Walnut Fesenjān

Fesenjān is a protein packed Persian stew with ground walnut, brown lentils and warming spices. Pomegranate cells add a juicy burst. Use them when they are in season and if raw fruits are safe for you. Adding chicken hearts can provide a boost of selenium and B vitamins. They have a mild chicken flavour, quick cooking time and off-cut price. Ask a local butcher if you want to learn more.

Serves: 6

Time: Approx 70mins

Equipment

SHARP KNIFE

LARGE SAUTE OR HEAVY BOTTOM POT

FOOD PROCESSOR / MORTAR & PESTLE

Ingredients

200g walnut halves (or pieces)

 

200g chicken hearts (optional)

200g dried brown lentils

200g ground walnuts

 

2 tbsp pomegranate molasses

1 tbsp honey (or maple syrup)

2 tbsp olive oil

500ml chicken /veg broth

 

4 clove garlic

1 yellow onion

1 ribbon orange zest

1 cinnamon stick (½ tsp ground cinnamon)

1 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp cumin

1tsp turmeric

2 tsp sea salt

black pepper (to taste)

1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

1 tbsp pomegranate seeds (optional)

Steps

PREPARING THE WALNUTS

Toast all of the walnuts in the oven 180°C until golden and glossy as the nuts start to release their oils. Remove from the tray or they will continue to cook on the hot metal. Cool the walnuts to room temperature and blitz them in a food processor / grind with mortar & pestle / bash enthusiastically. Make sure not to go too far or they may blend into a nut butter. We’re looking for a crumbly texture.

FESENJĀN

Soak the lentils in water overnight or for a minimum of four hours to soften and hydrate them. Strain before using.

If you are using chicken hearts, marinade them in ½ quantity of the dried spices, some olive oil and pomegranate molasses. Not using the molasses? Extra honey works just fine.

Brown the meat in a large saute pan. Set this aside. Caramelise the onions +  garlic in the remaining fat (or 2 tbsp olive oil if you are making this vegetarian) on a low medium heat. Add the remaining dry spices and stir to coat the mixture, then add the cinnamon stick and zest. Return the chicken hearts to the saute at this stage, pour over the broth, add lentils, ground walnuts, molasses, honey, salt and simmer the stew uncovered for 45 minutes.

Reduce the liquid in the stew until the sauce has thickened and the lentils are tender. Finish with torn parsley and pomegranate cells.

STORAGE

Keep in the fridge for 3 days or freeze into individual portions for up to 3 months

Top Tips:

No food processor? Bash the walnuts between a clean, folded towel with a rolling pin.

Make sure you wash all fresh herbs thoroughly. If you are avoiding raw herbs completely, add the fresh parsley along with the spices and cook it through.