My favourite recipe book at the moment is Persiana written by the lovely Sabrina Ghayour. It is jam packed with delicious looking recipes and I am currently trying to work my way through them. You can see a couple of them here.
I recently made her Khoresht-e-Fesenja which is a walnut, pomegranate and chicken stew. I first tasted this at her supperclub and instantly loved it so I was thrilled when I saw it was included in her book. The chicken is unbelievably succulent and the sauce is glossy, deep and rich with a nutty texture, in the background is a wonderful subtle acidity that cuts through the richness of the dish. I warn you now though, if you don’t have a sweet tooth, this may be a bit sweet for you. If this is the case I would suggest using a little less of the pomegranate molasses.
Sabrina does recommend that its best to make this dish the day before you want to eat it. As with all stews, the flavours have time to intensify overnight, resulting in a much fuller flavour. When I first made this I froze a portion of it. When I ate it a few weeks later I was amazed by how much richer it was than when I first made it.
Ingredients (served 6-8)
8 chicken thighs (skin on or off, your choice)
1 large (or 2 small) onions
550g of walnuts, finely ground in a food processor
1 tablespoon of plain flour
3 tablespoons of caster sugar
300ml of pomegranate syrup
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 tablespoon of Maldon sea salt flakes
(I only wanted to make enough for 2 people so I halved the ingredients)
Preheat two large, deep cooking pots cooking pots on a medium heat and add 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil in one. Fry your onions until translucent and lightly browned. In the other pan, add the plain flour and ‘toast’ it until it becomes pale beige in colour. Then add the walnuts and fry the mixture through a little.
Once the onions in the first pan are brown, season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper and add them to the pan, turning the temperature up and stirring the pan well to ensure you seal the chicken thighs well on both sides gently browning them before turning off the heat and setting them aside.
Give the walnuts a good stir before adding 2 pints of cold water to the pan. Stir well and bring the mixture to a slow boil before covering with a lid and allow the khoresh to cook for an hour on a low-medium heat. This process will ‘cook’ the walnuts through and soften the texture somewhat; once you see the natural oils of the walnuts rise to the surface, the mixture is properly cooked.
Add the sugar and pomegranate syrup to the walnuts and stir well for about a minute. Take your time to stir the pomegranate syrup well, as its thick consistency means it takes a while to fully dissolve into the stew. Once this is done, add your chicken and onions into the walnut and pomegranate mixture and cook for approximately 2 hours, stirring thoroughly every 30 minutes to ensure you lift the walnuts from the bottom of the pan so they don’t burn.
After 2 hours, what initially looked beige will now have turned into a rich, dark, almost chocolatey looking mixture.
Enjoy with a generous mound of basmati rice and sprinkle a handful of pomegranate seeds.
And there you have it…a deliciously rich, deep, sweet, succulent stew with pomegranate seeds that burst in your mouth.