent example of pomegranate ásh,
She also has included recipe/directions for the garnish!