Khoresht-e Fesenjoon (Chicken Pomegranate Stew)
خورش فسنجان or Khoresht-e Fesenjoon is one of the most praised Persian dishes and elicits the typical ” Fesenjoon? Akh joon! “ or “woot woot” as we say in English. Tasting it one time will have you pining for more. I will guarantee that.
This is a classic version of Fesenjoon, but there are some regional variations, with the use of hazelnuts and almonds in walnut’s stead. Most city people don’t know that walnuts are enclosed in a green, leathery, fleshy husk, which is inedible and must be removed. My great aunts from Azar Shahr, Tabriz, owned a beautiful walnut orchard, where, after burning my hands a couple of times, I learned that playing with fire wasn’t worth the fun.
Just like any other Persian dish, cooking is slow and steady to facilitate the blending of different tastes and release of the oils from the walnuts. This combined with pomegranate paste, makes for a velvety stew to die for.
Please, do not substitute pomegranate syrup with pomegranate juice, as they are two very different ingredients.
Ingredients (serves 4):
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in small chunks
- 1 large onion, peeled, finely chopped
- 2 cups shelled walnuts (or more)
- 1/2 cup of pomegranate syrup
- 1-2 Tbs sugar
- 1/4 tsp turmeric
- 1 Tbs flour
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- Salt and pepper to taste
Time~ Prep: 1 hr Cook: 1-2 hrs
- In a frying pan dry roast the walnuts over medium-low heat (~ 5 min). Stir frequently. Allow to cool.
- Grind the walnuts in a food processor, but leave some chunks behind. Return back to the frying pan.
- Add in pomegranate syrup and 2 cups of water, mix well and simmer for 30 minutes on low heat. Stir in the flour during the last few minutes. Set aside.
- In a large pot, saute chopped onions in enough oil on medium heat ’til translucent (~ 5-10 min), add turmeric and stir ’till fragrant (~ 1 min).
- Place the chicken pieces in the pot and cook until golden brown on all sides. Season with salt, pepper and a dash of cinnamon.
- Pour the pomegranate walnut mixture into the pot, mix well, if needed add more water to cover all the chicken pieces bring to a boil on high, then lower heat.
- Cover and simmer for 1-2 hours for a thick and full-flavored stew.
- Fesenjoon should not be runny so as time passes adjust the cover to allow more moisture to escape if needed.
- Add the sugar towards the end in increments, take care not to shred the chicken, and adjust for a sweet and sour balance to your liking. I like mine more on the sour side.
– Serve over aromatic white rice (Basmati). Garnish with pomegranate arils, cilantro or basil.
– Leftovers taste even better.
Tashakkor mikonam (Thank You) for your diligence! Now dig in.