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Aug 30, 1999 01:12 PM

Khak Shir

  • d

Does anyone know what khak shir is and how it is used? I know it's a spice used in Persian cooking, but that's all.

Does anyone know?

I bought some and it's been sitting with all my other spices, feeling kind of left out for months.



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  1. r
    Robert Sietsema

    This is just a guess, but--

    shir means "milk" and "kashk" means whey, so maybe it's some sort of whey powder, like you'd use to make Cheetos. More probably, it's some kind of pudding powder, since the Persians enjoy many kinds of milk pudding. Try scalding a couple of cups of milk (don't boil it) and add a little bit of the powder at a time. If it doesn't work, don't send me the bill!

    1 Reply
    1. re: Robert Sietsema

      Hey Derek,
      Khak shir is not a spice. Its equivalent english name is a bit of a mistery but it seems to be Mugwort seeds (Artemisia vulgaris). It has various uses that I know of. It can be made into a sweet drink that will quench your thirst on a hot summer day or a warm drink (that ur mom gives you when you wake up in the morning on a hot summer day).
      All joking aside, it is very effective in helping your gallbladder/liver cleanse, (im not sure about the exact scientific details behind this), I've also heard it helps with acne which i guess could be a byproduct of having a not-so-healthy liver. It's one of those funny medicines which helps with both constipation and diahrea and also vomiting but doesn't taste bad, in fact it doesn't taste at all if u wash it well enough.

      Method 1:
      Basically you have to wash it off with water a few times (or a lot) to make sure its clean. then you can add a cool lemonade to it OR add sugar and cold water (optional: add rosewater and ice), stir it so the seeds are floating and drink it up. As kids we used to drink it with a straw cause it's easier to get the seeds.

      Method 2:
      Method2 is supposedly more effective for the gallbladder cleanse. you gotta drink it first thing in the morning and wait for it to settle for about 10-15 mins before you eat/drink anything else. So you boil water. As the water is boiling, wash off the seeds a few times to make sure they're clean. Add the seeds to a mug and pour the water in there (optional: a sugar crystal, that's what my mom used but i use normal sugar cause i don't know where to get that stuff). anyways, you wait for it to cool down to room temperature, stir it and drink up :).

      Interesting fact which I just realized:
      In the old days they used to say Khak shir helps get "the heat" out of your body. funny enough what they called "the heat" was produced by eating food like choclate, etc. which are fatty foods. These foods require lots of bile in order to emulsify, etc etc. long story short to actually be used in the body; which requires the liver and gallbladder to work. I guess those old folks did know something afterall. LOL.


    2. Don't know the spice, but khak is 'earth, dust' (often used in combination, e.g. khak-e chini 'kaolin' and khak-e zoghal 'charcoal dust') and shir is 'milk' (also 'lion,' but I don't think they have lion dust even in Iran), so khak-e shir would be 'milk dust' -- i.e. some form of powdered milk (though I thought 'powdered milk' was shir-e khoshk, literally 'dry milk'). Any Iranians out there to help with this?

      4 Replies
      1. re: steve d.

        This sounds a bit like kishik, which is
        Lebanese/Levantine. I wonder if there is a link
        because of the historic connections between Lebanon and

        Kishik is made from a mixture of wheat, salt, milk and
        yoghurt, which is left to ferment a bit and then dried
        in the sun and ground. I have never cooked with it ,
        but I think that it is sold at Kalustyans and on
        Atlantic Ave. It looks a bit like grated Romano
        cheese, and would fit the translation milk dust
        or powder.

        MAry Laird Hamady gives several recipes using it in her
        wonderful book Lebanese Mountain Cookery. It iis used
        in dumpling and croquette stuffings, to thicken
        porridges, and in salads. She suggests trying it like
        a tarter version of grated cheese in salads, and gives
        an easy recipe for sliced endive and onion, dressed
        with olive oil, lemon, and quite a bit of kishik.

        1. re: Alan Divack

          I don't think this has anything to do with kishik/keshk (though I have an interesting article on the history and nature of the latter -- e-mail me if you want details). "Khak" is a perfectly good Farsi word that makes perfect sense in context.

          1. re: Alan Divack

            There is a long and detailed article on the history of kishk (kashk, kishik) in the book I have described in Not About Food (see link below); the author says "Confusion is created by the facts that the term kashk/kishik is present in different language families and cultural areas, dispersed over a large geographical area; and that the substances designated are extremely variable... it is a preserved food all over the Middle East, but Persian kashk is quite different from the Arab kishik; among the Armenians of Turkey and generally in Anatolia it is a dish like herissa (pounded meat and cereal); in Egypt it is a sweetmeat." She concludes that "Persian kashk originally designated ... a barley gruel... From that gruel, after adding leaven, two products are obtained which can be preserved: first, with the addition of a little water, bread...; secondly, with the addition of much more water, a fermented gruel, which can then be dried.... If fermented milk is used instead of leaven... We may suppose that Iranian-speaking pastoralists, for whom dried sour milk is a staple, and who have no easy access to barley, applied the word kashk by analogy to the dry sour milk. Then the word passed to the rest of the Middle East, and among the agriculturalists kishk came to designate complex preserved foods made from cereal and a ferment, whether leaven or sour milk.... It is sometimes a good cultural marker, as in Lebanon, where the Circassians neither name it nor use it, nor do Armenians from Armenia, while Armenians from Turkey do." Fascinating stuff.

          2. re: steve d.

            Seeds of an Iranian Flower. Boil & Allow to Cool, Add Suger and/or Ice Cubes If Desired. Produced and Packed in Iran. This particular seed usually redish brown is used in Iran during hot summer months. It is some sort of a thirst quencher. It can also be used when thirsty or having a temperature or fever. That's basically it :-)

          3. According to an Iranian friend and excellent cook, Khak
            Shir translates to earth-milk and is used to make a
            medicinal drink used for ritualistic purposes such as
            shaking off the evil eye. He doubts it tastes good.

            1. Khak shir does mean dirt milk in Iranian or Farsi. But it is not milk. It is a seed. It is mixed with a bit of sugar and water or sprinkled in juice to give the desired digestive effect: either to correct constipation or diarreha. I use it for my daughter who is prone to constipation. It can be used on infants, even, with proper dosage. It can be purchased with the brand name Sadaf on it from any online or Middle East market.

              1. Good guesses but they are all wrong. Khak Shir which is packaged by Sadaf International Gourmet Foods is carried in the spice section. It is actually a grain called TEFF, originally from Ethiopia and Northern India. TEFF is the smallest grain in the world. Take a close look at your spice bag. Five grains of Teff or Khak Shir can fit on the head of a are some links that will tell you about it and how to use it. cheers! the Cyber Chiq