Quince stew (Sfarjalieh ma3 ruz)

November 18, 2012  •  Category:



If you love fruity, sweet and sour flavors in your food, then this stew is right up your alley. Inspired by a famous stew from Aleppo, Syria but streamlined to the max. The stew combines the flavors of quince, red beets, pomegranate, with a touch of garlic and mint; these flavors are lilting, sweet and a tad sour and the colors a joyful celebration of Fall.

The traditional Aleppo stew contains stuffed kibbeh balls in addition to lamb or veal shanks and it is truly a grandiose dish. I kept it simple and used some duck breast  instead,  a bit more like the Persian version of the quince stew.

INGREDIENTS: 4 to 6 servings

  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 duck breasts or one chicken, cut up in 8 pieces (or 1 lb of stew meat)
  • 2 quinces
  • 3 small red beets 
  • 2 cups of either water, chicken broth or beef broth (adjust quantity as stew simmers)
  • 3 tbsp of pomegranate molasses or 1 cup of pomegranate juice
  • 3 tbsp of sugar (more, to taste)
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped and mashed in a mortar with a dash of salt
  • 2 tsp of dried mint
  • 2 tbsp of oil
  1. Heat the oil in a large pot and add the onion; fry till soft and golden. Add the chicken pieces or stew meat or duck breasts; pan-fry on both sides till browned; drain the pot of the excess oil; if using duck, cut the breasts into chunks. Remove the meat from the pot and set aside. 
  2. Peel the red beets and cut into slices; rub the quince to remove the outer fuzz and cut into chunks, discarding the core and seeds (or keep the seeds to use for tea later). Place the beets and quince in the pot with a little bit of oil left and gently pan-fry for a few minutes; add the meat (or chicken or duck) back and add 2 cups of water to the pot; cover and simmer gently for 40 minutes; uncover, add the pomegranate molasses or juice and  sugar  and simmer uncovered about 30 minutes. About 10 minutes before the end of cooking, add the mashed garlic and mint. Taste to adjust seasoning and serve with rice. 
NOTE: A few tablespoons of lemon or lime juice are also added to the stew traditionally.


15 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. Rosa says:

    Scrumptious and so colorful! I love the fact that this dish also contains beetroot.



  2. Susan says:

    This looks beautiful and sounds delicious! I love duck!

  3. Sarah G says:

    I love quince and have not been able to find them for the past few years. Interesting combination of flavours.

  4. Christine @ Fresh says:

    I love how quince turns into a mellow pinkish orange color when cooked. This looks like a lovely stew!

  5. Angel says:

    How wonderful to have access to quinces. Rotting with envy here!

  6. Diane says:

    This sounds delicious, I still have some quince in the freezer so will give this a try. have a good week Diane

  7. Belinda @zomppa says:

    What a great blend of flavors! This dish looks beautiful (not to mention that stunningly cooked rice!)

  8. Laura@Silkroadgourme says:

    Hi Joumana:

    I love quinces!

    Am interested in this dish as a relative fo the Azeri and Afghani quince stews I used in SIlk Road Gourmet. This dish is interestingly more like the Azeri dish than the Afghani dish which has no meat prescribed in it. Will try and compare!


    P.S. Quinces are in my blood. My “Italian” ancestors were quince growers from the region near Ravenna and this is reflected in my maiden name which has the root for “quince” in it.

    • Joumana says:

      @Laura: You always fascinate me with your exotic trips and recipes; Afghani dishes are so refined, don’t know anything about the Azeri ones. Your name is rooted in quince? that’s so similar to the way families here were given names based on occupation!

  9. Macnamara says:

    I’m curious to find out what blog system you are using? I’m having some minor security issues with my latest site and I would like to find something more secure. Do you have any solutions?

  10. jason argon says:

    made a small change.sauteed everything in goat’s ghee added goosemeat and baked it in a clay pot overnight at my wood oven! ambrosia!thanks for beeing a source of inspiration! regards from the mountainous Greece!

  11. jason argon says:

    made a change.replaced beets with wild fennel roots,sauteed vegetables ans separately browned goosemeat and dugkmeat.i used olive oil and goat’s butterghee(family produced),then i combined meats and veggies in the clay crockpot ,added rice and left it for the entire night in my oven (operates with wood).real ambrosia!thanks for being a source of inspiration! Kind regards from mountainous Greece!

  12. Tracy Butler says:

    I love quince, but here in a scotland I have to order it especially because it’s difficult to get – our 5 year old quince tree has still not born fruit. I have tried your stew with all sorts of different meats which work well, and have now become addicted to the wonderful beetroot.

    So, I just wanted to say thank you, this stew has become one our family staples, with fresh pomegranate sprinkled on top. Yum.

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