A unique dish from the Caspian region of Iran, Fesenjan is usually made for special occasions. Its bold, sweet & sour flavor profile comes from such ingredients as walnuts, beets, and pomegranate molasses, and it is not difficult to make. I find Persian food fascinating because it tends to be its own thing–completely distinct from both Middle Eastern and Indian cooking, but yet a big influence on both. There are also many savory dishes that incorporate sweet flavors like cherries and pomegranates. For me, Fesenjan is an “exotic” and unique dish, and for this reason, I have included it in Pan Asian.
Adapted from The New Persian Kitchen by Louisa Shafia
1 Tbsp. Grapeseed oil (for searing)
2 lbs chicken legs or breasts
2 yellow onions, finely diced
1 cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely ground
½ cup pomegranate molasses
2 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock
1 cup peeled and grated red beets
pomegranate seeds (for garnish)
1.) Heat a large, deep skillet over medium heat and add oil. Lightly salt chicken and sear for 6-7 minutes per side until well browned. Then transfer to a plate.
2.) In the same skillet sauté onions over medium heat for about 15 minutes, until lightly browned.
3.) Add walnuts, pomegranate molasses, and 2 teaspoons, and stir to coat onions. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer and return chicken to the stew. Cover and cook for 25 minutes. Stir in the beets and cook, uncovered, for 15 to 20 minutes, until the stew is thick and the beets are tender. Salt to taste.
4.) Put a few pieces of chicken on each plate, along with plenty of sauce. Garnish with the pomegranate seeds and serve.