Recipe: Persian Stew with Walnuts and Pomegranate
Introducing Fesenjan (pronounced FESEN-joon)- a classic Persian dish made with chicken, ground walnuts and pomegranate -earthy, tangy and deep, Fesejan is soulful and oh so satisfying.
The flavorful sauce is sumptuous and rich from the ground walnuts, with a pleasant tanginess from the pomegranate molasses. The warming spices of turmeric, cinnamon and nutmeg add a whisper of the exotic, transporting you away to far-off places. And if you get the balance just right, Fesenjan is downright swoon-worthy! This version can be made with either chickpeas or chicken or both, as you see here!
Origin of Fresenjan
Fesenjan originates from Northern Iran where pomegranates grow happily near the Caspian Sea. It is believed that pomegranates originated here and in the Persian culture, represented immortality and fertility. This traditional Persian stew dates all the way back to the Persian Empire (500 BC) and was often made on the night of winter solstice (called Yalda) the darkest night of the year.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 75 minutes
Yield 4-6 serves
A delicious recipe for Fesenjan, a Persian Walnut Pomegranate Stew with chicken and chickpeas. Earthy, rich and tangy, this is bursting with Middle Eastern Flavor!
Recipe from: www.feastingathome.com
- 2 cups walnuts
- 1–1 ½ pounds chicken thighs ( boneless, skinless) or see notes for vegan options
- generous pinch salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoon olive oil plus 1 T butter (divided)
- 3 cups yellow onion, diced ( 1 1/2 onions)
- 4 cloves garlic, rough chopped
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 cinnamon stick (optional)
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- orange zest- 3 large strips (½-inch x 2-inch slices -see photos!) use a veggie peeler.
- 2 cups chicken stock or broth ( or sub veggie)
- 1/4 cup pomegranate molasses or syrup (or make your own- see notes)
- 2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup
- 1 ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 can chickpeas ( drained, rinsed) optional, see notes.
- serve with saffron infused rice or Tah Dig ( Persian Rice)
- Garnish- chopped Italian parsley and pomegranate seeds
- Heat a dutch oven over medium-low heat and toast the walnuts, stirring every couple minutes, until golden, roughly 10 minutes. At the same time, chop the onions and garlic. Cut the chicken ( if using) into 1 inch pieces and season with salt and pepper. Drain and rinse chickpeas if using.
- Set toasted walnuts on a plate to cool. Then place in a food processor and pulse until finely ground.
- Wipe out the Dutch oven and drizzle with a little oil and sear the chicken until golden. Set aside. Using the same pan, heat oil and butter over medium heat. Add onions and cook until soft, golden and fragrant, about 5-6 minutes. Add garlic, cook for 3-4 more minutes. When onion garlic mixture is deeply golden, add the cinnamon stick, turmeric, cinnamon, nutmeg, cumin and orange zest, and toast for 1-2 more minutes.
- Add the broth, sraping up any browned bits. Add pomegranate molasses, maple syrup, and 1 ½ teaspoons salt, the seared chicken, ground walnuts and bring to a boil, stirring.
- Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer 45 minutes, covered, stirring every 15 mins.
- Uncover, add chickpeas, and continue simmering until the stew has thickened and reduced, 10-15 more minutes, stirring.
- Garnish with fresh pomegranate seeds and fresh parsley.
- Serve with saffron-infused basmati rice, quinoa, or Persian Rice.
- If you can’t find pomegranate molasses, make your own by pouring 1 cup pomegranate juice, 1 tablespoon maple, 1 tablespoon lemon juice and a pinch salt into a small pot. Bring to a boil, lower heat to medium-low, and simmer for 45 minutes until reduced to 1/4 of a cup. Set aside to cool.
- If substituting chickpeas for the chicken: Use 2 cans ( 3 cups) rinsed and drained, and add to the stew, after it cooks for the 45 minutes. Alternatively, you could also use 1 can chickpeas and cauliflower florets.
- If you don’t want to use chickpeas, increase chicken thighs to 2 -2 ¼ pounds.