fesenjan – iranian pomegranate chicken stew

by Brittney

This fesenjan features tender chicken simmered in a delicious pomegranate and walnut sauce! Rich and savory with hints of sweet and sour, this iranian chicken stew is bursting with flavor!

This perfectly cozy winter stew or fesenjān is magical! There’s really no other way to describe it. Pomegranates and walnuts create an exceptionally unique mouthwatering sauce that’s like nothing I’ve ever tasted before! And then there’s the chicken. After simmering for an hour in the deliciously aromatic sauce, it’s tender, juicy and incredibly flavorful. If you’re looking to serve something a little special this holiday season, this persian chicken stew is for you.

fesenjan topped with pomegranates and parsley

stew for a special occasion

The main ingredients for the sauce are walnuts and pomegranate molasses. The walnuts, which are first toasted and then finely ground, give the stew a wonderfully rich and nutty aroma. And the tanginess of the sauce comes from the pomegranate molasses. You can either buy the pomegranate molasses or make your own. I prefer to make my own be reducing pomegranate juice. Start with two cups of pomegranate juice and a bit of lemon juice and sugar. Then just simmer the mixture until it’s reduced to approximately ½ cup (120 ml) or a bit more.

While we used chicken in our stew, fesenjan can be made with lamb, duck or even vegetables such as eggplant or squash. If you decide to use chicken, boneless skinless thighs work best for this recipe. While you can definitely use chicken breasts if you like, the thighs are juicier and more flavorful, making them perfect for simmering in a stew.

To add a little spice to the stew, you’ll need turmeric, one cinnamon stick and a bit of salt. I also like to add a bit of brown sugar to balance out the sourness, but you can adjust this depending on the taste of your pomegranate molasses. Then you’ll just need to pour in a few cups of chicken broth and simmer the stew for about an hour until the chicken is perfectly tender!

fesenjan served with rice

what to serve with fesenjan

Fesenjan is traditionally served over incredibly fragrant and delicious saffron rice. If you don’t have any saffron on hand, you can also serve it with your favorite rice dish. Other great alternatives include quinoa, barley or even cauliflower rice!

And don’t forget to garnish your fesenjan! I like to add pomegranate arils and a bit of chopped parsley. The parsley adds a pop of color and there’s nothing better than getting a spoonful of fesenjan with a burst of pomegranate sweetness!

individual serving of fesenjan with rice

If you’re looking for more soups and stews to survive the winter, here are some of our favorites!

chicken stew with pomegranate and parsley

fesenjan | persian pomegranate chicken stew

serves: 4-6 prep time: cook time:
Rating: 4.1/5
( 8 voted )


fesenjan | pomegranate chicken stew
  • walnuts 2 c (200 g)
  • olive oil 1 tbsp
  • chicken thighs 2 lb (1 kg)
  • (boneless skinless)
  • butter 1 tbsp (15 g)
  • diced onion 1 large
  • turmeric ½ tsp
  • cinnamon 1 stick
  • brown sugar 2 tbsp
  • pomegranate molasses ½ c (120 ml)
  • (or use the recipe below)
  • chicken broth 2 c (480 ml)
  • salt to taste
  • pomegranate arils to garnish
  • parsley to garnish
pomegranate molasses
  • pomegranate juice 2 c (480 ml)
  • sugar ¼ c (50 g)
  • lemon juice 1 tbsp


fesenjan | pomegranate chicken stew
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F (180 C). Place the walnuts on a baking sheet in a single layer and bake for 10 minutes or until toasted, stirring frequently. Set aside to cool and then pulse in a food processor until finely ground.
  2. Season the chicken with salt. Heat the olive oil in a dutch oven or wide pot and brown the chicken. Set aside.
  3. Add the butter to the pot and melt over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for about five minutes or until golden.
  4. Add the turmeric and cinnamon stick. Cook an additional minute.
  5. Stir in the ground walnuts and add the brown sugar, pomegranate molasses and chicken broth. Season with salt. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes over medium-low heat, stirring often.
  6. Return the chicken thighs to the pan. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 1 hour. For the last ten minutes uncover the pot to thicken the sauce.
  7. Garnish with pomegranate arils and parsley if desired.
pomegranate molasses
  1. Add all ingredients for the pomegranate molasses to a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar.
  2. Reduce heat to medium low and cook until the molasses has reduced to about one-half cup (120 ml) or a bit more (approximately 40 minutes). Stir occasionally to make sure the mixture doesn't burn or stick to the pot.

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