My Walk Home

Written and photographed by Tamar Weir – Feb 7, 2020 in Santiago, Chile

Looking ahead
Remaining alert
“Always be aware of your surroundings,”
They say…
Construction on all sides
Tall and short men
Leaning on tree roots
Grabbing onto any shade provided
By the big branches of the city trees
Relaxation
A break
Swarms of pigeons
One identical to the others
Groups
Runnin around
My feet
Hard hats
Reflective yellow vests
A pop of color
Muy fuerte
Rips, dirt, and obvious wear at the knees
Do I look in your eyes?
And for how long?
What is too long?
I don’t know anymore.
As I walk down the sidewalks
And uneven concrete
I can’t help but feel this fine line
A threshold
A look too long, lingered
Gives the signal that I am open
A look too short, without a smile
No upward curves or creases
Gives the signal that I am closed
Reserved.
I can’t help but feel caught
In between the two
Bags all full
Covering the empty spots in the sidewalk
Some packed with crunchy leaves
Trash stashed away in more bags of trash
Pavement scraps
Cars parked on the thick cement sidewalks
Filling every last space
Clean the streets
Nunoa trash service
Trying to erase the evidence of last night
The litter of the people
Passing by.
“No tengo, lo siento.”
Red coffee mug
Empty.
Taking a second look
I’m in awe.
Behind the big metal doors and
Gates
An unknown world
Filled with beauty
A noticeable difference
From what is scattered on the streets
Vines creeping and swaying
With the subtleties of the summer breeze
My eyes widen
This new sight will not be forgotten
A reminder to open my eyes
A mantra i repeat over and over
Keep looking, stay alert

Cane in one hand,
Leash in other
Rhythmic steps
So many faces of the city
Santiago
Nunoa
Mi barrio
My neighborhood
For now
Panaderia
Cafeteria
And all the short momentary
Encounters
Until I get home
To my apartment
The little red building
On Avenida Jose Domingo Canas

How deep will you get?

by Tamar Weir

looking at the world through your stained windows

its a sunday morning so you’ve opened up the blinds

all is there for you to see

but you’re only 20, life is happening to you

but it has only just begun, and eyes closed

makes it seem easier

the false illusion of simplicity

and days of resting on various couches

with different drinks in hand

fleeing to a different moment

constant movement

stillness, patience, consciousness, not so constant

rare.

because with that,

time is of the essence

time for processing

time for careful decision making

time for spontaneous non-decision making,

but

time to be still

nothing is constant

cannot push it to be so.

learning that.

slowly over looking at my mom’s eyes

I see myself in the shine of her pupils

dark seems to be black

but only with light does the black shine bright

mommy’s eyes tell stories

that I’ve only dreamt of

never felt in my body, not like this at least.

feeling it in my body,

I do not need your approval.

validity.

you are valid?

are you?

that’s what he tells me.

no confusion, machismo, ego. I know it’s there somewhere.

am I pushing?

I know how you love me.

was it all the breakfasts that kept you coming

and hungry

for me.

or was it the questioning?

mom taught me how to ask, why?

no punishment for the maybes and refusals to

simply say yes or no.

questioning. 

No one teaches the children to.

kindergarten is for playing.

but why?

why blue why green why red

because.

authority.

believe.

sit.

be who they want you to be.

using all the whys and hows

how can I know every part of your body

without the questions

Elaborate. I think.

Tamar use your words. I deeply think.

he came from somewhere,

I’m from the suburbs a few hours away

vineyards 

white families with pools

lining the streets and avenues

distance will not separate us

although distance might have wanted to.

distance brought us together

together again 

and again.

learned habits acquired with time

mine different from all of yours

but the flow of verbal confirmations

stares, unite us to the present

water makes us collide,

as you steal my wave, or an attempt to shove

the patterns of the wind

and my uneasy stance pushes me into the water

the water feels safe, as it surrounds all our soles

the wet suit feels warm, as it starts to become

cloudy.

it might be cold outside

but with our shower beers in hand

and the yellow brick along the shower

I don’t feel a bit cold

wherever we came from brought us here

where we can turn on the hot water

and feel the comfort of looking at each other.

Berlin

by Tamar Weir

Arriving

landing 

my feet are on the ground

officially german soil

officially in the land of my ancestors

pulsing Godly

reactive vagina

arriving, unaffecting

vagina is now infected

german soil welcoming me with each new coffee shop

cacao beans

livening up the mood

now im awake and can see

all thats been left here for me to be

an infected jew thats what I am

no yellow star pasted on my shoulder

no signal, no sign, no mark

no marker in a sea of people, 

walking

take a moment to breathe.

Fasten my invisible seat belt 

attached to my heart

For only a moment. 

I am free.

as the trains go by in every which way.

Ella and Libbi’s Jewish Childhood: An interview with a 7 and 10-year-old on their thoughts about Judaism

Written and photographed by Tamar Weir

Ella and Libbi are fifth and second graders who live in the Mar Vista community in Los Angeles. They have two Jewish parents: their mother was born in Tel Aviv, Israel, and their father was born in Haifa.

Tamar: What is your favorite part about being Jewish?

Ella: I love food. I love Choresh, Tabouli and, Dolme, but those are all Persian foods. I like cooking and I feel like everyone in our family has learned how to cook at least one dish from our culture by practicing together. I like that there are more days of Chanukah then Christmas. It’s like we have 8 days of Christmas, but really it’s Chanukah.

Libbi:  Well, I’m not like everyone else and I get to celebrate different holidays and it makes me different. Being Jewish makes me celebrate different traditions like Chanukah, Shabbat, Passover, [and] Yom Kippur.

T: What is your least favorite part about being Jewish?

E: To me it’s a bit annoying that so many people are talking about Christmas around me and they don’t know much about being Jewish and that when you are Jewish you don’t celebrate these things.

L: When all my friends who are Christian talk constantly about all of the other holidays. They are doing it because it makes me feel upset that I’m not allowed to celebrate a great holiday too.

T: What is your favorite Jewish holiday?

E: My favorite Jewish holidays are Chanukah and Purim. I like Purim because it’s similar to Halloween, and I go to this big fair. It’s really fun to dress up!  I like Chanukah because I get to see my family and we usually go on trips as a family.

L:  Chanukah is my favorite Jewish holiday because I get to eat chocolate gelt. I also get to light candles on the menorah, get presents, and make menorahs. All of those things are really fun.

T: Do you know a lot of Jewish people/ do you have many Jewish class friends?

E: I know a bunch of Jewish people but only a few are in my class. Most of my friends who are Jewish are only half Jewish so it’s more common to me now where people are half Jewish but they celebrate both holidays and both religions.

L: Kinda. I have a lot of friends who are half Jewish and half Christian. A lot of my friends are actually Christian but some are Jewish.

T: How do you think being Jewish affects your day to day life?

E: I don’t know. I think Chanukah is celebrated less than Christmas. I don’t celebrate Easter either.  It affects me because I can say I’m Jewish and I don’t feel guilty about lying, because it is a part of me and my ancestors [and] culture revolve around that.

L: It’s good. It’s interesting because I don’t do a lot of other holidays. I don’t do a lot of the things my friends and people around me do.

T: How do you feel when many people celebrate Christmas?

E: It’s a little annoying because people talk about all of the different presents they are going to get.

L: It kind of hurts my feelings because when they say it in my face it hurts. It hurts because I feel jealous I don’t get to also celebrate those holidays.

T: Do you think being Jewish makes you different or more similar to people you know?

E: It makes me different because I’m not like everyone else. There are more Christian people here but if you go to Israel or Iran, there are more Jewish people and people like me, but here in the U.S.  there are less.

L: It makes me feel more different because my life is different and I get to do more different things they don’t do. At the same time, I get to do a lot of fun things as they do!

T: Do you believe in G-d? If so, what do you think G-d is?

E: I don’t really believe in a god that much because there’s not much to believe. People say that he’s up there and is the ruler of everything but I don’t know. If he was actually real, we would have some sort of sign. Maybe people believe in G-d so that they can feel more protected because there is a magical person watching and guiding them.

L:  Kinda. I kind of believe in G-d because all the Chanukah stories I hear makes me feel convinced that there is a god, but I know there isn’t. I know that G-d is not real. I don’t know what G-d is.

Reflection

It was really sweet to hear the voices of my little cousins. The intersections of our identities are deeply affecting the way we live and the way we are able to conduct our lives. From a young age I remember always being confused about what heritage, religion, culture, and my own experience with these identities meant in my life. This interview was special for me because I was able to connect with my younger family members on their thoughts and hopefully aid them in being more confident, aware, and communicative about the large and influential aspects of their being.

Alebalu Pollow – Rice with Cherries

Written and photographed by Tamar Weir and Irit Weir

Ingredients:
2-3 cups of rice. Two cups will be enough for 6 people
Salt
Fresh cherries – do not ask me how much – let’s say two cups, keeping in mind that cherries shrink when you cook them

½ cup of sugar
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 stick of butter
2-3 potatoes to peel and cut around in diameter of 1 cm
Turmeric
Saffron (put in 5 tablespoons of hot water or more for few minutes)

To prepare the cherries:


Remove pit from cherries and chop to quarters – cook with half cup of sugar. Then add a teaspoon of rose water. Cook for up to half an hour. Next, strain and keep the juice. Add a teaspoon of butter and cinnamon to the cherry mix.

To decorate with:


Thin almonds and pistachio sauté in butter for a few minutes.
Wash your basmati rice and strain – cook and boil in water and salt that covers the rice. Cook
the rice halfway. Strain.
In a Teflon pot, arrange the potato slices and cover the bottom of the pot. Make sure there is enough olive oil so that the potatoes do not stick. Sauté for 7 minutes. Do not turn or burn.


Potatoes:

Sprinkle half a teaspoon of turmeric on top of the potatoes and then 3 full table
spoons of the semi-cooked rice. Then push it in the space in between the potatoes and sauté for another few minutes. Add another layer of rice on top and arrange the cherry mix in another layer. Then add the remaining rice. When it is warm, add the saffron mix with water on the top and cover with a towel. Let cook for another twenty minutes to a half hour. You might need to add more water to the saffron for a brighter color. The rice should be cooked on steam at this point. When ready add half a stick of butter to the rice and the cherry juice, and sprinkle almonds and pistachios on top.

Persian Dolme Recipe

Written and photographed by Tamar Weir

Persian Dolme – Stuffed grape leaves. Safta Batia Dolme recipe.

I asked my mother for this recipe because this flavorful dish was always a staple in my childhood and brought me closer to the cooking process and culture of my family.

This recipe comes from my Persian grandmother who had such a great passion for cooking and providing love and nutrients to her loved ones from food.

The following is a quote from my mom:
“I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to interview my mom a few years before she experienced her stroke. This is one of my favorite dishes that my mom prepared with love. Of course, there are so many others.

I can tell you that my mom’s dolme is the best in the world and I am not just saying it… when you taste the complexity, the texture, you will see what I mean.


Her dolme has a sweet, sour and salty flavor and it takes forever to make, but my mom prepared it with love. Every parsley leaf was picked from its stem, leaf by leaf, with no rush, but total concentration with the process. I often complain about what my mom did not do for us, but when I try to roll those grape leaves, I have a total appreciation for my mom and all the time and energy she invested into feeding us five kids, plus our father who appreciated her food, and would only go out on a special occasion.”


Ingredients:
3 cups of rice
Grape leaves (buy them ready in a jar or pick fresh leaves from the garden. If not
young leaves will not taste good)
Mint leaves and parsley (chop small, enough to give taste and color)
½ cup of canola oil
Salt and pepper to your taste
1/2 tablespoon of tumeric
½ tablespoon of paprika
A little hot spicy pepper

A box of raisins

Apricot jam (you can substitute with another fruit jam or any sweet liquid jam)
1 white onion

½ cup of lemon juice
3 tablespoons of pomegranate sauce

Steps:

You boil the rice with extra water to cover the rice and cook ¼ of the way so it needs to be
half hard, al dente. Strain. Add the mint, oil, and spices.


Chop small cubes of ¾ white onion and fry a little bit. Then add it to the rice.
Add jam and the whole box of raisins, lemon juice and pomegranate sauce.
Mix it all up.

In a big pot, arrange 2 layers of onion in a ring shape, either fried or not.

After stuffing the grape leaves, arrange in a circular way.


In between the layers add dried apricot, dried prune, red beets, or any dried fruit.
When the pot is full, take the rest of the leaves and cover the top layer.


The liquid to pour over the stuffed leaves:


In a bowl, mix olive oil, water, lemon juice, pomegranate juice and jam, and pour over the
whole thing.
On a medium flame cook for a while (about half an hour) and then rest in the
oven at 350 for a few hours. Make sure you still have liquid, otherwise it will be too
tired if you over cook.

How to stuff the leaves:
Place the leaf on a plate with the shiny side down and the veins facing you. Remove
the stem and than add a tablespoonful of the mixture in the lower part – the wider portion of the leaf and then fold the area that is the closest to you, then fold the right and left side inward and start rolling away from you as your dolme starts to become rolled.

Important note:Try not to get too discouraged, rolling in a tight manner is quite hard and takes a lot of practice. So if you are a beginner, your dolmes might not look too pretty, but practice will create tighter and easier to eat treats. And in any case, if they are made with love, the flavor is guaranteed.

Justice and Community: A Response to Jewish Fracturedness

Written by Zachary Brenner

Illustrated by Tamar Weir

few weeks ago, I was asked to participate in an interfaith panel on campus, where representatives from multiple religions were invited to speak upon their personal experiences. I sat beside a Buddhist nun, two Sikhs, a Christian, a Muslim, and a Pagan. No, this is not the beginning of a joke. Before the panel began, the moderator pulled me aside to prepare me for the types of questions I would be asked as I had only decided to participate a couple hours earlier. The other panelists had been prepared for at least 30 minutes each. I was told that the first question would be this: “You’re on a bus and someone approaches you and asks why you are Jewish” and that I only had 3 minutes to answer. I thought hard. I wasn’t meant to discuss what made me Jewish — being born into it, in my case — but why. I thought about what I cared about most in life, and trusted that I cared about these things in large part because of my Jewish upbringing and grounding in Jewish thought and morals. After all, I had attended Jewish schools and summer camps for my entire childhood. After much deliberation and consideration of an entire life devoted to Jewish morals, I decided on my answer. The why as to why I am Jewish was because of a commitment to justice and community.

     Unfortunately, justice and community are not as easy to obtain as I would like. Throughout my college career, I have been exposed to a fractured and hateful reality within my immediate Jewish community. The political ideologies that drive different Jews at UC Santa Cruz and across the United States diaspora result in constant clashing, opposition, and blind eyes turned. The source of this divisiveness, from my view, stems from fundamentally different understandings of Zionism and anti-Zionism. Seemingly, the line is drawn down the middle. When Zionists and anti-Zionists are faced with one another: neither seems willing to see the merit of the other side.

   As a student exploring my own political ideas through college, I have studied radical and conventional modes of thinking through classes and conversations with other Jews and left-leaning activists. I have seen the importance of both ends of the spectrum. I identify with both ends of the spectrum. I have resonated deeply with the importance of a Jewish state, having been raised to understand the precariousness of Jewish privilege and the desperation that has ensued throughout the centuries with anti-Semitism and violence. I have also resonated deeply with anti-Zionists who fundamentally oppose nation-states and their socially constructed borders which often exclude groups considered to be “outsiders.” I have also sympathized with anti-Zionist, Palestinian nationalists who, after being affected by decades of a cruel Israeli occupation on Palestinian territory, have resorted to opposing Israel and its government through a  desire for Palestinian self-determination. I have connected personally to the idea that the Israeli government, as it currently exists, is a problematic entity which perpetuates an occupation of Palestine that has persisted for over 50 years.

     But where do I fall on the spectrum? I fall somewhere between Zionist and anti-Zionist, depending on the context.  I am not committed to either. I am not committed to the Jewish state. I am committed to Jews and justice. And that is my point. The Zionist mentality, from my perspective, stems from a deep connection to a preservation of the Jewish faith. Certain Jewish, anti-Zionist mentalities stem also from a commitment to upholding Jewish morals that Israel seems to contradict regularly, or a commitment to calling attention to the atrocities enacted upon a people different from one’s own. Centering conversation on Israel, as it exists today, detracts from the community and justice that I crave; it seems to only promote divisiveness, separation, exclusion, and forcing one to take sides.

    Yet Israel is not going anywhere, and it is because of this that we have to stop this divisiveness which only perpetuates the conflict and avoids the necessary consensus and compromise required before any other solutions can be put forward. There are Zionists who are deeply problematic. Zionists who will do anything… anything to preserve Israel, and this is wrong in my view. A blind support of a government which frequently encourages Israeli settlers and an occupation which results in the murder and displacement of another community cannot be tolerated in my book — ever. There are anti-Zionists as well who are deeply problematic — who use anti-Zionism as a shield for anti-Semitism by claiming that Israel and Jews are separate issues, yet continuously make assumptions about Jews and point their fingers at the entire Jewish community. Or, people who advocate for violence against innocent civilians to send greater messages.

        I want to reiterate the point of this piece. The issue I see is in the divisiveness in the American Jewish community. At Shabbat dinners, I am told to attend Birthright, an organization that I will never support for claiming to be purely cultural yet frequently perpetuates implicit and explicit propaganda to harness blind support of Israel by avoiding any critical views that are completely valid and necessary. This alienates all who oppose Israeli policies and feel the necessity to speak out. Every year, on Yom HaShoah, the Holocaust is co-opted to perpetuate Zionist agendas rather than shifting the focus toward the importance of Jewish perseverance, whether through the existence of the state of Israel or not. The Holocaust is used as a tactic to sell the state of Israel, rather than as a tactic to maintain Judaism. In response to this, members of the Left will speak out against the state of Israel, which redirects the focus of the Holocaust on Israeli politics rather than on what I see as the true message of the Holocaust — that Jews did not die out and should be allowed to continue to survive.

 The divisiveness cannot and will not simply stop. We are far beyond that point. People possess fundamentally different interpretations of the world and we will have to work to mend these divides — to allow people to work through ideas that they may hold onto for authentic reasons, or possibly hold onto as a response to the divisiveness. To mend, we must extend an invitation, at our Shabbat and holiday tables, to those whose opinions are different from our own. Why do they believe what they believe? What underlies their mentalities? I would optimistically argue that these mentalities are perpetuated by a commitment to justice, in some form or another. A commitment to doing what they feel is right. If we take issue with what is said, we should hold one another accountable and discuss, rather than argue, for tangible solutions or middle grounds. Yelling and shunning may make us feel better, but at the end of the day it will make us all feel worse and will have us clinging to our opinions more strongly than ever, not willing to see the world in different ways and abolishing our empathy and compassion (if it hasn’t been destroyed already).

       We do not all have to be friends. But I am disheartened, demoralized, sick, and tired of conversations where it seems that those beginning the conversations do so with a goal of perpetuating divisive and hateful rhetoric — with the goal of tearing people down to shreds and then being proud of it. People seem to want to justify their own actions. I argue that the greatest justification one can have of their own actions is through thoroughly understanding divergent viewpoints, considering those viewpoints, and then making an informed decision that they can truly and fully believe. Many might say that they obviously do this already. For those who do, I commend you and encourage you to continue doing so. For many, however, informed decisions seem to be a thing of the past. I’ve been guilty of this myself: clinging to sources and facts that conform to my preconceived notions about a particular topic. But no more. Facts are facts even if they will be interpreted in different ways — and it is in those different interpretations that we must engage meaningfully with one another, to understand our various viewpoints and priorities. If we do so, we have committed ourselves to establishing a healthier community. It is our job to locate the facts and refrain from immediate assumptions and judgement.

       I crave a community where we don’t have to silence ourselves or resort to angry and hateful rhetoric to prove a point. I crave a community in which the person sitting to the left of me has a different opinion from the person to the right of me — and that the three of us can discuss those viewpoints in a conducive manner, with an honest commitment to justice rather than a commitment toward self-justification. Only then, can we progress toward accomplishing our true goals and reach for tangible solutions to the issues we care about.

Contrary to what I’ve heard, I’d dare to say that anti-Zionists do not all have bad intentions and Zionists don’t either. If you don’t believe me, go talk to some.

Get Funky with These Crucial Hebrew Words and Phrases!

Written and Illustrated by Tamar Weir

 

Learning a new language on your own is extremely difficult. It consumes a lot of time, effort, and can be very draining, but hopefully after reading this short blurb you’ll be prepared with more confidence to try to speak Hebrew. Israel is the homeland of this beautiful language which is spoken by over 9 million people around the world. The Hebrew alphabet has 22 letters, is read from right to left, and is related to Arabic and Aramaic.

Hebrew phrase: איפה‭ ‬השירותים

Meaning: “Where is the Toilet?”

Pronunciation: Ei-fo ha sher-OO-teem

Spelled in English: Eifo ha sherutim

Wherever you go you’ll need to know where the bathroom is or else you’ll be in trouble! This phrase is a lifesaver and you will definitely need to know how to ask for the bathroom.

Hebrew phrase: יָאללָה

Meaning: “Let’s go” or “come on!”

Pronunciation: Ya-a-la

Spelled in English: Ya’alla

This word actually derives from Arabic and not Hebrew. It is a casual slang word used daily to express a desire to get going and get the group moving!

Hebrew phrase:מה‭ ‬שמך

Meaning: “What’s your name?”

Pronunciation: Ma Sh-mecha (female)/Ma Sh-mech (male)

Spelled in English: Ma shmech

This may be the most important sentence, especially when traveling in Israel because you want to be able to connect with others and introduce yourself as well.

Hebrew phrase: אני‭ ‬רעב‭/‬ה

Meaning: “I’m hungry”

Pronunciation: A-ni ra-a-va (female)/a-ni ra-ev (male)

Spelled in English: Ani ra’ava / ani raev

This is my personal favorite because food is essential, especially when traveling. It is important to express your feelings, find awesome restaurants, and satisfy your hunger!

Hebrew phrase: מה‭ ‬מספר‭ ‬הטלפון‭ ‬שלך

Meaning: “What’s your phone number?”

Pronunciation: Ma mis-par ha-te-le-fon shel-kha? (female)/ma mis-par ha-te-le-fon she-lakh? (male)

Spelled in English: Ma mispar ha telefon shelach/ shelcha

When making a new friend in order to connect with them another time, you must ask for their number or other forms of communication —  especially when you find a cutie!

Hebrew phrase: למי‭ ‬יש‭ ‬את‭ ‬החומוס‭ ‬הכי‭ ‬טוב‭ ‬בארץ

Meaning: “Who has the best hummus in Israel?”

Pronunciation: Le-mi yesh et ha-khu-mus ha-khi tov ba-a-retz?

Spelled in English: Le mi yesh et ha hummus hakhi tov b’aretz

Hummus is one of the main foods in Israel and when visiting you don’t want to waste your time and money on sub-par hummus. So ask around to find the best local spots and you won’t be sorry!

Hebrew phrase: נעים‭ ‬מאוד

Meaning: “Nice to meet you.”

Pronunciation: Na-im me-od.

Spelled in English: Na im meod

It is important to know a few sentences that are used often when beginning a conversation with someone. Even if this is all you know, people will be impressed that you are able to at least end the conversation in Hebrew.

Hebrew phrase: מאיפה‭ ‬את‭/‬ה

Meaning: “Where are you from?”

Pronunciation: Me-ei-fo at? (feamle)/me-ei-fo a-ta? (male)

Spelled in English: Me eifo at/ ata (male)?

This is another good line when having a beginner conversation. Where people are from can be important for future hangouts plus it expands your knowledge about different places.

Hebrew phrase: אין‭ ‬לי‭ ‬רעיון

Meaning: “I have no idea.”

Pronunciation: Ein li ra-a-yon

Spelled in English: Ein li ra’ayon

This is super important as a beginner learning Hebrew because when people speak to you, and you do not understand, this is a way to communicate that!

 

Khoresht Ghormeh Sabzi, Persian Fresh Herb Stew Recipe

Written by Tamar Weir

Illustrated by Tamar and Irit Weir

Khoresht is a winning dish in my home and has been passed from generation to generation with delight.  Both of my grandmothers were amazing chefs. What we call today gourmet cuisine was her daily ritualistic endeavor. This is one of her many signature dishes with some slight modification. The smell from the slow cooking, especially the cooked dried lime, will perfume the house and becomes a much anticipated and welcomed dish for any season and mood. Even I let go of my vegetarianism to eat this dish!  Side note, it can be made vegetarian too! It is a very nurturing type of dish because the slow cooking allows for the nutritious elements to stay within the juicing of the stew. The raw herbs and vegetables; radishes, cucumber, mint, and the white top of the scallion, (which are served and accompany the stew) have a cooling yin effect to balance the warmth of the yang from the stew. Persian cuisine is strong on balancing those two elements, the hot and cold. The dish will be served on top of saffron white rice which has its own aroma. Basmati in Arabic means perfume. Saffron in Arabic translates to Yellow-Gold and is the most expensive spice in the world! Saffron has been used medically to reduce fevers, cramps and enlarged livers and calm the nervous system as well as healing wounds.

Some ingredients are specific and can be purchased at a Middle Eastern market

Ingredients

1 large white onion

1 cup red kidney beans

1 cup white cannellini beans

1 cup pinto beans  

(you can choose any kind of beans you like or mix)

In the winter use red beans which warm the body more, in the summer use white beans, and in other seasons, use a mixture!

3 bunches of organic parsley

3 bunches of organic coriander

3 bunches of organic cilantro

1 bunch of green onions

1 handful of organic spinach leaves  (optional)

2-3 lbs grass fed stewing beef, cubed

3 tsp turmeric powder

6 medium dried Persian limes (for cooking, but not to be eaten)

Salt or soy sauce (to taste)

Freshly ground black pepper (to taste)

1/4 cup olive oil

 

Instructions for Stew:

Slowly cooked in a Dutch oven or big stainless steel pot  

Serves 10-12

  1.  In a Dutch oven, brown the meat in olive oil just long enough to sear all sides of the cubes. About 20 minutes, add turmeric toward the end of the searing
  2.  Meanwhile, cook beans in boiling water for 30 minutes, rinse beans in cold water
  3.  Saute onion with meat until onion becomes translucent, add salt and pepper to taste
  4.  Soak greens to clean all dust, drain, discard all stems and finely chop, respecting every leaf, that is to say, in olden days the chopping took much longer than the second generation method of coarse chopping.

No food processor allowed.  The chopping is essential to the release of the herb aroma.  (Well, perhaps the third generation will successfully use the food processor.)

  1.  Add whole dried Persian limes. These will be discarded after cooking.
  2.  Cut onion greens and discard the lower white area. Add onion greens to the other herbs
  3.  Add the half cooked beans to the seared meat
  4.  Add 10-12 cups boiling water, then add the mixture of greens, add more boiling water as needed to cover the greens
  5.  Add 1/4 cup soy sauce.  (This ingredient is not part of Persian cooking but instead of using chicken consomme or chicken broth I find the soy to add a healthy and tasty balance.)
  6.  Cover the pot and cook the mixture on the stove for 30 minutes on medium heat
  7.  Preheat the oven to 350°F and then transfer the pot to the oven for 3 hours
  8. Serve with chelow, which means saffron steamed plain basmati rice

 

Instructions for Rice:

2-3 cups Basmati rice in a large volume of salted, boiling water

  1.  Cook the rice in the boiling water with a pinch of salt and tablespoon of olive oil for 10 minutes or until the rice is slightly soft but not fully cooked
  2.  Drain the rice
  3. Add a small amount of olive oil to the same pot with a little water and saffron powder, when hot, empty and fry a thin layer of rice to create a crust for 2 minutes (do not burn), then add the balance of the partially cooked rice, add 1/4-1/2 cup of water, lower the heat to simmer and cover the rice with a clean kitchen towel to allow for the steam to escape for 20 minutes
  4. When ready take a big flat plate cover the pot and turn the pot over the plate. (Strong steady hands and trust in your ability)  

This Khoresht is served on Shabbat, on holidays and is considered comfort food.  Best with Pinot Noir or Syrah.