For individuals with only limited familiarity of Persian food, let us begin by saying one thing: fesenjan is about to change your world. It is a Persian stew like no other. Both sweet and tart at the same time, it showcases what Persian food is all about. An explosion of tastes and flavors unlike anything present in other ethnic cuisines. Fesenjan’s central ingredient is a slow-cooked pomegranate molasses, which is what gives it is dark, brown color. That ingredient also contributes to the tartness of the stew. As if the pomegranate molasses wasn’t enough, fesenjan also adds in pomegranate juice for added flavor! You really can’t have enough pomegranate! Given that this stew simmers on medium heat for hours on end before it is finally served on top of a bed of white basmati rice, the pomegranate juice and pomegranate molasses mix perfectly to form a perfect base for what’s to come. Sadaf’s pomegranate juice are what most individuals use when preparing fesenjan.
Going back to what’s to come. Now that we’ve got a delectable, rich, tart base, it’s time to stir in the inclusions! The three main additional ingredients that come into fesenjan are Medjool dates, toasted walnuts and butternut squash. Each ingredient brings tremendously unique flavors and attributes to the stew. The toasted, grinded walnuts add a bit of a crunch to the stew, and are added for extra protein value. The Medjool dates are added to the stew for added sweetness. The orange butternut squash removes some of the darkness from the stew to brighten it up, and provides it with added flavor.
Fesenjan is a dish that has been around in Persian culture for centuries now, and rightfully so. Just one taste and you’ll see what makes it one of Persian cuisine’s most special dishes. In fact, the earliest traces of fesenjan in Iran date back to 515 B.C.! While ghormeh sabzi is often referred to as the most traditional of the Persian stews, there’s just something special about fesenjan that allows it to stand out from the rest.
While fesenjan is a dish that can sometimes be prepared with meat, our recipe below teaches you how to make fesenjan vegetarian style.
Time: About 3 hours
- Begin by spreading walnuts on a baking sheet and baking them until they’re perfectly toasted (about 5 minutes).
- Pit Medjool dates and remove seed
- Pulse toasted walnuts and Medjool dates together in a food processor until finely chopped. Ensure not to overprocess and avoid turning it into a puree
- Pour slow-cooked pomegranate molasses and pomegranate juice together with walnut and Medjool date mixture
- Stir until all ingredients are combined
- In a separate pot, sauté onions until golden brown
- Pour walnut, date, pomegranate juice and molasses mixture into pot containing sautéed onions
- Pour in mashed and fully cooked butternut squash into mixture
- Leave stew to simmer on medium heat for ~3 hours
- Pour in bowl and top with fresh pomegranate seeds
There are multiple recipes for fesenjan online that will teach you how to make it with chicken if you’re interested. However, our fesenjan is vegetarian, and as such, the recipe we’ve provided you with up top yields just that.
Fesenjan is best served on top of a bed of white basmati rice, which is another dish Persian food is famous for. Long grain rice is cooked to absolute perfection, resulting in each individual grain being enjoyed to the fullest. When making this pot of basmati rice, the cooking process also yields a thin layer of crispy rice known as tahdig. As such, the complete dish starts with a bed of white basmati rice, topped with a thin sheet of tahdig, and then topped with fesenjan stew on top. It’s a dish that’s been enjoyed for generations and rightfully so!
Fesenjan is an incredibly time and ingredient intensive stew to make. It requires just the perfect proportioning of ingredients as well as hours of supervision as it heats up and simmers on medium heat. That’s why we at Baaz Bites decided to take the heavy work out of preparing fesenjan for you, and instead, we ship it directly to your door! Additionally, our fesenjan is vegetarian, something that is not found at all Persian restaurants, as fesenjan can often come including chicken or meat as well. Baaz Bites’ Pom Baaz, or mini basmati rice tahdig cups topped with fesenjan, were a top seller when we first got our start at the Brentwood Farmers Market, and it continue to be! Just one bite and you’ll see for yourself why it’s love at first bite.
If you’re interested in learning more about fesenjan, including its significance in Persian cuisine, the origins of its creation and how it has changed over time, check out our post, Fesenjan: The Crown Jewel of Persian Stews. Additionally, if you’re ever interested in learning more about Persian food in general, check out the Baaz Blog, which covers a wide range of Persian food related topics.