My brother-in-law is Iraqi, and his mother can cook up some amazing Iraqi dishes. I am always excited to try something new, particularly when it is a Middle Eastern recipe that I have never had before. His mom’s recipes are passed on to me the same way my mom explains recipes – a short list of main ingredients, and a few main instructions, but really you have to figure out the steps in-between on your own. While travelling to Dubai last weekend, I picked up a copy of Lamees Hamada’s The Iraqi Cookbook. At long last, the secrets to making the perfect Iraqi kubba and biryani were in print! Even more interesting, I found that a recent Iranian dish I made, khoresht fesenjan, was in the book. Hamada describes that the Iranian dish “reached the kitchens of Baghdad from the cities of Najaf and Karbala, where a number of Iranians visit the holy shrines…” The dish has even made its way into a traditional Iraqi children’s song where a man named Hassoun stole a cockerel and cooked fasanjoon.
I wanted to share my recipe with everyone, as this type of dish is what midEATS is all about – a dish that is not only delicious and healthy, but that has a beautiful, rich history behind it. I had scoured through a number of Iranian food blogs before settling on making my own version of fasanjoon (or fesenjoon) but my recipe seems to hit all the main ingredients. My family really enjoyed the fresh flavor, and my kids always like the tang of pomegranate in food. So if you are looking for something different, whip up some fasanjoon. It even makes you sound cool when you say “fasanjoon“…ha!
Fasanjoon (Walnut and Pomegranate Chicken)
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
1 lb of chicken breasts, cut into cubes
1/2 cup walnuts
1 cup onions, diced
½ cup pomegranate molasses
2 tbsp sugar
1 to 2 cups of water
½ tsp salt
¾ tsp coriander, ground
½ tsp turmeric
¼ tsp cardamom powder
Pinch black pepper
1. Combine chicken with marinade ingredients. Set aside for at least 20 minutes, but you can leave it overnight.
2. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place walnuts on a baking sheet, and toast in oven for approximately 20 minutes. Once cool to the touch, place into a blender to finely grind the walnuts.
3. Over medium-high heat, place 1-2 tbsp of olive oil. Saute the onions. Once translucent, add the chicken and lightly brown.
4. Once the chicken is brown, add the ground walnuts, sugar, and pomegranate molasses. Mix well.
5. Add 1 cup of water. Once the mixture comes to a rapid simmer, reduce the heat, cover, and let simmer for 30 minutes.
6. Check on the chicken every 10 minutes or so. As the water begins to evaporate and the sauce is reduced, add another cup of water. You want a nice stew consistency, but you do not want too much liquid nor do you want it too clumpy.
7. Serve hot with a warm bowl of rice. If you do not serve immediately, make sure to add water when reheating the chicken.