Fesenjan Chicken Walnut Stew

by | Soups and Stews, World Cuisine

Fesenjan Chicken Walnut Stew is a flavor rich chicken stew steeped in both tradition and flavors of ancient Persia.

This Iranian dish is a chicken stew simmered with either pumpkin or butternut squash and loads of exotic flavors found in Pomegranate molasses, turmeric, cardamom, cinnamon, walnuts and savory garlic..

Persian Chicken Stew with Walnut Pomegranate Sauce
Persian Chicken Stew with Walnut Pomegranate Sauce

Persian Fesenjan Chicken Walnut Stew

Fesenjan, also known as Fesenjoon, is an ancient Persian Chicken Stew most often made with a walnut and pomegranate sauce. However, variations coming out of different regions of Iran can be found.

Pomegranate Molasses is the secret that enhances both a sweet and sour bite to the sauce. Pureed pumpkin is sometimes used to thicken the stew but crushed walnuts is most often the ingredient preferred to thicken this exotic chicken stew. 

Rice, always a fragrant Mediterranean Rice, is served alongside of this exotic, rich stew.

Pomegranate Molasses and Chicken Walnut Stew

Never had it? Oh, are you in for a treat! Pomegranate, as you know, has a bit of a sour kick as well as a sweet after flavor.

It is thick, like a syrup or molasses, and the color is like melted rubies or a beautiful Port reduction. The flavors derived from pomegranate molasses are just what the mild chicken needs to give it more flavor.  

How To Make Pomegranate Molasses

Homemade Pomegranate Molasses couldn’t be easier to make. It is simply a reduction of pomegranate juice, much like you would reduce any sauce, with the addition of a little sugar.

For an extra measure of tartness, a twist of lemon can be added to this sweet and sour, homemade pomegranate molasses ,that will keep in the fridge for at least a month. 

Homemade Pomegranate Molasses
Homemade Pomegranate Molasses

The sweet and sour flavor of pomegranate molasses goes well with a variety of Middle Eastern dishes, but don’t limit it to that, pomegranate molasses mixed with the spice Sumac and drizzled across a grilled whole fish, just moments before taking it off the grill, is absolutely divine!

Chicken Stew

Why have chicken soup when you can have a rich, exotically spiced stew, loaded with tummy warming comfort on a cold winter’s eve! What’s the difference between a soup and a stew? The sauce verses a broth. The sauce in this chicken stew is thickened with pureed pumpkin and crushed walnuts. Earthy, stick to your ribs, yummy!

Walnuts In A Stew?

Does that sound weird to you? Many Middle Eastern sauces are thickened with crushed nuts. Why use processed, bleached, glutenous flour when you can take any nut in your pantry, crush it to a pure flour in a food processor and have a flavor rich sauce with tons more nutrients than white flour! 

Fesenjan and Mediterranean Rice Simmer on top of the stove
Fesenjan and Mediterranean Rice Simmer On Top Of The Stove

Homemade Broth

Once the chicken thighs have been sautéed in walnut oil or olives oil and the spices layered in, you will want a nutrient rich homemade broth to simmer this chicken stew in before thickening the sauce with ground nuts. 

Fast and easy homemade broth for this chicken stew would simply be to cut the meat from the chicken thighs, rather than buy them boneless and set aside the meat.

Meanwhile toss the thigh bones in a medium pot of boiling water with some garlic, onions, celery and salt, boil for 30 minutes and Ta Da! You have a fast and easy homemade broth made from the chicken you will be making this chicken stew out of. 

Why Is An American Telling You How To Make An Authentic Persian Stew?

This ole American gal grew up with a Syrian mom. Nearly all of her friends were Syrian, Lebanese, Egyptian, Iranian, Greek or Italian. THAT was my introduction to World Cuisine, right there in my mama’s little ole kitchen. 

A close girlfriend of my mother shared this recipe with her. I watched them make it together. Once this richly flavored Fesenjan Chicken Stew with Walnuts and Pomegranate sauce sufficiently filled the house with its aroma, and the sauce thickened, a beautiful Mediterranean rice was made.

The table was set and suddenly, as is often the way in a Mediterranean home, numerous friends were gathered around the table sharing stories, laughter and world cuisine together. I am certain you will enjoy this very traditional Persian recipe. 

Ingredients Needed

  • Chicken thighs
  • Pomegranate Molasses
  • Walnuts
  • Chicken broth
  • Pumpkin or butternut squash
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Oil – either olive oil or walnut oil
  • Salt
  • Allspice
  • Turmeric
  • Cinnamon
  • Cardamom
  • Cumin
  • Pepper
Fesenjan Ingredients
Fesenjan Ingredients

Equipment Needed

  • Large Pot with a lid
  • Cooking spoon
  • Cutting board
  • Chopping knife
  • Mortar and pestle or a spice grinder
  • Measuring cup
  • Measuring spoons
  • Garlic press
  • Stovetop or burner

Fesenjan Chicken Walnut Stew

Recipe by Robin DaumitCourse: Soups u0026amp; Stews, World CuisineCuisine: Mediterranean



Fesenjan, a luscious Persian Chicken Stew made with walnut and pomegranate sauce, often pumpkin with other exotic flavors.


  • Walnuts – 1 cup, lightly toasted then ground into a flour

  • Broth – 2 cups, preferably homemade

  • Chicken thighs – 8 (about 2 cups when chopped)

  • Oil – 2 tablespoons Olive or Walnut oil

  • Onions – 2 cups, chopped

  • Pumpkin or Butternut squash, 2 cups, cut into small cubes

  • Garlic – 2 cloves, crushed

  • Salt – 1 tablespoon or to taste

  • Spices, 1 teaspoon each, Allspice, Turmeric, Pepper, Cinnamon, Cumin and Cardamom

  • Pomegranate molasses – 1/4 cup

  • Pomegranate seeds – 1/4 cup (optional for garnish)


  • In a small pan, simmer toasted, ground walnuts with 1/2 cup water for 10 minutes, then turn off and set aside.
  • In a large pot, saute onions in oil until they begin to caramelize. Add chicken and brown slightly. Add the pumpkin, spices, broth and pomegranate molasses. Cover and simmer on low for about 15 minutes.
  • Add walnut sauce, cover and continue simmering for another 40 minutes.
  • This can be served alone or over a delicious helping of Persian Rice garnished with pomegranate seeds.
  • Notes: Once the chicken stew is prepared, it freezes easily and reheats beautifully without losing the thick consistency of the stew. Make fresh rice to go with the reheated chicken stew.

Recipe Video


My Muffin Madness


In my family, I’ve always been known as the ‘Muffin Queen’. Out of necessity, I created muffins for breakfast, lunch, on the go snacks, sometimes dinner and a sweet yet healthyish treat for dessert!

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