Iranian/Persian Fesenjoon (walnut and pomegranate dish) with Rice

By • September 23, 2012 • 12 Comments



Author Notes: Khoresh-e fesenjoon is one of the most well known and loved Iranian dishes and is served over a bed of steamed rice. It is made during the fall and winter months because of the richness of the flavors and its seasonal main ingredients; walnuts, pomegranate molasses and pumpkins. It is a very nutritious food that gets its anti-oxidants from the pomegranates, its beneficial oils from the walnuts, and its beta-carotene from the pumpkin.
My recipe is made with chicken. Two other popular variations use duck legs or meatballs made from ground beef infused with saffron and grated onions.
cookingProf

Serves 6-8

  • 2 cups Walnuts
  • 1 Packed cup of grated (raw) or pureed (cooked) butternut squash or pumpkin
  • 2.5 cups water
  • 10-12 Dried golden plums (optional)
  • 6 pieces Boneless, skinless chicken thighs (all visible fat trimmed)
  • 1 Medium onion, minced
  • 1 tablespoon Olive oil
  • 1/2 cup Pomegranate molasses
  • 2-3 tablespoons Brown sugar
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  1. Place the walnuts on a baking sheet and roast in a 350-degree oven for 5-10 minutes or until they start to change color. Let cool. This can be done ahead of time.
  2. Finely chop the walnuts to a coarse meal in a food processor.
  3. Put the walnuts, grated squash or pumpkin, dried plums (optional), and water in a medium pot. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cover and cook over medium heat for 30 minutes. Stir once or twice.
  4. Put the minced onions and olive oil in a small pot. Roll the chicken thighs and place them seam-side down on the bed of minced onions. Salt and pepper to taste. Cover and cook over medium heat for 10-12 minutes or until the onions start to caramelize.
  5. Add the pomegranate molasses to the walnut sauce. Add brown sugar, one tablespoon at a time, to the desired sweetness. Remove the chicken thighs to a side plate and scrape off the caramelized onions into the walnut sauce. Stir and adjust for the desired saltiness and sweetness. Place the pieces of chicken in the sauce. Cover the pot and simmer over medium low heat for another sixty minutes. If needed, add a tablespoon or two of water. Note: The sauce should not be too thin. If it is thinner than desired, leave the cover off during the last 15-20 minutes of cooking.
  6. Serve over parboiled and steamed Basmati rice. Left over khoresht (stew) freezes well.
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Comments (12) Questions (1)

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4 months ago Ginja Ninja

My boyfriend is Iranian and so I wanted to make this for him since I'm Irish and have yet to try cooking Iranian food for him. It was excellent and my boyfriend loved it too. I used chicken breast instead of thighs which cut down on the cooking time. The meat was tender and the 'gravy' was rich, thick and delicious. I will make this again!

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4 months ago cookingProf

Ginja Ninja, Glad you enjoyed it. You can also try it with meatballs (ground beef, grated onion, saffron, and salt and pepper) instead of chicken.

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5 months ago kpcricket

I impulsively bought a jar of pomegranate molasses and found this recipe while looking for ideas to use it. It looks delicious. Have you ever made a crock-pot version of it? We like to come home to something already done.

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5 months ago cookingProf

KPcricket, I am glad you asked. In fact, the truly traditional method for making fesenjoon is to make it SLOWLY simmer for a LONG time. The crock-pot method would be perfect for this dish.

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9 months ago donna1963

Where would I find dried golden plums? I live in Manhattan on the Upper West Side.

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9 months ago sheila356

Made this last night for the first time. We all said it is a keeper. It is so good. And lucky for us, our walnut tree is loaded this year. I can see this often throughout the winter. Also, I had some leftover sauce and I have it in the freezer to see how it does for future use.

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over 1 year ago ZombieCupcake

Wouldn't call them improvements I made. More like MacGyver'd it lol. Look in my cupboard and saw I was out of a lot of stuff. Used canned pumpkin, dried pomegranates, and honey instead of brown sugar, still turned out great but next time I really want to stick to the original. Thank you for the recipe.

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over 1 year ago cookingProf

Very creative, ZombieCupcake! I like the can-do attitude. Canned pumpkins, pun intended, would totally work for this, as will peeled and pureed apples in place of pumpkin. I have used both in the past.

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over 1 year ago smonfor

Very tasty. I've never had this before, so not sure how it was supposed to turn out. I made as directed and would make some changes. 1) it makes a lot of sauce. Would add more meat. 2) I would brown the meat on high with a quarter of the onion, add remaining onion and cover a few minutes. Or remove meat and sauté onion separately. Then add all to large saucepan to simmer on low an hour.
I used half black plums and half apricots. I think I would mince them if I made again.
Also, my molasses came in a bottle and was very difficult to get out. I heated the bottle and then used half of it, about 120ml which is maybe a bit more than half a cup. I garnished with fresh pomegranate, but mint would have been a nice accent flavour too.

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over 1 year ago cookingProf

Glad you liked it, smonfor. Sauteing the onions until it caramelizes is a good way of adding even more depth of flavor. Traditional Persian foods do not go heavy on meat. After all, walnuts serve as a good source of plant-based protein in their own right. But, adjusting the amount of meat to taste is OK and does not alter the character of the dish itself.
Black plums and apricots hydrate back to big chunks. Cutting them to smaller bite sizes pieces sounds like a good idea.

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almost 2 years ago st banoo

Oh, I love fesenjan. we make it differently than this recipe - no butternut squash or plums, and with tieeny-tiny ground beef/lamb+onion meatballs, and we let it slooowly simmer for about 4 hours. we make a huge amount at a time and freeze 2-person portions so we can eat it all winter and only have to make it once!

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2 months ago Atria

St banoo, or anyone, how do you make the meatballs? Thanks.