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Posts Tagged ‘Iranian food’

I’ve always been a fussy eater and never touch liver, kidney, any offal or products made from offal such as faggots or haggis so when Feri tells me that an Iranian delicacy and a dish that is often made on Fridays when everyone is at home for the weekend is kaleh pache, or sheep’s head soup, I am tempted to head straight for the airport and curtail my holiday immediately. I don’t wish to offend anyone but there is no way I can eat sheep’s head.

Feri does cook sheep’s head at home but after watching him prepare the head for its fate and enduring the awful smell whilst it bubbles away in the kitchen I now ban the slow-cooker to the garage to let it cook overnight. If you are at all squeamish then you should flick through to another Blog post now as I am going to explain the process of preparation and cooking of the head which I find so nauseous.

As we live near the multi-cultural city of Leicester it is fairly easy for Feri to buy sheep’s head being a Middle Eastern delicacy. He proudly brings it home in a carrier bag then starts to clean and prepare it for cooking. He keeps a special toothbrush to clean the teeth which are often discoloured and full of grass. He also cleans the ears and nostrils with cotton buds and when I laugh at this, tells me that not everyone is so meticulous in the preparation! At this point I leave him to it and make a cheese sandwich for my tea. 

The head is stewed in a slow cooker saved for this purpose until the meat is tender and can be stripped from the skull. The brains (fluffy clouds), the eyes, the tongue (plus extra ones) and cheek meat float to the top of the pot ready for skimming off leaving the soupy-juice to be sieved and served separately. Apparently if you are a VIP, you get an eye as the best part of the dish and if you are a very,VIP, you get both! 

Luckily, in Iran Feri’s family understand my reluctance to eat sheep’s head and I have allies in the family who don’t eat it either! Instead I get my favourite dish of Qormeh-Sabzi and dill rice instead. Much more palatable and it smells delicious too.

I am being a little unfair in that I am writing about sheep’s head as a Middle Eastern preserve but having done some quick research on the internet, it appears that recipes for sheep’s head are more common and widespread across the globe than I thought. I remember my grandmother talking about cooking pig’s trotters, the nutritional benefits of tripe, and hearts are still widely available in Supermarkets. Apparently, in 1773, Dr. Johnson indignantly refused an offer of “some cold sheep-head for breakfast” on the Isle of Mull. His reaction delighted Boswell, who had encouraged their hostess in the offer from “a mischievous love of sport.”

So maybe Kaleh Pache is not so bad after all.  

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