Fesenjan: The Crown Jewel

Fesenjan, in simple terms, is pure magic. To have tasted fesenjan is to have tried one of Iran’s culinary gems. It represents Iranian food at its finest. It’s a dish that has no equal in other ethnicities’ cuisines, and is one that often stands out above the rest within Persian cuisine. Its slow-cooked nature requires hours of detail and attention before arriving to the perfect outcome. As such, this is no beginner-level dish, but one that is only perfected through years of practice and from the strict supervision of a Persian mom overseeing one’s every step. The main essence of the vegetarian stew is a slow-cooked pomegranate molasses, that provides the stew with both a tart and sweet flavor. This was the inspiration to the naming of our version, the Pom Baaz.

Sadaf’s pomegranate molasses is often used as fesenjan’s base. Coupled with the pomegranate molasses, other main ingredients in fesenjan stew are toasted walnuts, Medjool dates and butternut squash. The walnuts are used to give the vegetarian Persian stew a tad bit of a crunchy texture, while the dates and squash complement the pomegranate for added sweetness and flavor.

Whereas Baaz Bites’ version of fesenjan, the Bean Baaz, is fully vegetarian, in Iran, fesenjan stew was traditionally made with duck, meat or chicken. Originally, fesenjan is from the province of Gilan, near the Caspian Sea in Iran. The region is known for its wild ducks, which explains why the original fesenjan recipe is cooked with duck. Eventually, duck was replaced by chicken. Fesenjan is considered to be one of the oldest dishes in Iranian cuisine and was traditionally prepared to mark the end of winter and the beginning of spring in March, a celebration known as Nowruz, or the Persian New Year. In fact, while exploring the ruins of Persepolis, which was the ancient ritual capital of the Persian Empire, archaeologists found inscribed stone tablets from as far back as 515 B.C.. The tablets listed basic food items of the early Iranians. On the tablets, archaeologists found items such as walnuts, poultry and pomegranate preserves, which, to this day (depending on whether you go with the vegetarian or non-vegetarian version), are the key ingredients of fesenjan.

Iranian fesenjan is now a dish that is often served in Persian Jewish households near Rosh Hashana, given that the seeds of the pomegranate are symbolic of a fruitful and sweet new year. Fesenjan has also become a staple at Iranian weddings, as its sweet flavor is symbolic of a sweet, lasting marriage to come.Like all other Persian khoreshts, or stews, it is best served with a plate of white basmati rice and tadig, or better yet, with crispy Baaz Bites!

How Would You Describe It?

Baaz Bites got its start as a prepared food vendor at the Brentwood Farmers Market in Los Angeles. During this time as a prepared food vendor, we had the opportunity to interact with thousands of customers and learn about their preferences. While ghormeh sabzi, or the Bean Baaz, ultimately came out as the crowd favorite, fesenjan won over people’s hearts and tastebuds and built a strong following of its own. People were in love with its unique tastes and flavors, and admitted that it was like nothing they’ve experienced before. We asked them to describe fesenjan in a few words. The following is the list that we came to:

Incredibly unique
Grandma’s cooking

Given everyone’s love for this classic Iranian stew, they were surprised they had never tried it or come across it before. The reason is simple: it’s one of the more complex and time-intensive stews to make. While nearly ever Iranian restaurant offers both ghormeh sabzi and gheymeh, fesenjan is not as readily available.

How to Get Your Hands on it!

If reading this post hasn’t gotten you craving some fesenjan for yourself, then we haven’t done this delicious Iranian stew justice. Fortunately, you’ll be able to get some for yourself right here, whether it’s the delicious stew on its own or paired with our incredibly delicious golden long grain basmati rice tadig cups.

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