Awhile ago, I was invited to a potluck. My game plan was to make a bottle of sharbat and a batch of shami. Sharbat, I’ve introduced to you before, and shami is a minced beef & chickpea-flour fried-patty concoction (there are other variations as well) that I’ve been in the habit of eating infrequently here and there – with bread and yogurt and pleasure – but had never heretofore rolled up my own billowing, soozan-doozi adorned sleeves to make myself.
I’d dug up an easy-to-follow recipe and shami itself is quite simple (borderline plain) in semblance, so really, how hard could it be to make? Answer: very hard! At least for moi. A series of gaffes and oopses and faux pas led to a certifiable and somewhat excruciating disaster. In retrospect and in hindsight and in my defense, the recipe was somewhat wonky and I should have looked up Turmeric & Saffron’s recipe or asked for my mother’s instead. This line of rationalization though reminds me of a very awesome Ziggy cartoon when he goes to the “Complaints” window of a department store and says: “I’m too short.” Ha ha! It also puts me in mind of an Iranian proverb (zarb ol massal) which goes: “The bride can not dance and claims the room is crooked!” (Aroos nemitooneh beraghseh migeh otag kajeh.) Used when one blames circumstances for what is inherently one’s own fault or shortcoming. OK, OK! I admit it! I am a horrible and deeply flawed shami-maker! Are you happy now?
Seriously — who knew it was so hard to make the shami patties look so perfectly round and composed?
In my hands (too much grated onions were among my other sins so the patties were too loose) instead of turning out as good, solid, well-rounded citizens, the shami patties were coming out lopsided and crooked and entirely strange — looking much like the type of person you avoid sitting next to on the subway. There was no way I was going to show up to a foodie potluck with a plate-full of these creatures.
So as a last-minute panicked plan B, I rushed to make a batch or two of the banana nut chocolate chip muffins that had turned out quite nicely when I’d made some for the half-birthday of a special quelqu’un. I also decided to Persianize the recipe so as to make it a more special and personal offering. That is to say, I added a touch of pistachios, saffron,rosewater, and the teeniest hint of cardamom to the mix; topped with crumbled dried rose petals for a pretty flourish. The original Evelyn’s Coffee Bar / Epicuruios / Bon Appetit recipe for the muffins is a very good one — it’s a keeper, I love it and heartily recommend it — and fortunately, the recipe withstood my glamming up efforts and took well to its Persianization! I was a tad bit apprehensive about mixing milk and mashed bananas and chocolate chip bits with rosewater and cardamom, but ultimately, the Persianizing ingredients were used sparingly enough to just give the entire thing that je ne said quoi air of being Persian without interfering with the natural goodness of these moist, delicious and cake-like muffins.
Gotta love these muffins! They are delicious comfort food and in pinch, when shami shames you, they let you save face!
Since I made truly minor revisions, I direct you to Epicurious for the original banana nut chocolate chip muffin recipe. To Persianize the recipe, however, you will need:
- 1/4 teaspoon cardamom
- handful of coarsely ground pistachios + some to sprinkle on muffins
- a pinch of saffron, dissolved in 2 tablespoons of hot water
- 1 teaspoon rosewater (or a bit less)
- handful of dried rose petals, gently crumbled between palms
And you should do these:
- Add ground cardamom and a handful of coarsely ground pistachios to the dry mixture of sugar, baking powder and salt.
- Add rosewater and dissolved saffron to the moist mixture of mashed bananas, egg, melted butter and milk.
- Halfway through the baking process, top each muffin with a sprinkling of ground pistachios.
- Once muffins have cooled off on the rack, sprinkle with crushed rose petals.
Note: The baking time for me is around 15-17 minutes and not 30 minutes as indicated in the recipe. Perhaps this is because I preheated for more than half an hour and used a mini muffin pan, but Just to be safe, I recommend you keep a watchful eye when baking a batch the first time around to figure out your optimum baking time.