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Persian New Year

The following recipes are adapted from a cookbook written by Carole Lisa Albyn and Lois Sinaiko called The Multicultural Cookbook For Students, published by Oryx Press.

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Khoresht-e Fesenjan or Chicken in Pomegranate Sauce (Serves 6)

The queen of all stews is called fesenjan. It is prepared with great care for special occasions, made with syrupy sauces from juices of fruits such as pomegranates. Pomegranates are found throughout the Middle East; they are not only used in cooking but the juice is also as popular as orange juice is with Americans. Persians have used the wood of the pomegranate tree for fuel, the bark for tannic acid, and the roots for medicine; the juice is used for dyes; the silhouette of the fruit is used for carpet and fabric designs; and the pomegranate is a symbol used in poetry. The following recipe combines stewed chicken with syrupy pomegranate juice.


  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 6 boneless and skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 1 cup each chicken broth and water
  • 2 cups finely ground walnuts
  • 1 cup pomegranate syrup, or pomegranate molasses
  • 1/2 cup sugar, more or less to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon each salt and turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon each cinnamon, nutmeg, black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice, more or less to taste

1.) Melt butter in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add chicken breasts and cook until light brown on both sides, about 4 minutes per side. Add onions, chicken broth, and water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, cover, and cook for 30 minutes.

2.) Prepare sauce: put nuts, syrup, sugar to taste, salt, turmeric, cinnamon, nutmeg, black pepper, and lemon juice in small saucepan and mix well. Cook for about 3 minutes, until heated through. Pour mixture over chicken breasts and continue cooking chicken uncovered for about 30 minutes more until sauce thickens.

Khoresht, stewed meat or fowl served with rice, is the mainstay of Middle Eastern cooking. Made with a variety of meats and vegetables, a hostess often serves platters of several different khoreshts at a single feast. To serve, arrange chicken breasts on platter over a mound of cooked white rice and top with sauce.

Sabzi Pollo or Green Herb Rice (Serves 6)

Adding fresh herbs to rice gives it a wonderful fragrant flavor. This dish would typically be served with fried whitefish at a Persian New Year meal.


  • 1/2 cup finely chopped green onions
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh dill weed
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 4 to 5 cups cooked rice

1.) Combine onions, dill weed, parsley, and cilantro in a bowl and mix well.

2.) Heat butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Swirl pan to coat bottom. Pat half the cooked rice into an even layer in the skillet and sprinkle with 1/2 herb mixture. Pat in remaining rice and sprinkle with remaining herb mixture. Do not mix. Cover, and steam over low heat for 30 minutes. The rice will form a nice crispy crust on the bottom of the pan.

Serve hot, right from the skillet as a side dish with the pomegranate chicken.

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