Fesenjoon Stew

I cannot believe I have not included khoresh fesenjoon خورشت فسنجون in my Iranian stews yet!  This traditional stew, made primarily with ground walnuts and pomegranate paste or molasses, with a sweet-sour taste, deep aroma and rich flavor is quite unique among other Iranian stews and is regarded a fancy dish served at special occasions and for special guests.

A specialty of Northern Iran, fesenjoon is traditionally cooked using duck meat. Nowadays people use chicken breast or tights instead. Or for a vegan version simply skip the meat step and still get a rich and flavorful stew.  There are certainly more than one method in making a good fesenjoon, but below is just one of them!

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 1 large onion, chopped in small squares
  •  2 medium skinless chicken breast (about 1 kg), washed and chopped
  • 2 & 1/2 walnut halves, passed through food processor (see below)
  • ½ – ¾ cup pomegranate paste, depending on how thick and sour it is (see below)
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon saffron powder diluted in 1 tbsp. warm water
  • 2 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp. fresh pomegranate seeds (optional for topping)
  • Salt to taste

Method:

Pass walnuts through a food processor or blender and process until you get fine clumps (or coarse powder).

Add the grained walnuts in a dry frying pan. Sauté over medium heat for about 10 minutes or until you get a caramel color and can feel the smell of the walnut emanating from the skillet. Stir constantly and be careful not to burn the walnuts.

Add 2 and 1/2 cups of lukewarm water to the frying pan and mix. Cover with the lid and reduce to minimum setting.  Simmer for 20 minutes.

In a medium size pot, warm oil and add chopped onions. Fry until translucent. Add chicken pieces and fry until all sides of the chicken pieces change color. Add salt, pepper and turmeric and continue frying for another 2 minutes.

Add walnut paste to the main pot and simmer for half an hour with half closed lid ; leave a wooden spoon touching the bottom of the pot all the time.

Add pomegranate paste to the main pot and simmer for another half an hour.  Taste for adjustment. Your fesenjoon should taste sour-sweet.  Depending on the brand of the pomegranate paste you have used and also depending on your own preference you might need to add a bit more pomegranate paste for added sourness.  Or you might need to stir in brown sugar to get more sweetness.

Also, at this stage your stew should look settled, dark and thick. If not, close the lid and simmer for another 20 minutes. Five minutes before serving, add saffron liquid.  This would be for extra aroma and a deeper darker color.

You could always garnish with fresh red pomegranate seeds.

Serve hot with plain or saffron rice cooked Iranian style and enjoy this flavorful, rich and majestic Iranian dish!


Roast Chicken & Saffron Rice

Yalda, the Persian celebration of winter solstice, is around the corner. Hence the occasion for a special food blog entry – something representing red and orange colors of  Yalda, something made with passion, and maybe pomegranate, to serve along with sweet-nuts mix, watermelon and persimmon as we get together with friends and family to bring to dawn the longest night of the year –  the night before the beginning of winter, or the Yalda night.

For some of my previous Yalda-related blog entries, please see here, and here.

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Pomegranate, the heavenly fruit of Persia

Have you ever tasted this crunchy, refreshing and colorful berry-like fruit?

Did you know that Pomegranate is native to the area of modern Iraq and Iran, spread to Northern India, and is one of the most ancient fruits? Read the rest of this entry »


Pomegranate rediscovered

In 2006, Marsha Mehran published her first culinary fiction called “Pomegranate Soup” – It is a charming, fairy tale like story of three Iranian sisters who settle in a remote village in Ireland; start their cozy restaurant and in no time conquer the heart of the initially-skeptical villagers through their unique Persian beauty, warm hospitality and most important of all the strain of mind-blowing and heavenly-smelling Persian foods, side dishes, soups and desserts.

The title of the book was cleverly selected to give an air of exoticism – which represented the essence of the book. That’s right, up until a few years ago not so many people in the western world were familiar with pomegranate as a fruit, let alone as a soup’s substance! Well, things have changed dramatically since then. …

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