Fall maybe associated with pumpkin & apple pies, Halloween and Thanksgiving if you reside in the northern hemisphere; and fall is certainly associated with a rainbow of colors no matter where you live. For me, as an Iranian, fall is also strongly linked to my Persian heritage and one of its most beautiful manifestations, Mehregan, or Fall Festival.
This 4000-year old tradition, originally celebrated for the six first days of autumn, has its roots in Zoroastrian religion as well as having cosmic and seasonal connotations: It is a festival to acknowledge the Autumn Equinox and honor the god of justice “Mehr”; it is also a celebration of the end of harvest season and a way to express gratitude for the gift of nature and gods. Today, Mehregan has gained even more significance, especially among Iranian expatriates as a means to familiarize the world with Iranian culture, and to preserve what some feel is being diminished by the current regime of Iran.
This year, a group of over twenty active and talented Persian Cuisine Bloggers and writers from around the world got together and decided to have a Persian Food Round Up for the occasion of Mehregan. I am honored and thrilled to have been invited to join this exciting initiative. Please scroll down to see the list of links to these blogs and find out about their selection of Fall-theme Persian dishes.
I chose to cook Pomegranate Stew because pomegranate, this “fruit of Paradise and love” is the mother of ancient Persian fruits. Because when I was growing up in Shiraz, almost every household had a pomegranate tree in their backyard. Because my memories of Autumn is inseparable from gathering around a huge tray with my sisters and brothers in our patio and seeding and eating piles of red plump and juicy pomegranates while soaking up the last rays of the warm sun of Shiraz. And finally, I chose this dish because it is simply too colorful and aromatic to be missed from a Fall-food menu!
pomegranate stew or anar daneh mosamma is a specialty of Iran’s northern provinces, and like any other Iranian stew it has many varieties. I love the Gillan’s version below because the herbs component of the ingredients make the dish aromatic as well as gorgeous-looking. Here in Montreal, too, I tend to make it during the fall when our supermarkets showcase their California-imported pomegranates. Which are not necessarily as tasty and reddish as the ones I had in abundance back in Iran. To add color to my fall table, I usually make this dish along with lentil and bell-pepper salad (the recipe will follow in a separate post soon). In Iran, however Pomegranate Stew is usually served with plain rice.
- Ingredients (serves 4-5)
- Half a chicken or three large pieces, skinned washed and dried
- 1 cup pomegranate seeds (should be medium sour, and the more reddish, the better)
- I large onion, chopped
- 2 tbsp. mint and oregano (originally made with Gillan’s locally grown herbs which smell and taste marvelously unique)
- 3 cups home-made chicken broth (or water if you’re in a hurry!)
- ¼ teaspoon saffron
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric
- ½ tbsp. tomato paste
- Salt and powdered black pepper to taste
- Cooking oil
Heat 1 tbsp. cooking oil in a frying pan and fry chicken pieces on both sides. Sprinkle salt and pepper and remove from the heat.
In a large pot, fry onions till slightly golden. Add turmeric, a bit of salt, pepper and lastly tomato paste and continue frying for 1-2 minutes. Add chickens, mix well, top with broth and let it cook with closed lid over medium heat for 30-45 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a clean frying pan pour ½ tbsp. oil. Sauté pomegranate seeds and herbs briefly. Dissolve saffron in 1 tbsp. of hot water and pour over the mix.
Check on the chicken and add hot water if necessary. When the chicken is cooked, and you have about 1 cup juice left in the pot, add the contents of your frying pan. Simmer for another 5-10 minutes till the tastes and aroma mix and settle. Taste for adjustment. Notes: a) You will lose much of the pomegranate seeds color at the end; this is normal – you have gained lots of taste and aroma instead! b) This is not a thick stew compared to most of Iranian stews, but the taste is really rich. c) It is great with plain rice, accompanied with fresh herbs, and torshi (Iranian pickles) for lunch or dinner.
I’m collaborating with twenty three other amazing bloggers for this Persian Food Round Up #Mehregan2104. Please go on over and see these beautiful and delicious posts! Thank you Azita (Turmeric & Saffron) for inviting me to be a part of this!
- Ahu Eats: Badoom Sookhte Torsh, Persian-style tangy candied almonds lime
- All Kinds of Yum: Jeweled Carrot Salad
- Bottom of the Pot: Broccoli Koo Koo
- Cafe Leilee: Northern Iranian Pomegranate Garlic and Chicken Stew
- Coco in the Kitchen: Zeytoon Parvardeh,
- Della Cucina Povera: Ghormeh Sabzi, Persian Herb and lamb stew
- Family Spice: Khoresht-e Kadoo, Butternut Squash Stew
- Fig & Quince:Persian Noodle Rice: Roasted Chicken Stuffed with Yummies for Mehregan
- Honest and Tasty: Loobia Polo, Beef and Green Bean Rice
- Lab Noon: Adas Polo Risotto Style
- Lucid Food: Persian Samosa with Lentils & Nigella Seeds
- Marjan Kamali: Persian Ice Cream with Rosewater and Saffron
- My Persian Kitchen: Keshmesh Polow, Persian Raisin Rice
- Noghlemey: Parsi Daal, Rice Pie
- Parisa’s Kitchen: Morasa Polow, Jeweled Rice
- Persian Spice: Fall in Love with Autumn
- Sabzi:Ash-e Mast, Yogurt Soup with Meatballs
- The Saffron Tales: Gheimeh, Lamb with split peas, dried lime
- Simi’s Kitchen: Torshi-e Liteh,Tangy aubergine pickle
- Spice Spoon:Khoresht-e-bademjaan, Saffron-Scented Aubergine Stew
- Turmeric & Saffron: Ash-a Haft Daneh, Seven Bean Soup
- The Unmanly Chef: Lamb Shanks & Herbed Basmati Rice with Fava Beans
- Zozo Baking, Masghati