Cook Along with Olivia - Iranian Recipes from SalamaTea House
A few weeks ago, before Melbourne went into total lockdown again, Olivia visited SalamaTea House in the city's inner West. It's a fascinating establishment: a cafe by day and restaurant by night, run entirely by refugees and asylum seekers, which specialises in Persian cuisine.
The man behind it is Hamed Allahyari. He told us the story of his incredible chicken stew recipe, Fesenjun, and shared with us its secrets.
We encourage you to visit and taste Hamed and his team's mouthwatering cooking once the lockdown is over. In the meantime, they can be hired for catering, and takeaway services. If you're looking for a way to support an incredible Australian business, and some talented young chefs, consider SalamaTea as your first port of call.
The Story of Fesenjun by Hamed Allahyari
Fesenjun is a nutty, sweet and sour chicken stew, thickened generously by walnuts and pomegranate paste and flushed in saffron and turmeric. It is one of the most ancient and lavish of traditional Persian dishes, and many Iranians believe it emerged in the royal kitchens of the Persian empire.
In modern day Iran, Fesenjun is an expensive meal to make, and the traditional recipe asks for several hours of patient stirring and attendance, to draw out the walnut oil. It is therefore usually only prepared for special occasions - new years, wedding parties, and for Yalda Night, the Iranian celebration of the winter solstice. You can also expect it whenever your mum wants to make you happy!
In Australia though, I make it much more often than that - sometimes even weekly. Having been here now for almost nine years, this dish is an instant memory of my birthplace, my home, and my mother’s kitchen. The recipe above details my short-cut version, but it is just
Fesenjun is also a staple on my menu at SalamaTea House, in Melbourne’s West.
Below is Hamed's recipe, not only for Fesjun, but for his bliss balls, and the classic sweet treat of Baghlava. As you can tell from the photos, the detailed recipes, and Hamed's generous spirit in sharing them, he also makes an incredible teacher. Luckily for us, Olivia had the chance to learn from him in his kitchen, and these cooking classes are a service he offers by appointment.