Walnuts and pomegranates are in season! Have you ever imagined a stew made with these two ingredients? Sounds heavenly! I’m always a little hesitant to recommend Fesenjoon to my non-Persian friends. The appearance of this dish is similar to the Mexican dish the Mole: dark brownish stew with chicken. But unlike the Mole, this Persian stew is a taste bud’s delight. The ingredients are simple: crushed walnuts, pomegranate syrup (please do not substitute pomegranate juices for syrup - Anja tried this and can attest to its disappointing outcome) and chicken. Pomegranate syrup can be purchased in most Middle Eastern markets, or you can order from Sadaf online store. This sweet and sour stew takes some time to fully prepare, but once you have it, you will dream about it at night. Fesenjoon is best served with Persian rice; however, it even tastes good cold with a slice of pita bread…I often sneak into the refrigerator and eat spoons of it like dessert. It is sinfully good and comforting in frigid winter weather.
Not only is this my father’s favorite Persian dish, but it will soon become yours. Give this recipe a try and email me with any questions.
INGREDIENTS (for 6-8 people)
2 medium onions
8 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 ½ lb. crushed walnut
3 cups water
2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken pieces
½ cup pomegranate concentrated juice/syrup
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp turmeric
¼ - ½ cup sugar (to taste)
1. Finely dice onion and sauté in 4 tablespoon vegetable oil until evenly, golden brown. Take extra precaution to not burn the onion or have the edges black. Once complete, strain onion from the oil. Discard oil.
2. Place walnuts and three cups of water in a blender and mix until liquefied with small granules. Add more water if the mixture is not runny.
3. In a large stew pan, over medium-high heat, bring the above walnut mixture to a gentle boil- constantly stirring to prevent settling of the walnut on the bottom of the pot and also to prevent the mixture from boiling over. Again, add cold water to the mixture if needed to create a runny consistency. Bring the heat down low and continue to stir for an hour.
4. Add onions to the mixture and continue to stir.
5. Add ½ tsp. salt and pomegranate syrup to the walnut mixture and continue to simmer over low heat. Again continue to stir every thirty minutes to prevent settling of the walnut at the bottom of the pot. Allow mixture to boil for 3 hours to allow the walnuts to exude its natural oil. The finished consistency should be similar to runny oatmeal; if not, add cold water to the mix until a runny consistency is achieved. If the mixture has too much liquid, continue to boil until the excess liquid evaporates.
6. Add sugar (to taste) to the mixture and continue to simmer.
7. Meanwhile, in the same frying pan, heat remaining oil and lightly brown chicken pieces. Sprinkle turmeric and remaining salt. Do not fully cook pieces.
8. Add chicken and all of the juices and oil to the walnut mixture and continue to cook for another hour.
9. Taste the walnut mixture and add more salt or sugar to taste. This dish is delightful with Persian rice, or it can be enjoyed cold with pita bread to snack on the leftovers (if any is left).