Persian Pomegranate and Walnut Stew (Fesenjoon)

Persian Pomegranate and Walnut Stew (Fesenjoon)

If you didn’t know, it’s pomegranate season. I mean, HALLELUJAH! IT’S POMEGRANATE SEASON! And if you have been following me on Instagram, then you know that we have been seeding pomegranates by the dozen in our house. My kids are thrilled because they are inhaling a bowl of pomegranate seeds every single day. I’m a happy mom because I know they are getting a fantastic dose of fiber, vitamins and anti-oxins that is oozing out of this bejeweled fruit.

This year, our friend’s tree which gave us 200 pomegranates to take home last year, was attacked by mutant squirrels.

Well, not really. Critters and birds got to the fruit before we could. Bummer for us. But, luckily we are able to find pomegranates everywhere: in our grocery store, in the middle eastern markets and even Costco.

Middle-easterners have always loved their pomegranates. They are used in all aspects of cooking. It’s taken some time, but I’m happy to see Westerners enjoy this stunning fruit. Give a kid a bowl of pomegranate seeds and see their faces light up!

Persian Pomegranate and Walnut Stew (Fesenjoon) by FamilySpice.com
A few years back, I wrote about this stew, Fesenjoon, which is made with ground walnuts and pomegranate syrup. You can make it all vegan, too, without the addition of chicken. It is typically served over white basmati rice, but I think it tastes even better with BROWN basmati. I used straight up pomegranate concentrate, without any added sugar. It’s different from pomegranate syrup or molasses, which does contain sugar and has muted pomegranate flavor.

You can make your own concentrate, too, just reduce every cup of pomegranate juice down to a 1/4 cup of liquid.

Intimidated with seeding a pomegranate? Sure, you can buy packages of pomegranate seeds at the store, but it’s really not that hard to seed a pomegranate. I have instructions here for you.

Persian Pomegranate and Walnut Stew with Chicken (Fesenjan)

This sweet and sour dish may not look appetizing, but it is positively delicious!!! Recipe by Laura Bashar of Family Spice

Ingredients:

  • 1 large onion, peeled & quartered
  • 1 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1 1/2 lb chicken breast, boneless skinless
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper, ground
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp saffron, grounded
  • 1 1/2 cup pomegranate concentrate
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 TBS granulated sugar, if needed
  • 3 TBS pomegranate arils

Directions:

  1. Purée until smooth in a food processor:
    • 1 large onion , peeled & quartered
  2. Add in and purée with the onions:
    • 1 1/2 cup walnuts
  3. Scrape down sides of the bowl and pulse in the food processor until onions and walnuts are completely blended and a thick paste is formed.
  4. In a large non-stick skillet, over medium-high heat scrape out the walnut-onion mixture and smooth it evenly on to the bottom of the skillet.
  5. When it starts to brown, stir and remix the paste and smooth it again evenly on to the bottom of the skillet.
  6. Reduce heat to low and repeat step 5 every 10-15 minutes.
  7. Cook until walnut-onion mixture is deep brown in color and crumbly, about 2 hours.
  8. In the mean time, wash and pat dry with paper towels:
  9. 1 1/2 lb chicken breast, boneless skinless
  10. Season both sides of the chicken with:
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1/4 tsp black pepper, ground
  11. In a different non-stick skillet heat over medium-high and add:
    • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  12. When oil is hot, add seasoned chicken.
  13. Cook until browned, approximately 5-7 minutes.
  14. Turn chicken breast over and brown the other side.
  15. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover skillet and cook until chicken breasts are almost completely done, approximately 15 minutes.
  16. Remove from heat.
  17. Cut chicken breast into strips.
  18. Stir into walnut-onion mixture:
    • 1/2 tsp saffron , grounded
    • 1 1/2 cup pomegranate concentrate
  19. Add chicken breast strips and simmer until color darkens, about 20 minutes.
  20. If sauce needs thinning, drizzle in as needed:
    • 1/4 cup water
  21. Different brands of pomegranate concentrate vary in flavor and sweetness. If your pomegranate concentrate is too sour, stir in little by little:
    • 2 TBS granulated sugar , if needed
  22. Pour stew into serving dish.
  23. Garnish with:
    • 3 TBS pomegranate arils

Notes:

Serving Suggestions: Serve with basmati rice.

Cooking Tips: You can also shred the chicken and then add it to stew. This is a very rich and filling dish that your guests will love! For a vegetarian version, do not add chicken.

Prep Time:

Yield: Serves 6

Cook Time:

Persian Pomegranate and Walnut Stew with Chicken (Fesenjan) Detail

If this is too exotic for you, I have plenty of other pomegranate recipes for you here!

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15 Responses to Persian Pomegranate and Walnut Stew (Fesenjoon)

  1. I am with you on the pomegranate! I plan to enjoy it as long as I can! Love this stew!

  2. I love pomegranates too! Your stew sounds delish!

  3. Eha at #

    One recipe very definitely to be filed for our next pomegranate season: appreciate them more and more every year!

  4. Wow! Your opening shot of the pomegranate is gorgeous! I always like something crunchy and your stew with pomegranate seeds sounds delicious.

  5. sunithi at #

    Yumm ! Will be making this sooooon ! Love poms & this combo sounds great !!

  6. You know I can’t get enough POMS! Gotta get busy making this stew! OPA!

  7. I just read the recipe and it sounds very moreish indeed. Gorgeous photos.

  8. I have eaten this (I believe) at Alborz, sans chicken. It is absolutely delicious! I am sad to reportI haven’t eaten any pomegranates yet this season. So glad you shared the recipe for this dish!

  9. I would never have conceived of this dish. It sounds wonderful.

  10. looks wonderful we enjoy pomegranate lovely dish

  11. gorgeous shot of the pomegranate! middle eastern food is fab!

  12. First time seeing pomegranate in stew, and it looks so pretty and delicious! I love the feeling of this photography, Laura. I don’t know enough vocabulary to express it, but very beautiful and I love it.

  13. Melanie Fain at #

    I had a dish similar to this years ago at a dinner prepared by an acquaintance long since lost contact. It was a glorious Babbette’s Feast Middle Eastern style spread of awesomeness. I never knew what the ingredients were to the dish but it was a chicken smothered in a more creamy gravy topped with pomegranate. I have looked over the years for anything similar and this is close. Are there versions of this dish that would produce a more creamy stew? I will try this unaltered first but would love your impression.

  14. Melanie Fain at #

    Laura,
    I answered my own question by looking at other recipes. Seriously my partner reminded me that it has been at least 20 years that I have been on the look out for this dish. So excited to give it a whirl. Have never cooked with saffron and picked up tips looking at recipes today. I have a few threads of saffron that I have been saving for the end of days so guess I will break down and use that for good measure since the December 21 thing was a bust.
    Blessings,
    Melanie

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