Persian Chicken Stew in Walnut and Pomegranate Sauce (fesenjan)


This dish combines the creamy richness of the slow-cooked ground walnut sauce with a sour-sweet undercurrent of pomegranate molasses. It’s savored on special occasions. I enjoy it so much at Persian restaurants or homemade with love by Persian friends, I had to learn how to make it myself. This recipe is adapted from with additional suggestions from a Persian friend. I like to make it on Nowruz, the Persian New Year, which is celebrated on the first day of Spring on the Persian calendar. Notes: Pomegranate molasses, sometimes called pomegranate syrup, is available in most Middle Eastern markets. It has the color and consistency of molasses but is simply reduced pomegranate juice, without added sugar. If it is unavailable, you can substitute 2 cups of fresh pomegranate juice and use only 1/2 cup of stock.

What you will need

1/4 cup canola oil

2 pounds chicken thighs, cut into 2- to 3-inch pieces

1 large onion, sliced thinly

2 cups walnuts, ground in food processor or if you want to be traditional, with a mortar and pestle

1.5 cups chicken stock

2/3 cup pomegranate molasses

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

1 tablespoon salt

Ground black pepper, to taste

Fresh pomegranate arils, for garnish (optional)


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