My vegan friend loves fruity dishes and requested a Persian fruity dish. Being that peaches are in season, I decided to make her a vegan khoresht hulu, peach stew. I had never made this stew before, because no one in my family is a fan of fruity dishes, but figured it’s made just like Persian quince stew. Since my friend doesn’t eat sugar and likes her rice drenched in sauce, I didn’t use any sugar in this dish and added more water than I usually do. She loved my vegan khoresht hulu so much that she wanted its recipe, so here is the recipe I created for her, but feel free to add your own touches to it.
The peaches gave this vegan khoresht hulu just a touch of sweetness and the sour grapes I used gave it the right amount of tang without being overly sour. The stew had the right amount of flavors and elegance to make it a keeper.
As with any Persian stew, I fried the onions until slightly golden then added cubed tofu along with all the spices. Sour grapes called ghooreh may not be the common choice for this dish, but I liked the subtle tartness they added to this dish. I bought few pounds of sour grapes while still in season and stored them in freezer after washing and draining them. They keep well for months and can be used in Persian stews.
After frying the tofu with onion mixture, I added the sour grapes, saffron and water and let the stew simmer for 15 minutes for the flavors to blend and the water to reduce. Peaches cook quickly and if you add them too early, they will fall apart. I used white and yellow peaches and some riper ones fell apart. It’s best to use firm peaches so they keep their shape.
After adding the peaches, the stew cooked for 15 more minutes until the peaches were tender.
Saffron is an important element in this dish and gives it a distinctive taste and of course the deep orange color. You can sub turmeric for it, but you won’t get the exact taste. Ground saffron can be directly added to the liquid or first seeped in hot water. Either way works.
The best way to extract flavor from saffron is to ground it and soak it in hot water. For stews, I usually add the ground saffron directly to the liquid, but for rice dishes I soak it in hot water and cover it for couple of hours to make saffron water.
Cooking fruit-based Persian stews like vegan khoresht hulu is a great way to sneak fruits into your savory dishes.
I garnished the stew with fresh cilantro and was pleasantly surprised at how perfectly cilantro complimented the peaches. Basil pairs well with peaches as well. Serve this vegan khoresht hulu over a bed of fragrant bastmati polo, yum!
Vegan Khoresht Hulu (Peach Stew)
Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 50 min
Ready in: 1 hour
Yields: 6 serving
6 large peaches cut into wedges
6 tablespoons regular olive oil
1 large onion chopped
1¼ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon advieh polo (rice seasoning)
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ cup sour grapes or ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
1¼ cups hot water
pinch of ground saffron (optional)
I package extra firm tofu 14 oz. drained an cut into small cubes
Heat oil in a medium pot. Add chopped onions. Cook over medium-high heat for about 10 minutes or until slightly golden, stir occasionally to keep from burning.
Add cubed tofu, sour grapes and seasonings. Cook for about 5 to 6 minutes, stir gently not to break the tofu. Add hot water and saffron. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes to let the liquid concentrate.
Layer peaches in the pot. Bring to a gentle simmer. Cover and cook over low heat for about 15 to 20 minutes or until peaches are tender.
Taste and adjust the seasoning.
Serve with basmati polo.