Clean eating Nutrition

Pom Poms: Fesenjoon Chicken with Walnuts and Pomegranate

This week the Persian community worldwide celebrates Norooz – a secular and special festival of Spring marking the exact moment of the Spring equinox (March 20).  A great deal of delicious food will be eaten over the next few days and it’s a time for families and friends to come together and celebrate.

I’m marking Norooz  this lunchtime with a wonderful Persian chicken dish called Fesenjoon.  It is slow cooked with ground walnuts and pomegranate molasses and has a sweet and sour taste that is really pretty gastronomic and utterly delicious.

Pomegranates have been used for centuries in the Middle East as a cooking ingredient. If you want to eat them fresh, they are a pain to prepare as you’ve got to carefully remove the ruby color seeds  from a thick pith to eat them but they are worth the work. Pomegranates are full of nutrition as they are high in fiber and low in calories and contain Vitamins C and K.

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This recipe uses pomegranate molasses (that you can buy in a good Middle Eastern food market) which contain added sugar.  The dish needs extra sweetness on top of this so I used agave sugar which is a lighter natural plant based sweetener and works really well but you can use sugar if you prefer.  Also I would only cook this on very special occasions as it’s a pretty rich meal.  

Fesenjoon Chicken with Walnuts and Pomegranate

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

2 tbsp olive oil

2 large onions, diced

1 tbsp all purpose flour

1lb 5 oz walnuts, finely ground in a food processor

8 skinless boneless chicken thighs

Salt and Pepper

3 tbsp agave syrup

5 cups cold water

2 cups pomegranate molasses

Juice from a lime or lemon plus pomegranate seeds to garnish

 

Method

  1. Preheat a medium-sized saucepan and pour the olive oil in.  Fry the onions in the oil until translucent and lightly browned.
  2. In another pan, toast the flour until light brown and then add the walnuts, mixing well.  Add the water to the walnuts, stir well, and bring the mixture to a slow boil, then cover with a lid and allow to cook for over 1 hour over a low heat.  This will cook the walnuts and soften their texture.  Once see the natural oils of the walnuts rise to the surface, the walnuts are cooked.
  3. Add the agave syrup and pomegranate molasses to the walnuts and stir well for 1 minute.  Add this sauce to the chicken and onions, cover and cook for about 2 hours.  Every half an hour give the stew a stir to stop the walnuts sticking and burning in the pan.
  4. You will end up with a rich dark brown colored stew plus your kitchen will smell absolutely amazing!
  5. Garnish with fresh pomegranate seeds, squeeze some fresh lime juice over the stew and serve with steamed fluffy basmati rice.  Best lunch ever!

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