October 01, 2015

Khoresh-e Holu - Persian Peach Stew with Chicken

I was planning on making this savory peach khoresh during the summer when the lush peaches were at their peak but somehow I just didn't get around to it. Now, several days past the autumnal equinox, I think this savory peach chicken stew is the perfect farewell to summer as well as a delicious way to celebrate the beginning of fall and مهرگان - Mehregan. Mehregan is the annual ancient Persian festival of autumn's bounty and the feast of Mithra the symbol of kindness, friendship, love, and light. I believe now more than ever that we need to reach deep within and incorporate the message of مهر و محبت  mehr-o-mohabat (love and kindness), compassion and respect for everyone into our lives. Here's a link to my previous post on Mehregan.

As much as I love the fall season it's always hard to say goodbye to the sweet flavor of peaches as well as the many other flavorful summer fruits. And for those that are not crazy about the fuzzy peach skin there's always the option of smooth, sweet and juicy nectarines. The best way to enjoy a fresh summer fruit is to make a beautiful fruit platter or a colorful fruit salad. Many try to make the most of the fruits that are in season by making sweet and creamy summer deserts. In Persian cuisine fresh and dried fruits such as apricots, quince, raisins, plums and pomegranates are frequently used in savory dishes. Here are three examples of recipes made with fruits: Apple Khoresh with Dried Apricots, Fruit AshQuince Khoresh

This خورش هلو - peach khoresh is well balanced between sweet and sour due to the slight acidity of the fresh lime juice and the slightly sweet brown sugar. For a more sweet flavor you may use honey or white sugar instead of brown sugar. This dish may be made with lamb, beef or chicken. I didn't peel the peaches but if you find them extra fuzzy you may want to remove the skin. I made khoresh -e holu using tomato sauce but after tasting the two stews I do prefer the taste of the stew without the tomato sauce. Both dried peaches and fresh peaches are used in this recipe. Dried peaces are added in the beginning to cook along with the chicken pieces for added flavor and the fresh peaches are added toward the end of cooking since we don't want them to get mushy. You can substitute the dried peaches with dried plums or dried apricots.

Khoresh-e Holu - Peach Stew

Serves 4

2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 2-inch pieces
4 firm, slightly under-ripe yellow peaches, peel, remove the pits and cut into slices
4 dried peaches, cut in half
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/3 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
Salt and pepper to taste
Vegetable oil or olive oil


  • Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a pan, add the sliced onion and saute until light brown over medium-high heat. 
  • Add the minced garlic and turmeric and saute for another 2 minutes or so. 
  • Add the chicken, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper and saute until the chicken is no longer pink in the center.
  • Add the dried peaches, cardamom and stir to combine.
  • Add water to cover the chicken pieces. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cover and cook for 40 minutes.
  • Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the sliced peaches and saute lightly on both sides for a couple of minutes.
  • Add the sliced peaches to the pot with the chicken. 
  • Add cinnamon, lime juice and sugar, stir gently,  cover and simmer for another 15-20 minutes over medium-low heat. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
Serve warm with rice and salad shirazi.

Happy Autumn. Happy Mehregan!