Down here in Georgia, we’re just now starting to get the hint that summer is over. The days are still warm, but the nights and mornings are cool. It won’t be too long before even down here in the Deep South, Old Man Winter will be making his presence known in the form of chilly temperatures and maybe a touch of snow. My husband, Bill, is slowly but surely expanding his foodie repertoire and recently stumbled across a recipe for Khoresht Fesenjaan– in English, that’s Chicken with Pomegranate Walnut Sauce. He prepared this dish last night and we’re now convinced that this is a comforting meal just made for the winter.
Bill adapted his recipe from one that appeared in an article in the British publication, The Guardian.
– Two tablespoons of cooking oil (we used avocado oil, but vegetable oil will do)
– Two chicken breasts cut into small strips or cubes
– One finely chopped onion
– Two cups of finely chopped walnuts
– A dash of salt and pepper
– One cup of hot water
A half cup of pomegranate molasses. You can make pomegranate molasses by mixing four cups of pure pomegranate juice, half cup of sugar, and a tablespoon of lemon juice in a saucepan and cooking it over medium heat. Once the sugar dissolves, lower the heat and until the mixture reduces to about one cup. This should take about an hour. Remove from heat and let cool. You should have a thick syrup.
– One tablespoon of sugar
– Two tablespoons of tahini (sesame seed paste)
– You will also want to prepare white rice to go with the sauce
Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion and cook until the pieces are soft and transluscent. Add the salt and pepper. Add the walnuts and pomegranate molasses. Stir in the water, tahini paste, and sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the heat and allow the mixture to simmer.
While the sauce is simmering, sprinkle some flour over the chicken. In a frying pain, cook the chicken over medium heat in a tablespoon of oil until cooked. Lay the cooked pieces on a paper towel to drain off the excess oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the chicken to the pomegranate sauce and allow to cook for at least twenty minutes on medium heat. Lower the heat and allow to cook for another five to ten minutes.
Serve this dish with steamed white rice. Lamb or beef can also be used in place of the chicken. You should have enough for four people.
Bill was able to prepare this dish in about 90 minutes, though he did admit that perhaps it would have been better if he’d had more time to let everything simmer a bit longer. We used a white rice mixed with wheatberries with the chicken and pomegranate sauce and it went very well. As I was tasting the chicken, it occurred to me that this dish would probably be fabulous prepared with some very tender pieces of beef. The chicken prevents the walnuts from being too heavy and filling, yet the dish remains very satisfying for a chilly night. If I were to use lamb or beef with this recipe, I think I might consider using fewer walnuts, since red meat is richer than chicken is. All in all, the chicken and pomegranate sauce was warm and satisfying, with just a slight zing to it.
Bill paired this meal with a lovely bottle of 2004 Catena Malbec. The rich red wine from Argentina started out a bit rough, but mellowed beautifully after some exposure to the air. With its wonderful berry flavors and gentle tannins, the Catena Malbec was a fine match for the chicken and pomegranate sauce.
While it’s still late September and fall is just beginning today, I predict that we will be preparing this dish again as the weather gets colder. It’s just the kind of thing to take the chill off on a cold night. Furthermore, I think the marriage of this Iranian dish with an Argentinian Malbec was a very successful match!
Recipe adapted from Lamees Ibrahim’s “Chicken and Pomegranate Walnut Sauce”. Retrieved from http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2009/may/18/iraqi-cookbook-chicken-pomegranate-walnut.