Persian Style Macaroni

by Marjan


Growing up in Iran, my mother made 'maakarroni' for us and it was a special treat! It wasn't until we arrived to the States, that I realized Persian macaroni is far removed from the Italian or American one. Growing up immersed in the American culture, my taste buds slowly adapted to Mac 'n Cheese or Macaroni with meat sauce. Of course, now I love both versions! However, the Persian 'maakarroni' has a special place in my heart as it reminds me of home and my childhood.


So what separates the two? Persians add turmeric and onions into every recipe; macaroni is no exception! Also cheese, Italian herb seasonings, garlic and macaroni pasta are MIA. Spaghetti, penne, rigate and other variation of pasta is used since basically, all pastas are referred to as macaroni in Iran. Go figure? Trust me when I tell you, it is still delicious. The Persian version is basically any pasta of choice blended to a tomato base of caramelized onion, turmeric and ground beef cooked on top of a bed of thinly sliced potatoes. A crunchy potato crust holds together flavorful macaroni; after all, any opportunity to eat "tahdeeg" (crunchy bottom of the pot rice, potatoes, or pasta) must be seized!


Delicious; YES! Italian; NO!
Is it worth trying? Absolutely! Just call it 'maakarroni' and your taste buds will love it!

Serves 4-6
Ingredients:
1 lb. ground beef
1 large onion; finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
3-4 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon each salt and black pepper

1/2 pound spaghetti (or any pasta of choice)
1 or 2 medium sized potatoes; sliced thin along the width to render small circular cuts to cover the bottom of pot
1 long medium size potatoes; using a potato peeler, peel and slice potatoes along length to render long cuts to cover the walls of pot

1 medium sized non-stick pot
1/2 cup cooking oil

Prepare pasta 'al-dente' following directions on box. I prefer to add 1/2 teaspoon salt while boiling in water for a well seasoned pasta. Set aside.

In a medium size frying pan over medium low heat, caramelize onions in oil until almost golden brown. Stir in turmeric and tomatoes paste; mix ingredients together for 3-4 minutes. Add ground beef, salt and pepper and cook until brown (10-15 minutes).

In medium sized non-stick pot, place 5-6 tablespoons of oil and with your fingers, spread oil to cover all surfaces (walls and bottom of pot). On the bottom of the pot, there should remain approximately 4 tablespoons of oil. One by one, lay circular cut potatoes on the bottom of the pot to cover entirely. Using long cut potatoes, place along the walls of pot. The oil will help hold potatoes in place.



Once beef is browned, layer pasta followed by meat mix until all of ingredients are used. If you prefer, add pasta to meat mix to just blend and spoon into pot with potatoes.



Place pot over medium high heat for 7-8 minutes until potato begins to sizzle. Turn heat down to low and cook for 40-45 minutes. Place a large circular serving platter on top of pot and very carefully flip 'maakaroni' over. Use extreme caution as hot oil might drip. Otherwise, use a large serving spoon transfer 'maakaroni' to a serving platter and add crispy potato in pieces to make it easy.


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