Ash-e-jow (Iranian/Persian Barley Soup)

Persian Barley Soup

This soup was a hit at last night’s Purim celebration. The addition, that I think was brilliant, that my mother added was some cooked shredded chicken. She also shredded the carrots, rather than diced them. You can leave it out the chicken (meat and stock) and use vegetable stock instead if you wish to make this a non-meat dish. This soup will serve 6-8 people.

Ingredients:

3 quarts chicken stock
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 cup diced (or shredded) carrots
¾ cup uncooked pearl barley
1 tablespoon turmeric
½ teaspoon saffron
1-2 cooked chicken breasts, shredded
1 lime, juiced
¼ cup tomato paste
salt, to taste
ground black pepper, to taste
½ cup non-dairy sour cream
1 cup chopped fresh parsley*
8 lime wedges

* Click here to see how to clean parsley.

Directions:

Heat the chicken stock in a pot to a gentle simmer.

Heat the vegetable oil in a large pot over medium heat and sauté the onion, carrots, saffron and turmeric until the onion becomes translucent. Add the pearl barley to the pot and stir for one minute. Stir in the hot chicken stock, shredded chicken, lime juice, tomato paste, salt, and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 1 to 1 ½ hours, until the soup has thickened and the carrots and barley are tender. If the soup is too thick, add hot water, one tablespoon at a time.

Place the sour cream in a small bowl. Slowly pour ½ cup of hot soup mixture into sour cream, whisking constantly. Gradually add the sour cream mixture into the soup pot, whisking constantly. Stir in the fresh parsley. Serve with fresh lime wedges.

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Purim – The Holiday That Keeps On Giving

Shush, Iran
So, out of respect to those that partied just a little too hard yesterday I’ll speak quietly (imagine me whispering) and keep today’s post short. As I explained over the past two days, we’ve just concluded celebrating the holiday of Purim. But like any good holiday worth it’s salt, Purim goes into a bonus day round for those who live in certain areas. Which areas? Why? To explain this, let me give you a little background. As you know, the Purim takes place in ancient Persia, an empire consisting of 127 provinces. The capitol city was named Shushan and was located in what is now modern day South-Western Iran. In those days, Shushan, like most cities, especially large, developed ones, were walled for multitudes of reasons, most importantly for security and safety. This will become important later.

Now when Haman was defeated, and the King gave permission to Mordechai and the Jews to fight back against their enemies, the battles took place on the 13th of Adar, with the victorious resting and celebrating on the 14th of Adar, the day that we now celebrate as Purim. However, in the capitol city of Shushan, where there was a large concentration of anti-semitism, the fighting took two days, the 13th and 14th, with the Jewish people only resting and celebrating on the 15th of Adar.

So what is this extra day I’m talking about? One would think that we’d celebrate on the 14th and only the Shushanites would celebrate on the 15th. However, this was a dark time for Judaism, specifically in the Land of Israel and it’s holy city of Jerusalem. So the Sages decreed, that they wished to honour the importance of the miracle, and the walled city of both Shushan and Jerusalem, that all cities that were walled at the time of Joshua (Yehoshua bin Nun) were to celebrate this extra special day, referred to as “Shushan Purim”, to populate and elevate the miracle that G-d performed.

Today, the only city in which Purim is celebrated on the 15th of Adar (besides Shushan) is Jerusalem. Although the Megillah (the written story of Purim) is also read on the 15th of Adar in a number of other cities in the Land of Israel, including Acre, Jaffa, and Tiberias, this is only a custom based on the possibility that they may have been surrounded by walls at the time of Joshua. In these places, the Megillah reading on the 15th is done without reciting the blessings. For all other purposes, these cities celebrate Purim on the 14th.

So in honour of the bonus day, I’m giving a bonus Purim recipe. This recipe is for a Persian barley soup. I gave the recipe to my mom to use, as her theme this year for the Seudah (festive meal) was Persia, and in her wisdom, she improved upon it. The recipe is her doctored version, and I can attest from eating it last night, is delicious!