Friday, June 20, 2008

Fesenjan with tofu

Fesenjan is a traditional Persian dish made with walnuts and pomegranates, usually served with chicken or eggplant, and served over rice. Like the red sauces of Italy, there are as many fesenjan recipes as there are cooks. Fesenjan was one of the first recipes I put in my recipe book, and made a fantastic dinner last night. This recipe serves at least four.

For Persian-style rice, cook long-grain white rice in twice as much salted water uncovered ten minutes, then drain, rinse in cold water, and drain again. In a large saucepan, melt 1 Tbsp butter per cup of (dry) rice, add the rice, and stir to coat. Wrap a lid in a clean cloth and secure with a rubber band; cover saucepan, and steam rice 40-45 minutes on low until bottom is golden and crusty.

Of course, I prefer brown rice, cooked my usual way: bring rice to boil with 1.5-times as much salted water, and simmer covered until water has evaporated/been absorbed (about 20-30 minutes). Then leave covered, but remove from heat, and let the rice steam itself another 20 minutes at least; rice will holds its heat for upwards of an hour.

In any case, the fesenjan:

In a large saucepan or dutch oven, sauté until wilted and translucent
  • 1/4 cup oil (mix of olive and walnut)
  • 2 onions (we just got half a dozen small red onions in our vegetable box), sliced thin.
Of course, I ended up burning the onions, but not badly. Anyway, add
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • spices: 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, 1/2 tsp turmeric, 1/4 tsp cardamom, 2 tsp pepper
After a minute or two, add
  • 3 cups walnuts, finely processed in a food processor or blender
  • 2/3 cup pomegranate concentrate
  • 3 cup water or vegetable stock
  • 1 large Tbsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 1/2-1 pound frozen tofu, cubed
  • 3 Tbsp lemon (should be lime) juice.
Bring to boil, reduce to simmer, and cook uncovered until foaming subsides and sauce darkens and thickens, about half an hour.

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