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Azadeh and her families First-Thanksgiving in the East Coast

  Dinner 2

Azadeh’s first Thanksgiving dinner after she moved to East Coast

I love parties. And more than going to them, I love to throw parties. The excitement of party planning, decorations, coming up with the menu gives me an insane rush of adrenaline. So, in the light of festive mood of November, I decided to host a Persian-style Thanksgiving dinner.

I had hosted many parties before, but, I did not realize I would need a unique menu for such party. Well, I must have had a dish in the pumpkin family. But what else!

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For starter, I served an authentic homemade soup called ash-e sabzi (Herbal soup) – a thick soup that is prepared with lamb shank meat, legumes, bulgur and only two aromatic herbs: green onions and tarragon.

The thick soups are usually topped with sautéed dried mint and caramelized onion which not only work as decoration but add more flavor to the dish.

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 The turkey was prepared with a generous rubb of butter on its skin and seasoned with sea salt, black pepper and paprika.

Instead of the regular store-bought stuffing, I opted for a more aromatic filling comprised of caramelized yellow onion mixed with sautéed chopped celery, raisins, dried apricots and walnuts.

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As a complimentary side to turkey, I offered a walnut stew with pomegranate sauce called fesenjoon. It is a delectable dish with a distinct sour-sweet flavor due to use of pomegranate sauce.

As a formal dish, fesenjoon is mainly prepared with whole duck. It can also be paired with mini meatballs. Like many other dishes in Persian cuisine, some people may be varied in very small details depend on the region. For instance, people up north of Iran may add or rearrange spices, or other details.

But the basics are always the same. For my Fesanjoon I added pureed squash to extend its texture while honoring the harvest season.

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 Although I have noticed some of my American friends have no trouble eating the stew by itself, as a rule in Persian cuisine, when there is stew, there should be rice too.

And what better way to give rice a festive look than adorning it with saffron and sautéed dried barberries, or zereshk in Persian, as they are close counterparts of cranberries with their subtle sour flavor.

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 To end a beautiful night celebrating with family and friends who had come from near and far, I treated them with cardamom-infused hot black tea. We ate homemade pumpkin spice pastry topped with pomegranate seeds gelatin. The combination was heavenly.

As my in-home guests resorted to their rooms to let the rest of the night pass solemnly, I was planning my next day morning breakfast treat. They had flown a long way on the most hectic day of the year to be with us and I was not about to take them to iHop for breakfast. Besides, I could use some of that turkey leftover to make a hearty breakfast that can only be enjoyed with a great company.

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 While the roasted turkey took the centerpiece on last night’s dinner table, so did haleem (wheat porridge) on the brunch spread. Unlike individually wrapped oatmeal packs that offer instant breakfast, haleem is still a dish that its preparation requires some patience and delicacy.  A small portion of haleem can go a long way since rolled oats (substituted for usual wheat) are packed with fiber and other nutritions. I added turkey to make haleem even more heavenly .

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Khageeneh or as I like to call them egg-nut rolls are a great twist in place of serving omelet. They are perfect for brunch or just as a sweet treat served along with your hot cup of coffee or tea. When the aromas of spices and rosewater syrup fill the kitchen, no excuse is good enough to avoid them.

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Living in the West has opened my horizon of culinary experiences in various meal courses. However, I do not want to leave my childhood tradition behind.

Almost, for every breakfast, I have eaten tandoori, or pita, bread with feta cheese and walnuts, or on occasion with mint, basil and tomatoes for breakfast (or even light late night dinner). Such tradition is irreplaceable for me.

Despite my sweet tooth, making jam did not entice me much up until recently; partly because my pantry was always stocked with jams that were made for me from fresh garden fruits. And perhaps, it felt better not to know how much sugar went into making that little jar of quince jam!Our move to East coast took away the luxury of having my favorite jams made for me, so it seems only right to jump in myself. In my opinion, quince and carrot make the best Fall season jams. While they can be enjoyed any time of the year, the amber color of quince jam and the intensified orange color of carrot jam surely resonate with Thanksgiving theme colors. Bon Appetit, or Noosh Jan