Serving the Guest: A Sufi Cookbook
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Buy the pomegranate when it laughs —
its laughter reveals the secret of its seeds.
The garden answers the laughing pomegranate with bloom;
In companionship with the friends of God
you will bloom as they do.
Iranian Stew with Walnuts and Pomegranates
The ancient custom of combining meat with fruit occurs most notably in the cooking of Armenia, Georgia, Morocco and Iran. This traditional Iranian khoresh originated in the province of Gilan, on the shores of the Caspian Sea, its swamps the nesting place of delicious wild ducks. It is often served at Ramadan with the buttered rice dish chelou.
Total time: 1-½ hours
2 lbs. boneless duck, chicken or lamb, or 3-½ lbs. with bone
¼ cup (½ stick) butter
2 cups finely chopped onion
1 tsp. black pepper
1 lb. finely chopped walnuts
¾ cup hot water or stock
3 cups pomegranate juice, 4 tbsp. pomegranate molasses with 2-¾cups water, or 1 can cranberry jelly with water to make 3 cups
To taste salt (for stew)
2 lbs. eggplant
2 tbsp. salt (for eggplant)
¼ cup cooking oil
2 tsp. cardamom (powdered)

Lamb or chicken may be used in this dish. If ground meat is used, roll it into small balls; if boneless meat is used, cut it into bite-sized pieces.

Melt the butter in a large pot; add onions and pepper, and stir frequently until browned. Remove the onion from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside. Put the meat and walnuts in the pan and stir frequently. When they have begun to brown, return the onions to the pan. Add water, pomegranate juice and salt; cover and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes.

Peel the eggplant and cut it into small cubes; toss with 2 tbsp. salt and let drain in a colander for 20 minutes. Then, rinse off the salt and bitter juices with cold water and pat the eggplant cubes dry. Heat the cooking oil in a large pan and sauté the eggplant until it turns light brown. Transfer the eggplant to the pot with the meat, add the cardamom, stir well, cover and cook for another half-hour, until the eggplant is fully cooked and the flavors are well-blended.