My grandpa loved fruits, veggies & dairies. One of his all time favorite dishes was Ābdoogh khiār, he used to eat a bowl of this lovely cold Persian soup every single day before his proper lunch. I remember clearly how he used to make it, he used to pick up fresh herbs from their garden in Bam (Kerman-Iran), wash, dry and chop them into his beautiful Persian blue antique bowl, add some of my grandma's homemade strained yogurt, he then add some dry mint and rose petals, some cold water, stir, place some ice into the bowl, sat there, and carefully and in a very slow way, like there was no tomorrow, break the beautiful kermani dry bread (with cumin, nigella seeds & dry herbs) made by Nanoo Khorshid into his bowl, and start eating and enjoying his simple yet delicious soup! Even if all these simple every day actions weren't something special, for me they were, and he was my hero! He still is.
I adored my babaie (grandpa) so much. I still do, even if he's not here with us physically. I live with his memories every single day, sometimes I wish he could have lived longer, so I could cook for him and we could have a little chat over dinner, or I could tell him how much I love the way he tough me to cut a watermelon or how to never waste not even a single seed of a pomegranate fruit! "he said they're too beautiful to be wasted". But this is how things are. He left us with millions of beautiful memories of his life and the way he used to be. A man who loved his wife & family, he used to have lots of family gathering and he loved to help my grandma to prepare all the meals, especially Norooz family gathering. His passion was his date trees, of which I wrote about it here, and the strange thing is that every year at the end of august and the beginning of September I miss him at the deepest.
I love you babaie, this recipe is for you! <3
In the hot Iranian summer days, especially in central and southern parts, Ābdoogh khiār (water-Doogh-cucumber) is like a Gazpacho for Spanish and Caprese salad for Italians. It's a cold soup made by mixing some few ingredients; yogurt, finely chopped cucumber, some common herbs such as mint (lesser calamint), basil, tarragon and spring onion mixed with cold water, ice & served with dry bread. It's a cool, enjoyable summer appetizer, very easy to prepare, it really cools down your body temperature, and it will definitely relax you.
Apart from the traditional ingredients, I also found some other seasonal ingredients perfect to add to my Ābdoogh khiār; Zucchini flowers, baby veggie leaves like baby spinach, pak choi and kale are some of the examples, they have a sweeter and more delicate flavors when they are small and not fully grown; and they give a very aromatic but also rich flavor to the dish.
Doogh which is mentioned in the name of this dish is actually a traditional Iranian drink very similar to Turkish Ayran, the leftover liquid from churning a mixture of fat yogurt and water. Nowadays common Doogh in Iran is produced by fermenting yogurt into water instead. For this dish people usually use a mixture of their favorite yogurt with water or use a mix of doogh and yogurt. Here in Italy is very difficult to find doogh or Ayran so I added some Kefir, to give a little bit of a real doogh feeling & flavor, I loved it, a bit creamier than doogh and less sour in taste.
Walnuts & raisins are two very important ingredients of this dish, even tough I totally forgot to mentioned them in the pictures, but their roll is very important; to create a balance. Iranians divided foods in Hot & Cold! Not for their temperature but for the effect they have on your body, read about it here. In this dish, yogurt, most of the herbs and cucumber are considered "cold", and the walnuts and raisins are considered "hot" ! Everything mixed up in a way to create a dish, well balanced means; easy to digest.
For the bread you can use dry Persian bread like Barbari or Sangak, or use southern Italian FRISELLA, because they last longer in soups and liquids and they are very similar to Kermani and southern Iranian breads. I used a bunch of Edible flowers too, to give a joyful yet rich taste and color to my dish. Hope you enjoy the recipe! <3
Serves 4-6 People
- bunch of fresh aromatic herbs (mint, basil, tarragon, chives, dill & satureja)
- bunch of baby leaves (arugula, sorrel, baby red chard, mizuna red & green, baby kale leaves, baby pak choi, baby spinach & bull's blood beets)
- 4-5 middle eastern / asian cucumber
- 4-5 radishes
- 1 thumb size fresh turmeric
- 5-6 fresh zucchini flowers
- 1-2 welsh onion, chives or spring onion
- 1 kg strained yogurt (Greek, Persian,..)
- 1 liter of kefir
- 1-2 liters of cold water (depends of how thick you like your soup)
- 100 g raisins
- 100 g walnuts
- 1 teaspoon dry tarragon
- 1 teaspoon lesser calamint
- Ice cubes
- 1 teaspoon dry rose petals
- 1 teaspoon dry common mallow or malva
- oregano flowers
- fresh, colorful edible flowers
Before you start:
Traditionally the dish is served in a big bowl ( like a soup) and everyone has its own smaller bowl. But you can also serve the liquid part in a carafe or big jar, and place all the ingredients in separate bowl and plates, so people can choose what ingredients and how much of them use.
- Prepare the herbs and baby leaves in advance, by washing and drying them on a kitchen towel with care.
- Finely chop the herbs and baby leaves with a very fine knife and set aside.
- Finely minced the cucumbers, fresh turmeric, zucchini flowers and welsh onion (or chives/spring onion) and set them aside.
- In a carafe or big bowl mix the yogurt and kefir, add some cold water until you like the consistancy of your soup, (it better to keep your soup thicker than you wish as yogurt will loosen some water after adding salt & Ice)
- Then add the raisins and walnuts to soak a little bit, then add all the chopped ingredients and the dry tarragon, lesser calamint & salt! Taste and add whatever ingredients you desire more.
- Before you serve Ābdoogh khiār in a big beautiful bowl, add some ice, and garnish with dry rose petals, dry common mallows, oregano flowers, & edible flowers.
- Serve with dry Persian bread or southern Italian friselle.