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Pomegranate Khoresh with Chicken

(recipe, Najmieh Batmanglij)


  1. 5 Tbsp. oil, butter, or ghee
  2. 2 large onions, peeled and thinly sliced
  3. 2 lb. chicken legs, cut up
  4. 1 lb. butternut squash, peeled and cut into 2-inch cubes (see Note)
  5. ½ lb. (2 cups) shelled walnuts
  6. 4 cups pure pomegranate juice
  7. 2 Tbsp. pomegranate molasses
  8. ½ tsp. sea salt
  9. ¼ tsp. freshly ground pepper
  10. ¼ tsp. turmeric
  11. ½ tsp. cinnamon
  12. ¼ tsp. ground saffron, dissolved in 1 tablespoon hot water
  13. 2 Tbsp. grape molasses or sugar (optional)
  1. Arils of 1 fresh pomegranate
  2. 2 Tbsp. toasted walnuts


  1. In a Dutch oven, heat 3 tablespoons oil over medium heat until very hot, and sauté the onions. Remove from pot with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add 2 tablespoons oil and brown the chicken. Add the butternut squash and sauté for a few minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the walnuts in a pan sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Set aside.
  3. In a food processor, finely grind the sautéed onions with the toasted walnuts (set aside a few walnuts for the garnish), add 1 cup pomegranate juice, the pomegranate molasses, salt, pepper, turmeric, cinnamon, saffron water, and grape molasses, and mix well to create a creamy paste.
  4. Add the creamy walnut paste and the remaining pomegranate juice to the Dutch oven, stirring gently. Cover and simmer over low heat for 1½ hours, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon to prevent the walnuts from burning.
  5. The khoresh should be sweet and sour and have the consistency of heavy cream. Adjust to taste by adding pomegranate molasses for sourness or grape molasses for sweetness. If the sauce is too thick, thin it with more pomegranate juice.
  6. Transfer the khoresh from the Dutch oven to a deep, ovenproof casserole. Cover and place in a warm oven until ready to serve with chelow (saffron-steamed rice). Just prior to serving, sprinkle with fresh pomegranate arils and walnuts.


The butternut squash can be replaced with 2 cups peeled and cubed beets, quinces, carrots, or prunes. Vegetarian Pomegranate and Eggplant Khoresh (Shishandaz): Eliminate the chicken from the ingredients. In step 1, replace the butternut squash with 2 pounds slim eggplants, peeled and chopped into 2-inch pieces, and sauté the eggplant with the onions. Proceed with the recipe from step 2. Caspian-Style Pomegranate Khoresh with Fish: Eliminate the chicken in step 1 and replace it with 2 pounds of white fish fillets, cut into 3-inch lengths and seared in 2 tablespoons oil in a wide skillet over medium heat. Add it to the khoresh in step 5. Pistachio Khoresh-e Fesenjan: In Kerman, the walnuts are replaced with shelled pistachio kernels to make a pistachio fesenjan. Pomegranate Khoresh with Roasted Duck: Make a vegetarian version and serve it with duck. Rub a duck, inside and out, with 1 tablespoon salt and 1 tablespoon black pepper. Stuff it with 2 cloves garlic and 2 spring onions, and roast at 350 degrees for 3 hours. Just before serving, carve or serve whole with khoresh.