Koresht-e Fesenjan (Fesenjoon) is a sour and sweet stew with Pomegranate and walnut flavoring. It's Persian in nature and served over basmati rice.
- 3c of walnuts (12 oz)
- 3c of pomegranate syrup*
- a pinch of saffron
- 3 tbs oil
- one onion diced
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 2 lbs of chicken thighs
- 1c of water
- 2 cups of basmati rice
- For the sauce place a portion of the walnuts in the blender with a little water and blend. If they're too dry to blend add more water. Keep adding water and nuts until they're coursely ground. You don't want a smooth paste here or you won't taste walnuts. Process in small batches until done.
- Once they're ground place them in a pot on the stove and cook them on medium-high while stirring to keep from burning
- Add pomegranate syrup and molasses/sugar - see my note below and turn to medium-low and simmer for 1.5 hours minimum. The sauce will get darker the longer you simmer it and the pasty flavor of the walnuts will disappear completely
- Add pinch of saffron to 2 tbs water and mix well, add to sauce
- Heat oil in saute pan until hot, add onion and saute until browned. Dark sauces want browned onions, not just golden
- Add a teaspoon of turmeric, then add chicken thighs, brown on both sides and set aside
- When the sauce has been simmering for 1.5 - 2 hrs add it to the chicken and simmer again for another 30 minutes. The sauce may seem dry but the chicken will give up liquid to so don't add water yet! Turn the chicken over on occasion to baste in the sauce
- The oils from the walnuts will rise to the top (and be green colored like olive oil) and the chicken will get a bit of a crust from the sauce on it
- If the sauce is too dry and pasty after cooking the chicken then add water 1/4 cup at a time until sauce coats chicken but is not runny
- Optionally let cool and put in the refrigerator - this is a second day dish
- The next day put the saute pan back on the heat and warm gently on medium-low for about an hour
- Serve over heavily rinsed basmati rice
* Note on syrup vs molasses. I bought a large jar of pomegranate syrup made in Slovenia. This looks like a jar of cranberry juice but you can tell the liquid is definitely thicker. It was already sweetened with sugar and two cups seemed about right. Adding sugar made the sauce overly sweet. If you have pomegranate molasses (common) you'll want to put in 1/3 cup and add 1/3 cup of granulated sugar as well. Adjust flavors accordingly.
A lot of times Fesenjan cooked at home and sometimes in restaurants is pasty and/or so tart you can't eat it. The pastiness seems to be from people undercooking it. Don't get impatient and eat it too soon, you'll be sorry. This dish can be eaten same day but it's much nicer the next day.
A couple of things that seem to make a difference
- Put the pomegranate syrup in with the walnuts from the beginning
- Don't grind the walnuts too fine so the sauce still has a walnut taste
- Cook the sauce for a long time. It will get darker and richer as time goes on
- Add Pomegranate syrup/sugar according to your taste
- This dish only benefits from cooking longer, it will not hurt it to leave it on the stove for another hour
Recipe Author: Grant
Cost per Portion: $1
Preparation Time: 3 hr