It’s a Khorma. It’s an Aloo. It’s: Khormaloo! Or: How to Eat a Persimmon

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Khorma is the Persian word for “date” and aloo is the word for “plum.” Put them together (khorma + aloo) and clap your hands and you get: khormaloo!  (Who knew that the Brangelina, Bennifer modern craze of mushing names together has a precedent in ancient Persia?)

Khormaloo is pretty popular in Iran.  My parents certainly relished it, I recall vividly, but I counted this fruit as foe.  The first time I tried one it did truly awful things to my tongue and I was done – it was over between us.  (My thought process went something like:  “It’s not me, it’s YOU, khormalooAnd we’re never ever ever getting back together. Like ever!” Why, yes, I had a thought process set to a hit soundtrack in the future.  Didn’t you?)

I now trace this childhood chagrin to eating an unripe persimmon, which as everyone-in-the-know knows, is a surefire way to go off persimmons for good.

I certainly anticipated a lifelong grudge.  And I was on guard.

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But for the past few months, I couldn’t help but take note of the heaps of persimmons abundantly evident in my Brooklyn neighborhood’s markets.  There they were:  cute, round, orange — and they winked at me in greeting.  “Charmed, I’m sure” I would nod back in greeting, but only to be polite mind you, without breaking my stride to heed their beckoning. I  had not forgotten our hate-affair.

But the thought of writing about them crossed my mind and eventually became an irresistible nuisance.  So I went and bought a handful.  3 for a dollar?  Sold!

And there we were.  Me and my fruitenemy.  We met again.  At long last.

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Before continuing, I’ll have to get technical here.  There are two types of persimmon commonly sold in the U.S.:  Fuyu and Hachiya.  The persimmons pictured here are of the Fuyu variety that are round and in a hurried glance pass off as tomato dopplegangers.   Hachiya persimmons, not pictured, have a pointy acorn shape.  Both types of persimmons benefit from being ripe, but with a Hachiya you really, really have to allow it to get ripe before you partake, otherwise you are in for a world of hurt.  A world. Of hurt.

Are you confused?  Join the club!  Here’s a simpler way to straighten this whole thing out.  A Fuyu persimmon can sit on its butt because its butt is flat, but a Hachiya can’t because its butt is pointy.  If a persimmon can’t sit on its butt, it is a Hachiya and therefore you MUST allow it to fully ripen.  (You are very welcome for this logical and refined clarification.  Bringing elegance to blogging — that’s our motto here at Fig & Quince.)

Going back to our story, here’s what happened with the Fuyu persimmons I bought:

I waited for them to ripen – to grow soft to the touch.  It took a few days for one and longer than that for the others.  (During that time, they made a fetching still-life tableau — alone and with others.  In particular, I enjoyed persimmons and primrose.  A tongue twister!)

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Once ripened – I ate one Persian style.  (It tasted delicately sweet, with a texture that is syrupy and also reminiscent of a dense, pulpy banana. It was not the stuff of horror I recalled.  It was:  nice.)

Here’s how you eat a persimmon Persian style:   cut the top with a sharp paring knife, admire the gorgeous hue, dig in with a little spoon, and scoop and scrape until you are done.

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I made smoothies with the rest of the persimmons.  That:  was delicious!  Highly recommend it.

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Personal conclusion: I’m still not a passionate fan but no longer a foe, and ultimately appreciate the delicate enchantment of a good ripe persimmon. There are many amazing recipes for these orange sirens -everything from a beautiful persimmon salad with pistachios to a persimmon margarita (want!) to a pear and persimmon crumble (YUM!) – and now as I continue down the path of this illusory life, I resolve to sprinkle future autumn and winter fares with some inventive and novel uses of persimmon.

I also have to add that after reading up on persimmon in the course of writing this post, it really does seem like persimmon is a fruit (technically a berry, ahem) just about to burst out on the scene and make it big time.  Big!

Question is: do you like persimmons?  Do you have a favorite persimmon recipe?

While you ponder this, I’ll leave you with a link to an atmospheric picture (conducive to a contemplative reverie) I found online of a persimmon tree growing in someone’s actual backyard in Tehran. (This backyard has a lot of goodies growing there. So charming.  I imagine the occupants to be quiet book-loving sorts of people who enjoy the simple pleasures of life.  Including a good cup of tea every afternoon.)

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Once you’ve awakened from your reverie, here are some fun extracurricular readings on the subject of persimmons for your amusement – if you are so inclined:

The NY Times praises the persimmon (Praiseworthy article.)

Smithsonia magazine:  5 ways to eat persimmon (A persimmon salad with pomegranates! A persimmon margarita? I’m so there!)

10 amazing ways to bake with persimmon (Some of these are truly amazing. Worth a browse for sure.)

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Khoda hafez till next time.

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29 thoughts on “It’s a Khorma. It’s an Aloo. It’s: Khormaloo! Or: How to Eat a Persimmon

  1. This brings back memories of the persimmon tree we had in our backyard growing up in Southern California. My mother would tie brown paper bags around each fruit to keep the birds off of them… Adore the persimmon bonbons!

    • Oh, what a nice imagery! Wouldn’t it have been lovely to have a picture of your childhood persimmon tree with its paper-bag-tied fruit? I confess I do get all wistful thinking of fruit gardens.

  2. I love persimmons, I have tasted the dreaded unripe persimmon and UGH… I wanted to rip out my tongue. A ripe persimmon is a thing of beauty and so delicious. My favorite way to enjoy is simply scooping the soft sweet flesh from the ripe fruit. Honestly, I have never made anything from a persimmon but LOVE the smoothie idea, I bet that would be amazing. I missed persimmons this year and when I finally tried to find them in our neighborhood there was not one to be found. Your photo’s are beautiful and as always I love your writing and wit,

    • I couldn’t really discern the taste of the persimmon in the smoothie but the overall effect was quite pleasant. Scooping the flesh out if the Persian way, so I give it thumbs up! I still see persimmons around …! In the Cobble Hill area at least.

  3. I hardly ever get persimmons, but they are no foe of mine, I had them for the first time in Syria, years ago, and was told to eat them “Persian style”. It is funny, in Russian, khorma means persimmon, and the word for dates is completely different. But it quite clearly comes from the Persian word. In any case, what a fun read, as usual!

  4. It’s so difficult to get them ripe! Overly ripe, regardless of what I’ve read, are texturally awful. Just ripe and they’re OK. Admittedly, I’ve never tried them unripe, like you have. Have to say I really liked the ones I didn’t chuck in the bin!

  5. Azita, what a beautiful post! I haven’t eaten a persimmons in a long time and did not know the differences. I haven’t prepared anything with one. A smoothie sounds delicious right now!!

    • Thank you! I hadn’t tried one since I was about 7 years old and only found out about the differences when looking up stuff for this post. Can you make one of your fantastic cup cake creations with persimmons? You should!!!

      • That sounds like a great idea Azita!! I will look for them at the market. If not, I bet yours would be captivating & delicious 🙂

  6. Not only are the colors of this post a feast for the eyes but you are also so entertaining, Azita jan! I love persimmons, both fuyu and hachiya. One has better chances with fuyu as you have specified. I like fuyu, both soft and semi-hard. I have a friend who has a tree and every year she gives me a bag full. I always served them as plain fruit but am going to try them in a salad. I think it will go well with feta cheese. I’ll check out Johnny’s recipes again. What are the ratios of ingredients for the smoothie? 😀 Fae.

    • Thank you Fae jan! I’ve read that persimmon goes well with pomegranate seeds and nuts – you may want to incorporate that as well. The smoothie was made thus: 1 cup whole plain yogurt, a handful of small ice cubes, a thick wedge of cantaloupe, a bit of grated ginger, a squeeze of lemon, one banana, 2 persimmons … once blended, may add cold water to dilute it if necessary and blend for a few seconds again. I think you can get away with even adding 3 persimmons, their flavor is delicate and not over-powering. Smoothies are the best – so go for it!!

  7. I’m delighted to discover your lovely blog, Azita! And I appreciate all you shared about persimmons. Unfortunately, I’ve had too many unripe persimmons…but when I get a taste of a perfectly ripe one it’s wonderfully sweet. I haven’t cooked with them, but am now thinking I should give them a try. My mom has made a persimmon pudding (rather like a bread) before that was quite good. Your photos are stunning!

    • Thank you so much for visiting & for the kind words Hannah! A persimmon pudding that is rather like a bread (I’m assuming you mean its texture, correct?) sounds really interesting. When persimmons are in season again, maybe you can persuade your mom to share her recipe via your blog? That would be so interesting. -azita

  8. So the Hachiya might be the one seen around here that is OK to eat when the flesh is still quite firm, not mushy and can be sliced?

    Both varieties turn up at the same time in season; so perhaps it depends on your taste in butts.

    The ripe Fuyu is terribly sensual to eat IMHO, shame to blend it, too puritanical for moi.

    I think that maybe “astringency” is the word for unripe Fuyu persimmons, a word yet to enter my youthful vocabulary at the time I attempted to eat one from a tree growing wild.

    Now I’m off to the fruit & veg market; mangos in high season; how to eat them usually involves sitting in a bath.

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  11. love this! Ive tried the astringent little ones, and the australian ones (which are really big, not as jelly-like and not astringent at all. They also dont have seeds. My absolute faaaave are the tajik/persian ones that go really dark (like crimson-cacao colour) and then taste like chikoos!

    • Oh hi and salam and thank you for visiting and commenting, specially on a topic related to persimmon, one of my favorite fruits! I know which ones you mean re the tajik/Persian ones. They ARE the best. But what are chikoos? I don’t think I know what those are!
      -azita

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  14. Another funny name mashup is ShotorMorgh (shotor for camel, morgh for chicken, and shotor morgh for Ostrich!! 🙂 so an ostrich is a camel chicken… which really oddly fits haha

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