Fesenjan recipe

Fesenjan recipe

Fesenjan recipe
nutritional information (per serving)

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nutritional information
Servings: 4
amount per serving
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat 12g58%
208 mg69%
574 mg25%
dietary fiber 4g15%
Total sugar 59g
Vitamin C 3 mg16%
Calcium 106 mg8th %
iron 4 mg20%
Potassium 1235 mg26%
*The % Daily Value (DV) indicates how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories per day is used for general nutritional advice.

(Nutritional information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Fesenjan or Fesenjoon is one of Iran's most famous specialties. It's a khoresh, a Persian term for stews and stews, which in turn are cornerstones of Persian cuisine. An inherently simple dish, Fesenjan is a perfect blend of aromatic ingredients that result in a soulful and delicious dish that is rich, earthy and tart, with a hint of sweetness.

What ingredients are in Fesenjan?

Fesenjan's roots are in northern Iran on the Caspian Sea, where pomegranates are plentiful and used in many dishes, whether fresh and whole, juiced or concentrated into a paste. Walnuts, the second most important nut plant in Iran after pistachios, combined with pomegranates make this dish a celebration of natural resources.

A winter solstice favorite

While fesenjan can be prepared for any occasion, it is particularly appreciated around the winter solstice, Shab-e Yalda in Farsi. Fresh pomegranates take center stage at the winter solstice tables.

How to serve fesenyan

As is always the case with Persian food, there are regional variations ranging in texture from smooth to grittier and in flavor from tart to sweet. Fesenjan is often served with Persian steamed basmati rice, a mix of flatbreads, or side dishes such as a platter of fresh herbs.

“If you want to try more Persian recipes, I definitely recommend Fesenjan. It's warm, cozy and made with few but flavorful ingredients. If, like me, you prefer a spicier stew, opt for a pomegranate molasses variety that isn't sweet. Then you can adjust the seasoning by adding sugar.” –Bahareh Niati

  • 3 tablespoon olive oildivided

  • 4 large bones with skin chicken thighs

  • 1/2 Cup Water

  • 1 large Onionrolled

  • 2 cups walnut halves

  • 1 Cup store bought or homemade pomegranate molassesdivided

  • 1/2 teaspoon fine Salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black peppermore to taste

  • 1 to 2 tablespoon SugarOptional

  • 1/2 Cup pomegranate seedsfor garnish, optional

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    The spruce eats / Bahareh Niati

  2. In a large Dutch oven or other heavy-duty saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the chicken, skin-side down, and cook, undisturbed, until lightly browned. Turn halfway through cooking, about 8 minutes total.

    The spruce eats / Bahareh Niati

  3. Add the water, cover, reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

    The spruce eats / Bahareh Niati

  4. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly golden, about 5 minutes.

    The spruce eats / Bahareh Niati

  5. Place the walnuts in a food processor and chop until finely ground. Scrape the sides of the bowl frequently as you do this.

    The spruce eats / Bahareh Niati

  6. Add the ground walnuts to the onion. Cook over medium heat until just fragrant, about 2 minutes. Do not overcook or the walnuts will become bitter.

    The spruce eats / Bahareh Niati

  7. Add the onion and walnut mixture, 3/4 cup pomegranate molasses, salt, and pepper to the chicken. Stir to combine.

    The spruce eats / Bahareh Niati

  8. Reduce the heat to low and cover the pot. Simmer every 15 minutes, stirring gently to prevent the sauce from burning to the bottom of the pan. The stew should be a deep brown and the chicken should be tender to the fork after about 1 hour and 15 minutes (if the chicken is done but the stew is not deep brown, transfer the chicken pieces to a plate and continue cooking the stew).

    The spruce eats / Bahareh Niati

  9. Adjust flavor by adding remaining 1/4 cup pomegranate molasses, salt, pepper, and sugar (if desired).

    The spruce eats / Bahareh Niati

  10. Remove from the stove and let rest for 5 minutes. As the stew sets, a thin layer of oil forms from the walnuts, adding to the dish's signature richness.

    The spruce eats / Bahareh Niati

  11. Transfer the stew to a serving bowl and garnish with pomegranate seeds, if desired. Serve with Persian steamed basmati rice.

    The spruce eats / Bahareh Niati

recipe tips

  • Fesenjan takes almost two hours to prepare. So take enough time or prepare it.
  • For consistency and to keep ingredients under control, I prefer to use homemade pomegranate molasses. Commercially produced molasses, paste, or concentrates can be used, but these vary significantly in flavor, texture, and sweetness. So check the sugar content in particular and adjust the amount as needed to achieve a tart and only slightly sweet taste. Sadaf, a Persian brand, offers a balanced flavor profile for fesenjan.
  • A heat diffuser (or “flame tamer”) under the pan can help the fesenjan cook evenly without burning.

Go on

  • Fesenjan can be prepared up to three days in advance to intensify the flavors even further.
  • Prepare pomegranate molasses ahead of time and store in the refrigerator.

recipe variations

  • Duck is a great traditional alternative to chicken in Fesenjan. Increase the initial cooking time from 30 minutes to 60 minutes.
  • Plain beef or lamb meatballs without cheese are also traditional alternatives to chicken.
  • For a vegetarian alternative, replace the chicken with large chunks of lightly seared butternut squash, reducing the cooking time to a total of 75 minutes.

How to store it

  • Store leftover stew in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month.
  • To thaw, remove the container from the freezer the night before and let the food thaw in the refrigerator.
  • To reheat, place the stew in a covered skillet over medium-low heat, adding a small amount of water if needed, until heated through.

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