Fasanjoon: Persian Walnut & Pomegranate Stew

In the past weeks, after a nice warm 9 days in Cyprus, Istanbul had the harshest snow in years. We still managed to make it out with my husband & our little munchkin to have lunch at a restaurant within a mall, Hacı Abdullah at Zorlu Center, for our 3rd marriage anniversary. It was my second time there and it was great both times. They serve delicious Ottoman Turkish cuisine. My first time was with my mommy. (I still intend to write a post about the noteworthy restaurants I’ve been to in Istanbul, which really aren’t that many but just as a suggestion for those who might be visiting…) Other than that one Saturday, we were home the rest of the time while it snowed. Classes for my husband were canceled and my tezhip class was postponed. Now everything is back to normal, with gloomy & rainy weather.

Other than the usual housewife chores and running after a mobile baby, I’ve also managed to complete the certification requirements for the Go Diaper Free Coach Program, thereby becoming a GDF certified Elimination Communication + Non-Coercive Potty Training coach, I began translating my mom’s book Healthy Living In Cyprus into Turkish, and I’m working on my first tezhip piece that will hopefully be framed and hung on the wall in a few weeks time. I also made fasanjoon for the first time yesterday which alhamdulillah, turned out alright. This is a dish that I’m familiar with because of my maternal grandma: part Iraqi part Iranian, and an amazing cook who pours love into her dishes. I actually called her before I began cooking to ask for directions but she didn’t pick up so I googled some recipes just to get an idea and took it from there. I have to apologize for not taking any appetizing photos of the dish once I served it for dinner, but I’ll share the recipe and a couple of photos from while I was in the process of making it. Again, measurements are just approximation.

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Toasting walnuts

Ingredients:

2 lbs of chicken (I used half a chicken that was about 2 kg, it was a struggle trying to cut it in half and cut it into further pieces but that’s what I had to work with – if you can get chicken breasts, that’s better)

1 onion

1-1.5 cups of raw walnuts

1/3-1/2 cup pomegranate molasses

1/4-1/3 cup date molasses (or 1-2 TBSP of sugar)

Approx. 1 cup of water

1/2 tsp cinnamon, ground

1/2 tsp turmeric, ground

1/2 tsp cardamom, ground

salt & pepper

And of course Basmati Rice to go on the side, soaking in a bowl.

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I used one pot for this dish. I have a wide and low-rise stainless steel pot with a lid. So you could also do that, or use a separate pan for toasting and a pot for cooking. Toast the walnuts in the pot while you chop the chicken into appropriate pieces. If you are using chicken breast, chop into medium sized cubes. Slice the onion. Once the walnuts are done, remove from pan. Add some olive oil and the spices. Once the oil is hot, add the onions and sauté for a couple of minutes. Add the chicken. While the chicken browns, grind the walnuts in a blender. This is where I need to make some adjustments next time. I feel like the walnuts needed to be finer to give a smoother, creamier texture to the stew. Add the walnuts to the chicken along with the pomegranate molasses, date molasses, water and salt & pepper. I had just enough pomegranate molasses! I remembered I had some pomegranates in the fridge so I cut one in half and squeezed the juice into the stew. Give it a good stir. Cover the lid and let it simmer for about 10-15 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and the stew reaches a nice consistency. In the meanwhile, cook your rice. I usually add a pod of cardamom or an olive leaf into basmati while it cooks.

This was just a warm-up post after a break… So I hope you enjoy this if you decide to cook it! I feel like fasanjoon is one of those dishes that you either love or hate. I’m planning on writing about my pregnancy next so stay tuned! 🙂

Edit: After watching my grandma cook Fasanjoon from beginning to end, I realized mine was far off from the traditional method lol! Mainly because she actually cooks the ground walnut ‘sauce/stew’ on its own for a while with the pomegranate molasses before combining it with the chicken that is cooked separately. I just wanted to mention that in case anyone thinks this is THE way of cooking it. No claims here!

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