Orange Khoresh with Almonds and Pitachios
Khoreshes are delicate and refined braises. A khoresh is a combination of meat (lamb, beef, or veal), poultry or fish with vegetables, herbs, fruits, beans, grains, and sometimes nuts. It is seasoned subtly with fresh herbs and spices, then simmered for a long time over low heat. To achieve the slow fusing of flavors that characterizes a khoresh, it is best to cook it in a heavy pot (cast iron if possible). I recommend a classic Dutch oven (called cocotte in French, see page 312 for a classic Dutch oven), but any heavy-bottomed, medium-sized pot will do.
Khoresh is first mentioned in the Shahnameh of Ferdowsi in the tenth century to refer to food in general, while khoresh khaneh literally “the house where the khoresh is made” meant the kitchen (see Food of Life, p. 172).
Khoreshes can be made in advance and reheated just before serving; in fact, it often improves after sitting for a while. To obtain a wonderful khoresh, brown your meat and onion very well. Don’t use too much water.
Makes 6 servings
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 1 1/2 hours
6 tablespoons oil, butter, or ghee*
2 large onions, peeled and thinly sliced
2 pounds chicken legs, cut up, or 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 3-inch cubes
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
Zest of 4 oranges (save oranges for segmenting later)
1 teaspoon advieh (Persian spice mix:)*
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice
2 large carrots, peeled and sliced into thin slivers
4 large oranges (used for zest), segmented
2 tablespoons wine vinegar
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 cup brown sugar or grape molasses
1/4 teaspoon ground saffron dissolved in 1 tablespoon orange blossom water
1 tablespoon slivered pistachios
1 tablespoon slivered almonds
1. In a Dutch oven, heat 3 tablespoons oil over medium heat and brown the onions and chicken. Sprinkle in flour, orange zest, advieh, salt, and pepper, and sauté for 1 minute.
2. Pour in the orange juice. Cover and simmer over low heat for 35 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a wide skillet and Sauté the carrots for a few minutes. Add the carrot to the chicken, cover, and simmer over low eat for 1 hour.
4. Peel the oranges, separate them into segments, peel the membrane from each segment, and place in a bowl. Set aside.
5. In a small saucepan, combine the vinegar, lime juice, sugar, and saffron-orange blossom water. Simmer for 10 minutes over low heat. Remove from heat, add the orange segments, and set aside to macerate for 10 minutes.
6. Transfer the khoresh to a deep, ovenproof casserole, carefully arrange the orange segments with the sauce on the top, cover, and place in a warm oven until ready to serve.
7. Check to see if the chicken is tender. Taste and adjust seasoning. Add more sugar or lime juice according to your taste.
8. Just before serving, sprinkle the khoresh with pistachios and almonds. Serve hot from same dish with chelow (saffron-steamed rice). Nush-e Jan!
Eliminate the chicken from the ingredients and from step 1. Replace it with 1 cup dried white broad beans (soaked in water for 4 hours and drained). In step 2 add 3 cups water with the orange juice and cook for 1 1/2 hours or until beans are cooked. Proceed with step 3.
Ghee is clarified butter
Advieh is a Persian spice mix: made up of 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom, 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin, and 1/2 teaspoon ground rose petals