Saturday, October 9, 2010
Fesenjan (Persian Chicken in Pomegranate Nut Sauce) and Tabbouleh
Persian food is fantastic. In fact, all Middle Eastern food is fantastic. I'm a big fan. Along with North African/Moroccan, these are some of my favorite foods to cook and eat.
But, I'm not very experienced cooking Persian food, specifically. This was a first for me.
I had Fesenjan one time in a restaurant more than a decade ago, and another time at someone's house, but other than that, it was just a craving I had. Pomegranates were on sale at Wholesome Choice, and it just made sense.
I wasn't sure what to do as a vegetable, but cucumbers sounded really good and I also had some dried apricots on hand. Also had some bulgur on hand. Tabbouleh! Add some basmati rice, and that's a meal.
Fesenjan (Persian Chicken in Pomegranate Walnut Sauce):
Start with 1-2 pounds of chicken. I used chicken breast tenders, because I'm not a big fan of dark meat, but I think this would probably be wonderful with dark meat. I browned the chicken in a small amount of olive oil, and set aside.
Dry roast 1/2 cup walnuts in a hot pan - do not burn!! Drop those into a processor and chop without turning into a paste. Set aside.
Meanwhile, finely dice 1 large onion and fry it in a bit of olive oil. Add 4-5 pressed garlic cloves, a sprinkle of cinnamon, and some salt and pepper. Continue frying another minute or two.
Add in your walnuts, and about 1/2 cup of pomegranate molasses, also juice from 2 pomegranates, about 1 1/2 or 2 cups water, a couple table spoons of sugar, some salt and pepper. Add your chicken back in, along with any juices. Mix well, bring to a slow boil, and them cover and reduce to low and simmer for 30 minutes.
After about 30 minutes, use two forks to shred the chicken. Also add juice from 4 lemons. Mix well and have heat on lowest setting. If your meal is becoming too dry, add a small amount of water - maybe 1/2 cup.
Simmer for another 45 minutes to an hour. Check the flavor. Need it sweeter? Add some sugar. More 'brightness'? Add some lemon juice. Salt or pepper?
In the end, you want a well-melded, flavorful dish.
Take 1 cup of wheat bulgur and cover with water at least 3 times the amount. Set aside for at least 30 minutes, but better for 1 hour. Drain well, and squeeze through a clean cloth or paper towels. Set in a large mixing bowl.
Finely chop a handful of parsley, and a handful of mint. Add to the bulgur. Chop 1/2 cucumber, and add in. Chop up some dried apricots and add in. Pour some olive oil (maybe 1-2 Tbs), and juice from 2 lemons. Mix well and place in the fridge.
After about 30 minutes, mix well and taste. Add salt and lemon juice, as necessary.