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Fesenjan (Persian Chicken with Saffron and Nuts)

(by Nasrin Rejali)

(adapted from The Kitchen without Borders: Recipes and Stories from Refugee and Immigrant Chefs)


2 lb. skinless, boneless chicken thighs

a few threads of saffron

1 c. boiling water

1/3 c. vegetable oil

3 c. chopped white onions

1T. ground turmeric

3/4 c. finely ground cashews (cashew flour)

1 T. kosher salt

10 oz. pomegranate molasses

1/3 c. sugar

pomegranate seeds for garnish


Preheat oven to 350 F.

Cut chicken thighs into quarters, and place them on a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Bake until fully cooked, about 30 minutes.

Lower oven temperature to 200 F., and keep the chicken warm.

Steep the saffron in the boiling water. Set aside.

Heat vegetable oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.

Add onions and sauté until very tender, about 15 minutes.

Stir in turmeric, coating the onions, and cook for 2 minutes more.

Stir in ground cashews, and cook, stirring frequently, allowing to brown on the bottom of the pan, about 5 minutes more.

Slowly add the saffron water to deglaze the pan, scraping up any brown bits, about 1 minute.

Stir in salt.

Stir in 2 c. water and bring to a rolling boil.

Lower heat to simmer and cook until liquid is reduced, about 30 minutes.

Slowly stir in pomegranate molasses, and simmer until incorporated into the sauce, about 10 minutes.

Add sugar and cook, stirring to dissolve it, about 15 minutes.

Add chicken pieces, and simmer about 10 minutes more.

Garnish with pomegranate seeds, and serve with rice.

Serves 4 – 6 people.


(Read Wild Rose, the story that accompanies this recipe.)