Figues d’Iran

Figues d'Iran

[Persian Figs]

These cute marble-size figs are called Persian figs, or Shirazi figs. They come from Iran, where they are produced on a small scale, in villages : they are picked from a type of fig-tree which grows scattered in the mountains, and they are then dried in the sun.

The path those little guys have taken to reach me is a little tortuous. My parents have a vacation house in the East of France, and when they’re there, they go shopping at the open-air market in Gerardmer, a pretty lakeside town nearby. At this market, amidst the cheese, wine, meat, honey and produce stands, one is held by an energetic lady, who sells all sorts of Mediterranean products, in big wooden vats : spreads and tapenades, marinated veggies, all kinds of olives, different oils and spices… And on my parents’ last visit, Madame Olive — as she is now known in the family vernacular — happened to also sell those unusual figs. Intrigued, my parents bought some and shared the bounty with me.

Much blonder in shade than regular dried figs, they are also very small and of a delicate shape. Some of them are split open at the bottom, revealing a light pink, speckled flesh.

I have yet to use them in my cooking, but I know that they can be added to fruit compotes (Madame Olive recommended them with rhubarb), and can also be used to complement savory dishes, as an accompaniment to braised meat, or in condiments, like a Persian fig and onion jam.

More fascinating info about Persian figs, how they’re grown and consumed, and the related cultural beliefs, as well as some recipes, can be found on this Iranian website.

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  • I wonder if they are the same kind as Smyrna (Calimyrna) figs… I like those white figs as much as black ones, and both white and black kinds are great compoted/porched – whether in white or red wine, with or without sugar, with or without spice. I like to use compoted dried figs in a fruit cake, too, again either with other dried fruits or just figs alone.

  • I’d love to see you post how you get organized to make dishes. When do you decide what you are going to make that day (the day before, week before?) and when do you purchase all of the ingredients? Along with recipies, I’d love to see you post how long it took you to prepare them. My problem is getting organized so that I have the ingredients, know what I’m making, and know how much time it is going to take.

  • Chika – I don’t think I ever had Smyrna figs. Are they tiny too? The wine stewed compote sounds lovely.

    Teresa – Good suggestion, I may try to put together a little how-to post!

  • Ronnie

    These are VERY interesting figs,

    Does anyone know if they split open when dried or of they split open on the tree when they are picked?

    I have eaten them and despite what appears to be a fairly DRY moisture content they are VERY sweet and tasty!

    Has anyone ever seen them fresh?


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