Fall is the pomegranate season, and I feel it is the perfect time to share my Fesenjan, or Fesenjoon recipe (chicken stew with walnut and pomegranate sauce). Beautiful red ripe pomegranates are available in most supermarkets. This jeweled fruit is the wonder of nature and makes you think about the intricate design that nestles precious gems that delight you with every pop when you bite into them. I have always been infatuated with the color and taste of pomegranates and grew up eating them every fall. My dad would buy a box of pomegranates and I did my share to help finish them. Besides tearing the skin and eating the fruit inside, I also loved to wash the pomegranate and squeeze it until it was all soft and then poked a hole on the side and sucked the juice until it was dry. The freshest pomegranate juice ever! Try it next time and see for yourself.
The recipe that I’m about to share is called Khoresh Fesenjan that combines two super foods that their nutritional benefit has come to light in this part of the world in the recent years: Pomegranate and walnuts. The flavor is like no other, it is tangy with a hint of sweet. The walnuts add a wonderful nutty taste to make all the flavors come together in a rich sauce. Khoresh Fesenjan is served over saffron rice and is made using several different methods: Some make it with small meatballs, some with turkey, and I make it with chicken. The common ingredients used in all of these methods are walnuts and pomegranate concentrate, which is a thick syrup that gets all the credit for the amazing tangy sweet flavor of this recipe. My preferred brand is Sadaf with a taste that has just the right sour and sweet balance.
Process the walnuts until you have a tan colored walnut paste
With the processor running add water in a slow stream until you have a beige colored walnut paste
This is what it looks like up close
Fry sliced onions or use the fried onions from your freezer like I do and add it to the chicken
Spoon the walnut paste evenly on the chicken
Add the pomegranate concentrate, kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Cover and simmer until the chicken literally falls off the bone. So good!
When ripe and delicious pomegranates are in season, sprinkle some juicy sweet seeds on Khoresh Fesenjan for garnish & Enjoy it over saffron rice.
- 1½ large yellow onion sliced thin and fried golden brown in 3-4 TBSP vegetable oil (or 5 ounces fried onions)
- 2 pounds skinless chicken drumsticks or thighs (4-5 pieces)
- 8 ounces walnut halves (about 2 cups)
- ¼ cup cold water
- 1 cup pomegranate concentrate
- ¼ tsp kosher salt
- ⅛ tsp freshly cracked black pepper
- Pomegranate seeds for garnish
- FOR THE PERSIAN STEAMED RICE; refer to the complete illustrated instructions and recipe on the How-To page.
- Pick through the walnuts for any shells, and add to a food processor and process until it turns to a tan-colored paste.
- With the food processor running add ¼ cup cold water through the feed chute. Continue processing until the paste becomes uniformly beige in color.
- Fry the sliced onions with 3-4 TBSP vegetable oil in a 6-Qt stockpot until golden brown. Remove from the pot.
- Add chicken to the same stockpot and top it with the fried onions.
- Spoon the walnut paste evenly over the fried onions. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Drizzle the pomegranate concentrate over all the ingredients.
- Bring to a boil over medium heat. The pomegranate concentrate tends to stick and burn fairly quickly so avoid high heat.
- Reduce the heat to medium low, cover the pot and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Now reduce the heat to low and simmer covered for an additional 1 hour 15 minutes, or until the sauce is thickened and the chicken is fork tender and falls off the bone. Stir every 15 minutes or so to make sure the sauce does not stick to the pot. If at the end of this time period the sauce has not thickened enough, leave the pot uncovered for about 10 minutes on low heat for a thicker sauce. Transfer the Fesenjan to a serving dish and sprinkle some pomegranate seeds on top as garnish.
- Serve over white Persian steamed rice.
Pomegranate molasses: This is more sour than the concentrate and in case this is your only option at the market, just add 1-2 tsp sugar.