Fesenjoon Stew

I cannot believe I have not included khoresh fesenjoon خورشت فسنجون in my Iranian stews yet!  This traditional stew, made primarily with ground walnuts and pomegranate paste or molasses, with a sweet-sour taste, deep aroma and rich flavor is quite unique among other Iranian stews and is regarded a fancy dish served at special occasions and for special guests.

A specialty of Northern Iran, fesenjoon is traditionally cooked using duck meat. Nowadays people use chicken breast or tights instead. Or for a vegan version simply skip the meat step and still get a rich and flavorful stew.  There are certainly more than one method in making a good fesenjoon, but below is just one of them!

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 1 large onion, chopped in small squares
  •  2 medium skinless chicken breast (about 1 kg), washed and chopped
  • 2 & 1/2 walnut halves, passed through food processor (see below)
  • ½ – ¾ cup pomegranate paste, depending on how thick and sour it is (see below)
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon saffron powder diluted in 1 tbsp. warm water
  • 2 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp. fresh pomegranate seeds (optional for topping)
  • Salt to taste

Method:

Pass walnuts through a food processor or blender and process until you get fine clumps (or coarse powder).

Add the grained walnuts in a dry frying pan. Sauté over medium heat for about 10 minutes or until you get a caramel color and can feel the smell of the walnut emanating from the skillet. Stir constantly and be careful not to burn the walnuts.

Add 2 and 1/2 cups of lukewarm water to the frying pan and mix. Cover with the lid and reduce to minimum setting.  Simmer for 20 minutes.

In a medium size pot, warm oil and add chopped onions. Fry until translucent. Add chicken pieces and fry until all sides of the chicken pieces change color. Add salt, pepper and turmeric and continue frying for another 2 minutes.

Add walnut paste to the main pot and simmer for half an hour with half closed lid ; leave a wooden spoon touching the bottom of the pot all the time.

Add pomegranate paste to the main pot and simmer for another half an hour.  Taste for adjustment. Your fesenjoon should taste sour-sweet.  Depending on the brand of the pomegranate paste you have used and also depending on your own preference you might need to add a bit more pomegranate paste for added sourness.  Or you might need to stir in brown sugar to get more sweetness.

Also, at this stage your stew should look settled, dark and thick. If not, close the lid and simmer for another 20 minutes. Five minutes before serving, add saffron liquid.  This would be for extra aroma and a deeper darker color.

You could always garnish with fresh red pomegranate seeds.

Serve hot with plain or saffron rice cooked Iranian style and enjoy this flavorful, rich and majestic Iranian dish!


Apple & Dried Apricot Stew (khoresh Sib o aaloo)

What comes to your mind first, when you see or think of an apple? Eve? Newton?  Steve Jobs? Or Fall and pie ?? Amazing how omnipresent apple is, isn’t it? And how diversified, beneficial and of course delicious this “forbidden” fruit of wisdom is.

Iranian culture and literature is full of apple-related references as well, and culinary wise, we cook with apple not only in the Fall but also in spring when a particular type of small sour apple is in abundance in some of Iranian southern cities such as Shiraz. Read the rest of this entry »


Spinach-plum stew (khoresh aaloo-esfenaaj)

This sweet-sour, aromatic and sophisticated-looking stew is actually among simple Iranian stews, as it requires only a few ingredients and a couple of easy cooking steps.

In this particular method, I use plums instead of more commonly used prune because I prefer sweet-sour over sweet; and I also add saffron at the very end to take away the dark and add to the richness of taste and aroma. Read the rest of this entry »


Pomegranate Stew, anaar-daneh mosamma: A Persian dish of fall & love

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. Read the rest of this entry »


Okra Stew and a whole lot about it

What do you know about Okra, also known as lady finger? Well, before doing some search for this post, I only knew that in Iran, especially in Khoozestan, it is used to make “khoresh-e Baamieh” or Okra stew with.  Let’s get into some of the things I learned about Okra, before sharing the recipe I already knew for it:

 

Okra is a flowering plant in the mallow family; an annual herb that is widely cultivated for its edible green seed pods in tropical, subtropical and warm temperate climates, and a hardy plant that can grow even with less water and in hot conditions. For full Botanical description check out wiki  .

Read the rest of this entry »


Acanthus stew (khoresh-e kangar)

Among the wide range of vegetables, herbs and plants used in Persian stews or khoresh, in combination with chopped lamp or veal and usual suspects for spice, kangar falls in to the category of a region-specific and less known type – even among Iranians inside the country.

Kangar or acanthus, according to English and Persian Wikipedia, is a genus of about 30 species of flowering plants in native to tropical and warm temperate regions, and originated in Mediterranean, Basin and Asia. It has thick, spiny leaves, stalks not dissimilar to celery and flower spikes bearing white or purplish flowers.  Kangar grows in central and southern Iran in mountains and in dry climate for a short period in March-April.

Read the rest of this entry »


Split-beans stew, “khoresh-e ghaymeh”

In Persian, we have a proverb that compares the “sacrificial lamb” to the benevolent scapegoat- both victims in happy and sad times.

Well, split-beans stew (khoresh-e ghaymeh) brings to mind that proverb, as it is traditionally made and served at both weddings and funerals.  No upcoming wedding or funerals planned, yet I have got to share this as one of my favorite  stews.

Ingredients (serves 5-6) Read the rest of this entry »