Friday, March 27, 2009

Fesenjen - Chicken in Pomegranate and Walnut Sauce

Anna from Anna's Cool Finds is hosting this edition of Weekend Herb Blogging and this week I've decided to pay attention to a much neglected herb - Bay leaf

bay leaf© by Haalo

Bay Leaf is harvested from the Laurel tree (laurus nobilis) and is noted for its distinctive fragrance when cooked. It is one of these ingredients where there is debate as to whether fresh or dried is the superior product.

It's main use is in slow cooked dishes but be warned, it is best to use them sparingly, one or two leaves at the most otherwise they can give the dish a bitter taste.

It's this use that lead me to look through the pages of the Secrets of Slow Cooking by Liana Kristoff where I eventually came upon a dish called Fesenjen - this is a Persian dish of chicken cooked in a pomegranate and walnut sauce.

Just to be different, I haven't made it in a slow cooker.

fesenjen© by haalo

Chicken in Pomegranate and Walnut Sauce (Fesenjen)
[Serves 4]

4 skinless, boned chicken thighs (about 600 grams)
1 red onion, sliced finely
2 small bay leaves
2 garlic cloves, sliced finely
200 grams walnuts, roughly chopped
1/3 cup pomegranate molasses
sugar, optional

Cut the thighs into larger, bite sized pieces.

Heat a little olive oil in a heavy-based pot and sear the chicken pieces in batches until browned. Set to one side.

In the same pot, add in the onions, garlic and bay leaf and saute gently until softened - tip in the walnuts and stir well, cook until golden.

Return the chicken to the pan and pour in the pomegranate molasses and enough water to almost cover the ingredients. Taste the sauce - if you feel it is too sour you can add a little sugar to take the edge off but you should be aiming to retain some sourness.

Simmer for about 20-30 minutes, until the chicken has cooked through and the sauce has reduced and thickened.

If you feel that the sauce is too thin by the time the chicken is done, then remove the chicken, turn up the heat and allow the sauce to simmer rapidly. This should eliminate the excess liquid.

Return the chicken to the pan, lower the heat and cook until the chicken has heated through.

fesenjen© by haalo

Serve with rice or couscous for a complete meal and if fresh Pomegranates are in season then finish it off with a scatter of Pomegranate seeds.


  1. Just had one quick question on this really interesting sounding recipe: where can you get pomegranate molasses?

    Casual Kitchen

  2. Thanks Dan - it is quite widely available here in Australia, not sure about other countries but I would try Deli's or middle eastern food stores.

  3. Perfect timing, we have a Persian friend bringing us over a Persian dessert and now I know what to make for him next time :)

  4. emm by the way is this persian??? cuz im persian and i hav this a lot..itz very nice...x

  5. This is so lovely, and I know it's delicious as I've had this dish before at Persian feasts.

  6. This does look wonderful. I would like to try it but think I will have to substitute something for pomegranet molasses...I don't think I will be able to find that here in Toronto.

  7. Sounds so interesting and tasty. I haven't cooked with pomegranate molasses either, but I've been wanting to try it. Love the photo of the bay leaves too!

  8. I love the idea of this combination! I may make this for dinner tonight! Thanks for posting this. Always looking for new things to do with chicken and have had a bottle of pomegranate molasses in the cupboard for ages and haven't been inspired to use it. Now I am!

  9. Sounds like a good idea Chanel!

    Thanks Sophie - while fresh pomegranates would be a nice way to finish the dish they aren't necessary, most of the flavour comes from the pomegranate molasses

    Leila - I do make mention in the post that this is a Persian dish

    Thanks Anna!

    Thanks Heather - there are recipes online for pomegranate molasses substitutes - it involves reducing a mix of pomegranate juice, lemon juice and sugar.

    Thanks Kalyn!

    Thanks Danielle - hope you try it!

  10. Heather, you can get the molasses in Toronto. Try an Iranian store on the Danforth. Or go to one of the Arabic (Halal) butcher shops on Lawrence at Warden. Persian friends of ours made this for us this weekend, and it was delicious. She mentioned though that the Persian Molasses is better because it is made from just the seeds, while the Lebanese versions are made from the whole fruit, skin and all which is apparently more bitter.


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