Iran and Turkey are two neighbours but I did not know anything about Iranian cuisine, nor much about Iranian people until I came to Finland. And I must say that while I find Iranian people very warm and easy to communicate, the Iranian cuisine equally amazes me with the taste and the effort given to make the food.
I was in Pohjois-Haaga a few weeks ago, visiting my friend Vahid who taught me this recipe. He learned this recipe from his mother and he made it for a designers’ breakfast a few months ago in Design Museum. He had sent me the photo of the pastries when he baked them that time, and so I was curious to try them ever since. Especially the colour was very attractive!
Vahid is a master degree student in Aalto University. He came to Finland 2 years ago. Originally, he comes from Zanjan, a Northwest province of Iran. He also lived in Turkey for a while, and he speaks perfect Turkish, so we speak Turkish with each other when it is just the two of us (or with other Turkish friends). He is a fan of Nordic design and Nordic lifestyle, that’s why he came to Finland.
And so, on a Wednesday evening around 16.30, I took the bus from Kamppi to Pohjois-Haaga. I was supposed buy spinach for the pastry, but instead I bought a giant package of rucola and a small package of spinach (I was NOT paying attention apparently..). When I got off the bus as reittiopas told me to, I realised that I had to pass through a forest, in the middle of darkness.. Well, that was a bit scary, even though you know that you are still in the middle of the city actually, not nowhere..
As always, besides baking and talking about food, it was very pleasant to spend time with Vahid. He even accompanied me to the bus stop while I was leaving, which is something I had sort of forgotten for a while now.. What can I say, he is a true gentleman, and a very good cook!
1 egg white
250 gr butter (melted)
1/2 cup spinach, pureed
800 gr flour (but you can use about 100 gr more if the consistency of dough is not good enough with 800 gr)
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
White sesame seed (sprinkled on top of the pastries, as much as you like)
For the filling:
1 kg potato
1.5 tsp salt
1 tbsp oil
Aleppo pepper (or chilli pepper) – the amount according to how spicy you want to make it
1. Wash spinach. Take out the stem of spinach and put it in a pan with some water (enough to cover the spinach). Boil it for 20 minutes, until it is cooked but not yet lost the bright green colour. Put them in a bowl and puree by using any tool you have – we made it with a spoon for instance.
9. Add sifted flour in batches of 1/2 cup each. Start kneading after the addition of each batch of flour. Continue kneading until you have a soft and non sticky dough as seen in the photo below. Cover the dough with a stretch film and chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
12. Take the dough out of the fridge and start rolling. If it is too hard, you can wait a little for it to soften. You can roll the whole dough in one piece or you can make smaller pieces if it is easier for you. Roll it until you have about 5 mm thickness.
17. Put the ready pieces on an oven tray with baking sheet. Put some egg white on each piece with a brush. We are using only egg white and not egg yolk because we only want to make the pastry shiny, not brown. We want to keep the colour green as it is.