Barberry, Almond, and Pistachio Braise By Najmieh Batmanglij

6 servings.

6 tablespoons oil, butter, or ghee
2 large onions, peeled and thinly sliced
1 1/2 pounds boneless chicken thighs (or lamb or beef), cut into 2-inch cubes
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground
black pepper
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground saffron dissolved in 1 tablespoon rose water or hot water
2 1/2 cups apple cider, or water

2 tablespoons oil
1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1/4 cup pistachio kernels, toasted

Barberry Sauce:
1 cup dried barberries, cleaned and drained
1/4 cup grape molasses or brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground saffron dissolved in 1 tablespoon rose water or hot water
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice


In a Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat and brown the onions and chicken. Add salt, pepper, turmeric, cinnamon, cardamom, saffron-rose water and sauté for 1 minute. Add apple cider—1 1/2 cups for chicken or 2 1/2 cups for meat—and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer over medium heat for 1 hour for chicken or 2 hours for meat or until the meat is tender. Meanwhile, to make the garnish: Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a wide skillet over medium-low heat, add the nuts, and stir-fry for 20 seconds. Remove the nuts from the skillet and set aside (for garnish later). In the same skillet, heat another 2 tablespoons oil. Add the barberries, grape molasses, saffron-rose water, and lime juice. Stir-fry for 1 minute (beware, barberries burn easily; do not over cook). Set aside.
Check to be sure the meat is tender. Transfer the braise from the Dutch oven to a deep, ovenproof casserole. Add barberries on top, cover and keep warm until ready to serve. Just before serving, add the nuts and serve with saffron-steamed rice.

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fun facts

Pistachios, when eaten with high-carbohydrate foods, may result in lower than expected blood sugar levels, an important factor in reducing risk of diabetes.

According to a Penn State University study, it is suggested that pistachios reduce the body's biological response to stress.

One serving of pistachios has as much potassium (300mg, 8%) as an orange (250mg, 7%).

Pistachios are high in phytosterols which may lower cholesterol levels and decrease the risk of heart disease. In animal studies phytosterols have been shown to potentially have anti-cancer properties.

One serving of pistachios is 49 nuts, more than any other tree nut.

Forty-nine pistachios serve up to 20 percent of your Daily Value of B6, about the same as half an avocado.

You can obtain more dietary fiber from a serving of pistachios (3g) than a 1/2 cup of cooked broccoli, and the same amount of dietary fiber as an orange or an apple — approximately 10 percent of the Daily Value.

Just a single serving of pistachios provides you with the same amount of protein in a one-ounce serving of soybeans and can serve as a protein alternative to meat, poultry or beans according to the USDA Food Guide Pyramid.

Pistachios are a naturally cholesterol-free snack and contain just 1.5 grams of saturated fat.

Celebrate the greatness of nuts! October 22 is National Nut Day and February 26 is National Pistachio Day!