Khoresh Fesenjan, also known as fesenjoon, is a Persian sweet and sour stew made with walnuts, pomegranate molasses, and chicken. You will find it sweeter in some Perisan homes, and sourer in others. I personally prefer it on the sour side, and I will show you how to make it both ways.
Serve with Persian Steamed Basmati Rice and tons of sabzi (fresh herbs & vegetables). See my list of transliterated farsi cooking terms here.
Why You Should Make this Recipe
Fesenjoon is a traditional Persian stew that has amazing flavor, yet is simple to make. It also freezes wonderfully, making this a great meal prep recipe.
Stews like Fesenjoon work well for anyone who doesn’t like keeping a close eye on their dishes while cooking, or you have time to spare to prepare the meal.
They also work really well for family-style dinners as everyone can serve themselves as they like from the main stew pot.
If you’re a little fatigued with classic beef stews, Fesenjoon is a fantastic option. It has simple ingredients: chicken, onion, walnuts and is served with rice. The only unusual ingredient is the pomegranate molasses, which is easy to find online (link opens in new tab).
Persian Sweet & Sour
Khoresh e Fesenjan is the Persian sweet and sour stew. You will find it sweeter in some Persian homes, and more on the sour side in others. I personally like it on the sour side. You get to decide how you like it, and this is how I recommend doing it:
Mix together the pomegranate molasses, walnuts, and water in a bowl before adding them to the chicken. Taste it. If it is too sour for you, add brown sugar, one tablespoon at a time, until the balance of sweet and sour satisfies your tastebuds.
Ingredients & Homemade Pomegranate Molasses
pomegranate molasses - If you cannot find pomegranate molasses in the grocery store, you can make your own with just 3 ingredients: pomegranate juice, sugar, and lemon. Here is the pomegranate molasses I use on Amazon (link opens in new tab). Directions to make your own:
Heat 4 cups of pomegranate juice, ½ cup of sugar, and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice to a saucepan. Bring to boil and reduce to a low simmer. Stir to make sure the sugar is dissolved. Reduce for 1 hour until thick and syrupy. It should yield about 1 cup+.
Recipe with Photos
First, prepare the walnuts. You can chop them finely or pulse them in a food processor. I like to keep some chunky for texture, but this dish also comes out great when they are pulsed finely. Set aside.
Heat the oil over medium heat. Add the diced onion. Cook for a couple minutes, coating the onion in the oil. Then add the chicken pieces.
Season with salt, pepper, and the tumeric. You are looking for lightly golden brown on all sides, 10-12 min. Do not over-brown or the chicken will get tough and not fall off the bone in the same way.
Add the pomegranate molasses and about 2 cups water to the pot. You want the liquid to cover the chicken.
Bring to a boil, reduce to the lowest simmer, and cook for 2 hours. Stir Occasionally.
Note: If it is your first time making this dish, you should see how sweet or sour you want the dish, first. You can add the processed walnuts, pomegranate molasses, and 2 cups of water to a bowl and mix together. Taste it. If it is too sour for you, add brown sugar, one tablespoon at a time, to the desired sweetness.
If you don't want to make rice, you can add small potatoes to the stew after 1 hour. Poke a few holes in the potatoes with a fork before adding them to the stew.
Consistency: If the stew comes out too liquidy, you can add more ground walnuts. The stew should not be too thin, so you can also leave the lid off for 15-20 minutes to let some of the liquid evaporate.
Serve with Persian Steamed Rice.
Fesenjoon is best served reheated the next day, but is also delicious the day-of. To reheat, add a couple of tablespoons of stock or water and heat over low temperature until hot. It also freezes very, very well.
It can be found in middle eastern supermarkets and online. Shop pomegranate molasses.
My Favorite Persian Stews
Fesenjoon is one of my favorite Persian stews, and I have a few others. These two are ones I crave regularly and grew up eating weekly:
Or check out all of my Persian recipes here.
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- 2 cups walnuts
- 2 tablespoon flavorless oil canola, avocado, grapeseed, or vegetable
- 1 onion diced
- 1 chicken quartered or cut into 8-pcs
- salt and pepper to taste
- ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 cup pomegranate molasses
- 2 cups water
- small potatoes optional
- Prepare your walnuts. You can chop them finely or pulse them in a food processor. I like to keep some chunky for texture (see photo in post), but this dish also comes out great when they are pulsed finely. Set aside.
- Heat the oil over medium heat. Add the diced onion. Cook for a couple minutes, coating the onion in the oil.
- Then add the chicken pieces. Season with salt, pepper, and the tumeric. Brown on all sides, 10-12 min.
- Add the pomegranate molasses and about 2 cups water to the pot**. You want the liquid to cover the chicken. Then add the pulsed walnuts.
- Bring to a boil, reduce to the lowest simmer, and cook for 2 hours.
- If you don't want to make rice, you can add small potatoes to the stew after 1 hour. Poke a few holes in the potatoes with a fork before adding them to the stew.
- This stew is best served reheated the next day, but is also delicious the day-of. To reheat, add a couple tablespoons of stock or water and heat over low temperature until hot.
Very nice. I like to make this in a slow cooker. I like to toast the walnuts then grind and mix with the cooked onions and pomegranate molasses. Fry together for a few minutes and transfer to slow cooker as a base. Shake chicken with spices and brown for a few minutes then place on top of pom/onion/walnut base. Cook on low for 5-6 hours. Nice with duck, too.
Merci and Tashakkor mikonam for your wonderful blog.
Thank you so much for sharing, James. I will need to try it in a slow cooker one day. I'm glad you enjoyed it!