Persian Pomegranate Chicken (Fesenjan)

VideoPersianGluten-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

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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.

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157 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Rachel

    Absolutely delicious. I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs and I added a diced honeynut squash. It is so simple to make, yet so flavorful and comforting. Also I finely chopped my walnuts instead of blended them and really enjoyed the texture they added to the stew. Thank you!

    xxxxxyyyyy

  2. Maryam

    Hi, thank you so much for the nice food you make. I am Persian just want to let you know that in fesenjan we great the onion nd there is no need of oil inside your food as walnut itself has enough. The fesenjan is combination of walnut and pomegranate paste. To make sure it tast nice you add the chicken almost at the end (cook it separately). The original food has no spice except tumeric. No need of salt instead use more pomegranate paste and if you like it sweet add some sugar. This food can be prepared with meatballs as well. The walnut should be cooked on low heat for while for better result.
    Anyway thank you so very much for making Persian food. Enjoy❤️

    Show Replies (2)
  3. Susan

    Can you slow-cook this. Want to cook today.

    Show Replies (1)
  4. ECor

    Hi Elise,
    My husband is allergic to all tree nuts (so basically everything but peanuts). What would you suggest is place in walnuts or other nuts? Thanks!

    Show Replies (2)
  5. 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

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