Har kas ki dad tan ba bala iman az ballast
Viran kuja zi mauj shavad khana-i-hubab ― Ghani Kashmiri
(He who plunged into difficulties is free from difficulties, How can the house of a bubble be smashed by a wave)
His full name was Ghani Kashmiri Mirza Muhammad Tahir, a Kashmiri Poet who was acknowledged in Iran as a great master of Persian Poetry. Persian was the language of the court in Kashmir in the 14th century. The Persian language is till date learned, mastered and spoken in Kashmir.
I grew up listening to Farsi (Persian) poetry with my grandfather. He would recite a couplet in Persian and challenge us ( me and my siblings) to explain its meaning. At that time, we all thought it was a fun game and Grandpa was trying to make us learn a language. It’s only now that I understand the true meaning of the deep poetry he made us a part of and I wish I had paid more attention.
The Kashmir connection to Persia doesn’t stop at the language. There is something else that connects us – the food. Herbs and spices – especially Saffron. So when I found this incredible dish of stewed mushrooms and chicken in liquid saffron, I could see the saffron fields of Pampore and Avanitpora in my mind. I was transported back home in a thought.
I just had to make the Chicken with Saffron and Mushrooms or Khoresht-e gharch. Just had to! This recipe is heavily adapted from New Persian Cooking by Jila Dana-Haeri & Shahrzad Ghorashian. It is a book you must have on your cookbook shelf.
Chicken with Saffron and Mushrooms – Khoresht-e gharch
- Juice of 1 Large lemon about 4 Tbs
- 6 -8 chicken drumsticks skin removed and washed and patted dry ( you can use breast/ thigh also)
- salt to taste
- Black pepper to taste
- 1 pound white mushrooms
- 1 tbs butter
- 3 tbs oil
- 1 1/4 tsp turmeric
- 1/4 tsp saffron
- 2 cups chicken stock or water
- 2 tsp tomato puree
- 3 C Finely chopped onions
Make Liquid saffron
- Heat about 4 - 5 tbs water. Put saffron in a small jar, add in the water, cover and let it sit for 10 minutes.
Make the dish
- Put the chicken in a bowl, and add 2 tbs lemon juice, salt and pepper. Mix it in and let it stand.
- Wash and pat dry the mushrooms, slice them and keep aside.
- Heat half of the butter and oil and fry the onions in. Once the onions begin to brown, add in the chicken reserving any lemon juice in the bowl in which it was marinated.
- Add in the turmeric and mix and let it cook until chicken is golden on all sides. Now add in 2- 3 tbs of the liquid saffron, the reserved lemon juice and the stock/ water.
- Bring to a boil, cover and cook for 30 minutes on low heat.
- Take the remaining butter and oil in a wide pan and saute mushrooms in it.
- Cook the mushroom in batches.. there should be absolutely no water coming out of the mushrooms. Take care to not over cook them however. The idea is to have super crunchy sauteed mushrooms.
- Once the chicken is done and the gravy looks thick, add in the sauteed mushrooms, the remaining liquid saffron, the remaining lemon juice. Stir to coat the chicken and now add the puree. Mix everything and let it all cook for another 10 minutes. Serve with a saffron rice.
This recipe works best with wild mushrooms, but white mushrooms tasted great as well.