Taking a slightly different approach than usual, I've decided to make this article a bit more personal. Food and culinary experiences are completely subjective and if you try to distance yourself from that intimate relationship, talking about it becomes completely mechanical and what you're trying to say isn't always properly conveyed. So, being that I am back in the town were I grew up and completed the first steps of my college career, I decided, why not take a walk down memory lane and share one of my favorite food stops?
During my years as an undergraduate at UC Davis, I had the pleasure of working on campus, in a lovely office with wonderful people on the corner of 2nd & A Streets.
What was so special about this workplace besides the aforementioned perks? The fact that it was right down the street from a hidden gem called Ali Baba. Well known among the student population for their poor-college-kid friendly prices and their array of Mediterranean grub, Ali Baba’s also has a Daily Special menu that repeats weekly…but never fails to satisfy. You can take a closer look at that menu here: http://daviswiki.org/ali_baba .
These daily specials haven’t changed since I graduated X amount of years ago….so clearly they’re doing something right. While they’re all tasty and satisfying without breaking the bank, today, we’re going to focus on one special in particular: the Fesenjoon, or what we lovingly referred to as Chicken Friday!
Your typical Middle Eastern style stew-and-rice dish (and yes, that’s a gross over-generalization), this one consists of three main ingredients: chicken, walnuts and pomegranates. Simple and savory, the richness of this sauce is brought out by the slow stewing process, thickened up ever so slightly by the ground, toasted walnuts added to the sauce. Savory, but not too much, the pomegranates introduce a complex flavor profile that vacillates between the sweet and the tart, which balances perfectly with the richness provided by the chicken and the stew. It’s all the flavor complexities favored by American palates all in one bite!
Price-wise, Ali Baba’s is just right, especially if you’re on a poor student budget or want to have a great quick bite to eat without breaking the bank. For a half order of the special (pictured) and a drink, I shelled out a whopping $6.85 ($0.35 surcharge for card use). They also have ‘full’ orders, which consists of more rice and a separate bowl of the Fesenjoon, so if you know your appetite well, the larger portion might be just right for you, but personally, the half order is more than enough.
Now, what’s a girl to do if she has a craving for Fesenjoon midweek? And trust me, it happens…this stuff is addicting!
Fear not my Persian-food loving friends! By the miracle of Pinterest, I happened to stumble upon this do-it-yourself take on a staple of my undergraduate diet: http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/fesenjan_persian_chicken_stew_with_....
How was it? I guess you’ll just have to stay tuned for part two of this Fesenjoon love affair…