The recipe for khorest narengee, a Persian stew, was sent in by Los Angeles food blogger Sanam Lamborn. The dish is made with chicken, oranges, carrots, onions, lemon juice and spice, and is served with rice.
Khoreshte Narengee ~ Persian Tangerine (Orange) Stew
4 chicken legs – ($6.88 at Ralph’s)
4 medium carrots – ($.79 at Trader Joe’s)
1 small onion – ($.69 at Trader Joe’s)
1/4 cup (1 lemon) juice ($ .39 at Trader Joe’s)
1/4 tbsp ground saffron – ($8.99 at Whole Foods)
1 tbsp sugar
salt to taste
1.) Dice onion
2.) Grate four carrots
3.) Sliver the orange rind to remove the bitterness (makes orange zest).
4.) Slice oranges into small pieces
5.) Grind 1/4 tbsp saffron
1.) Saute diced onion in oil until translucent.
2.) Season chicken legs with salt and add to the onion. Lightly brown on both sides.
3.) Saute grated carrots in a olive oil for about five minutes.
4.) Add grated carrots to the chicken.
5.) Add 1.5 cups of water, cover and cook for 30 minutes.
6.) Add lemon juice to the stew.
7.) Add sugar and ground saffron.
8.) Add zest. Mix well, add salt to taste and cook for another 15 minutes.
9.) Gently add the orange slices. Cook for 5 minutes.
10.) Serve with rice, garnish with orange zest or slice.
In January 2009, Sanam Lamborn was bored out of her mind for the very first time.
Lamborn had quit her full-time job as an office manager at the UCLA Anderson School of Management and had gone to graduate school to study teaching English. But the economy was suffering and jobs were scarce, so she found the time to take up a new hobby: cooking.
Persian cooking, to be exact ““ born in Iran, Lamborn decided to start a blog of her culinary adventures in traditional Persian cuisine. She began making khoreshte ““ Persian for stew ““ Persian rice and Persian-ized dishes such as pirashki ““ a traditional Russian sweet or savory filled pastry with a Middle Eastern twist.
MyPersianKitchen.com started out as an ordinary WordPress blog and turned into its own domain as well as a portal for Los Angeles Persian-food enthusiasts. According to Lamborn, the blog gets about 80,000 page views a month.
Lamborn sent in various links to Persian dishes from her blog for this week’s column. I browsed the dozens of different khoreshts on the website, contemplated making an appetizer and finally decided to make Persian rice, which, according to Lamborn, is an art in itself. The rice would take about an hour and a half to make, and the steps were very specific. I was going to buy basmati rice, cook it with yogurt and the saffron I dropped a few bucks on for my rasmalai from a past column, and really do it right.
As my cooking date approached, I realized that rice does not make a full meal. Long story short, I never made the rice and instead went with the khoreshte narengee, or tangerine stew. Making both the stew and the rice would have pushed this novice cook over the edge, so I chose my battle.
Lamborn’s description of the Farsi recipe was personal and emotional as she talked about the handwritten, yellowed pages of the recipe she received from her late grandmother, the first woman with whom she ever cooked.
I had to give it a try. I decided to substitute oranges for tangerines, however ““ I had just brought a fresh bunch back from my hometown of Redlands, which boasts the Orange Muffin Festival as one of its main events.
The most difficult part of the recipe was the preparation. My mascara was running down my cheeks by the time I finished cutting the onion (I should have read Lamborn’s instructions about how to prevent that ““ they are conveniently found on the blog). Grating the carrots was a time-consuming task ““ I never thought four carrots would take so much energy to shred. My orange zest was less than ideal: There shouldn’t be any white on the back of the zest, but I couldn’t get the vegetable peeler in the right position. I don’t have a mortar and pestle, so I tried grinding the saffron with an ice cream scoop. At least slicing up oranges was a breeze.
For a second, I also thought that the title of my column would finally ring true, as I almost created a legitimate kitchen fire.
The recipe calls for half of a tablespoon of flour fried in oil to make roux, a cooked mixture of wheat flour and fat. I had probably a teaspoon of flour left and thought it would be a good idea to utilize it. Of course, it just blackened to a crisp on the frying pan in about 30 seconds.
I later asked Lamborn what half a tablespoon of flour would do for the dish. She said that it would make it less watery. I believe her, but was not able to attest to that personally because of my lack of flour, and thus omitted it from the recipe.
I absolutely loved the smell of the stew in the kitchen. It was sweet ““ the aroma of carrots and oranges blended well. As I added more and more ingredients to the pot, it started to look better, too.
The end result was kind of like a healthy version of the orange chicken from Panda Express, except a lot better. It had the taste of both Redlands and Tehrangeles. In retrospect, I would have added less zest, because the orange taste was quite powerful. But I loved the recipe ““ it was the perfect combination of fruit, vegetable, protein and love.
The khoreshte would have gone great with that Persian rice, too. Instead, as a side, I popped a bag of frozen brown rice from Trader Joe’s into the microwave for three minutes. It’s difficult to teach an old dog new culinary tricks, but I’m pushing through, one Persian stew at a time.
To read about and try more traditional Persian recipes, visit MyPersianKitchen.com. If you think it’s possible to teach an old dog new tricks, send Krivoruchko a recipe to attempt at [email protected]