Fesenjan (Pomegranate and Walnut)
This incredibly flavorful Persian stew with tart and sweet pomegranate molasses is very simple to make and tastes oh-so-good on the palate. This dish improves in flavor the next day and freezes well.
Fesenjan (Pomegranate and Walnut Stew)
Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 1 hour 30 min
Ready in: 1 hour 45 min
Yields: 6 to 8 servings
3 cups walnuts
4 tablespoons oil
1 large onion peeled and chopped
8 skinless chicken thighs
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon turmeric
2 cups water
1¼ cups pomegranate concentrate/ molasses
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (optional)
2 teaspoons sugar (optional)
¼ teaspoon saffron (optional)
Toast the walnuts in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat for about 3 to 4 minutes or until fragrant. Stir frequently to prevent walnuts from burning.
Add the toasted walnuts to the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process until the walnuts are finely ground. Pulse the machine instead of running it continuously in order to control the texture better. If the walnuts stick to the sides of the bowl, stop the food processer to scrape down the sides.
Heat oil in a medium size pot. Add chopped onions, fry over medium high heat for about 5 minutes or until golden brown. Add chicken thighs, brown each side 2 to 3 minutes. Add ground walnuts, salt, pepper, turmeric, saffron and 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil. Stir in pomegranate molasses. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for about 1 hour and 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent the walnuts from settling at the bottom of the pan and burning. The sauce thickens and darkens in color as it cooks.
Pomegranate molasses can be very sweet, very sour or in-between depending on the brand used. Taste the sauce and adjust the sweet and sour balance to your taste. If the sauce is too sour add 1 to 2 teaspoons of sugar, stir and taste before adding more. If it’s too sweet, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice. If the sauce is too thick add more water. If it’s too thin simmer without the lid.
Skim the excess walnut oil from the surface of the sauce before serving the dish. Serve over white basmati rice.
Note – Dishes with liquid reduce in volume during cooking and their flavors intensify. The longer they cook, the saltier and stronger the flavors will be. Always taste and adjust the seasoning at the end of cooking.
Pomegranate molasses, sometimes called pomegranate syrup, is available in most Middle Eastern and health food stores. It has the color and consistency of molasses but is simply reduced pomegranate juice.
Place the walnuts in the bowl of a food processor.
Pulse the machine on and off, scraping down the sides of the bowl, until the nuts are fairly fine. For a creamier sauce grind the nuts to a pasty consistency.
Set all the ingredients on the counter.
Place 4 tablespoons of oil in a nonstick pan. Add the chopped onions.
Fry onions on medium high heat for about 5 minutes or until lightly golden brown.
Add chicken thighs and brown each side for 2 to 3 minutes.
Add salt, pepper and turmeric.
Add 2 cups of water and ground walnuts. Bring to a boil.
Add pomegranate molasses. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 1 hour and 20 minutes.
When it gets closer to the end of cooking time the oil from the walnuts rises to the top and the color of the sauce changes to darker brown.
The longer it simmers the darker the sauce gets.
Fesenjan (Pomegranate and Walnut)