Fesenjaan: a delicious persian eggplant, pomegranate & walnut stew
I made this amazing meal for Mara and Melissa who came over for an evening of food, drinks and dancing. To make this recipe truly vegan, replace the honey for agave syrup. The walnut sauce is an excellent texture for this stew and holds well with the honey which balances sweet with the sour pomegranate seeds. The little bit of spice from the crushed red pepper and delicate spice from the cinnamon and tumeric make this an easy yet complex tasting dinner that is guaranteed to please!
5 Japanese eggplants (the long thin light purple ones)
6 Tbs. olive oil
1 medium-sized onion, peeled and sliced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1-2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1-2 tsp. salt
1-2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
1 tsp. crushed red pepper
1 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
2 cups chopped cilantro leaves, plus 1 cup leaves for garnish
2/3 cup chopped fresh mint
2 cups (1/2 lb.) toasted walnuts
2-3 cups pure pomegranate juice (the real stuff)
2 tbsp honey
Cilantro or parsley for garnish
Pomegranate seeds for garnish
1) Cut eggplants into ½ inch thick rounds. Heat half the oil in a pan over medium high temperature. Sautee the eggplant on both sides until wilted and brown. Remove from the pan and let sit on a paper towel while you prepare the stew.
2) Toast the walnut pieces – I used my toaster oven (watch them carefully or they will burn. I have burned a few batches in the past trying to multi-task while making fesenjaan). Use a blender to grind the walnuts very finely. Remove from blender and combine in a small bowl the walnuts with the pomegranate juice, honey (or agave) and stir until thick.
2) Add the other half of the oil to the pan and sautee the chopped onion for 10 minutes or so until brown. Add garlic and sautee another 2-3 minutes. Add the cumin, cinammon, salt, pepper, tumeric, crushed red pepper flakes and continue to sautee.
3) Add remaining oil to skillet, and reheat over medium heat. Add onion, and sauté for 10 to 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Add garlic during last few minutes of browning onions, and continue cooking. Add cumin, cinnamon, salt, pepper, turmeric, crushed red pepper, parsley, cilantro and fresh mint, and sauté for another 5 minutes or so.
4) Pour the walnut and pomegrante sauce into the pan and mix together. Add the sautéed eggplant and simmer for 30 minutes or until it is thick.
5) Serve over rice, couscous, or even quinoa!
Yield: 4-6 servings.