Fesenjan is a kind of Persian stew prepared with poultry which can vary between the duck and the chicken. It is a standard fare in modern day Iran. Common alternatives of the fesenjan recipe can also use ground meat; ghormeh cut meat or absolutely no meat at all. Fish is also used infrequently to flavor the fesenjan dish. The thick stew is prepared with the juice from pomegranates as well as coarsely ground walnuts. Known as the Khoresht-e fesenjān traditionally the dish differs in taste varying from sweet to a tangy acidic according to the fesenjan recipe used in cooking the dish. It is served with the Persian rice either white or yellow in color known as the polo or chelo.
History of Fesenjan Recipe
The fesenjan is one of the best stews of Iran which is believed to have originated in the province of Gilan bordering the Caspian Sea. The area was particularly renowned for its wild duck population and the fesenjan recipe made use of the duck meat initially, which was substituted with chicken later on. The dish was much favored during the fall season in Persia when the pomegranates matured. Fesenjan was also considered to be a Persian Rosh Hosanna dish.
Ingredients and Fesenjan Recipes
The thick purplish gravy of the fesenjan tastes better a day after it is prepared. This occurs due to the mingling of the walnut oil within the gravy which contains a good amount of pomegranate juice. The basic ingredients for preparing the fesenjan are onions and butter together with walnut powder and pomegranate juice. Salt, sugar and pepper are the only seasonings used while garlic flakes are used in some variations of the dish.
Variations of Fesenjan
The traditional dish has a number of variations which have been innovated according to individual tastes or the unavailability of certain ingredients.
The most popular variations of the delicious Iranian stew are:-
• Braised Duck- Using braised duck or pheasant instead of chicken is a popular alternative.
• Vegetarian Form- People who do not eat meat or poultry cook the dish with butternut squash and mushrooms instead.
• Pomegranate Substitutes- Pomegranate syrup or Pomegranate molasses are used in the Western countries. Cranberry juice also makes a suitable alternative for the pomegranate juice.
• Spicy Variety- Cardamom and cinnamon powder can be added to flavor the dish differently.
Nutritional Facts of Fesenjan
The fesenjan is quite high in calories amounting to 252 per serving. While both the pomegranate juice along with the walnuts contain healthy oils and vitamins, the long simmering process as well as the use of butter to fry the meat until it is browned raises, the fat content substantially.