Persian Chicken or Duck in Pomegranate Walnut Sauce (Fesenjan)

Total Time
Prep 20 mins
Cook 40 mins

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.

Ingredients Nutrition


  1. Sprinkle meat with lime juice and allow to marinate for 1-4 hours.
  2. Over medium heat in a large, heavy-bottomed pot heat an 1/8 cup (2 Tablespoons) of the butter or oil until shimmering.
  3. Add the chicken/duck pieces a few at a time and brown on all sides. Remove to a plate.
  4. Add onions (and eggplant if using - see notes in description) and sauté in remaining butter or oil until translucent.
  5. Stir in ground walnuts and saute for 1/2 a minute.
  6. Add stock or water and browned chicken/duck pieces. Bring to a boil, lower heat, cover and simmer 20-30 minutes.
  7. Stir in the pomegranate juice, sugar, salt and pepper.
  8. Taste and adjust seasoning. Sauce should have a balanced sweet-sour flavor. See notes to adjust.
  9. 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.
Most Helpful

This was good, masha Allah. Make sure to grind the walnuts finely. Instead of any water or stock I used pomegranate juice: no syrup. Also I did add cardamon and cinnamon to the onions as noted for a richer flavour.

UmmBinat March 11, 2009

NC, this recipe is delicious! I used four skinless, boneless chicken breasts. I also added 1/2 teaspoon of ground cardamom and one cinnamon stick when sauteeing the onions. The cardamom and cinnamon really shouldn't be omitted in my opinion. Served over white basmati rice and alongside seasonal roasted vegetables from the farmers' market: romanesco, golden beets, turnips, zucc and broccoli. Another Zaar recipe that I am thrilled to have discovered. My husband thought the sauce was perfect, I would probably add a little bit more honey next time. (I used honey in place of white sugar.) All in all, a fabulous meal and equally fabulous recipe. Thank you. cg ;)

COOKGIRl June 12, 2008

Excellent recipe!! Added the spices suggested and it was perfect.

fisheee November 13, 2011