Friday, December 4, 2009

Not Afraid Of Getting Wet

It's Friday night and I'm at home. Blogging. I believe I've graduated to a whole new level of cuckoo today. Because I'm not even perturbed by this. You're allowed to shake your head at me - go on, I probably deserve it.

However, if you're like me, then you won't dwell on my shame for long, and will quickly move on to the real reason you're here. The food! Now, in my previous post, I'd mentioned how the lovely people at POM Wonderful were kind enough to send me a generous sample of their 100% pure pomegranate juice. After chugging down the first couple of bottles (it tasted even better because it was
free!), I could almost feel myself getting healthier. All those antioxidants must have worked their magic on my clogged arteries. So with all that blood flowing more freely to my heart, and as a consequence, to my brain, I started thinking about what I could make with the rest of my precious POM.
I've never cooked with pomegranate juice before, so I really had to scour the web for something interesting enough for this first time. And savory - I knew I wanted savory, not sweet, because that would've been too obvious and easy (yes, I like to punish myself sometimes by setting lofty goals and torturing myself over them - but we'll come back to that in another therapy session). That's when I came across this
parsi recipe from Asha's blog Fork-Spoon-Knife. The flavor profiles were so unusual, but her pic was so appetizing, that I just had to try it out. I'd never made parsi food before, although had heard good things about it - so I dove right in.
Koresht-e-Fesenjan (find Asha's original recipe here)
Serves 4-6

Click here for printable recipe

Half a chicken, cut into pieces, skinless
1 large onion, sliced thin
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 lb walnuts, toasted and ground
2.5 cups POM Wonderful pomegranate juice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp chilli powder or 2-3 green chillies, chopped (optional)
1-2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp cardamom powder (or 4 cardamom, just bruised to open them up)
2 tbsp lime juice
Salt & pepper to taste
3 tbsp canola oil

Cilantro for garnish

1. Brown the chicken in 2 tbsp of oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Then remove from the pan and set aside. Add in the remaining oil and saute the onions till golden. Add in the garlic and saute for another minute. Then sprinkle in the salt, pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg and chilli powder/green chillies (if using).

2. Mix the walnut paste into the onion mixture. Add the browned chicken pieces and toss to coat. Stir in all the pomegranate juice. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer for at least an hour - until the sauce has thickened, the walnuts have released their oil, and mixture has reduced to half its original volume.

3. Stir in lime juice and sugar according to taste. Adjust seasoning. Add the cardamom at this point and let it cook for a further 20 mins.

4. Let cool, then refrigerate overnight - this really does taste better the next day, and I'm not just saying that! Best served with hot basmati rice.

Verdict: Since I've never had any version of this dish before, I can only assume that it came out the way it was supposed to. I followed Asha's instructions to the tee, and felt lukewarm about the results. I initially didn't put any chillies in the dish, and I think my palate needs some heat in my savory dishes to feel satisfied, which is probably why I wasn't jumping up and down about this one. Still, that's an easy enough fix - and I've made a note of that in my instructions above. Other than that, the POM juice tastes really good with the chicken and walnuts - not to mention the color of the dish is so pretty! I'm glad I gave this dish a chance. I still have some POM juice left, even after this experiment, so my brain is already going into overdrive to figure out "what next?".

While we're on the subject of trying new things, let me tell you, I finally went to this art gallery exhibition that's been on my to-do list for months. In the past, something or the other always came in the way, but last week I just woke up one morning and decided "today is the day" - no matter how crappy the weather got. And it did. Very crappy. But I prevailed, and I'm glad I did, because the exhibition was in a part of Yale University that I'd never seen before - so saw something new right there. And the exhibition itself, called "Breaking The Veils: Women Artists Of The Islamic World" was really fascinating and impressive. C'mon ... let me give you a small tour.

The Addams Family house. Noooooo, I kid. It's Betts House, currently home to several Yale offices.

The Divinity Quadrangle at Yale, where the exhibition was displayed.

I'm a little obsessed with arches.

The Blue Paradise, by Suad al Attar, an Iraqi painter. My favorite of the lot.

Walls Of Gaza, a collection of photographs by Laila Shawa, of Palestine. Very powerful stuff.

Can't remember who did this - just that she was from Sudan.

This was great - like something out of the fantasy novels I adore. Called The Flying Horse, by Juliana Seraphim of Lebanon.

Another of my favorite paintings from the show - Choices, by Tina Ahmed, from Bangladesh.

So if you're in the area, I highly recommend taking a look at this exhibition. It's completely free, and houses many other poignant pieces of art from a whole range of female artists - from Jordan to Pakistan to Saudi Arabia. I love seeing a woman's point of view celebrated like this.


Sophie Sportende Foodie said...

Thanks for the interesting tour,...

Your dish looks quite divine!! I also never used pom in my cooking! We can't get it over here,...

Deeba PAB said...

Thanks for the trip 'around town', and for the parsi chicken. I am too fascinated by the use of plum/pom juice in savoury dishes, and am sure some chillies would give it the right kick! Lovely post M!!

Mari said...

I love all the pics! Especially the one with the arches and the one from Sadan... so pretty

Anonymous said...

The chicken dish with Pom looks incredible! And thanks so much for the tour of the exhibition, very neat pictures!

Joanne said...

I love spicy savory foods as well. Not every dish I make needs to be super spicy but there are certain dishes that just don't taste right without the extra heat. I can see as how this would be one of them. Great idea using the POM for something savory! I like to challenge myself as well. And don't worry about being home on Friday night blogging...we all need a break from going out every once in a while.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful pictures. Nice photographic tour :) Haven't cooked anyting with POM juice. Very intriguing recipe.

Unknown said...

What a delicious dish. I think Mr P would love this one, thank you for sharing it.
*kisses* HH

Faith said...

Your chicken dish looks really delicious, and I've been looking for savory recipes with POM...I'll be giving it a try! ;)

This looks like a really lovely exhibit. I especially love The Flying feels so ethereal! Wish I were in the area to check it out in person!

Nizsha said...

wow a savory dish using the POM looks real good

Yasmeen said...

Amazing art work and drink.Juicy red chicken must be a wonderful side dish :D

Jennifer said...

I love the tour, just lovely! and the POM recipe looks dang good too!

NKP said...

A great bounty of POM!
Beautiful paintings, quite the adventure!

nandini.p said...

lovely shots!! The arches shot is my fav!!...Pomegranate juice in chicken curry sounds absolutely interesting. Can i use freshly made juice for this recipe.. want to make it this weekend.

Muneeba said...

You can definitely use fresh juice Nandini .. will work just fine! Simply adjust the sugar to the level of tartness of the fresh pomegranates you're using. Btw, I can't stress enough that this dish tastes WAY better a day or two after you make it. So plan ahead!