Faisinjan (Chicken with walnuts and pomegranates)
I found this recipe in Jane Grigson’s Fruit Book and also in Joy of Cooking (the 1975 edition). In Joy of Cooking, the dish is called Persian Chicken. The relative proportions of the ingredients were slightly different but they were, substantially, the same recipe.
Jane Grigson suggests that the dish can be made with duck, chicken or lamb. I have read elsewhere it was traditionally made with duck.
- 1 chicken jointed (or the equivalent in chicken pieces on the bone) or 1 duck jointed or 1 – 1½ kg cubed lamb
- 2 large onions, finely chopped
- 250g walnuts, finely ground
- 1 cup pomegranate juice (If you are using commercial pomegranate juice you may need to add some lemon juice to ensure you have sufficient acidity.)
- 500 mls chicken stock
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp nutmeg
- generous pinch of saffron
- salt and coarsely ground black pepper, to taste
- sugar, to taste
- Melt butter in a large frying pan and fry the chicken pieces until almost cooked. Set aside.
- Gently saute onions in the butter (add more if needed) until very soft (don’t brown them). Don’t proceed until your onions are very soft indeed. Don’t rush this step.
- Add the ground walnuts and stir into the onions.
- Add other ingredients (except sugar and salt) and gently simmer for about 30 minutes.
- Using a stick blender, blend all the ingredients together to make a smooth sauce.
- Taste, and add sugar and salt (and lemon juice if you think you need it) to ensure the balance of flavours is correct.
- Return to the heat and continue cooking for another 15 minutes. This is much like cooking the sauce for a curry. You want all the ingredients to meld into one. At first you can really taste the onions, pomegranate juice and walnuts but slowly they become one. In retrospect, I do not think I cooked the sauce quite enough on the night. We had left-over sauce the next day with extra chicken and it tasted so much better.
- Place chicken in oven proof dish. Add sauce and cover. Place in 150°C oven and cook gently for 30 minutes.
- Served with steamed rice and, if desired, decorate with additional pomegranate seeds.
Jane Grigson boned her cooked chicken before returning it to the sauce. Joy of Cooking did not. I think, for presentation purposes, it is best left on the bone.
Ruby Grapefruit Salad
This recipe is from Cooking by Donna Hay. It went perfectly with the chicken.
- A small handful of pitted green olives
- 1½ – 2 ruby grapefruit
- 3 x (20mls) tbs of parsley
- 2 cups of watercress or baby spinach
- ½ cup roasted hazelnuts
- 1 avocado, chopped
Toss all the ingredients together into a salad bowl.
For the dressing:
- 1 (20 mls) tbs pomegranate molasses
- lemon juice, to taste
- 2 x (20 mls) tbs olive oil
- 2 tsp sugar
- cracked pepper
Mix and pour over salad.