A delicious recipe for Fesenjan, a Persian Walnut Pomegranate Stew with chicken or chickpeas, or both! Earthy, rich and tangy, this luscious stew is bursting with Middle Eastern Flavor! With a Video!
When we let go of insisting that we are who we think we are and that the world should give us exactly and only what we want, all things shine forth. ~ John Brehm (The Poetry of Impermanence, Mindfulness, and Joy)
Introducing Fesenjan! A sumptuous Persian Stew made with ground walnuts and pomegranate – earthy, tangy and deep, Fesejan is soulful and oh so satisfying.
The flavorful sauce is luxuriously rich from the ground walnuts, with a pleasant sourness 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!
The nice thing is this can be made with either chickpeas or chicken, or both, like you see here!
Watch how to make Fesenjan | Video
How to make Fesenjan
It starts with two cups of toasted walnuts that are finely ground, which will become the base of the sauce.
This week I’m partnering with California Walnuts to create this cozy dinner. The addition of toasted walnuts gives the stew a wonderful richness, not to mention added protein (4 grams/ounce), fiber (2 grams/ounce) and good, plant-based fats (13g/oz polyunsaturated and 2.5g/oz monounsaturated fat)and healthy plant-based fats.Walnuts have zero cholesterol and are the only nut with a significant amount of plant-based omega-3 ALA (2.5 grams/ounce).
It is important to use really fresh walnuts for this recipe, and I wanted to share how I keep nuts fresh by storing them in the freezer.
Freezing the walnuts keeps them from getting bitter.
If using chicken, cut them into bite-sized pieces and brown and set aside.
Caramelize the onions and garlic. Take your time here…this is where the flavor is developed.
Add the fragrant spices and toast them for a few minutes, intensifying the flavor. Add the orange zest.
Orange zest and Pomegranate Molasses, both give this a tangy brightness.
Add the Pomegranate Molasses.
Pomegranate Molasses in can be found in specialty grocery stores and ethnic markets, and sometimes in the ethnic section of your grocery store, but if you can’t find it, just buy a little bottle of POM, (pomegranate juice) and make some at home – by reducing the juice in a saucepan.
(Just an FYI – it is easiest if you make the Pomegranate molasses ahead, as it takes 45-55 minutes to reduce on the stove. See recipe notes.)
Add the broth, the ground walnuts and the chicken and simmer, covered, for 45 minutes.
Then add the chickpeas.
A quick note- you can also make this without the chickpeas- just add more chicken. See notes!
Reduce the stew uncovered, until thickened, and the oil begins to rise and shimmer on the top.
Garnish with fresh pomegranate and parsley. FYI: Here is the easiest way to cut a pomegranate.
You could also serve this with quinoa or toasted pita bread.
A cozy Middle Eastern Stew that hails from Persia, Fesenjan is tangy, deep and flavorful!
The perfect Sunday Supper!
Hope you love this as much as we do.
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!
- 2 cups fresh California 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 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 maple
- 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.
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