Persian Pomegranate Chicken (Fesenjan)

VideoSoup and StewPersianGluten-FreeChicken

Persian chicken stew made with chicken breasts or thighs, slowly cooked with ground toasted walnuts and pomegranate molasses.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Here is a stew made for fall! This Chicken Stew with Walnut and Pomegranate Sauce recipe is a classic preparation in Persian cooking, going by the name “Fesenjan”.

Chicken pieces are first browned and then slowly cooked in a sauce with ground toasted walnuts and pomegranate molasses. You might not normally think to make a sauce with walnuts and pomegranates, but it’s a perfect combination!

Video! How to Make Persian Pomegranate Chicken

The toasted walnuts are rich and warm and the pomegranate molasses sharp and berry toned. Cooked slowly with the chicken, the sauce is spectacular. Bowl-licking good.

The only ingredient that might be a little unusual is the pomegranate molasses. You can make your own with pomegranate juice (see our recipe for pomegranate molasses), or look for it at Whole Foods or a store that carries Middle Eastern ingredients.

Fesenjan Persian Chicken Stew

Persian Pomegranate Chicken (Fesenjan) Recipe

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 2 hours
  • Yield: Serves 6-8

Make your own pomegranate molasses by simmering 1 cup of pomegranate juice until it reduces to 5 Tbsp of syrup.

Ingredients

  • 1 to 2 large yellow onions, chopped, (3 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
  • 1/2 pound walnut halves (about 2 cups)
  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs and/or breasts, trimmed of excess fat, cut into medium size pieces, patted dry and salted
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons of sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Salt
  • 1/2 cup fresh pomegranate arils for garnish (optional)

Method

1 Toast and grind the walnuts: You can toast the walnuts in one of two ways. You can either spread them out in a single layer in a large skillet, and toast them on medium high heat, stirring frequently until lightly toasted, OR you can spread them out in a single layer in a baking rimmed baking sheet, and toast at 350°F in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes.

In either case, once toasted, remove from heat and allow to cool. Once cool enough to handle, pulse in a food processor or blender until finely ground.

2 Brown the chicken pieces on all sides: In a large pan, heat 1 tablespoon of butter and 2 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat.

When the butter has melted, pat the chicken pieces dry again and place the chicken pieces in the pan, working in batches if necessary to not crowd the pan, and cook until golden brown on all sides. Sprinkle the chicken with salt while they are cooking.

3 Sauté the onions: Use a slotted spoon or tongs to remove the chicken from the pan, set aside. Add a tablespoon of butter and a tablespoon of oil to the pan. Lower the heat to medium low. Add chopped onions to the pan and sauté until translucent, stirring on occasion to release the browned bits from the bottom of the pan.

4 Add chicken and stock: Return the chicken pieces to the pan with the onions. Pour 2 cups of chicken stock over the chicken and onions. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and simmer gently for 30 minutes.

5 Add ground walnuts, pomegranate molasses, sugar, spices, cover and cook: Stir in the ground walnuts, pomegranate molasses, sugar, and spices. Cover and cook on very low heat for 1 hour, stirring every 20 minutes or so to prevent the walnuts from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Remove from heat and adjust sugar/salt to taste. At this point the chicken should be fall apart tender.

Garnish with pomegranate seeds. Serve over parsi pulao or other favorite rice.

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Links:

Slow cooker pomegranate chicken salad from Lydia of The Perfect Pantry

Fesenjan Persian Chicken Stew

Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

More from Elise

144 Comments / Reviews

No ImagePersian Pomegranate Chicken (Fesenjan)

Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Barton

    I use coconut sugar instead. Mega on point!!!! We let this slow cook longer and very amazing. Not much Iranian food around me. Only one place makes fesenjan but the best closed down years ago. This is amazing for at home make it all the time

    xxxxxyyyyy

    Show Replies (1)
  2. Nancy

    I was craving Pomegranate chicken legs that I used to get at a Mediterranean restaurant about 25 years ago so I decided to google a recipe and came across this. I’ve never had this dish before so I don’t know what it should taste like, but my whole family LOVED it and fought over the leftovers! It’s takes a bit of work (roasting, chopping, browning, etc) but it’s not complex. I did add a little extra nutmeg and cinnamon along with 1/2 teaspoon of cumin; reduced sugar to 1 T. Will definitely make it again – and looking forward to serving to my family and friends!

    xxxxxyyyyy

  3. Lizzie

    Hello,
    I am about to prepare this recipe and I would like to know whether Fesenjan can be frozen? Thank you in advance.

    Show Replies (1)
  4. Golnaz

    As an iranian , I don’t think your recipe is a Fesenjan.
    it might be tasty but it is not fesenjan. The main point of Persian stews is slow cooking. As far as I know we mince the walnut and put it in a sauce pan with a little bit of water and let it be cooked and release the oil. if you want to know the full recipe let me know.

    Show Replies (3)
  5. Noor

    Don’t judge a book by its cover. I was hesitant to try your recipe because you are
    obviously a Caucasian lady with a German sounding name. I thought to myself, “how authentic can this recipe be? Have the flavours been toned down to suit Western tastebuds?” Happily, I WAS WRONG. This is the best Fesenjan recipe I have tried to date. I didn’t add the tablespoons of sugar, but besides that, I followed this recipe pretty religiously. It came out amazing. I loved the first bite so much, I could cry. This goes to show that you don’t have to be Iranian to cook authentic Iranian food. I learned a humble lesson today. Keep up the great cooking.

    xxxxxyyyyy

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