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Cooking Hearty Iranian Vegetable Stew: A Culinary Journey Through History

Hearty Iranian Vegetable Stew

Hearty Iranian Vegetable Stew, known as "Khoreshteh Fesenjan" in Persian, holds a significant place in Iranian cuisine, reflecting the rich culinary heritage of the region. While Khoreshteh Fesenjan is a well-loved dish, it is distinct from other Iranian stews due to its unique combination of ingredients and flavors.

Historically, Khoreshteh Fesenjan was considered a lavish and ceremonial dish, often served during special occasions and celebrations such as weddings, Nowruz (the Persian New Year), and other significant events. Its elaborate preparation and use of expensive ingredients highlighted its importance in Persian culinary culture.

Today, Khoreshteh Fesenjan continues to be cherished as a beloved dish in Iran and among Persian communities worldwide. Its popularity has also spread beyond Iranian borders, gaining recognition for its rich flavors and cultural significance. Restaurants serving Iranian cuisine often feature Khoreshteh Fesenjan on their menus, introducing it to a global audience and contributing to its enduring legacy as a symbol of Iranian culinary excellence.

Ingredients

3 Tbsp Ghee or butter or olive oil (or another plant-based oil)

1 onion, diced (about 1 1/2 cups)

1/2 tsp ground turmeric

2 tsp cumin seeds

1 Tbsp tomato paste (low sodium preferable)

1/4 cup cilantro, chopped (optional)

1 Tbsp tarragon leaves, chopped (optional)

1 Tbsp dill leaves, chopped (optional)

1 Yukon gold potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks

1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and chopped into 1-inch chunks

1 lime, pierced 3 times with a fork (Iranian limes are best)

1 green chili, slit in half, seeds removed (or 1 tsp of your favorite spicy sauce) 

Salt to taste

4 cups water

4 medium tomatoes, quartered

5 cups greens (spinach, kale or swiss chard), chopped

1/4 cup chopped dried fruit (unsweetened preferable figs, dates, cherries, currents, or cranberries)

1 cup low-fat Greek yogurt to serve (optional)

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400°F.

2. In a large pot over medium heat add the butter, onion, turmeric and cumin, sauté for 5-10minutes until onion is soft.

3. Add the tomato paste and cook another 2 minutes.

4. Add the herbs, potatoes, squash, limes, chili, salt and water. Bring to a boil.

5. Turn down heat and boil for about 15 minutes.

6. Add the tomatoes, spinach, and dried cherries (or currants). Transfer to a baking dish and roast in the oven for 20 minutes until the sauce has thickened a bit and the vegetables are soft.

7. Remove from oven and serve with yogurt.

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