A Journey to Iran, by Way of the Kitchen
Fesenjan (Pomegranate Walnut Stew)
The backdrop to our days was Mali’s magnificent cooking, especially her khoresh, or stews—the crowning glory of Persian cuisine. Among the classic variations, there is unctuous bademjan, made with fried eggplant and tomatoes; gheimeh, a pungent blend of split peas cooked with bittersweet dried limes and topped with French fries; and sweet-and-sour fesenjan, perhaps the most beloved of all Persian stews, a heady concoction of tart pomegranate, ground walnuts and rich, flavorful duck or chicken.
Fesenjan is believed to have originated in Gilan province, a temperate green swath of land along the Caspian Sea in the north of Iran, where wild ducks are plentiful. Gilanis have a taste for tart, fruity flavors like those in this dish, which has been around in one form or another since the days of the Persian Empire. A cache of inscribed stone tablets unearthed from the ruins of the ancient capital of Persepolis show that as far back as 515 BCE, early Iranian pantry staples included walnuts, poultry and pomegranate conserve. Today, fesenjan is a de rigueur dish for weddings and special occasions.
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Courtesy : Rusi Sorabji