Updated on: Saturday, December 18, 2021, 11:15 PM IST

Cooking up a storm with Elnaaz Norouzi: The Sacred Games fame actress shares an exotic recipe along with her food secrets

In this fortnightly column, we offer you an exclusive pass to the kitchen of one of your favourite celebrities and get the stars to reveal one secret recipe from their family cookbook

“I add my signature style and flair to everything that I am a part of – even cooking,” says Elnaaz Norouzi, a Tehran born India based actress and model. “I am always up to something exciting and I love to keep things interesting,” says the stunningly beautiful actress who has worked in the hugely successful web series, Sacred Games in which she rubbed shoulders with established actors like Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Saif Ali Khan and Radhika Apte.

I begin my morning with: Water, lots and lots of it. Then maybe black tea green tea or coffee.

My diet preference: I am a vegetarian since the past 3 years. I turned vegetarian due to health reasons and also because I wanted to live more sustainably and not harm any animals. I relish Caesar salad, falafel, any kind of dal and Asparagus with Hollandaise sauce.

For breakfast I have: Eggs; I like them best with dates. It’s a South Iranian way of making eggs. You should try it.

My lunch is: Sabzi roti and dal or a rice dish. Occasionally I like to eat paneer.

A must with my meals: A bowl of salad.

My evening snack is: Protein bar/ shake/ cookies. Sometimes Maggie -- when the diet permits.

For dinner I have: Salads, sabzi, soup or even a burger if I have a day off.

My favourite desserts are: Tiramisu and jalebi.

For health reasons I consciously avoid: Meat and fish. Specially fish because its full of mercury and that very bad for our body. I avoid refined sugars completely. I only have Himalayan salt as normal salt is as good as toxic for our bodies. I consciously make it a point to have organic vegetables and fruits at all times.

I can cook: Iranian dishes quite well. Lubia polo is easy to cook and delicious too. It is a Persian mixed rice dish made with long grained rice, ground meat (lamb or beef) and green beans.

A cooking disaster: Once it took me four hours to cook a meal because I didn’t have the right ingredients. So my guests had to wait for a super long time, that was very embarrassing.

My favourite cook in my family: My dad and mom are the best cooks I’ve ever seen. My dad makes the best Persian potato salad (and Iranians know that’s a hard one). He is the barbecue master while my mom makes the best lamb shanks.

My childhood memory of food: Lots of rice and stew.

For romantic meal: A sea view restaurant would be very romantic but I’d also love a nice planned picnic. Or a meal in a nice warm hut in the mountains with snow.

The vegetable or fruit I resemble: An onion; it takes time to remove each layer and get to know the real me. Or a pepper; hot!


My favourite restaurants in Mumbai and abroad are: Hakkasan and Kofuku in Mumbai, The Transit (Berlin) and Nobu (Los Angeles).

My favourite cuisines: Persian, Italian, Indian

My comfort food is: Pizza.

I feel guilty after eating: Burgers and cake.

While traveling the most exotic / weirdest food I have had: I stay away from those. I never eat something I haven’t tried before.

My favourite drink and beverage: Nimbu pani as its healthy and gives me energy. I also like to drink ginger ale once in a while.


My favourite alcoholic drink: Gin.

One tip on food you like to give our readers: Non-vegetarians forget to eat enough vegetables and vegetables are excellent for good health. Vegetarians should eat a lot of celery. Drink celery juice every morning, it will do wonders for you (non-veg eaters can do that too )

My most favourite food: Pimientos Padron and Khoresh Gheymeh (an Iranian dish) I make it with mushrooms instead of meat.

To keep fit I do: Yoga, workout in the gym and dance. My gym sessions are usually around one hour. I don’t like doing cardio in the gym; hence my dance classes usually count as my cardio. I do weight training with my personal trainer, and before the gym, I try to not eat anything heavy, maybe an apple or I just have my meal one and a half hours before I workout. I try to sip on BCAA during my workout, and immediately after, I have my protein shake.

The best gym I have ever been to: Is the new gym in my hometown, Hannover (Germany) its called John Reed. It’s huge and just looks like a club. I have never been to such an amazing gym anywhere else in the world. I’m always happy when I workout there.

Elnaaz's recepie for Khoresh Gheymeh

Khoresh Gheymeh

Recipe type: Khoresh/Stew on rice

Cuisine: Persian

Serves: 5-6


1 pound cross rib roast beef or a similar roast, cubed to 1-inch pieces (may use cubed lamb instead)

1 tbsp butter

½ large onion diced

½ tsp turmeric powder

½ tsp black pepper

3 cups water

¾ cup yellow split peas (I prefer the dir paz variety)

½ tsp kosher salt

1 ½ large onion sliced thin and fried to golden brown (5 ounces fried onions)

3-4 tbsp vegetable oil to fry the onions

2 tbsp tomato paste

¼ cup crushed limoo amani (dried Persian lime)

2 whole limoo amani (pierce the sides with the tip of a sharp knife and soak in hot water for 5 minutes before adding it to the stew)

1 tsp Persian meat spice (your choice of original blend, or blend II)

1 tsp kosher salt (to be added to the cooked meat)

⅛ tsp ground saffron (optional)

2 tbsp butter


For the Saffron Potato

3 medium white potatoes peeled and cut into thin wedges

Dash of saffron (optional)

¼ cup vegetable oil for frying the potato wedges

Kosher salt to taste, sprinkled over the fried potatoes

For the Aromatic Rice

2 ½ cups rice

1 ½ tsp Persian rice spice

Pieces of lavash or flour tortilla for Tahdig


1. Melt butter in a medium pot over medium heat. Add the cubed beef, diced onion, turmeric powder, and ground black pepper (salt will be added later). Saute for 10 minutes until the meat is browned and the natural juices are bubbling.

2. Add 3 cups water, cover, reduce heat to medium low and cook for 20-30 minutes, or until the meat is tender. After the meat is cooked there should be about 2 ½ cups of broth in the pot.

3. Meanwhile pick through the split peas for any possible debris. Add them to a small saucepan and fill the pan with cold water and wash the peas and discard the water. Add fresh water to the saucepan and repeat couple of times to clean the peas.

4. Next add enough cold water to cover the split peas by one inch. Add ½ tsp salt and bring the water to a boil over medium heat. Cook uncovered for 5-6 minutes, or until the split peas are more tender but still very firm. If the peas get fully cooked at this stage they will get mushy after they are cooked later with the meat and sauce. Drain the peas into a colander and rinse under cold water. Set aside.

5. Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet and fry the sliced onions until golden brown. Add the tomato paste and saute for another 3-4 minutes until aromatic. Add the cooked split peas, 2 tbsp butter, ¼ cup crushed dried limes (about 2-3), ⅛ tsp optional saffron and 1 tsp Persian meat spice. Saute over medium low heat for 5-8 minutes, stirring frequently.

6. Add the cooked beef, broth, and 1 tsp kosher salt to the skillet. Stir to combine the ingredients. Add 2 whole limes that have been soaking in hot water, and bring the sauce to a boil. Reduce the heat to the mark between medium low and low. Cover and simmer for 35-40 minutes, or until the meat, split peas and dried limes are tender and the sauce has thickened.

7. Meanwhile peel and slice the potatoes into ½-inch long sticks. Place the potatoes in a colander and rinse under cold water to get rid of the starch that is on the surface so the potatoes do not stick together when fried. Pat dry the potatoes with a paper towel before frying. If using the optional saffron, you will need to add the potatoes to a medium bowl and sprinkle a dash of saffron on the potatoes and toss to coat.

8. Heat the ¼ cup vegetable oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. The oil should be very hot but not smoking. Gently add the potatoes to the hot oil and stir couple of times to coat all of the potatoes with oil, then fry them in a single layer for 15-20 minutes, stirring and turning so the potatoes are tender and light golden brown on all sides. Transfer the fried potatoes to a platter covered with a paper towel to absorb the excess oil. Immediately sprinkle the fries with about ¼ tsp kosher salt.

9. To serve, add steamed aromatic rice to the plates and add Gheymeh on top. Next top the Gheymeh with fried potatoes.

10. Please refer to the How To section on my blog for Aromatic Steamed Rice directions.


Yellow split peas: If you have to use the regular yellow split peas which is sold in neighbourhood supermarkets boil it in water for 2-3 minutes, discard the water and run the split peas under cold water to stop them from cooking further. Then add the peas to Gheymeh in the last 20 minutes of cooking to prevent them from over cooking.

Persian rice spice: The Persian rice spice is a blend of five ground spices: Rose petals, cinnamon, cumin, nutmeg and cardamom. The proportions are different depending on who is making the spice blend. I make mine in the order that it is written, with 3 parts rose petals, 2 cinnamon, 1 cumin and ½ each of nutmeg and cardamom.

Limoo Amani: If you have to substitute fresh lime juice instead of the dried lime, use ¼-1/3 cup of lime juice, adjust to your taste.

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Published on: Sunday, December 19, 2021, 12:00 AM IST