Two weeks ago, I went and picked sour cherries (“albaloo” in Farsi). And now, along with a freezer full of sour cherries are grand plans for some tasty treats such as cherry pie, sour cherry syrup (“sharbat-e albaloo”) and rice with sour cherries (“albaloo polow”) to name a few. But while I do have some plans for things I want to make, I also want to be inspired to use them in new ways too.
A couple of nights ago, while driving home from work, I started thinking about what I would make for dinner. Running through the usual suspects in my head, I found that nothing was sounding very appealing. Other than using the chicken I had ready in the fridge, I was drawing a blank. Then I started thinking about the other things I had on-hand in the fridge because I realized that it was going to be one of those create-something-with-whats-in-the -fridge kind of nights. Remembering that I had a thawed-out bag of sour cherries in the fridge too (they were a thawed-out bag because I had already pitted them, put them in freezer bags and placed them in the freezer for long-term storage), I started thinking about what a dish with chicken and sour cherries would be like. Cue the idea of possibly making a khoresh. ** “Khoresh” is basically the word for a “stew” that often consists of a protein, vegetable(s), a liquid and spices and herbs. There are numerous types of khoresh, some more common than others, and what I love about them is that substituting ingredients is relatively easy, at least in my opinion.
I tried to remember if I had ever had a khoresh with sour cherries before and since I could not remember ever having done so, of course, the wheels began turning and I knew I had to do some research. To my surprise, I really could not find anything about a khoresh with sour cherries. In fact, I only found one recipe on a German recipe website and thanks to Google Translate, I was able to get the basic gist of the author’s recipe (it actually serves as the inspiration for my mine!). Not even my trusted Persian cookbooks had a recipe, although the one by Mr. Ghanoonparvar did contain a recipe for a stew of beef, apples and sour cherries.
So, between those two recipes, I realized that, clearly, sour cherries could be used in a khoresh and it could taste good. And since I know that sweet/sour khoreshs are delicious, I decided to give it a go.
I made the khoresh-e albaloo with some chicken and it turned out better than what I could have ever expected. Tangy and salty and sweet, and with a side of basmati rice, we could not get enough. I was so happy with the outcome! I asked my mom if she had ever had a khoresh with albaloo and she could not remember ever having had it either. Beyond excited to make this for her soon. :)
Khoresh-e Albaloo (Persian Sour Cherry Stew with Chicken)
1 large onion, chopped fine
2-3 large cloves of garlic, chopped (or about 2 TBSP, chopped)
2 1/2 – 3 cups of pitted cherries
1 – 1 1/2 lbs of chicken (I used 3 thighs and 5 drumsticks) *Feel free to use beef if you prefer that.
1 tsp of turmeric
1 tsp cinnamon
2 1/2 TBSP sugar
1/2 – 1 TBSP lemon juice
2 1/2 cups of water
salt and pepper to taste (*Note: the dish will need to be well salted in order to counter-balance the sour cherries and the sugar)
1. In a deep pot or dutch oven, set over medium heat, add some oil and brown your chicken (it does not need to be completely cooked through as it will continue cooking in the stew). Then remove the chicken, add a bit more oil and sauté your chopped onions until they are translucent. Add your chopped garlic and sauté for another 3o seconds. Then add the chicken back into the pot. Add the turmeric and cinnamon and some salt.
2. Add the water, turn the heat up to high and bring the mixture to a boil. When it is boiling, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and let it simmer for 20-30 minutes.
3. Once the liquid has thickened up a bit and reduced by about one-third, add the cherries, sugar and lemon juice. Stir.
4. Cover and simmer the stew for an additional 10 minutes. Depending on how thick you like your stew (I like mine on the thicker side), you can either remove the cover and dig in or you can keep the cover off and let a bit more of the liquid boil-out (which helps to create a thicker “sauce”).
*I highly recommend serving it over some basmati rice. :)