Morgh Shekam Por – Saffron-glazed stuffed chicken with fruits and nuts

مرغ شکم پور

Morgh Shekam Por is a traditional stuffed chicken that is packed with a wide range of flavors, textures and colors. Chickens – often the smaller varieties that have the best flavor – are marinated in citrus juice, spices and oil, and then filled to the brim with the stuffing.

Shekam Por is an endearing Persian term used when vegetables, meats or fish are stuffed. In Farsi, Shekam means belly and Por means full, so Shekam Por is what I am hoping you will experience after preparing this dish!

In the northern part of Iran by the Caspian Sea, it is quite customary to use ducks instead of chicken, in which case the name of the dish changes to Morghabi Shekam Por.

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Khoresh Kadu Halvaee – Butternut squash and golden plum stew

خورش کدو حلوائی

For me, there is something so special about this dish as it marks the beginning of Autumn by celebrating the season’s bounty.

Every year I find myself eagerly looking forward to the arrival of Fall and its seasonal produce: from an amazing variety of squashes including the sweet and tender butternut squash, to fruit like persimmons, quince, and pomegranate, and above all the extraordinarily flavorful Persian golden plums, known as Aloo Zard. These plums are golden in color and have a unique tart flavor which wins the hearts of all Iranians.

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Khoresh Hulu – Saffron chicken and peach stew

خورش هلو

While everything about this dish appears striking and eye-catching, it is a relatively easy and simple Persian stew. This Khoresh is consumed primarily in the summer season when fresh peaches are abundant in Iran.

The chicken first simmers slowly in a saffron broth, along with a squeeze of fresh lime juice and a touch of sweetness. Then, fresh but not overly ripe peaches are lightly caramelized with a touch of oil and placed on top of the chicken for the last few minutes of cooking. Each cook choreographs the dance of sour and sweet flavors to suit their family’s taste preferences.

While the peaches are the focal point of this stew, a fair amount of good quality saffron makes this dish shine and come to life!

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Khoresh Fesenjoon – Chicken in pomegranate and walnut sauce

خورش فسنجون

This is fesenjoon, another national culinary treasure of Iran. There aren’t many dishes that give you as much pleasure and joy of eating as fesenjoon! It’s inherently a simple dish, showcasing a perfect blend of simple and yet flavorful ingredients that are abundant in Iran, making it a celebration of natural resources.

The dish starts with walnuts that are ground into a coarse powder and features lightly-browned chicken pieces that are patiently cooked to tenderness in a pomegranate sauce. Choosing the best quality ingredients will ensure you have the best fesenjoon on the block!

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Salad Olivieh – Chicken and potato salad

سالاد الویه

Salad Olivieh is a chicken and potato salad that has won most if not every Iranian’s heart! To mention Salad Olivieh to an Iranian is to watch an excited smiling face staring back at you and to hear tales of where and how they used to eat this salad. Most of us would have it wrapped in a thin lavash style of bread and eat it as a sandwich.

Salad Olivieh, originally a Russian dish, gained international fame at the turn of the century and became wildly popular. Because of Iran’s proximity to Russia, a number of Russian dishes have found their way to Iran via the Caspian Sea area.

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Zereshk Polo – Saffron barberry rice pilaf

زرشک پلو

This is Zereshk Polo, a distinguished Persian dish.

The popular Zereshk Polo features many of the elements of Persian cooking. Barberries, which are quite tart and bright in color, are layered within the fluffy Basmati rice and served with succulent chicken, or if you prefer with lamb or beef .

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Khoresh Porteghal – Chicken and saffron stew with carrots and oranges

خورش پرتقال

This stew is a great representation of a dish in a culture that loves its fruits with their tart and sweet flavors! The chicken is cooked slowly with Persian spices (advieh), layered with carrots and saffron, and finished off with fresh orange segments before serving.

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Khoresh Maast – Chicken in yogurt sauce with barberries

خورش ماست

This one is a maast-try!

I have had several appetizing and delicious Indian chicken dishes that either marinate or cook the chicken in a yogurt sauce. But until recently I hadn’t tried this traditional chicken dish with Persian techniques, ingredients, and spices.

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Khoresh Bademjan – Eggplant stew with chicken

خورشت بادمجان با مرغ

Khoresh Bademjan is a well known, popular and respected dish that finds itself served frequently and proudly on a Persian table. Eggplant, otherwise known as the potato of Iran, is used in a variety of stews, Kuku (egg-based dishes), and layered rice dishes.

The very special and unique ingredient in this dish is “Ghooreh”, which showcases Iranians’ love of all things sour. Ghooreh is the Farsi name for unripe sour grapes. Once harvested, they are then juiced, frozen or dried into a powder. These elements are used anywhere acidity is called for.

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Havij Polo -Saffron rice and carrots

هویج پلو

Havij polo is not just another Persian rice dish. It’s rather an experience and a destination, much like getting a stamp in your passport at the end of an exotic journey!

Though there’s quite a variety of rice pilaf dishes in Persian cuisine, there are probably 10 that most Iranians would be able to list without even thinking. Havij polo is in my top 5.

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