Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Pomegranate Soup by Marsha Mehran

"Gush-e fil or elephant's ears, like their fellow fritters, are fried until golden and dripping with all things forbidden." p99 

In this novel three sisters - Marjan, Bahar and Layla - are depicted settling in to the Irish town of Ballinacroagh after their cunning and courageous escape from the turmoil of Tehran in the 1970's. The sisters brought with them their nightmares of the Islamic revolution together with their happy memories of childhood and their quest to make a new life. They open the Babylon Cafe and cook Persian recipes. The food gave the sisters a sense of identity and became the  bridge between the "foreigners" and the suspicious township. Marsha Mehran's writing style is evocative and she guides her readers between her characters' past and present in a vivid way. The fictitious story parallels her own life as her family did indeed escape the Islamic uprising and opened a cafe in Argentina. Marsha was educated in Australia, married an Irishman and now lives in New York. The Persian recipes in her novel include; Dolmeh, Red Lentil Soup, Baklava, Dugh Yogurt Drink, Elephant's Ears (my favourite), Lavash Bread, Torschi, Chelow, Fesenjoon, Lavender and Mint Tea and Pomegranate Soup. Thanks Marsha!

Elephant's Ears. Easy. Makes 15
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup rosewater
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
3 3/4 cups plain flour
6 cups of vegetable oil for deep frying

Method: Beat the egg in a bowl. Add milk, sugar, rosewater and cardamom. Introduce flour slowly. Once combined knead in to a dough and roll out on a lightly floured board until very thin. The thinner the dough the crispier it will cook and the better your triceps workout will be. Cut circles out of the dough using  a wide-rimmed cup or bowl. A decorative cookie cutter would give a frilly edge. Pinch each circle in the middle to form a bow shape. Heat oil until very hot (test a small piece of dough). Fry each ear one minute or until lightly golden. Remove and drain. Sprinkle with icing sugar and cinnamon. I usually make twice the amount as they are very popular in my household.

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