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My cookbook: "Tehran to New York"

On the Norouz day of 2020 spring, I finally published my book. The manuscript is titled: "Tehran to New York: A culinary bridge between Persian and Western cultures" and aims at presenting a unique blend of classic and contemporary Persian recipes, as well as samples of Western-style cuisine, offered in a Persian context. It is important to build bridges between cultures, and not walls. This book aims at constructing a bridge between the Persian and Western cultures. The book may be ordered here:  

Moroccan inspired beef, olive, and prune Biryani

The presented Biryani (i.e. an Indian pilaf dish with Persian origins) is inspired by a popular Moroccan beef stew which contains olives and dried prunes. Some elements of the traditional stew, such as carrots and potatoes, are omitted from the original dish and the resulting thick mixture is buried under a load of parboiled rice and then baked in the oven. Traditional Biryani is cooked in clay pots in order to avoid the formation of rice crust. Metal cookware can also be used, provided that the cooking time is shorter than the standard approach. The best way to achieve this purpose is to partially cook the meat before stuffing inside the rice. 

2 cups Jasmine, basmati, or long grain rice
2.64 Oz (~75 gr) raw chickpeas, soaked overnight; or alternatively 1 cup cooked chickpeas.
1.1 Pounds (~500 gr) boneless stewing beef, cubed into ½ Inch (~1.5 cm) chunks
2~3 TBSP vegetable oil*
1 leek (white, yellow, and light green parts), finely chopped
1 TBSP garlic, grated
1 TBSP ginger, grated  
½ TSP turmeric
1 TBSP Ras el hanout (equal amounts of Cumin, Coriander, Allspice, Cayenne, Cinnamon and a pinch of saffron)
2 dried Kashmiri chilies (optional)   
½ Preserved lemon
2.64 Oz (~75 gr) dried pitted prunes (or dried apricot)
2 Oz (~56 gr) Moroccan black olives (or any other good quality olive, not in brine)
Chopped cilantro to garnish
* Depending on your desired greasiness of the final rice. In the upcoming photos the minimum amount of 2 TBSP is used.

For this Biryani use a 3~4 Q.t. pot which has a lid; a Dutch oven or a ceramic baking dish will be excellent choices. In case of using ceramic or glass cookware, the cooking time should be longer than what is stated. Such material transfer the heat at a slower rate but in a more uniform rate.

To the pot (if metallic), add the oil and set over high heat, making sure it gets smoking hot. Season the beef and add it to the pot along with the leeks. When the meat is brown, approximately after 5 minutes, add the garlic, ginger, dried chilies, and the spices. Add a cup of water and the soaked chickpeas. Lower the heat to medium low, cover the pot, and cook for 20 minutes or until the meat is cooked half way through and all the water is evaporated. 
When the sauce is thick, remove the pot from the heat and the add the olive and prunes. Add half cup of water to form a sauce, mix, and aside. Without the added water, the final rice will be dry. 
Parboil and drain the rice following these instructions. 
Cover the meat layer with an even layer of drained rice.
Place a layer of aluminum foil on the pot. Place the lid on top of the foil and seal the edges by pushing the foil on the edges. It is crucial to ensure that the steam does not scape the pot. 
Bake in 350F (~175C) for an hour.
Optionally mix 2 TBSP of the cooked rice with saffron solution. Garnish with the yellow rice and chopped cilantro and serve.