A Taste of Persia: Spinach Borani and Bandari Monkfish



My education in Persian cuisine is only just beginning. Armed with books by Claudia Roden, Lousia Shafia and my new favorite cookbook, Persiana by Sabrina Ghayour, I’ve been trying to teach myself the basics. I’m getting closer to achieving that perfect crunchy, buttery, golden brown crust (tahdig) on my Persian rice and my culinary vocabulary is slowly growing.


I’ve also enlisted the help of Tay Tea’s founder, Nini Ordoubadi who (quite rightly) berated me for not including a Persian menu in Recipes From Many Kitchens. Nini is a third generation tea blender from Iran. Her blends are as original as Nini herself; eclectic, exotic and whimsical. A recent feast at her home in Harlem showed me her talents extend beyond the tea room to the kitchen. She kindly shared her recipe for her saffron infused spinach borani. Although traditionally served as an appetizer, I’ve paired it here with a monkfish recipe from Persiana. The mild flavored fish is marinated in a heady mix of spices, herbs and yoghurt and was the perfect accompaniment to Nini’s borani.


Nini’s Spinach Borani

Serves 4


4 cups of fresh spinach, washed and chopped

2 small onions, peeled and thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons butter

1 1/2 cups drained yogurt

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon saffron, divided (1/4 teaspoon ground in a pestle and mortar and 1/4 teaspoon dissolved in 1 tablespoon of hot water).



1. In a pan with a tight fitting lid, cook the spinach until wilted, about 5 minutes. Drain well and squeeze out any excess liquid.

2. Heat the oil and butter in a large skillet and fry the onions and garlic until lightly browned. About 10 minutes.

3. Add the spinach to the onions and cook for a further 2 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

4. In a bowl, mix the yoghurt and spinach mixture well. Season with the salt and pepper and stir in the powdered saffron. Refrigerate for several hours.

5. Garnish with the saffron water before serving.


Bandari Monkfish

Adapted from Persiana by Sabrina Ghayour

Serves 4


1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1/2 teaspoon curry powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 fat garlic cloves, minced

2″ piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced

Handful of cilantro leaves, finely chopped (plus extra for serving)

Handful of dill, finely chopped

Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lime

2 tablespoons Greek yogurt

Olive oil

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

4 monkfish tails or fillets, about 6-7 ounces each, skinned and cleaned



1. Mix all the dry spices together in a bowl and then add in the garlic, ginger, fresh herbs, lime zest, lime juice, yogurt and a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and stir well with a spoon until thoroughly combined. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for at least 30 minutes.

2. Place the monkfish in a shallow dish and pour the marinade over the fillets. Using your hands, distribute the paste on all sides of the fish. Cover again with plastic wrap and refrigerate for another 30 minutes. Bring fish to room temperature before cooking.

3. Preheat a frying pan over medium high heat. When hot, drizzle in a little olive oil. Gently lay the fish in the pan and cook for 4-5 minutes on each side or until opaque all the way through.

4. Leave to rest for 1-2 minutes before serving. Top with extra cilantro leaves.

Salmon en Croute


The first time I made Salmon en Croute it was to impress a boy. I was 19, inexperienced in the kitchen and thought it seemed sophisticated (unlike me). I’m not sure I impressed the boy but I definitely impressed myself. I learnt a valuable lesson that day; nothing is ever as complicated as it seems in the kitchen. Surprisingly simple to put together, the flaky puff pastry and the asparagus sauce keep the fish juicy and tender. There’s not much that isn’t improved by being wrapped in pastry and salmon is no exception. Make it in advance and just pop it in the oven 20 minutes before you’re ready to eat. Served with a simple salad and some boiled new potatoes, it’s perfect for a dinner party. 


Salmon en Croute

Serves 4-6


1 salmon fillet (about 1 1/2 lbs, skinned and boned)

1 lb fresh asparagus, cut just below the tips

4 tablespoons crème fraîche

3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

Zest of 1/2 lemon

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

2 sheets of puff pastry (about 10″x 8″)

1 egg lightly beaten



1. Preheat the oven to 450°F.

2. Poach the asparagus tips in boiling water for 3 minutes and drain well.

3. In a food processor, purée the asparagus, crème fraîche, dill and lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Line a cookie tray with parchment paper and lay down one sheet of the puff pastry. Lay the salmon on the pastry and season with salt. 

5. Spread the asparagus crème fraîche mixture on top of the salmon. 

6. Brush the rim of the pastry around the salmon with egg and then lay the second sheet of pastry over the salmon. Press down the edges to seal. Trim the pastry leaving a 1″ border around the salmon. Use a fork to press around the edges to ensure the layers of pastry are well sealed. 

7. Cut 3 small diagonal slits along the top of the pastry to allow the steam to escape.

8. Brush the pastry all over with the remaining egg and bake in the oven until the crust is golden brown – about 20 minutes. 

Announcing Recipes from Many Kitchens



Three years, almost to the day, since sending out our first newsletter announcing the launch of Many Kitchens, I get to write with equally exciting news; the publication of Recipes From Many Kitchens. 27 of our supremely talented producers have generously shared their treasured recipes with me and the result is a book of 80 fabulous recipes that I’m incredibly proud to have curated.


For the last few months, my tiny, windowless kitchen in the West Village has been a constant test kitchen and my sitting room a photographic studio. The last edits have been done, the cover approved and the pages designed. Now the interminable wait to hold a copy in my hands. 102 days and counting until publication day on January 26th. You can pre-order your copy here on at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million and Indie Bound.

Chicken Tagine with Almonds and Apricots


I keep hearing about the magical healing powers of turmeric. From a potent anti-inflammatory to a cure for the common cold and even protection against cancer and Alzheimer’s, it seems to be the ultimate super food. Unable to shake a cold this week, I thought I’d try an old favorite Tagine recipe and ramp up the turmeric in the hope that an extra teaspoon would provide a quick fix cure.


As a child, we visited Morocco many times to get away from the English winter. One particular trip to Marrakech stands out not only because my father jokingly offered to sell me for a few camels (my sense of humor wasn’t fully formed) but mainly for a visit to La Mamounia Hotel just to sample their famous Pigeon Pie (B’stilla). Breaking  through the crispy filo pastry sprinkled with powdered sugar to reach the juicy meat below was unlike anything I had ever tasted. I’ve been in love with Moroccan food and its blending of sweet and savory ever since. This Tagine recipe has all those qualities from the sweet softened apricots to the crunch of the almonds and the juicy chicken. The dish even gets better the next day when all those wonderful flavors have melded!


Chicken Tagine with Almonds and Apricots

Serves 4


4 chicken legs

4 chicken thighs

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 onions, halved and sliced

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon hot paprika

1 teaspoon saffron strands

2 cups (approximately) chicken stock

9 ounces dried apricots

3 ounces marcona almonds

1 tablespoon honey

2 large handfuls of roughly chopped flat leaf parsley



1. Season the chicken generously. Heat the oil in a large dutch oven or casserole and lightly brown the chicken on both sides. You may need to do in batches.

2. Add the onions and garlic and cook on medium for a further 5 minutes. Make sure to scrape the bottom of the pan to get all those good bits.

3. Add the turmeric, cumin, cinnamon, ginger and paprika and stir well.

4. Pour over just enough chicken stock to cover the meat and bring to a boil. Add the saffron strands and stir well. Cover, reduce to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes.

5. Add the apricots and almonds, stir well, cover and cook for another 15 minutes.

6. Remove the chicken to a plate and add the honey to the casserole and cook, uncovered at medium heat until the sauce begins to thicken (about 5 minutes).

7. Add back the chicken, stir well and check for seasoning. Turn off the heat, stir in half the parsley and serve over couscous. Sprinkle with the remaining parsley.