This delicate stew, made with ground walnuts, pomegranate juice and pomegranate molasses, has roots tracing back over 1,000 years to ancient Persia, where the pomegranate fruit is said to have originated.
The finished dish has a sweet and sour taste, while slow-cooked duck legs add a rich, luxurious meatiness (they can be can be substituted with chicken).
To learn more, read "Seed Change."
Fesenjoon (Pomegranate and Walnut Stew)
Recipe from the Tasting Table Test Kitchen
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours and 30 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours
3 cups walnuts, toasted
3 cups water
3 tablespoons canola oil
4 duck legs, skinned
Salt, to taste
2 medium yellow onions, finely diced
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
⅓ cup pomegranate molasses
1 cup fresh pomegranate juice
1 to 2 tablespoons sugar
Pomegranate seeds, for garnish
1. Place the walnuts in a food processor and grind them until they resemble coarse meal. Combine the walnuts and water in a medium saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Working in batches, season the duck legs with salt and add to the pot. Cook the legs, turning, until they are light golden brown on both sides, about 20 minutes. Remove the legs, transfer them to a plate and set aside.
3. Add the remaining oil. When the oil is hot, add the onions. Cook until the onions have softened, about 10 minutes. Add the turmeric and reserved duck legs. Cook until the turmeric becomes fragrant, about 5 minutes.
4. Add the walnut mixture to the duck and bring to a simmer. Adjust the heat to medium-low. Place a wooden spoon so that it is touching the bottom of the pot and cover (leaving the lid ajar). Stir the stew every 20 minutes and skim any excess fat that rises to the top for about 1 hour. Add the molasses, pomegranate juice and sugar and cook, stirring occasionally, until the stew has become deep brown in color and the duck is tender, about 1 hour. Taste and add sugar if necessary. The stew should be balanced between sweet and sour.
5. Garnish the stew with pomegranate seeds and serve over basmati rice or crusty bread alongside fresh herbs.
Note: As with most stews, it's best made the day before. Gently reheat before serving.