I have been wanting to make this dish for a very long time but I could never find the pomegranate molasses I needed to make this. I could have used several cups of pomegranate juice, but I was really curious about the concentrated stuff. The other day I popped into a Kroger, and there it was, in the middle of the foreign food isle. I was thrilled because it was a brand someone had recommended.
Khoresht-e Fesenjan is a Persian dish which traditionally was made with duck, however these days it's often made with chicken. I used skinless and boneless chicken thighs.
Plan to make this a day ahead as it's one of those dishes that is amazing reheated.
adapted from a recipe at the Iran Chamber Society.
2 tsp butter or olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3/4 lb walnuts, finely ground (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 bay leaf
2 cups chicken broth
1/3 cup pomegranate molasses
2-3 tbsp honey or brown sugar (optional)
2 lbs skinless and boneless chicken thighs
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp oil (high heat, such as coconut)
Use a heavy pot with a tight fitting lid and heat the butter or olive oil over a low flame. Add the garlic and onions. Stir the mixture well and saute slowly until the onions are a golden brown; about 30 minutes. You might have to stir the mixture from time to time and adjust the flame to keep it from burning.
Stir in the ground walnuts. Increase the flame slightly and cook for another 15 minutes or so until the walnuts become fragrant. The nuts can burn easily, so stir the onion and nut mixture frequently.
Stir in the turmeric, cardamom, coriander, salt, pepper and bay leaf. Cook for about a minute, then stir in the chicken broth and pomegranate molasses.
Bring the mixture to a simmer, then cover the pot with a tight fitting lid, lower the heat and cook for about 2 hours. Check and stir the mixture at 20-30 minute intervals otherwise it might burn. The colour will deepen as the sauce cooks.
Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed. Add honey or brown sugar at this point if the mixture seems too tart.
Cut the chicken thighs in half and trim any large pieces of fat. Sprinkle the meat with salt and pepper.
Heat the oil in a large skillet. Brown the chicken on both sides (you might have to do this in batches). It's not necessary that the chicken be cooked through as it will continue to cook in the stew.
Add the browned chicken to the onion and nut sauce. Cover the pot and over a low flame cook for about 45 minutes. Remove the lid and cook another 30 minutes or until the chicken is tender. Stir it from time to time so that it doesn't burn. Discard the bay leaf.
You can serve this right away or allow it to cool and reheat it tomorrow. It seems more flavourful a day later.
Serve with rice. Garnish with fresh pomegranate seeds (I didn't have any, they are out of season here), chopped walnuts or chopped cilantro.