Chicken (or Lamb) in Pomegranate Sauce (Khoresht-e Fesenjan)

Adapted from a recipe posted by Emma Fernlund (, from Persian Cooking: A Table of Exotic Delights, by Nesta Ramazani 1974, ISBN 0-8139-0962-7.

I've made this with chicken and lamb, and have tweaked the spices, quantities, and procedure slightly. If using lamb, be careful that the rich sauce and spices doesn't overpower the mild flavor of the meat. This is a very rich dish and will feed about 8 with the proportions given.


2 large		Onions, chopped or sliced 
5 Tbsp		Butter 
1 large		Fryer Chicken or 5 whole chicken breasts
		-- or --
2.5 pounds	Lamb, boneless, cut into 1 inch cubes
16 ounces	Beef bullion

1 cup		Water (I've used chicken and lamb stock too) 
2 1/2 cups	Walnuts, ground: some fine, some corn-kernel size
		  (I find the texture too thick if ground uniformly fine)
4.5 Tbsp	Pomegranate Syrup (substitute sour cranberry juice) 
2-3 Tbsp	Sugar 

2-3 tsp		Salt 
1/2 tsp		Saffron (or turmeric) 
1/4 tsp		Cinnamon (best if ground from stick instead of pre-ground)
1/4 tsp		Nutmeg 
1/4 tsp		Pepper 
2 Tbsp		Lemon juice
6 pods		Cardamom, ground
3		Cloves, ground	


Saute the onions in 2 Tbsp of the butter until golden brown.
Remove from the pan.
Add 3 more Tbsp of butter and saute the chicken/lamb pieces until lightly browned.
Drain fat.
Add the bouillon and sauteed onions.
Cover and simmer gently for 30 minutes.
Bone if needed.

While that's cooking...
Toast the ground walnuts in a saucepan or skillet until aromatic.
Prepare the sauce by stirring the water into the ground walnuts.
Stir in the pomegranate syrup and sugar, and simmer gently over a low heat for 10-15 minutes.

Add the walnut sauce to the cooked, chicken/lamb and onions.
Add the seasonings and the lemon juice.
Cover and simmer gently for another hour.

Adjust the seasonings by adding a little sugar if too sour, or more pomegranate syrup if too sweet.
The chicken pieces should be coated with a rich, dark, sweet-sour sauce; there should be plenty of thick sauce.

Serve with rice. Couscous also works well.

Chris Shenton
Last modified: Tue Apr 11 09:17:01 EDT 2000