Spice up your life!

As many of us know, spices are a great way to add flavor and depth to our recipes, without adding additional calories. I have amassed quite an array of spices in my spice drawer (which I dare not document because it is a bit disorganized of late) which allow me to create bolder recipes using methods that could otherwise create food that can seem bland and one-note.

Take the crockpot for instance: I love it but sometimes I throw everything in there with high hopes in the morning, only to come home to a pile of mush that all tastes the same. How to avoid this? Add spices! Yesterday I found some beautiful persimmons at Trader Joe’s and decided I would create a stew using chicken, persimmons and some spices reminiscent of the Persian khoreshes that I have learned to make from my husband’s family. Some of the spices I list may not be readily available in your pantry but some are very common. Try to use as many of them as possible for the most authentic taste. Don’t let all the spices intimidate you though; stock up on the ones that are readily available (cinnamon, cumin, cardamom, turmeric) and omit the ones that are more difficult to find (saffron).

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What is a persimmon you might ask? A persimmon is an edible fruit with a sweet flesh that you often see in grocery stores in the Fall. The Fuyu persimmon is firm to the touch when ripe and looks like a tomato while the Hachiya persimmon is more heart shaped and is ripe when it is soft to the touch. I used Fuyu persimmons in my recipe. Try to find a brightly colored orange Fuyu persimmon instead of a mustard colored one as the orange ones are riper and sweeter. They are also delicious peeled and eaten as a snack or dessert.

Chicken and Persimmon Crockpot Khoresh (serves 4)

Ingredients

3 chicken breasts, frozen is fine but you can also use fresh

1/2 cup tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes

juice of 1 lime

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup chicken stock

fruit from 3 Fuyu persimmons (peeled, cored and sliced thinly)

1/2 sweet white onion, diced

1 tsp turmeric

2 tsp  advieh spice mix (see below for recipe)

1/2 tsp saffron threads, ground (omit if you do not have them)

1 1/2 tsp sea salt

Advieh mix (spice mix recipe from A Taste of Persia by Najmieh K. Batmangli):

2 tbsp ground cinnamon

2 tbsp ground cardamom

1 tbsp ground cumin

2 tbsp dried rose petals (optional, I omitted because I didn’t have any)

Directions: 

1. Place chicken in the crockpot.

2. Add all remaining ingredients and stir well

3. Cook on low for 6-8 hours

4. Serve over white or brown basmati rice and pair with coconut steamed vegetables for a complete meal

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