It’s one of the ancient Persian foods dating back to the Sassanid era. As part of a tradition, Khoresht Fesenjan was cooked in Nowruz ceremonies to celebrate the end of winter and the beginning of spring. This stew is one of the traditional Iranian food specialties cooked throughout Iran, but it’s originally from Mazandaran province, central north of the country.
In hunting seasons, fall and winter, people in northern parts of Iran sometimes use the meat of hunted birds like duck or goose for this food. At other times, and also most commonly, chicken or turkey is used. People prefer Khoresht Fesenjan more during cold seasons.
Ingredients of Khoresht Fesenjan:
- 500 g chicken thigh or ground veal
- 1 big onion, finely chopped
- 400 g walnut
- 1 tbsp. flour (to thicken the stew)
- 1 cup pomegranate molasses (sour, sweet, or sour-sweet; to your taste)
- 3 tbsp. sugar (optional)
- Cooking oil
- ½ tsp. turmeric powder
Directions to Cook Khoresht Fesenjan:
1. Fry finely chopped onions with two tablespoons oil over medium heat until slightly golden.
2. Add turmeric powder and stir for just a few more minutes.
3. Add chicken and continue heating until the meat pieces get golden brown on all sides. Then set them aside.
- You can cut chicken into medium size pieces.
- If you wish, bone-in chicken can be used instead.
- If you want substitute chicken with ground veal, there’s no need to fry the onions separately. Mix the veal, onions, turmeric powder, and salt (to your taste) thoroughly. Then, make medium size meat balls, fry them until brown, and set them aside.
4. Toast the flour in a pot over low heat until slightly brown. Remove it from heat and let it cool down.
- While toasting, stir the flour constantly, otherwise it burns quickly. And don’t make it too brown because it’ll give a bitter taste to your food.
5. Toast the walnuts in a pan for about 2 minutes. Then, let them cool down.
6. Get the toasted walnuts medium or finely chopped in a food processor.
- You can substitute about ¼ of walnuts with pistachio or almond.
7. Add about 3 cups cold water gradually to the toasted flour and stir simultaneously. In this way, you prevent forming lumps.
8. Add chopped toasted walnuts. Put the pot over high heat and bring it to a boil. Meanwhile, stir the mixture constantly and watch it not to boil over.
9. Add the prepared chicken or meat balls and stir a bit. Then, let the stew simmer gently for about 2 hours over low heat with the lid on. Stir approximately every 30 minutes to prevent the mixture from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
- Put the lid on loosely to prevent boiling over.
- You better cook this Persian dish gently over low heat to let the walnuts give off their oil. That’s the only oil needed for this food.
10. At the last 20 minutes, add pomegranate molasses, sugar, and salt (to the taste). Stir for a few minutes and then let it continue simmering.
- You can substitute sugar with palm or grape syrup.
- Adding sugar or the amount of it depends on how sour or sweet you prefer your Khoresht Fesenjan to be. So, adjust it to the taste. The amount of pomegranate molasses can also be decreased or increased a little bit if you wish.
11. Take a look at the stew. If it’s as thick as a spaghetti sauce, the meat is tender, and you can see a thin layer of oil floating on the top, your food is ready to serve.
- If the meat is tender but the mixture does not have the desired thickness, remove the meat from the stew and then continue heating for a few more minutes. Before serving, you can add the meat again.
How to Serve Khoresht Fesenjan:
This Persian dish is served with rice. Have the stew in a bowl and, if available, garnish it with pomegranate seeds. Table vegetables and green salad are more common to have beside this Persian dish. And to drink, Doogh (Iranian yogurt drink) can be the best option.
This Iranian traditional food has a lot of fans, but more specifically, it can be one of your choices if you have a sweet tooth.