Persian Pomegranate and Walnut Stew (Khoresht Fesenjan)

by Jessica Randhawa in


I made this chicken stew a couple months ago. It was rainy and cold and my house was in need of a little comfort food. At the time I was completely obsessed with pomegranates and made a huge batch of pomegranate molasses. Pomegranate molasses is basically fresh pomegranate juice, lemon juice and sugar simmered together to make a sweet syrup. 

Side note- pomegranate molasses is incredibly hard to find an the market (I checked 3 near my house!), so unless you have a specialty market near where you live, you may need to make your own. Don't worry, it's SUPER EASY to make, calls for just 3 ingredients and requires way less energy than running around town to see if a store near your house has it. I followed THIS recipe.

Khoresht Fesenjān or simply, Fesenjān, is much more than just pomegranate molasses. It is an Iranian stew of ground walnuts, poultry (in this case, chicken) and yes, pomegranates. You guys, this stew is goooood and a perfect example of comfort food. Though it is traditionally served over rice or couscous, it is also delicious with a crusty loaf of bread.

And let's talk entertaining. If you are looking to impress a group without making a million dishes of food, this stew has your name written all over it. Cook time is approximately 2 hours, BUT most of that time is hands-off, which gives you more time to enjoy your people and less time slaving away in the kitchen.

Food aside, my husband has convinced me it's a good idea to go camping with the kid and dog. I don't disagree, Octavian will have the time of his life. My vote is the beach, or Yosemite, but who knew getting a camping spot would be pretty much impossible. So that is our newest mission: must find a place to camp that isn't crazy far AND allows dogs. Any Californians out there know of just the place? You'll be my new bff :) 

Persian Pomegranate and Walnut Stew (Khoresh Fesenjan)

Cook Time: 2 hours / Yield: 6-8 servings

Ingredients

4 cups shelled walnuts (1 pound)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 small yellow onions, finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
8 boneless/skinless chicken thighs
4-6 chicken drumsticks
12 ounces butternut squash, cubed
1 cup puréed pumpkin
1.5-2 cups pomegranate molasses
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1-2 cups water or chicken broth
1/2 cup fresh pomegranate seeds, for serving
Fresh thyme, for garnish

Instructions

  1. Lightly season chicken with salt and pepper. Working in batches, sauté chicken in olive oil and a large Dutch oven until lightly golden. Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a large food processor, add walnuts. Process until the walnuts form a thick chunky paste (you may need to scrape the sides a couple times). Add a few tablespoons of cold water through the feed chute while walnuts are still being processed. Continue processing until paste becomes beige in color throughout.
  3. In a large Dutch oven, heat oil over medium high heat. Add onions and garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add walnut paste and 1 cup of water, mix well. Turn heat down to medium low and simmer, partly covered for 20 minutes. Add pomegranate molasses, sautéed chicken, butternut squash, pumpkin puree, cinnamon, and 1 cup of water or chicken broth. Mix well.
  4. Adjust flavors as needed with sugar, salt and pomegranate molasses to reach the desired balance of tangy and sweet that perfectly suits your taste. Gently simmer, covered, for approximately 45 minutes or until the sauce is a dark rich walnut color with a layer of oil on the surface from the walnuts. If the sauce is too thick or looks dry, add additional water or chicken broth.
  5. Serve over rice or couscous and garnish with fresh pomegranate arils and chopped parsley.

Enjoy!