Fesenjan is a special occasion dish in Iran, served at weddings and birthdays. I’ve made it with chicken here but duck is also excellent. Today is the last day of the pheasant season, and this would also have been a good way of using up a tough, late-season bird.
I make this using a mixture of homemade pomegranate juice and pomegranate molasses, but you could leave either out. Good shop-bought juice would be fine instead of homemade stuff, but try not to get one that’s too sweet. Pomegranate molasses are available in Middle Eastern shops or on mail order.
1 chicken, jointed
3 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil
2 onions, sliced
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp fenugreek seeds
300g walnut halves, blitzed to the consistency of breadcrumbs
6 pomegranates, or about 400ml of good shop-bought juice
4 tbsp pomegranate molasses
1 small handful parsley
Sugar, salt and pepper
For the fresh pomegranate juice, blitz most of the pomegranates seeds, reserving a few for garnish. Strain the juice and discard the blitzed seeds.
Melt the butter and oil in a large casserole over a high heat, brown the chicken pieces on all sides and set aside. Turn down the heat and add the onions. Soften for 20 mins or so then add the cinnamon and fenugreek and sauté for 3 mins. Return the chicken pieces to the pan with the walnuts, coating the chicken evenly. Add the pomegranate juice and molasses and simmer, uncovered, for 45 minutes or until the chicken is very tender. Taste and correct seasoning with sugar, salt and pepper, but don’t overdo the sugar. Garnish with the remaining pomegranate seeds and chopped parsley, and serve with saffron basmati.