Books

Digging into Persian Food with Taste of Persia

fesenjun and persian rice

One of the things I’m going to do with DailyWaffle is tackle some cuisines and dishes I haven’t really cooked at home, starting with Persian food. I’m planning to do injera, the Ethiopian flatbread made with teff flour; Beef Wellington, although the idea of screwing up a gorgeous piece of beef tenderloin is scary; and I’ve kicked off with Fesenjun, a Persian chicken stew with walnuts and pomegranate.

The recipe comes from Taste of Persia by Naomi Duguid, a book I’m just starting to dig into. As a kid, we used to go to a Darya, a Persian restaurant in Orange County, so some of the basics weren’t new to me, I’ve done polo tahdig (crispy rice) and koobideh (lamb kebabs), at home. With a different set of pans this time, my rice didn’t come out in that one uniform pan shape, but it still tastes fantastic, and actually I prefer the recipe linked above to the one in the book.

fesenjun persian chicken stew with pomegranate and walnuts

Fesenjun was a revelation. The sauce is so simple — just whizzed up walnuts, water and pomegranate molasses cooked down for an hour and then added to the chicken to stew. It’s rich and tart and really delicious. If you’re just getting into Persian food, it’s a good starting point, since the ingredients were all easily accessible at a regular grocery store. I’m off to a Persian market later today to pick up some barberries and dried sour cherries and apricots, so I can really get into the book.

Taste of Persia has won accolades all over the place and was named Cookbook of the Year by the LA Times, NY Times, and Food and Wine, among others. It feels to me the way Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s Jerusalem did, in that it’s not just a book I’ll be eating with my eyes, but I’ll be cooking from it this year and in years to come.

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