Iranian dishes you need to try: Khoresht Fesenjaan

April 21, 2020 - 20:0

TEHRAN – Apart from its rich history and culture, Iran has long been a fabulous destination when it comes to gastronomy tourism, featuring wide-ranging stews, rice dishes, kebabs and desserts to name a few.

One of the iconic dishes to eat at an Iranian home/restaurant is Khoresht Fesenjaan; a rich, tangy chicken stew in the walnut and pomegranate sauce. You might not normally think to make a sauce with walnuts and pomegranates, but it’s a perfect combination!

The dish that should be served with white rice has long been a highlight of Shab-e Yalda, a winter-solstice tradition, which dates thousands of years.

To make it ready, chicken pieces are first browned and then slowly cooked in a sauce with ground toasted walnuts and pomegranate molasses.

The toasted walnuts are rich and warm and the pomegranate molasses sharp and berry-toned. Cooked slowly with the chicken, the sauce is spectacular. Bowl-licking good.

Here, the only ingredient that might be a little unusual is the pomegranate molasses which you can make it your own with pomegranate juice, or look for it at a store that carries Persian ingredients.

Below is how the dish is prepared based on a recipe posted to Prep. time: 10 minutes; cook time: 2 hours; yield: serves 6-8


1 to 2 large yellow onions, chopped, (3 cups)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

5 tablespoons pomegranate molasses

1/2 pound walnut halves (about 2 cups)

2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs and/or breasts, trimmed of excess fat, cut into medium size pieces, patted dry and salted

2 cups chicken stock

2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons of sugar

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper


1/2 cup fresh pomegranate arils for garnish (optional)


1 - Toast and grind the walnuts: You can toast the walnuts in one of two ways. You can either spread them out in a single layer in a large skillet, and toast them on medium-high heat, stirring frequently until lightly toasted, OR you can spread them out in a single layer in a baking rimmed baking sheet, and toast at 350°F in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes.

In either case, once toasted, remove from heat and allow to cool. Once cool enough to handle, pulse in a food processor or blender until finely ground.

2 - Brown the chicken pieces on all sides: In a large pan, heat 1 tablespoon of butter and 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat.

When the butter has melted, pat the chicken pieces dry again and place the chicken pieces in the pan, working in batches if necessary to not crowd the pan, and cook until golden brown on all sides. Sprinkle the chicken with salt while they are cooking.

3 - Sauté the onions: Use a slotted spoon or tongs to remove the chicken from the pan, set aside. Add a tablespoon of butter and a tablespoon of oil to the pan. Lower the heat to medium-low. Add chopped onions to the pan and sauté until translucent, stirring on occasion to release the browned bits from the bottom of the pan.

4 - Add chicken and stock: Return the chicken pieces to the pan with the onions. Pour 2 cups of chicken stock over the chicken and onions. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and simmer gently for 30 minutes.

5 - Add ground walnuts, pomegranate molasses, sugar, spices, cover and cook: Stir in the ground walnuts, pomegranate molasses, sugar, and spices. Cover and cook on very low heat for 1 hour, stirring every 20 minutes or so to prevent the walnuts from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Remove from heat and adjust sugar/salt to taste. At this point, the chicken should be fall-apart tender.


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