This recipe for Persian chicken with plums is a traditional one from Isfahan, Nasim Alikhani’s hometown in Iran. At her Brooklyn restaurant, Sofreh, Alikhani cooks the chicken separately from the sauce, but at home she makes it the way her mother does—with everything cooked together in one big pot, as is done here. Dried plums and barberries can be found at Persian or Middle Eastern markets.
- Sauté the chopped onions in the vegetable or olive oil until golden, then add the turmeric and sauté for a few minutes.
- Add the chicken and sauté until it changes color, about 4 minutes on each side.
- Dilute the tomato paste in 1 cup of water, then add lime or lemon juice, brown sugar, salt, pepper, and cinnamon.
- Pour it over the tomato mixture over chicken, then cover and let simmer for 15 minutes.
- Add the plums to the chicken, bringing it all to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and let simmer for another 25-30 minutes. If it needs more water, add up to 1/2 a cup. In the end you want a thick sauce covering your chicken and fruits. If it has too much liquid, uncover and let the water evaporate, but be careful not to lose too much liquid and run the risk of the chicken sticking in the bottom of the pot.
- While chicken is simmering, soak the barberries in water for 15-20 minutes, then drain well. Place the barberries in a pan, then pour olive oil or butter on top. Fry them on medium heat for only 2-3 minutes or until the oil sizzles. Turn off the heat and pour two tablespoons of sugar over the barberries. Mix them gently and keep them undisturbed to garnish the stew when is ready.
- When chicken is done simmering, add barberries for garnish. I often like to serve this dish with julienne fries, but regular French fries are good, too.