Instant Pot Fesenjan Recipe

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What is fesenjan?

When you travel from the West to the Middle East, you’ll notice distinct differences in the food. The food is so much more colorful and eye-catching – inevitably mouth-watering! 

There are several traditional Persian recipes in Iran, but the pomegranate stew, fesenjan, is the first to try!

Fesenjan is a Persian stew (a khoresh) made with walnuts and pomegranate molasses or paste – yum! The combination of vegetables, nuts, and pomegranate fruit makes a delicious marinade for stewed meats like chicken, duck, and even lamb.

 

Fesenjan Recipe

 

Where is Fesenjan from?

What is the history of fesenjan?

Fesenjan is said to have originated from the northern Caspian region of Iran in Gilan, where wild ducks roamed in abundance. In ancient Persia, ducks and pomegranates were symbols of perfection. Makes sense when you look at this gorgeous stew!

The best description I’ve come across for fesenjan is by the Unmanly Chef, who compares fesenjan’s popularity to Michael Jackson and Prince! 

 

“People will wait in line for it (fesenjan). If it were ever to die, people would mourn it for months (if not years!).”

 

 

How do you pronounce fesenjan?

Fun fact! – The correct spelling of this dish is fesenjān.

But true to the beautiful language of Persian culture, Farsi, the suffix “joon” is affectionately added to words as a term of endearment.

Often added after a person’s first name to mean “dear.” (My dear friend Jaleh endearingly refers to me as “Shaunda Joon!”)

The meaning of joon (or jân, as it’s often pronounced) is soul/spirit/life.

So, with loving spirit and endearment, this remarkable Persian cuisine is most commonly known as “fesenjoon” (pronounced fesen-joon).

 

When is fesenjan eaten?

Fesenjan is a Persian pomegranate and walnut stew. It’s primarily prepared in the fall and winter (hence the word ‘stew’) and because autumn ushers in pomegranate season.

As many families in the western part of the world prepare to celebrate Christmas, Kwanza, and Hanukkah, Iranians celebrate Yalda Night.

Yalda is a winter solstice festival celebrated on the longest and darkest night of the year.

Yalda is the counterpart to the mid-July summer solstice festivities often observed in the US to recognize the year’s longest daylight. 

Similar to the Northern hemisphere’s celebration of Christmas in July. A time when midsummer events are hosted to have Christmas with a winter feel because the Northern hemisphere’s Christmas Day is actually during their summer season!

Northern Christma in July, summer solstice, and Yalda are all celebrations honoring the hemisphere’s position to the sun. 

 

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What does fesenjan taste like?

Fesanjoon is a sweet and savory Persian food. A stew with pronounced flavors of pomegranate and walnut. It’s sweet, sour, tangy, and tart – all at the same time! 

This unique and beautifully colored marinade is like nothing I’ve ever tasted in Western cuisine. 

 

What makes a good fesenjoon?

Pro tip: When making fesenjan (fesenjoon), the amount of pomegranate molasses and brown sugar really depends on how you prefer your sauce to taste. Or how sweet or sour is your pomegranate molasses or paste. 

 

A Persian cooking rule of thumb for this dish: The brown sugar brings the sweet, and the pomegranate sauce delivers the tang.

The best thing is to gradually start with a minimum amount of pomegranate concentrate and progressively increase it until the right balance for your taste is reached.

To counterbalance the tart pomegranate syrup, add more brown sugar.

 

Instant Pot Fesenjan Pressure Cooker Recipe

 

Can you make fesenjan in a pressure cooker?

That’s why I’m here! Yes – and pressure cooking is the easiest way to prepare fesenjan and reduces the 2-3 hour traditional cooking time! 

With only one pot, there are fewer steps to making fesenjan the Instant Pot pressure cooker way! 

I’ll show you how to make this classic Persian recipe without any compromise to the authentic flavors.

 

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What do you need to make fesenjan?

Other than your desired protein to go into the stew, there are two main ingredients to make a delicious fesenjan:

  • walnuts
  • pomegranate molasses (found on Amazon or at Whole Foods)

 

How do you cook fesenjan with duck?

I’m using a whole chicken in this recipe for a fesenjan Persian chicken stew. The chicken can be replaced with duck meat, beef, or lamb for your desired fesenjan stew. 

First, cook your desired meat according to its original recipe. 

Then, follow the instructions below to make fesenjan (fesenjoon) stew.

 

Kitchen equipment

  • Instant Pot electric pressure cooker
  • Instant Pot Ace Plus blender

 

 

Shop my kitchenware!

The Pioneer Woman Instant Pot  |  Instant Pot Ace Plus blender  |  Pomegranate molasses  |  MacKenzie-Childs Flower Market serving bowl  |  Pyrex measuring glass  |  Pyrex similar ramekins  |  Courtly check relish dish  |  Amazon small spatula  |  Kate Aspen heart-shaped measuring spoons  |

 

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Protein – fesenjan/fesenjoon chicken

  • 4-5 pound whole chicken butterflied or cut into pieces (or 6-8 chicken thighs)

 

What Do You Need To Make Fesenjan?

 

Ingredients for the fesenjan sauce/stew

  • ⅔ cup of walnuts
  • 1 cup of brown sugar
  • 1 cup of pomegranate molasses (found on Amazon or at Whole Foods)
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 1 cup of white onion, chopped
  • 2 scallions, chopped 
  • 1 carrot, chopped 
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped 
  • 1 large red apple, chopped
  • ½ a cup of pomegranate arils (and 1/4 cup to garnish at the end)
  • 1 teaspoon of turmeric
  • ¼ a teaspoon of saffron
  • ½ a teaspoon of black pepper
  • ½ a tablespoon of salt
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ¼ cup of fresh finely chopped cilantro to garnish
  • 1 cup of chicken broth (or chicken stock)

 

Can you make fesenjan in a pressure cooker?

 

Instructions

  1. Cook the whole chicken or chicken thighs in the Instant Pot.
  2. When the cooking time is finished, allow a natural pressure release for at least 15 minutes.
  3. To open the Instant Pot lid, move the valve to ‘venting’ and manually release any remaining pressure, if applicable.
  4. Turn off the Instant Pot and leave the chicken in the pot to add more ingredients later. (Don’t worry about the chicken cooling – it will cook more in the pot later.)
  5. Blend the walnuts to crumb-size and set them aside. 
  6. Replace the walnuts in the blender with the chopped onion, scallions, carrots, celery, and apple. 
  7. Blend the onion/apple mix to a purée.
  8. Pour the chicken broth into the Instant Pot inner pot with the chicken.
  9. Add the blended onion mixture onto the chicken using a small rubber spatula to coat it. 
  10. Sprinkle the walnuts on top of the onion/apple purée.
  11. Mix the salt, pepper, turmeric, saffron, and brown sugar in a small bowl, and sprinkle the mixture over the chicken.
  12. Place the tablespoon pat of butter into the pot.
  13. Pour in the pomegranate molasses.
  14. Top with the bay leaves and fresh pomegranate seeds.
  15. Close the Instant Pot lid (make sure the valve is up – in the position for sealing) and pressure cook on high for 20 minutes.
  16. When the cooking time is finished, allow a natural pressure release for at least 10 minutes.
  17. To open the Instant Pot lid, move the valve to ‘venting’ and manually release any remaining pressure, if applicable.
  18. Gently stir to mix the stew and baste the chicken by using a large spoon to scoop the sauce from the inner pot over the top of the chicken.
  19. Taste test to check the seasoning of your stew. Add more pomegranate molasses if you like your sauce a bit tart, or add more brown sugar if you prefer it sweeter like I do. 
  20. Garnish with fresh chopped cilantro and the remaining pomegranate arils.
  21. Serve this beloved fesenjoon stew warm over rice!

 

Pro tips

  • When making this Persian stew, the meat should not be so tender that it falls apart. You want it to still have some bite, so it doesn’t dissolve in the sauce.
  • Where can you buy pomegranate molasses? 

Pomegranate molasses is not the same as pomegranate juice. 

Instead, it’s a particular syrupy concentrate with pomegranate flavoring. 

It can be found easily on Amazon or maybe in your local grocery’s international foods section. Or at Whole Foods (where I purchased it) with the syrups on the baking aisle.

 

Persian Food Fesenjan Recipe

 

What kind of rice is served with fesenjan (fesenjoon)?

Fesenjan is often enjoyed as a celebration dish during Yalda.

It’s a hearty winter meal made for families and gatherings and served family-style over rice.

Acceptable rice includes crispy Persian rice (basmati rice), plain basmati rice, jasmine rice, regular white rice, and Caribbean coconut rice.

 

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Fesenjan pairs well with other fruit and nut dishes as well as bread.

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  • Wine and sweet drinks complement fesenjan, such as pomegranate tea, apple ciderChristmas punch, or a hot toddy.
  • Vegetables that compliment fesenjan include autumn’s butternut squash, glazed carrotscabbage, and green beans.

 

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  • And for dessert, a light one like cranberry brie bites. Or bring on complete decadence with a slice of rich red velvet cake!

 

Persian Pomegranate Walnut Stew

 

Can the sauce be made ahead of time and frozen?

Yes, you could prepare the sauce the same way, just without the poultry or meat. Then freeze the cooled down sauce in an airtight container. 

Thaw when ready to use it, pour it over the meat, and pressure cook.

 

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Are the walnuts toasted or untoasted?

You can serve this recipe either way – toasted walnuts or untoasted. Since the walnuts are chopped to crumb size, there is no worry to toast the walnuts for this meal.

 

At what point do you add the walnuts?

For this easy pressure cooker recipe, the walnuts are added after the meat is coated with the onion/apple purée.

 

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Can you cook fesenjan with meatballs?

Yes, and the meatballs will take on the flavoring of the stew!

For meatballs, the instructions for this fesenjan stew remain the same. First, prepare the meatballs per their original recipe instructions. Then, just replace the poultry in this recipe with meatballs for the remaining steps. 

 

Would this recipe work for lamb, too?

Yes, fesenjan is a nutty fruit and vegetable-based stew that pairs well many proteins. Lamb chunks will work well with this recipe, too!

 

Fesenjan Recipe - Persian Food Fesenjoon

 

How many servings does this recipe make?

This recipe serves 6-8 people. If you’re using a whole chicken – 8. If you’re using 6-8 chicken thighs, the number of chicken pieces will determine how many to serve.

You can use the dynamic recipe card below to adjust the seasoning amount by entering more or less of the number you’re serving.

 

How do you make vegetarian and vegan fesenjan?

Other than a non-dairy butter alternative and replacing the chicken broth with water, I’d suggest using tofu as the protein in this dish. After these few substitutes, continue making fesenjan stew according to the recipe instructions for a delicious vegan or vegetarian stew! 

 

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What do you think of this recipe?

Now, do you have a new favorite dish? 

When pomegranates are in season (fall and winter in the US), I look to make this unforgettable Persian stew. 

There are a lot of ingredients, but the number of instructions and steps are cut down by the revolutionary one-pot pressure cooking method.

Even with various sugars and spices, fesenjan (fesenjoon) is a beloved Persian delicacy worth every bite!

 

Like this post? Pin the below picture to your “World Cuisine” Pinterest Board!

Easy Instant Pot Fesenjan Chicken

 

Fesenjan Recipe

Instant Pot Fesenjan Recipe

Fesenjan (affectionately called fesenjoon) is a Persian stew made with walnuts & pomegranate molasses. Yum! Another delicious dish made easy with Instant Pot!
When it's pomegranate season, grab all the ingredients to make this delicious fall/winter dish!
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Instant Pot Pressure Release Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Persian
Keyword: Fesenjan, Fesenjan recipe, Fesenjan stew, Fesenjoon, Instant Pot blender, Instant Pot Duo, Instant Pot recipe, Persian food
Servings: 8
Calories: 548kcal
Author: Shaunda Necole

Equipment

  • Instant Pot electric pressure cooker
  • Instant Pot Ace Blender Plus

Ingredients

Protein

  • 5 pound chicken whole chicken butterflied or cut into pieces

Ingredients for the fesenjan sauce/stew

  • cup walnuts
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup pomegranate molasses found on Amazon or at Whole Foods
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup white onion chopped
  • 2 scallions chopped
  • 1 carrot chopped
  • 1 celery stalk chopped
  • 1 red apple large apple, chopped
  • ½ pomegranate arils and ¼ cup to garnish at the end
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • ¼ teaspoon saffron
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ tablespoon salt
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ¼ cup cilantro fresh & finely chopped to garnish
  • 1 cup chicken broth or chicken stock

Instructions

  • Cook the whole chicken or chicken thighs in the Instant Pot.
  • When the cooking time is finished, allow a natural pressure release for at least 15 minutes.
  • To open the Instant Pot lid, move the valve to ‘venting’ and manually release any remaining pressure, if applicable.
  • Turn off the Instant Pot and leave the chicken in the pot to add more ingredients later. (Don’t worry about the chicken cooling – it will cook more in the pot later.)
  • Blend the walnuts to crumb-size and set them aside.
  • Replace the walnuts in the blender with the chopped onion, scallions, carrots, celery, and apple.
  • Blend the onion/apple mix to a purée.
  • Pour the chicken broth into the Instant Pot inner pot with the chicken.
  • Add the blended onion mixture onto the chicken using a small rubber spatula to coat it.
  • Sprinkle the walnuts on top of the onion/apple purée.
  • Mix the salt, pepper, turmeric, saffron, and brown sugar in a small bowl, and sprinkle the mixture over the chicken.
  • Place the tablespoon pat of butter into the pot.
  • Pour in the pomegranate molasses.
  • Top with the bay leaves and fresh pomegranate seeds.
  • Close the Instant Pot lid (make sure the valve is up – in the position for sealing) and pressure cook on high for 20 minutes.
  • When the cooking time is finished, allow a natural pressure release for at least 10 minutes.
  • To open the Instant Pot lid, move the valve to ‘venting’ and manually release any remaining pressure, if applicable.
  • Gently stir to mix the stew and baste the chicken by using a large spoon to scoop the sauce from the inner pot over the top of the chicken.
  • Taste test to check the seasoning of your stew. Add more pomegranate molasses if you like your sauce a bit tart, or add more brown sugar if you prefer it sweeter like I do.
  • Garnish with fresh chopped cilantro and the remaining pomegranate arils.
  • Serve this beloved fesenjoon stew warm over rice!

Video

Notes

  • When making this Persian stew, the meat should not be so tender that it falls apart. You want it to still have some bite, so it doesn’t dissolve in the sauce.
  • Where can you buy pomegranate molasses? 

Pomegranate molasses is not the same as pomegranate juice. 
Instead, it’s a particular syrupy concentrate with pomegranate flavoring. 
It can be found easily on Amazon or maybe in your local grocery’s international foods section. Or at Whole Foods (where I purchased it) with the syrups on the baking aisle.
Easy Instant Pot Fesenjan Chicken Recipe

Nutrition

Calories: 548kcal | Carbohydrates: 48g | Protein: 27g | Fat: 27g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 9g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 102mg | Sodium: 656mg | Potassium: 461mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 41g | Vitamin A: 1551IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 64mg | Iron: 2mg
Nutrition Facts
Instant Pot Fesenjan Recipe
Amount per Serving
Calories
548
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
27
g
42
%
Saturated Fat
 
7
g
44
%
Trans Fat
 
1
g
Polyunsaturated Fat
 
9
g
Monounsaturated Fat
 
9
g
Cholesterol
 
102
mg
34
%
Sodium
 
656
mg
29
%
Potassium
 
461
mg
13
%
Carbohydrates
 
48
g
16
%
Fiber
 
2
g
8
%
Sugar
 
41
g
46
%
Protein
 
27
g
54
%
Vitamin A
 
1551
IU
31
%
Vitamin C
 
8
mg
10
%
Calcium
 
64
mg
6
%
Iron
 
2
mg
11
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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2 Comments

  1. Cyrene
    October 7, 2021 / 11:47 am

    5 stars
    That looks so yummy!

    • October 8, 2021 / 10:58 am

      Thank you kindly – it’s such a cherished dish!

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