My friend, the super talented writer Cheryl Tan, invited me to join a group of seasoned food bloggers. The goal of the group is to create themed posts around fun food topics. I have never done this before and thought it was a very cool idea. Then, she told me the first theme: daffodils. Well, I have to say that I was perplexed because a. I don’t cook with flowers and b. I would not know the first thing to do with daffodils. But, Cheryl is kind, and was open to my request of using a different flower. I know, I know, i should have used daffodils but let me at least try to pretend that I can be in a group of uber-talented food folks!!
Now, the same day Cheryl invited me, I was invited by Chef Maziar Farivar to his chic Georgetown restaurant Peacock Cafe for a taste of his native Persian cuisine. The food was, in one word, divine. A creamy pistachio soup with hints of citrus, grilled stuffed grape leaves with yogurt sauce, Feta cheese and basil-olive oil, and sour cherry-Basmati rice blend with grilled pomegranate glazed organic chicken thigh and drumstick were just some of the dishes that I found excellent. But, what really stole my heart was Chef Farivar’s appetizer featuring eggplant, pomegranate and, yes, roses. The velvety eggplant with the touch of rose and the sweetness of pomegranate arils was not just a delight for the taste buds but it seemed like the perfect way to welcome spring!
I requested the chef to share his recipe and here it is!! I also want to thank Rose Magpie for taking these amazing photos of the dish.
I hope my #letslunch group falls so in love with this rose petal dish that they forget and forgive me for not using daffodils!
Naaz Khatoon; A Roasted Eggplant and Pomegranate Dip
By Chef Maziar Farivar
3 large eggplants,
1 large red onion,
12oz pomegranate juice ( Chef recommends POM)
ground cumin and coriander,
1 lg garlic clove
Dried rose pedals and fresh pomegranate seeds for garnish (when available)
Cut eggplants in half, lengthwise. Place them cut side down on a sheet pan and place in 350F oven for about 45-55 minutes, or until the meat is soft to the touch.
Once eggplants are cool enough to handle, scrape the meat away from the skin and set aside. Chop it roughly to make sure there are no large pieces.
Slice the onion in thin fairly uniform slices. Caramalize onion slices in a saute pan with some olive oil over medium high heat. Do not allow them to burn.
Place eggplant and onions in a medium sauce pan and add pomegranate juice (or continue to use the sautee pan if large enough). Add a tsp of salt, pepper, coriander and cumin and one crushed garlic clove. Bring mixture to a simmer and reduce pomegranate juice by more than half, so that the mixture is not runny. Taste to adjust the seasoning.
Now, we have a delicious eggplant-pomegranate dip, Naaz Khatoon. Place in a bowl, sprinkle some crushed rose pedals on top and serve chilled or at room temperature.
Place a bowl of Naaz Khatoon in the center of a large presentable tray, garnish with fresh pomegranate seeds and more dried rose pedals, urround by beautiful green leaves of your favorite lettuce and/or slices of pita or any other flat bread so to make bite size portions.
Peacock Cafe, 3251 Prospect St. NW, 202-625-2740
I loved this titbit about Chef Farivar: In September 2012, Chef Maziar was recognized nationally as one the most prominent chefs and culinary leaders along with 80 other celebrity chefs, to become a Culinary Ambassador and a member of the American Chef Corps, part of a new Diplomatic Culinary Partnership between the State Department, its protocol office and the James Beard Foundation.
PLEASE FOLLOW THE REST OF THE GROUP HERE FOR THEIR WONDERFUL RECIPES:
1.Anne Marie Cruz: Veal Shank Redemption: The Zihuatanejo, a blueberry soda and thyme-braised veal shank with spring pea shoots. Yay!
2. Lisa Goldberg: Salad of Chargrilled Sourdough, Tomato and Haloumi Cheese
3. Nancie McDermott – Shad roe with grits and bacon.
4. Rebecca Seigel – Goat Cheese panna cotta with mango foam
I love eggplant and I never thought to use roses in a recipe to go with it. This is a unique idea, I’ve been wanting to cook with flowers. You’ve just inspired me to and made me a little braver today. Thanks for sharing, Monica!
I so enjoyed taking these pictures Monica. Your description of the dishes make me want to book a flight to Georgetown right away!
So glad you joined us in LetsLunch! I adore any roasted eggplant dish, and the rose petals make a lovely presentation.
Spectacular start for a new member of the #LetsLunch circle! Not surprised since it is coming from you, my friend! I love everything about this post and this dish. It looks impossibly wonderful, but I can see that it will be a snap to prepare. Welcome to LL!
Monica, it’s so nice to see your beautiful recipes and words in #LetsLunch! Looking forward to more wonderful posts! (and just a note from the daughter of a florist ~ make certain that the rose petals come from untreated roses, in other words, roses that are intended to be consumed.)
I love roasted eggplant, and the rose petals and pomegranate seeds are such a pretty contrast. I’ll be in DC this week, and if I have any free time, I might have to search for Peacock Cafe! Welcome to Let’s Lunch, it’s wonderful to have so many cookbook authors in our midst.
This looks so beautiful, Monica! Such classic Middle Eastern flavors, and our favorite combinations of sour/slightly sweet/slightly floral. Delicious. The whole Persian menu you had sounds divine!