We’re back with another amazing recipe! At Blue Pacific, we feel fortunate to have such a diverse family of employees from many backgrounds and cultures. We all love sharing our memories with each other – and our favorite traditional foods!
This month’s recipe comes from Roya Sayyah, our Technical Sales Director. Roya shares, “I grew up with this favorite recipe from my mom… and every time she makes it, the smells in the kitchen remind me of family. This quince and beef stew is the most popular Persian food recipe, a comfort dish that’s exactly what your winter menu is missing! My family also always has bowls of fresh herbs on the table. It’s traditional in Persian cuisine to nibble on herbs throughout the meal.”
Persian cooking is packed with flavor, often incorporating a variety of dried and fresh herbs, like saffron, dill, mint, parsley, cilantro, basil, chives, fenugreek, and tarragon. Rose water and rose petals are used much like we use vanilla extract, giving sweet dishes like baklava, rice pudding, cookies, and ice cream a unique floral flavor. Rose is also used in more savory dishes, like rice and eggs, or used as a garnish on yogurt and salads.
Saffron is used extensively in Persian cooking, bringing a subtle sweetness and depth of flavor to anything it touches. Often used in rice, it also lends a gorgeous golden hue and tantalizing aroma that’s a bit enigmatic – a slightly sweet, earthy, and floral smell.
Quinces look similar to an apple or pear when you cut into them – but raw quince is very tart and astringent, with tough, grainy flesh. When cooked, however, quince utterly transforms: it becomes soft and creamy, a bit like cooked pear; its flavor loses some of the tartness and becomes more apple-like, with a mouthwatering musky, vanilla-like aroma.
Turmeric is another star of the show when it comes to Persian cuisine. Turmeric, a relative of ginger, has a robust, almost overwhelmingly earthy and bitter flavor by itself, with a hint of pepper-like spiciness. When added to other ingredients, turmeric really shines. Its bitterness becomes more subtle and balanced, melding with whatever it touches for a remarkable depth of flavor. As an added bonus, it adds a cheerful, bright gold hue that’s as attractive as the spice is flavorful.
Pomegranate molasses, a syrup made from reduced pomegranate juice, is also a common ingredient in Persian and Middle Eastern cuisine. The dark, thick syrup lends a bright, tangy fruity flavor to sauces, stews, glazes, dips, and salad dressings. It pairs surprisingly well with all things savory, especially meat-based dishes. Even sweet foods like ice cream and yogurt can benefit from a drizzle of pomegranate molasses – but be aware that it’s incredibly flavorful – like balsamic vinegar, a little can go a long way.
We hope you enjoy this amazing recipe!
Persian Quince & Plum Stew
- 2 lbs. beef shanks chuck cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes or chicken parts
- 1 medium onion chopped or sliced in half moons
- 16 oz. tomato sauce
- 3 Tbsp. tomato paste
- 1.5 Tbsp. pomegranate molasses
- 3 quinces each cut in 8 wedges (If you can’t find quince, you can substitute with granny smith apples. However, do not add the apples until the last 15-20 minutes.)
- 3/4 cup prunes or sour plum
- 2 tbsp. avocado oil
- 1/4 tsp turmeric
- a few strings of saffron brewed in 3 tbsp. hot water
- Salt and pepper
Sauté the onion in the avocado oil over medium-high heat.
Add the beef, turmeric, salt, and pepper and sauté until brown on all sides.
Add the tomato sauce, tomato paste, pomegranate molasses, and 4 cups of hot water. Bring to boil. Lower to simmer. Simmer for 1 hour.
Add the prunes and or sour plums and quince. Cook for 30 minutes or until the quince is tender.
Before serving, add the *saffron and mix.
Serve with basmati rice.
* The saffron is an optional addition, but it adds a greater depth of flavor and a delicious aroma… try not to skip this one, if possible!
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1. All About Persian Food. (n.d.). GEEV | Wearable Persian Art. Retrieved January 20, 2021, from https://thegeev.com/blogs/news/all-about-persian-food
2. Baraghani, A. (2018, February 5). What Is Saffron, The World’s Most Legendary Spice? Bon Appétit; Bon Appétit. https://www.bonappetit.com/story/what-is-saffron
3. Louisa Shafia’s 5 Essential Persian Ingredients. (2013, June 20). Food52. https://food52.com/blog/7044-louisa-shafia-s-5-essential-persian-ingredients
4. Unsung Ingredient: Pomegranate Molasses. (2012, October 2). Food52. https://food52.com/blog/3890-unsung-ingredient-pomegranate-molasses5. What Does Quince Taste Like? (2019, January 25). Thrive Cuisine. https://thrivecuisine.com/taste-test/what-does-quince-taste-like/