Fesenjoon (Pomegranate Stew with Meatballs)
Ever invite guests, cook your most delicious meal, and only to have them bail out on you? The LPB boys (Lolo Peak Brewery) were going to have a stressful day, so I thought I’d treat them to some tasty Persian food, sure to beat the McDonald drive through. Well, it didn’t quite pan out, and now I am left with all this food. Not exactly the worst thing in the world, and I am sure I will get through this ordeal (sarcasm intended).
If it was Iran, I would have resorted to some heavy duty taarof, extreme persistence in offering by sayings like “tashrif biyarid, to ro khoda, mage man, jane man” lit. translation “I swear you to God, to my death, to my life, to come over”. Dramatic? They will even resort to toasty guilt trips like “Why is my food not good enough? You will cause me great pain”. Ironically, taarofs are mostly insincere, and a mere demonstration of respect and manners, and people actually count on the recipient to decline. The back and forth tug of social chivalry can take a good half an hour.
Dazed and confused, it is hard to discern between genuine expressions and a mere show. If accept too soon, you maybe perceived needy or simple and if declined all attempts, you maybe cold and discouraging. Although taarofing was a huge part of social etiquette, I thought it was a waste of time and hindrance to communication…plus, I sucked horribly at it. Although the thought of taarofing my friends crossed my mind a couple of hours ago, calling up American mates to tell them that I will take my own life if they didn’t come over for dinner, may not exactly be a ringing endorsement of my sanity. Maybe, I’ll tend to the art of judicial persuasion, the more demure version of taarof.
Fesenjoon is mostly cooked with chicken (see here), but can be replaced with other kinds of meat.
Ingredients (serves 4):
- 1 lb ground meat (beef or lamb)
- 1.5 cups walnuts, grounded (leave some chunks behind)
- 1 large onion, minced
- 1/2 cup pomegranate paste (can’t be substituted with pomegranate juice)
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 tsp turmeric
- 1 Tbs flour (any)
- salt (1 Tbs) and pepper (1 tsp) to taste
- 1 large carrot/apple, grated
Time~ Prep: 10- 15 min Cook: 1 hr
- In a med. sized bowl mix the ground meat, salt, pepper, 1 tsp turmeric with your hand. Make cherry size meatballs and set aside.
- In a med. sized pot or pan, saute onions in enough oil ’til golden brown. To do this: first cook ’till translucent on med.-high heat (~ 10 min), lower heat and continue ’till browned (~15).
- Add 1 tsp turmeric and stir ’till fragrant (~ 1 min).
- Add meatballs, cover and cook on med. heat ’till browned. Stir so all sides are browned (~10 min).
- Add the grated carrots or apple and ground walnuts and stir.
- Add pomegranate paste, sugar with 2 cups of water. Cover, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer on low heat for at least 1 hr. Stir occasionally. (leave uncovered if boiling vigorously on the lowest setting of your stove)
- Stir in flour to thicken stew. Taste and adjust seasoning and amount of water to your desired consistency.
Serve over polow (persian style steamed white rice).