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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Khoresht-e Fesenjān (Pomegranate-Walnut Stew)

After months of storing pomegranate paste in the fridge, I was wondering what to do with it when finally I remembered that I can make Fesenjoon, a Persian pomegranate-walnut stew. Seeing as I was looking at the prospects of a boring eventless weekend, making this stew was just what I needed, especially since it took me 7 hours to cook. Yes, 7 hours!! To get that extra traditional and authentic flavour, I also let it age overnight. All in all, a lot of time spent over the stove... or at least near it.


The best part was that the dish turned out to be absolutely amazing, and took me back to my childhood when my mum used to make it for me. The sad point, though, was that it probably just took us a little over 20 minutes to finish eating it. Ah, the woes of cookery. It was well worth it, though.




In theory, the ingredients used for this are very simple, but it practice, one needs a heck lot of patience to end up with a delicious mouth-watering concoction. Don't be fooled by the peculiar colour and texture of the dish as well as the thick layer of natural walnut oil that seeps to the top. It's all definitely worth the taste!

Ease of Cooking Yummy Factor Apprx. Cost
HK$90 (US$11.5)
Ingredients (Serves 4)
  1. 300g walnuts
  2. 250g chicken (2 drumsticks and 2 cuts of breast)
  3. 3 tbsp pomegranate paste (or molasses)
  4. 3 tsp salt
  5. Water... lots of it.
Directions
  1. Grind walnuts in a nut grinder or food processor until they form a fine, homogeneous paste. In case the walnuts are low in oil content and don't become pasty, try adding a few extra drops of water.
  2. Bring 1.5 litres of water to a boil in a stew pot.
  3. Add salt and pomegranate paste. Lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes. 
  4. Slowly, start adding the walnut paste one spoon at a time, mixing it until it dissolves in the water. 
  5. Cover the pot, and let the stew boil for 4-5 hours. Check regularly and add more boiling water to compensate for evaporated water. After the second hour, you'll start to see a layer of walnut oil seep up to the surface of the stew. It's really quite beautiful and golden!
  6. Though this step is optional, I highly recommend that you turn the heat off and leave the stew overnight because aging it can enhance the stew's flavour by a million! If you're too lazy or in a rush, continue to the next step.
  7. Make sure the stew is simmering. Add the chicken and cook for a good two hours, checking to make sure there's not too much water loss. The stew is quite pasty in consistancy. 
  8. We tried it before with cous cous, but it's best served with basmati rice. I added a bit of saffron to some of the rice and mixed it with the rest just to make it look pretty and give it a bit of colour. You can also add zereshk (barberries) to the rice. I tend to add it to everything.

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