Fesenjan, also known as khoresht-e fesenjan, is typically made for special occasions in Iran. It is traditionally made with duck or pheasant in the north of the country along the Caspian sea. It is a thick, rich, sweet-sour dish that improves in flavor the next day. Pomegranate syrup, sometimes called pomegranate molasses, is available in most Middle Eastern and health food stores (make sure it does not say "sour" ) If using fresh pomegranate juice, use 1 1/2 to 2 cups and reduce the stock or water. Adding a 1/2 tsp ground cardamom or 1/2 tsp cinnamon when sautéing the onions will add a richer flavor. Add more sugar if the sauce is too tart, or lime or lemon juice if it is too sweet. A peeled and cubed eggplant is sometimes added. Sauté the eggplant along with the onions. You may need to add a little more liquid as it simmers.
- 1⁄4 cup lime juice
- 1⁄4 cup butter or 1⁄4 cup oil
- 2 1⁄2-3 lbs chicken (cut up, bone-in) or 2 1⁄2-3 lbs duck (cut up, bone-in)
- 2 onions, thinly sliced
- 2 cups walnuts, finely ground in a food processor
- 1 1⁄2-2 cups chicken stock or 1 1⁄2-2 cups water
- 2⁄3 cup pomegranate syrup (see notes in description if using juice)
- 2 -3 tablespoons sugar
- kosher salt, to taste
- fresh ground pepper, to taste
- Sprinkle meat with lime juice and allow to marinate for 1-4 hours.
- Over medium heat in a large, heavy-bottomed pot heat an 1/8 cup (2 Tablespoons) of the butter or oil until shimmering.
- Add the chicken/duck pieces a few at a time and brown on all sides. Remove to a plate.
- Add onions (and eggplant if using - see notes in description) and sauté in remaining butter or oil until translucent.
- Stir in ground walnuts and saute for 1/2 a minute.
- Add stock or water and browned chicken/duck pieces. Bring to a boil, lower heat, cover and simmer 20-30 minutes.
- Stir in the pomegranate juice, sugar, salt and pepper.
- Taste and adjust seasoning. Sauce should have a balanced sweet-sour flavor. See notes to adjust.
- Simmer another 15-20 minutes until the chicken/duck is tender, sauce is somewhat thickened and the walnuts begin to give off their oil. Serve with plain white rice.