The voice of experience is undeniable, but there are times when you know from the beginning that you are making the correct decision..like when you meet “The One,” walk through the doors of the house that feels like your home and unexpectedly meet a new friend. Online, that is where I met my friend Fariba of zozobaking.com. It is the oddest feeling for a happily married woman with a little girl to say, but it is the truth, – I really did meet her online.
After following the posts of the delicious things she bakes for several months, we resolved to meet over coffee. It was then that I was sure Fariba was as sweet as the confections she makes. A long-time executive who left her desk job to pursue her passion for pastry, she launched her bakery business Zozo Baking.
I knew that feeling was mutual because, after having known her for only a few months, she invited us to attend her wedding where we met her equally charming family. She and her sweet mom baked all the traditional Persian treats for the event, including the favours, adorable jars of mini coconut meringues. There were several kinds of homemade mini cupcakes for the kids and Fariba made the beautiful wedding cakes herself – Chocolate with chocolate buttercream and golden chiffon with layers of strawberry purée and lemon mousse. How’s that for a bride?! See for yourself.
If you are in Los Angeles, catch her at the farmer’s market and sample the delicious Persian sweets she makes. Also, book a baking class. She offers a great variety of venues including gluten-free baking, holiday favourites and even Persian pastries. Recently, she and her mom spent some quality time in the kitchen, making a specialty from her hometown in the southeastern tip of Iran, a fragrant, fried bread called Rooghan-Jooshi. This treat would be an exotic stand-in for the usual biscuits on your holiday table, but is not offered in bakeries. Luckily, Fariba shares her family recipe in the guest post she composed for us.
Did you watch Anthony Bourdain’s show: Parts Unknowns on Iran? It aired on Sunday and I think me and most of Iranians living in the USA were watching it. The show was about his recent trip to Iran and Iranian cuisine, and I have to say it was remarkable. I thought his take on Iranians being so secretive about the food recipes was so interesting and true. He said: “Iran is the land of secret recipes, passed down within families like a treasure possession.” I had never thought about it, but it’s so accurate. I remember times, I had asked my relatives for a recipe and I was never given a straight answer. I would get answers like: “well… you know …a closed fist of flour “yek moshti ard” or just a little bit of milk…well, how much milk? A cup? Half a cup?… Needless to say, I couldn’t get the recipe. If you’re Persian, you know exactly what I’m talking about it 😉
Today, I’m going to share one of these secret recipes 🙂 the recipe for fried dough / Rooghan-jooshi a homemade bread from Kerman, my city.
Kerman offers a wide range of pastries and breads that are specific to that region, some even rooted in Zoroastrian time. There is a large population of Zoroastrian living in Kerman, so it’s natural that their bread and pastries are apart of Kerman’s confectionery. Some pastries are known to locals and are not even for sale in the pastry shops. You can find pastries like date filled cookies (Kolompeh) and wheat sprouts bread with dates (Komach Sehen) in the pastry shops, but Rooghan-jooshi (Fried dough bread) is only made at home.
What makes this bread so different and unique is a mixture of seeds and herbs that is used to bake this bread, we call it (Tokh-meh noon). In Kerman, this mixture is available at the spice markets in the grand bazar, but you can make your own mix. Add a cup of black cumin, a cup of sesame seeds, 2 tablespoons safflower flower heads, and 2 tablespoons fenugreek. This will give the bread a rich taste and aromatic flavor. We eat this bread for breakfast or as an afternoon snack (Asraneh)with feta cheese and herbs (sabzee).
1 cup black cumin seeds
1 cup sesame seeds
2 Tb safflower flower heads
2 Tb fenugreek seedsBread Dough:
2. In the bowl of stand mixer and fitted with dough attachment, mix together the flour (both types), dissolved yeast, and 1 tablespoon of seeds/herb mix and slowly add water. You know you have added enough water, when the dough is no longer sticky.
3. Knead dough with machine on low speed until slightly springy and soft for 3-4 minutes.
4. Turn dough out onto a floured work surface and form into a ball and place into a medium size bowl.
5. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rest for an hour or until the dough is doubled in size.
6. Remove dough from bowl and place onto a floured work surface. Lightly pat into a flat shape and cut into 8 pieces.
7. Form each piece into a small round ball with a smooth top, pulling dough from the sides and tucking the ends underneath the bottom and let them rest for another 10-15 minutes.
8. Place a deep frying pan on the low-medium heat.
9. On a floured work surface, using a small rolling pin flatten each ball to a 6 inch round, poke the dough with a fork.
10. Lay the dough into the hot oil and cook until bread begins to puff up and the bottom has brown spots and blisters, about 3 minutes. Flip and cook 2 more minutes, the bread begins to puff up, now remove from the oil and stack cooked bread onto a dish covered with kitchen napkins to absorb the oil.