- Dish type
- Main course
- Stew and casserole
This is my take on the classic Iranian fesenjoon or fesenjan stew featuring duck legs instead of chicken. I'm assuming like most similar recipes, every household has their own version, and this kind of thing can easily be tailored to your tastes.
17 people made this
- 8 duck legs
- salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 60ml water, or as needed
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, or more to taste
- 300g diced onion
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1420ml chicken stock, or more as needed
- 160ml pomegranate molasses
- 60ml honey
- 360g walnut halves
MethodPrep:15min ›Cook:3hr15min ›Ready in:3hr30min
- Season duck legs all over with salt and black pepper.
- Heat vegetable oil in a large pan over high heat. Place duck legs, skin-side down, in hot oil and cook until browned, 2 to 5 minutes; turn and cook until browned on the other side, 2 to 4 minutes more. Transfer legs to a plate; pour rendered duck fat into a bowl.
- Pour water into the pan and bring to the boil while scraping the browned bits of food off of the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Remove from heat.
- Heat about 2 tablespoons duck fat and olive oil in a heavy casserole pot oven medium heat. Cook and stir onion in hot oil and duck fat until golden brown, about 7 to 10 minutes. Add turmeric, cinnamon and nutmeg; cook and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Add chicken stock, pomegranate molasses, honey and reserved sauce from the pan into the onion and spice mixture in the casserole pot; bring to a simmer.
- Grind walnuts to a fine powder in a food processor.
- Cook and stir walnuts in a pan over medium heat until fragrant, about 2 to 3 minutes. Stir ground walnuts into the casserole pot; add the browned duck legs. Reduce heat and simmer until duck legs are tender, about 3 to 4 hours. Transfer to a serving dish.
- Bring stock mixture to the boil; cook until reduced and desired sauce consistency is reached. Season with salt. Ladle sauce over duck legs.
See it on my blog
Reviews & ratingsAverage global rating:(9)
Reviews in English (6)
Yes you can Make it night before-16 Sep 2017
I prepped mine on the stove and then transferred to a slow cooker to simmer away while I was at work. So delicious and so easy. Chef John wins again!-06 Jan 2015
I usually cook ground walnuts alone for at least 2 hours to extract all the oil of walnuts so I don't add any extra oil to the stew. Chef john, thanks and here are my suggestions for Persian dessert: Faloodeh and Ghotab-13 May 2016
Fesenjan Redux (Roast Duck Breasts with Quince, Pomegranate, and Walnut Sauce)
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The jewel in the crown of khoreshes (traditional Persian saucy stews), fesenjan is a Rosh Hashanah treasure on many Iranian-Jewish tables. A blend of pomegranate and walnut giving way to an exquisite tango of tart and sweet, the sauce is served with duck—and less often, other poultry, veal, lamb, or meatballs, too—always accompanied by copious amounts of rice.
Older recipes usually call for cooking the meat in the sauce, but I prefer to roast the duck separately the flavors taste cleaner and there’s no fat to skim. Instead I add quinces to turn meltingly tender infused with the sauce, which is subtly sweetened with dates.
If you can’t find duck breasts, fesenjan is also delicious served with grilled or roasted chicken thighs or whole ducklings it can also stand up to grilled steak or roasted beef. This recipe makes quite a bit of the rich sauce, so you can dish it up Iranian-Jewish style: a generous amount of rice topped with sauce, along with a modest amount of duck. Or present it in typical American fashion to fewer guests, with more meat and less rice freeze leftover sauce and pair it with grilled poultry or meat for a quick, celebratory meal in the future.
Cook’s Note: I always taste nuts first to make sure they have not turned rancid. Once, as I started to prepare this fesenjan, I found out too late that my walnuts were stale, and had to substitute pecans. Their rich, slightly sweet edge married beautifully with the other ingredients, and even guests who find walnuts a tad too bitter for their tastes, especially children, loved the sauce. Though purists may scoff, I usually make fesenjan with pecans now.
This Rosh Hashanah, Celebrate With a Classic Persian Dish of Antiquity
Image by Wikimedia Commons
One of the greatest glories of Jewish cuisine is its diversity – a celebration of the Diaspora that touches upon the antiquity of our people, as well as the joys and sorrows and memories that are the apron strings we cling to as the New Year turns.
As an Ashkenazi Jew, my memories are closely bound with the foods of my youth around this time of year – teiglach, lekach, round sweet challah and so much more. Yet the readers of The Forward are an eclectic lot, and like all Jews, we strive to learn, to expand our horizons to the stories and flavors of other Jewish communities.
As a gastronomic anthropologist, my greatest joy is bringing these nuances of taste into the greater Yiddishkeit. Today, I’m honored to share with you a dish replete with symbolism to Persian Mizrahi Jews during the New Year – the sweet and sour duck stew known as Khoresh-e Fesenjān – خورش فسنجان
Fesenjān is an Iranian stew (a khoresh) flavored with pomegranate syrup and ground walnuts. It is traditionally made with poultry (duck or chicken), and is served with Persian white or yellow rice (polo or chelo).
Fesenjān is one of the best stews of Iran, which is believed to have originated in the province of Gilan bordering the Caspian Sea. The area was particularly renowned for its wild duck population and the Fesenjān recipe first made use of duck meat, which was substituted with chicken at a later date. The dish was much favored during the fall season in Persia when the pomegranates matured. Unearthed stone tablets from the ruins of the ancient capital of Persepolis demonstrate that as far back as 515 BCE, early Iranian pantry staples included walnuts, poultry and pomegranate jam. Even today amongst Iranian Jews, both in Iran and elsewhere, Fesenjān is a must-have dish for weddings and special occasions alike.
Fesenjān is also considered to be a classic Persian Jewish Rosh Hashanah dish to celebrate the New Year and to remember it will have both sweet and sour moments in it.
My version of Fesenjān uses the classically-prescribed duck and my own special Iranian Baharat spice blend for absolute flavor mastery.
You can easily substitute chicken legs and/or thighs if you’re so inclined, but nothing quite compares with the succulent richness of duck.
What makes for good duck or chicken? First, always go for an heirloom breed of either if you’re lucky enough to find one – they taste FAR better. Second, you really want to enjoy poultry that has had a free-range life instead of being cooped up in an industrial factory farm. Third, go organic with no additives in their diet – the way Hashem intended. (I recommend this glatt kosher duck.)
3 cups walnuts, toasted
3 cups chicken stock
3 tablespoons canola oil
4 duck legs, skinned
Salt, to taste
2 medium yellow onions, finely diced
1 ½ teaspoons ground turmeric
⅓ cup pomegranate molasses – available in any Middle Eastern grocery store or on Amazon
1 cup fresh pomegranate juice
2 tablespoons sugar
3 ½ tablespoons of The Hirshon Fesenjān Baharat spice mixture, made as follows:
Blend 2 tbsp of each whole spice together in a bowl: Black Pepper, Cumin, Coriander seed & Paprika
Next, add one tbsp of each of the following:
Clove, Nutmeg & Sea Salt
Now add ½ tbsp of Cardamom seeds and Cinnamon
Grind all the spices together into a powder. Lightly toast until fragrant and darkens slightly. Keep the leftover blend in an air-tight container.
Pomegranate seeds, for garnish
Place the walnuts in a food processor and grind them until they resemble coarse meal. Combine the walnuts and stock in a medium saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Working in batches, season the duck legs with salt and add to the pot.
Cook the legs, turning, until they are light golden brown on both sides, about 20 minutes. Remove the legs, transfer them to a plate and set aside.
Add the remaining oil. When the oil is hot, add the onions. Cook until the onions have softened, about 10 minutes. Add the turmeric and reserved duck legs. Cook until the turmeric becomes fragrant, about 5 minutes.
Add the walnut mixture and Baharat mix to the duck and bring to a simmer. Adjust the heat to medium-low. Place a wooden spoon into the pot so that it is touching the bottom of the pot and cover (thus keeping the lid ajar).
Stir the stew every 20 minutes and skim any excess fat that rises to the top for about 1 hour. Add the molasses, pomegranate juice and sugar and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the stew has become deep brown in color and the duck is tender, about 1 hour. Taste and add sugar if necessary. The stew should be balanced between sweet and sour.
Garnish the stew with pomegranate seeds and serve over basmati rice or crusty bread alongside a mixture of fresh herbs.
Note: As with most stews, it’s best made the day before. Gently reheat before serving.
Jonathan Hirshon is a gastronome, historian and bon vivant who blogs regularly as The Food Dictator - his day job is advising tech companies as a public relations consultant at Horizon PR.
Duck fesenjan recipe - Recipes
The ingredients are simple and easy to manipulate. If you have trouble finding pomegranate syrup, or pomegranate molasses as it’s sometimes called, check out the online retailers, but you can actually make your own.
If you want to try, check out this recipe from my friend Elise, from Simply Recipes. It takes an hour or so, but its usefulness goes far beyond this duck recipe. By the way, if you're not down with Simply Recipes, you really should be. Elise has an amazing collection of recipes.
Regarding the duck, I like to sear the meat in a pan, since you'll get faster and deeper browning. The high sides of a Dutch oven can sometimes hold in moisture and you won’t get the same results. As long as you deglaze the pan, nothing is lost.
Other than that, it’s a very straightforward recipe. Just stew everything until the meat is tender, but not totally falling apart then reduce the sauce until as thick and intensely flavored as you want. I really hope you give this Persian duck stew a try soon. Enjoy!
I love your Fesenjoon. I suggest shole zard, Persian saffron rice pudding for dessert. Easy to cock and delicious.
I really like what you've been doing with your channel lately--Persian dishes, chicken tikka masala, Tom Kha Gai, chili crabs, etc.
I know it pisses off whatever particular culture grew up with these dishes because they somehow lack "authenticity," but it's perfect for people like me: folks who DIDN'T grow up with this stuff, and are always looking to elevate weekday dinner above tuna casserole, meat and potatoes, and chicken breast what-have-yous (the kind of stuff I grew up with).
Thank you Chef, This Fesenjun looks great. In fact last time I made it, I browned the duck before adding it to the stew because that was what you did in your Duck-adobo video and it came out great. Also, I learned from my grandma (she was from Rasht, where this dish is originated from) that if you shock the walnuts with iced water when they are hot they will release more oil. So I could reserve the duck fat for other dishes. Thanks again Chef john for looking into Persian food again. You are the best, and my reason for cooking!
Chef John - I have never heard of this before, but I may need to go buy some duck legs for this one. Looks amazing. Sorry abut your tire, car problems stink.
Wow, I think I like your version better with the duck legs! I'm glad you showed off this dish. Middle Eastern food is my new favorite and I really hope it catches on with my fellow Westerners because it's really, really underrated.Thanks CJ for getting to my foodwish! I hope you liked it :P
Another incredible dish! May I suggest you to include the duration (estimate cooking time) for all dishes somewhere near the ingredient list? I sometimes will get so intrigued to get started on your recipe, only to find out it actually need to take 3-4 hours longer than I expected. :) Just a suggestion. Thanks for all the great recipes and fun videos!
You are da best! Loved this recipe. Looks and tastes delicious. I had to do something else with all the pomegranates we buy. Love the fruit. I was wondering for desert if you could try baklava. Who doesn't love baklava. People think it is Greek, but it is middle eastern first. Persians have their version, and Turks have their delicious version too. Any type will be a winner if done from you.
YiKeS! Somehows' it occurs to me 'dat dis' here duck stew, as good as it mights' be, is a tad bit beyond my budget. Da' cost alone 'fer da' three cups of walnuts would make me think twice before giving it a try. Thanks but me thinks dat' I'll stick to cookin' up my usual budget friendly fricase de pollo. Thanks anyways! You're da' best!
I don't see how it's not authentic. Perfectly delicious food with perhaps few aesthetic refining steps. Love your cooking chef John!
Can I use another kind of nut instead of the Walnuts cause I can't eat em?
Oh my, this is exactly how I make my fesenjoon and I'm a true persian. My suggestion would be to make a Persian dessert called Sholezard. It includes all of the savory ingredients that a Persian dish entails. It includes rice saffron rosewater sugar etc. I would love to see a video on that )
This looks yummy and I'm glad to see that a Persian weighed in to say this really is authentic. Thanks Mel K.
Oh, and you can also find pomegranate molasses in an Indian market. Or make it yourself by reducing pomegranate juice.
Hey chef john!
U r simply perfect !
I used to add sugar instead of Honey .
It works )
Now, I really need to try this for the first time!
I'm really happy you started Persian food! Keep it up.
My suggestion would be Lubia Polo. Every time I make it people fall in love!
I think you got the recipe just right, according to the comments! Last month I cooked partridge for the first time ever and used a similar sauce, which I usually prepare stuffed onions in. I used date molasses instead of honey and added a bit of tamarind paste alongside the pomegranate syrup. Also used garlic, cinnamon and nutmeg (or mace) but left out the turmeric, replacing it with cardamom, bay leaves and cumin.
Next time I'm going to try an Iraqi Nabatean recipe for small meatballs (traditionally known as "hazelnuts", due to their shape and size) cooked in a sauce of meat broth, pounded pistachios, mint leaves, rose petal jam, sour pomegranate juice, saffron and all the spices used in aṭraf al-teeb (a medieval spice blend, which I imagine is a magical concoction of many similar spices used in the Middle East today, perhaps a predominantly sweeter version with more cinnamon or cardamom). Then the dish is reduced to a thick gravy. When the meatballs have cooked and the sauce has condensed, the pot is removed from the fire and sprinkled with some rosewater and saffron. It's nice served next to a bed of rice. I'd love it if you would this recipe give it a try, since I think you have a good sense of Middle Eastern flavours.
I can't wait to try this! I will be using chicken because I've never had duck and I don't know if this is the receipt I'd like to first try it with. Also the rice will be a bit of a challenge but I can do it. Ill let you know how it turns out.
A question for you Chef John:
I made this using Moulard (a hybrid of Pekin and Muscovy duck) duck legs from D'Artagnan and ended up with an oily mess. After two hours of stovetop cooking, the delicious fesenjan sauce had sunk to the bottom of my Dutch oven topped by several inches of oil or duck fat. At that point, I removed the duck legs to an oven skillet, fished out the sauce from the bottom of the oil, placed the dish in a 250 degree oven for another hour. The final dish was very tasty but the duck was on the dry side. In hindsight, I should have removed the duck earlier.
Any suggestions? Would you use another breed of duck? If not, how would you alter the preparation with moulard duck? Would you recommend curing the duck ahead of time?
Follow-up from the duck purveyor: D'Artagnan recommends cooking the duck in a 250 degree oven in a covered oven skillet for 1.5 to 2.5 hours followed by a stint in the refrigerator in which the fat is cooled and congealed. At this point, the legs can be browned and crisped on the stovetop or under the broiler.
Any suggestions on how this fits into the general scheme of your wonderful recipe? Perhaps cook the sauce separately and add the duck at the end for a short warming?
Thank you chef John, I really enjoyed your cooking. I am a persian and I recommend helva , shole zard or ferni for dessert.
What do you need to make Fesenjan?
Walnut is the most nutritious element in Fesenjan. The rich and tasteful nature of this delicious nut creates a mouthwatering sauce for the stew and makes it healthy since it starts to release its natural essence, making your dish oil-free.
You can also use some larger pieces of walnuts in your stew to playfully flirt with the texture. This trick is somewhat risky as some people may not like it, but it will make your dish unique and one of a kind. You can even roast these nuts a little bit to darken the color of the stew and deepen the flavor.
According to the Healthline website, walnut is rich in Antioxidants, a super plant source of Omega-3s, supports weight control, supports good brain function, and improves blood fats.
Pomegranate molasses, pomegranate paste, or even reduced pomegranate juice, they all work!
You don’t need to wait for the Persian Pomegranate molasses to come from Iran itself to make this dish. If you couldn’t find any form of pomegranate juice or paste, you can substitute it with cranberry juice concentrate or reduced balsamic vinegar with honey, but do it on your responsibility since you are slightly sacrificing the real taste.
The sweet and sour taste of Pomegranate molasses is the reason behind the exotic taste of Fesenjan, and you can even mix two brands of it to find your desired flavor.
I took another look at the Healthline, and it seems like Pomegranate molasses is a rich source of B vitamins, as well as vitamin C. This is in addition to a low level of sugars, calcium, iron, no dietary fiber, and no fats or cholesterol.
Traditionally, every Persian stew is made with vegetables, nuts, dried fruits, and lamb or chicken. Fesenjan is no exception and can be cooked with lamb meatballs, chunks of chicken or duck, and even with vegan alternatives. Fesenjan with chicken is the most popular method, while the duck version can be found in the north of Iran. Vegetarian and Vegan alternative options are mushrooms, and nuts such as whole almonds, whole cashews, and walnut halves.
Like any Persian stew, Fesenjan should be served beside Persian rice. The rice gets cooked separately, and there are two methods available, Chelo and Polo. Polo is considered to be the more comfortable and most nutritious way of cooking rice, and since Fesenjan is a northern stew, Polo is more suitable for this recipe.
We are going to have an ultimate guide on how to cook Persian rice soon. Till then, you can use this recipe.
Duck fesenjan recipe - Recipes
Fesenjan or Fesenjoon is simply one of the wonders of Persian cuisine! The dish may be described as one of the most delicious, nutritious, comforting and elegant dishes anyone can try in their lifetime, and this is no exaggeration. The sweet and sour taste of pomegranate molasses, silky texture of ground walnut and the magnificent odour of Fesenjan will take one to the heart of northern Iran, Gilan. The dish is also a popular accompany in Iranian special occasions such as parties and weddings. Only one spoon of this jewelled stew brings layers of flavours to your mouth at once.
For me, Fesenjoon is a reminder of my grandmother’s house in northern Iran where the whole family used to gather to prepare Khoresht-e Fesenjan (Fesenjan Stew in Farsi) from scratch. As kids playing in the backyard around the pomegranate trees, we would come inside the house to a pleasant smell of Fesenjan and saffron rice. We would help our parents and witness the making of Fesenjoon for the family feast. In fact, Fesenjoon has originated from northern parts of Iran, Gilan, along the Caspian Sea where the sour pomegranate trees grow. Even though Fesenjoon originates from Gilan but it has found its way through all the cities in Iran with minimal variation in the recipe.
Fesenjoon stew contains pomegranate molasses and walnuts in addition to a protein, but there is so much more to this tangy and sweet dish. The pomegranate molasses which is responsible for the sour and sweet taste of Fesenjann is not a common ingredient in the supermarkets outside Iran. Pomegranate fruit could be sweet or sour depending on the climate it is growing in Iran. This is why pomegranate molasses made out of fresh pomegranates could vary from sour (dark brown) to sweet (light brown) as you move from the northern part of the country to the hotter climates in the south. Persians like Fesenjan to be more on the sour taste but in some recipes, sugar is also added to add that extra sweet taste.
As described above Persians have a special place for pomegranate (“Anar” in Farsi) in their heart. Pomegranate is known as the heavenly fruit on earth in Iranian culture. Pomegranate along with watermelon is a symbol of Persian winter solstice celebrations such as “Yalda” which is the longest night of the year! The love for this fruit has made Persians to make pomegranate molasses by cooking down pomegranate juice in a pot until it thickens and reduced to a brown paste. If you cannot buy it from supermarkets you can simply make it at home.
Cooking Fesenjan might seem very hard by its long-time of simmering, but it is one of the simplest dishes in Iranian cuisine. While everything is cooking you can sit back and let the pot to bubble gently and for the walnuts to release their magnificent odour and oil. Don’t forget that like every other stew in Persian cuisine this food is also served with rice, this time saffron rice.
Fesenjan has over three variations depending on the protein. Traditionally it was made with duck or turkey, but nowadays it is more common with chicken and meatballs. For a vegetarian option, the protein could be replaced with anything such as grilled tofu, grilled eggplant, or roasted squash. As long as the two main ingredients of pomegranate molasses and walnut paste are in the pot you won’t have any problems in making Fesenjoon.
FESENJAN RECIPE INGREDIENTS
- 1 Large onion chopped fine
- 3-4 tbsp Vegetable oil
- 1 cup Pomegranate molasses (plus extra as needed)
- 4-5 pieces Chicken breast or skinless, boneless thigh
- 2-3 cups Coldwater
- 2 cups Walnut halves
- 1 tsp of Turmeric
- Salt and Pepper
- 8-10 Crushed Ice pieces
- 2 tbsp Sugar (Optional)
- 4 tbsp Bloomed saffron (optional)
HOW TO MAKE FESENJAN WITH CHICKEN
- Fesenjoon is served with saffron rice. For making saffron rice refer to this post.
- Using a food processor chop the fresh walnuts until you have a creamy beige paste of walnuts.
- In a large pot over medium heat add one tablespoon of oil and add the chopped onions. To create a rich base for the stew sautée the onions until light. Remember the walnut will later release the oil, therefore don’t add too much oil to the pan.
- In a pan, add a small amount of oil over medium heat. Spice the chicken breast cut into pieces with salt, pepper, and turmeric. Fry the chicken on both sides and let aside. Instead of chicken, you can either prepare meatballs or any vegetarian protein such as tofu, eggplants, or roasted squash for a vegetarian Fesenjoon.
- Add 1 cup of pomegranate molasses. If you cannot find molasses in the supermarket, just make homemade pomegranate molasses by cooking down the pomegranate juice in a pan for about an hour until it thickens to a brown paste. The leftovers can be easily stored in a refrigerator.
- Then simply add 2 cups of cold water to the pot. The cold water helps to bring out the walnut oil and flavour. Let the stew to boil over medium heat and bring down the heat to medium-low.
- Cover the pot and let it simmer for at least an hour and half over medium-low heat.
- One grandma tip in cooking Fesenjan would be to add small pieces of crushed ice once in a while to help walnut to release its oil.
- Stir the stew occasionally and add a small amount of water or crushed ice to prevent it from sticking to the pot. The stew should be thick, but it should not stick to the pot.
- After an hour and half of simmering on medium-low heat, add the chicken to the pot.
- Let the stew to simmer for 1 more hour and meanwhile stir the pot and add a small amount of water or crushed ice to the pot.
- Taste and adjust the seasoning. If it is too sour for you, just add two tablespoons of sugar for more sweetness. The stew will turn into a really dark brown color as it simmers due to the presence of pomegranate molasses and the walnut oil gently bubbles up to lie on the top of the pan. This is when you know the Fesenjan is ready to serve.
HOW TO SERVE FESENJOON
Remove your food from the heat. Pour the Fesenjan to a large serving bowl. Drizzle pomegranate seeds and walnuts on top to garnish. Enjoy it over saffron rice with a side of baby onions and radishes along with a great Persian refreshment to complete the feast!
SLOW COOKER FESENJAN
Fesenjan is a slow cook stew and it makes it a perfect recipe for your slow cooker. If you own a slow cooker you should give this recipe a try! You can simply fry the onions and spiced chicken until both sides of the chicken are golden. Once the onion and chicken are ready you can add all the Fesenjan ingredients in your slow cooker at once and set it on high for 4-6 hours to come home to a pleasant smell of Fesenjan! Bon Appetit!
Like all other Persian stews, Fesenjan is served with a dish of Persian style cooked rice next to it. You can utilize any kind of rice you like, including Polow, Kateh, or Chelow. However, like most northern Iranian stews Kateh is the best type to accompany the Fesenjan. A light salad garnished with sour orange juice can be a wise choice as a side dish. Olives and Zeytoon Parvardeh (filled olives,زیتون پرورده) and Sir Torshi (سیر ترشی) are other typical side dishes. For drink, a saltless flat Doogh is an excellent option.
A Persian speciality containing pomegranate juice or syrup, chicken and walnuts. It could also be made with duck or minced beef (meatballs).
- 1.3 kgs (3 lb) chicken pieces, on the bone, skin removed - see Jointing a chicken
- 450 g (1lb) ground or well crushed walnuts
- 3 large onions, peeled and thinly sliced
- 3 cups pomegranate juice, or 5 tablespoons of pomegranate molasses/syrup
- Sugar to taste
- Sea salt to taste
- 1/3 cup of vegetableoil
- Fry the onions in the oil for 4 minutes until soft
- Add the chicken pieces and fry with the onions until golden brown
- Add 3 cups of hot water and bring to boil
- Lower the heat and simmer, covered for 30 minutes, adding more hot water if it starts to dry out
- Add the salt, ground walnuts and pomegranate juice or syrup (if using pomegranate syrup, add 2 more cups of hot water). Simmer until the chicken is properly cooked, a further 15 to 30 minutes.
- Add sugar to taste if it's too sour for your liking
- Sprinkle with toastedalmonds and pomegranate pips if using
Khoresh-e Fesenjān (Fesenjoon)
Khoresh-e fesenjān or fesenjoon is one of the most exquisite Persian stews (khoresh) with delicious sweet and sour flavors of pomegranate and walnut.
Persian cuisine is very rich but there is one ingredient that is essential to this cuisine: rice. Indeed, Persians cannot conceive serving their kebabs and stews with something other than rice. This rice called polo is available in several versions such as sabzi polo (with herbs), albaloo polo (with sour cherries), baghali polo (with fava beans and dill) or zereshk polo (with sour berries from the berberis vulgaris) to name only a few variations.
What is the origin of fesenjan?
Fesenjan (also called fesenjoon or khoresh-e fesenjan) is originally from the province of Gilan, bordering the Caspian Sea.
This region is known for its wild ducks. In fact, the original fesenjan recipe is cooked with duck. Duck was eventually replaced by chicken. It is usually prepared with chicken legs or wings (with bones). This dish can also be prepared in a vegetarian version and some also cook it with lamb, ground beef or fish.
This dish is typically prepared during the fall season when pomegranates mature. This is also a traditional dish of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year as pomegranate is one of the new fruits that are eaten during this holiday.
According to the original recipe, this dish is cooked with fresh pomegranate juice. However, nowadays, Persian chefs cook fesenjoon with pomegranate syrup or molasses, which is generally available in Persian or Middle Eastern markets.
Khoresh-e fesenjan is one of many khoresh in Iranian cuisine. Khoresh (which translates to “meal” in Farsi), is actually a generic term that defines many stews in Persian cuisine. One of the most famous is khoresh ghormeh sabzi, a beef stew with herbs, red beans and dried lemons (called limu omani).
Fesenjoon is a very unique dish. Indeed, even if sweet and sour is very common in Mediterranean cuisine, as illustrated by the use of dates in Moroccan dafina, pomegranate gives here a very tart taste that is not found in Moroccan dishes.
This is the walnut that gives the dish its smoothness and richness. Persians often say that fesenjoon is better the next day because the sauce has time to thicken and concentrate the flavors.
I made fesenjan for a Thanksgiving dinner with the family, and it was a success!
Also, it’s not every day that a dish has its own world famous song, ok maybe not world famous… but the YouTube video by A$A is definitely a must see!
Saute the onion with the pepper and turmeric in the butter or the oil until well browned. Remove onions and drain. If ground meat is used, make small balls and brown slightly in the oil remaining in the pan. If birds are used, brown them on all sides.
Sprinkle meat or birds with the flour and the chopped walnuts and saute for a few minutes longer. Add water, pomegranate juice and salt to taste. If you like a sourer dish add lemon juice. Cover and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes.
Peel eggplant, cut lengthwise into 6 or 8 pieces, sprinkle each piece with salt and stack one on top of the other for a few minutes to drain. Then rinse in cold water, dry and saute in hot oil until lightly browned on both sides.
Arrange the eggplant on top of the meat or poultry, partially cover, and simmer over low heat until the eggplant is tender and a rich brown gravy rises to the top. Add powdered cardamom, stir well but gently and cook about 5 minutes longer. Server with chelo (white rice).