Living in Los Angeles and Orange County allowed me to meet and befriend Persians and fall in love with Persian cuisine. It is a refined and exquisite cuisine and one from which there is much to learn.
The easiest introduction to Persian cuisine is through the rich and varied khoresh or stews. Just as in Lebanese cuisine, every vegetable under the sun is showcased in these stews but what sets Persian cuisine apart is the unabashed use of fruits as well. Sweet and savory are combined in a subtle way that enchants the palate.
Here, butternut and prunes are simmered slowly in a sweet citrus sauce. The meat used can be veal or beef or lamb or chicken indifferently. Saffron is always added to add another layer of unmistakably Persian flavor.
This recipe is inspired by Najmieh Batmanglij Food of Life.
INGREDIENTS: 4 to 6 servings
- 1 1/2 pounds of chicken pieces (thighs or drumsticks)
- 2 onions
- 1 pound of butternut pieces
- 1 cup of seedless prunes
- 1 cup of lime or orange juice
- 2 tbsp of sugar
- 1/2 tsp of cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp of saffron
- salt and pepper to taste
- oil or butter as needed
- Brown the chicken pieces in a little oil; chop the onions and brown them as well. Add 2 cups of water to the pan, salt, pepper and cinnamon and cover the lid and bring to a simmer; simmer the chicken and onions gently for 30 minutes.
- In the meantime, heat a little butter or oil and stir-fry the butternut pieces for 10 minutes over gentle heat. Add to the chicken and onions and add the prunes; add the lime or orange juice, sugar and saffron. Simmer gently for 20 to 30 minutes more. Taste to adjust seasoning and serve warm with basmati rice.