July 26, 2014 Leave your thoughts
This may be one of the best chicken dishes I have ever made. Maybe I’m just a sucker for pomegranate and Persian spices, but seriously…YUM.
I fell in love with Fesenjan at Persepolis, a Persian restaurant in New York City that has AMAZING food despite its humble appearance. My best friend Natalie and I both absolutely adored this dish.
To be honest, I was expecting something more when it arrived at the table. This was pomegranate chicken…why wasn’t it red? And I knew there were walnuts in there, but they seemed to be hiding beneath the surface of the broth.
When I took a bite, everything changed. This chicken rocked. It was sweet, but not cloyingly so, and the meat melted in my mouth as it faded into the background of cumin, cinnamon, and other spices. I was hooked, and I needed to try and make it at home. I simply couldn’t last very long without having this dish again.
I made it once for my parents and once for my good friend Chloe, and since everyone loved it both times, I decided to publish the recipe. I’m very logical, you see.
(The edible flowers were a gift from Chloe. 🙂 )
If you are ready to have an incredibly flavorful, tender chicken dinner on your table this upcoming week, come along on a trip with me to an idealized version of Iran comprised only of food. AKA let’s get cooking, I’m already hungry thinking about this thing.
Recipe adapted from here.
First, toast 2 cups of raw walnuts in a skillet over medium heat until just on the verge of charring, about 5 to 6 minutes.
Transfer to a food processor and process until finely ground. Set aside for later.
Next, chop up 2 lb of boneless, skinless chicken into bite-sized chunks. You can use thighs, breasts, or a combination of the two; we prefer dark meat at my house, so I used all thighs.
I also suggest you shoo away your cat, or else you will not have any dinner at all. That would be sad.
Meanwhile, heat up 1 tablespoon of ghee (or coconut oil, if you prefer) in a large, deep pot over medium heat. When hot, add 1/4 of the chicken pieces and sprinkle generously with salt. Once slightly brown on that side (about 4 minutes), flip over and cook on the other side until it slightly browns (about 3 minutes). Remove the chicken pieces from the pot and place on a plate lined with paper towels, and repeat with the remaining chicken until you have none left.
Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the ghee/chicken fat and, when hot, pour in 1 large onion, diced into small pieces. Saute until translucent and beginning to turn golden brown, about 6 to 8 minutes.
Return the cooked chicken pieces to the pan and pour in 2 cups of chicken stock. Increase the heat slightly, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook for 30 minutes.
Once the 30 minutes have elapsed, add in 2 tablespoons of unrefined cane sugar (or coconut sugar, if you prefer), 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon of pomegranate molasses, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric, 1/2 teaspoon of cumin, a pinch of nutmeg, a pinch of cloves, and the walnuts you ground up earlier.
Re-cover and continue cooking on low heat until the chicken is tender, about 1 hour. Stir every 20 minutes or so to prevent the walnut pieces from sticking to the bottom.
Meanwhile, make this delicious orange-raisin rice to go on the bottom. Yum.
In a large skillet, heat up 1 tablespoon of ghee over medium heat. Once hot, add 1 cinnamon stick, 1 teaspoon of ground cardamom and a pinch of ground cloves. Once fragrant, about 3 minutes later, pour in 1 cup of long-grain basmati rice. Toast in the ghee and spices until slightly golden, about 5 minutes.
To the toasted rice, add 1 3/4 cups of water or chicken stock and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low, add the zest of 1 orange (about 2 tablespoons), and cook until all of the water or stock is absorbed, about 15 to 20 minutes. When all of the liquid is gone, stir in 3 tablespoons of raisins, turn off the heat, and let sit for 10 minutes before fluffing with a fork or spoon.
To serve, put a scoop of rice on each plate and top with some chicken and sauce. May I suggest some roasted or steamed carrots to go on the side?
Persian food is amazing. I hope you agree.
Have you had Persian food before? If so, what is your favorite dish? Leave me a comment here or on Facebook and let me know!