See How To Do It

For the meat dish, cook beef covered in water for 1 1/2 hours. Then saute onions separately in oil and turmeric.

rinse plums - theirs came with salt on them.

These are the sour plums, also called Persian golden prunes.

Saute chestnuts (already boiled and peeled) and sour plums separately in a little ghee.

Then cook them all together: beef, onions, plums, chestnuts, covered, turning gently every so often and adding ladles of beef broth to keep moist.

This is their jar of homemade ghee - much cheaper than store-bought! Just cook butter slowly until it separates into clear and cloudy parts. Discard cloudy, keep clear. They store it on the counter for like a month.

Now for her special tumeric-and-ghee-scented rice:

Her method: soak and drain until the soak water is clear. Then par-cook it, boiling in a lot of water like pasta, then steam it with ghee and turmeric.

Strain it from the boiling water just before the grains are soft - they should not be fragrant or flavorful. Let dry for a little bit in the strainer.

Oil the bottom of the pot, place a large tortilla (to keep the rice from sticking!) on the bottom, and then scoop up the rice from the strainer and fluff it into the pot. Your goal is to build a mountain of fluffed rice, the sides of which don't touch the edge of the pot.

Dust the mountain with turmeric, and pour melted ghee over the surface area of the top.

Then line the top of the pot with two paper towels, and close the lid tightly. The paper towels keep the steam water from dripping back into the rice. The rice should come out all separated - not sticky or mushy. I haven't been able to recreate this yet! I think I boiled my rice too long and didn't let it dry in the strainer.

Have a cousin bring over some dolmas.

Now - for the homemade noodles that go in the lamb soup:

photo: LS

photo: LS

They served this platter of whole fresh veggies, and another of cucumber spears and tomato halves. It's a great idea to compliment any dinner. They eat the cilantro, stems and all, like you would a celery stick. Cool. Why not?

Have your cousin bring over this awesome dessert that looks like ant hill made out of ground and baked cookie batter.

Thank you to our gracious host, Tarlan Ahmadov....

And homecooking Goddess, Zemfira:

The day and the food was extraordinary.