Favorite Food Friday: Mast-o Khiar (Cucumber Yogurt)
The tastes and flavors of modern, traditional-style Persian food is uniquely influenced by Iran and its neighboring regions. From Khoresh, to joojeh, to kuku, and even to kebabs and ice cream, the delicacies that arise amongst the various sections of Iran cultivate the eating style of this flavorful food mecca.
With savory recipes rife in exotic ingredients, the extensive list of Persian dishes, appetizers, and desserts that comprise Iranian cook books are filled with aromatic food components. Fresh herbs, apricots, quince, and prunes--often served with vegetables, rice, and meat--are seasoned with Persian spices such as cinnamon and saffron. Indeed, the importance of palatable and unique styles of cooking is vital to Persian food. And North of Iran, a favored meze (or appetizer) called Mast-o Khiar continues its own flavor-packed tradition as a popular, chilled Iranian soup that's simple to make and incredibly delicious.
Similar to Southern Spain's gazpacho, this concoction of yogurt and cucumber, though thicker than gazpacho, is almost always served cold. Blended with fresh sprigs of mint, raisins, chopped roasted walnuts, yogurt, and fresh cucumber, Mast-o Khair needs not to be cooked and is the perfect side dish to any meal that enhances the taste of almost anything you serve it with. The crunchy texture of the walnuts blends beautifully with the fragrant creaminess of the yogurt and accompanies rice, bread, meat, and pretty much anything else, exceptionally well. Many traditionalists will add dried rose petals as a way of embellishing upon the senses and also to add a dash of color as you would your very own work of art. Some will mix in other varying ingredients like green onions, basil, tarragon, and chives. Yet, no matter how you make it, it's guaranteed to satisfy your taste buds and possibly change the way in which you view the taste and texture of modern-day soup dishes.
As food is the comfort of the soul, a journey of the senses, and a love that takes many forms, treating yourself to a new dish such as Mast-o Khair is an adventurous decision you're sure to enjoy. And the fact that it's easy to make and quick to whip up, makes serving this customary Persian meze for lunch, dinner, or just a quick snack before the main dish another reason why you should give Mast-o Khair a try today.