Fesenjān is an Iranian pomegranate and chicken stew made with ground walnuts, onions, butternut squash, ground cinnamon, and pomegranate molasses. Super easy to make, this tangy, sweet, and flavorful Persian stew is best served with rice or warm flatbread.
Persian Pomegranate and Chicken Stew
If you’ve never heard of fesenjān (also called fesenjoon) then you are in for a treat!
Fesenjān is an Iranian stew that’s been flavored with earthy walnuts and tangy pomegranate molasses. Some versions are made with chicken (like the one I’ve made today) while others are made with meatballs, lamb, or duck. Complex, yet delicious, the combination of tangy, sweet, and savory flavors is what makes this Persian chicken stew so enjoyable to make, and eat!
- Olive oil
- Butternut Squash
- Pumpkin puree
- Pomegranate molasses
- Ground cinnamon
- Water or Chicken broth
- Orange peel
- Pomegranate arils
- Fresh thyme or parsley
Depending on your own personal tastes and preferences, some of you may find that it’s too sour or not salty enough. Wait until the chicken is fully cooked to season your fesenjān with additional salt, sweeteners, spices (ground cinnamon or nutmeg), or add additional pomegranate molasses.
What is Pomegranate Molasses?
Pomegranate molasses is a popular Middle Eastern ingredient used to flavor stews, dips, dressings, and even desserts. Traditionally it would have been made by reducing pomegranate juice into a thick syrup, but often sugar may be added to balance the tartness of the pomegranate juice and shorten the time it takes for the syrup to reduce and thicken.
You can purchase pomegranate molasses from any specialty store or make your own pomegranate molasses at home!
How to Make Fesenjān
- Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Lightly brown the outside of the chicken thighs and drumsticks until they are golden brown. Repeat until all the chicken has been browned, adding additional olive oil as needed.
- Process the walnuts into a thick and chunky paste. Add a few tablespoons of cold water through the feed chute and continue processing until the walnuts become a smooth beige-colored paste.
- In the same Dutch oven, cook the onions and garlic for 1-2 minutes, stirring often. Add the walnut paste plus 1 cup of water. Mix well, reduce to low heat, and simmer, partly covered, for 20 minutes.
- Stir in the pomegranate molasses and add the browned chicken pieces, butternut squash, pumpkin puree, ground cinnamon, orange peel, and 1 cup of water (or chicken broth).
- Simmer, covered, for 45 minutes. If the sauce is too thick or looks dry, add additional water or chicken broth.
- Season to taste with additional sugar, salt, and/or pomegranate molasses.
How to Serve Khoresh Fesenjān
Khoresh Fesenjān loves rice.
Khoresh, the Persian term for “stew dishes” and fesenjān, the Iranian term for pomegranate stew, makes this a recipe that practically requires cooked rice to sop up and absorb the delicious pomegranate and walnut gravy.
Serve with plain basmati rice, saffron-infused basmati rice, or tahdig (Persian rice). Middle Eastern flatbread is another wonderful choice.
Looking for more delicious chicken recipes? Try these reader favorites:
- Roasted Red Pepper Pasta with Chicken
- Creamy Lemon Chicken Pasta
- Chicken Tikka Masala Recipe
- Brunswick Stew Recipe
- Parmesan Crusted Chicken
- Hungarian Chicken Paprikash Recipe
Have you tried making this Fesenjān Recipe?
Tell me about it in the comments below! I always love to hear your thoughts. And tag me #theforkedspoon on Instagram if you’ve made any of my recipes, I always love to see what you’re cooking in the kitchen.
Fesenjān - Persian Pomegranate and Chicken Stew
- 4 cups shelled walnuts (1 pound)
- 4 tablespoon olive oil (divided)
- 2 small yellow onions (finely chopped)
- 6 cloves garlic (minced)
- 8 boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 6 chicken drumsticks
- 12 ounces butternut squash (cubed)
- 1 cup puréed pumpkin
- 1 ¾ cups pomegranate molasses
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 strips orange peel
- 1 ½ cups water (or chicken broth)
- 1/2 cup fresh pomegranate seeds (for serving)
- Fresh thyme (for garnish)
- Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.
- Add 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil to a large Dutch oven set over medium-high heat. Working in batches, lightly brown the outside of the chicken thighs and drumsticks until they are golden brown. Remove to a clean plate and repeat, adding additional olive oil as needed.
- Add the walnuts to the bowl of a large food processor. Process until the walnuts form a thick and chunky paste (you may need to scrape the sides of the food processor a couple of times to help move things along). As the walnuts are being processed, add a few tablespoons of cold water through the feed chute. Continue processing until the walnuts become a smooth beige-colored paste.
- In the same Dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring often. Add the walnut paste plus 1 cup of water. Mis well to combine. Reduce heat to low and simmer, partly covered, for 20 minutes.
- Mix in the pomegranate molasses and add the browned chicken pieces, butternut squash, pumpkin puree, ground cinnamon, orange peel, and 1 cup of water (or chicken broth). Mix well.
- Gently simmer, covered, for approximately 45 minutes or until the sauce is a dark rich walnut color with a layer of oil on the surface from the walnuts. If the sauce is too thick or looks dry, add additional water or chicken broth.
- Adjust the flavors as needed with added sugar, salt, and/or pomegranate molasses to reach your preferred balance of tangy and sweet.
- Serve over rice or couscous and garnish with fresh pomegranate arils, chopped parsley, or fresh thyme.
- As written, this recipe is gluten-free.
- Optional aromatics include ground turmeric, cardamom, and nutmeg.
- Feel free to replace the cubed butternut squash with 1 whole cubed eggplant.
(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.)