Friday, February 13, 2009

Yummy persian food

A few weeks ago I took a one-time Persian cooking class at PCC (a natural foods supermarket in Washington state) about Persian cooking. It was my first time trying Persian food and it was wonderful - flavors totally different to anything I'd experienced before. I was mistaken when I thought it would be similar to other middle eastern cuisines (Lebanese, Egyptian, etc).

Yesterday I decided to try and recreate Khoresh-e Fesenjoon, which is Pomegranate-Walnut Stew, traditionally served with chicken but for our purposes with chicken-style seitan (a vegan "meat" made of wheat).

Since I just got a new cookbook called Yellow Rose Recipes, I was excited to find a recipe for chicken-style seitan. It was my first try at making seitan, and while I think it was not super-successful (didn't follow the recipe carefully enough, although it was pretty basic), I still threw it in for the stew.

I put too much lemon in there and didn't process the walnuts finely enough, but otherwise it was pretty good, and you should definitely seek Persian/Iranian food in your life one way or another. We also got to try a cardamom-infused baklava in the class, so I'm hoping to try that soon too.

Khoresh-e-Fesenjoon- Pomegranate Walnut Stew with Chicken-style Seitan

2 cups walnuts
1 large onion, diced
4 tablespoons oil
1 package chicken-style seitan
1 cup pomegranate juice concentrate - more if you're using a thinner pomegranate juice
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar - maybe less; this turned out quite sweet
1/4 teaspoon ground saffron
2 teaspoons salt

Pulse the walnuts in a food processor until finely ground, but be careful not to over-do it. You want it to be fine crumbs. Set aside.

In a large pot, saute onions in the oil for 5 minutes. Add the seitan and ground walnuts and mix. Add remaining ingredients.

Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for at least one hour. Stir periodically.

Serve over basmati rice.

Friday, February 06, 2009


I've been wanting to post about - and make - koshari for a very long time, and somehow the forces convened about a week ago. Koshari is what hamburgers are in the US - fast, cheap, and ubiquitous, but luckily, vegan. The problem with koshari is that it's made up of about a hundred different things: rice, lentils, macaroni, chickpeas, super-fried crispy brown onions, and a garlicky sauce to go over everything. So each individual component is pretty simple, it's just kind of a production to make them all together.

There really is no recipe: get some rice and macaroni cooking, have your chickpeas ready (canned or dried & cooked), and fry the heck out of a chopped up onion, until they are dark brown and crispy. This takes a while. Then mix it all up and spoon some sauce on top.

Really, the only thing to worry about is the sauce, which is called daqqa. I used a recipe I found in the cookbook "My Grandmother's Egyptian Kitchen," with a few modifications.

Daqqa (tomato sauce):
6 cloves garlic (I used 4)
salt and red pepper (I used cayenne)
1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
2 cups tomato juice (mixed 2 tablespoons of tomato paste with 2 cups water)
1/4 vinegar

Crush the garlic, salt, and red pepper together. Fry in oil until light golden brown. Add tomato juice and cook until sauce thickens and oil rises to the top. Add vinegar and bring to a boil.

The sauce makes a lot, you could (or should) probably halve it.

Occasional art, comics, food, and other things of less interest to the general public.