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Chicken with walnut and pomegranate sauces (A modern take on Persian “fesenjoon”)

Yields1 ServingTotal Time3 hrs

 Yields about 4 to 6 portions. Note all quantities very approximate
 1 bag (1 lb?) shelled walnuts
 1 cup pomegranate molasses or pasteMost pomegranate molasses is a bit sweet. If you can get sour pomegranate paste that would make the taste more Northern Iran vs Tehrani.
 5 Pomegranates or the equivalent in juice (approx)Note – preparing pomegranates will stain and the juice tends to squirt everywhere when you are peeling them. Peel in a bag.
 2 large yellow onions sliced finely.
 4 to 6 skinless chicken breasts and/or skinless boned chicken thighs, cut into portions
 Butter or oil for frying.
 Cinnamon powder
 Good pinch saffron threads
 Salt and freshly-ground pepper

Blend 1 bag of shelled walnuts in a food processor to a fine paste. Once it begins to act like a dough add water, a little at a time, and continue to blend until the mixture is the consistency of heavy cream and is a whitish color.


Transfer walnut mixture to a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add the pomegranate molasses or paste to taste. Simmer on low for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally to stop the bottom sticking and adding water as necessary to keep it a thick, creamy consistency. It needs to simmer until the walnut oil separates.


When the walnut sauce is almost ready, begin the chicken.


Prepare the pomegranates. Slice the skin of each pomegranate into quarters and tear the pomegranates open. Peel away the clumps of magenta pomegranate ‘berries’ and drop them into a food processor. Don’t worry about cleaning all the white membrane from the clumps. Pulse the pomegranate in the food processor to liberate the juice. Strain and keep the juice, discard the pulp and seeds.


Generously salt and pepper the chicken


Gently fry the onion until it softens then add the chicken and fry gently until it begins to color and the onion is caramelized.


Add the pomegranate juice, saffron and cinnamon. Simmer gently for about 30 minutes until the chicken is just cooked through but not tough.


Remove the chicken and keep warm. Turn up the heat on the onion-pomegranate sauce and reduce the liquid – or not, if you like it how it is. Adjust seasoning if necessary.


Ladle brown walnut sauce onto one side of a plate, spoon the pink pomegranate liquid on the other side, put a chicken portion on a bed of onions in the middle. Serve.

Nutrition Facts

Servings 0