Fesenjān (sometimes spelled Fesenjoon) is a traditional winter Persian dish. It’s a stew that’s made of pomegranates and walnuts, and typically has chicken or another type of poultry in it. Today, I’m modifying this traditional dish to be vegan friendly. This Vegan Pomegranate Walnut Stew (Fesenjān) is made with homemade seitan chicken and chickpeas.
This is a vegan adaptation- if you’d like to look at a traditional recipe you can check out this one.
One of the main ingredients in this stew is pomegranate molasses. This pomegranate molasses is what gives this dish its unmistakable sweet yet tart taste. You can order the molasses online or you can make your own as I did. I don’t recommend substituting this pomegranate molasses with anything else.
To make your own pomegranate molasses, you’ll need 3 ingredients: pomegranate juice, coconut sugar (or sub brown sugar), and lemon juice. The pomegranate juice I used was by the brand POM, and I was able to easily find it in the juice section of my local grocery store. I really prefer using coconut sugar in this recipe. It adds a layer of rich caramel flavor that normal granulated sugar doesn’t provide.
To make the molasses, you’ll heat the above ingredients in a small saucepan on low for about 40 minutes. The pomegranate juice will reduce down to a thick syrup consistency, similar to regular molasses.
Prepping the Walnuts
Another main ingredient in this stew is walnuts. The walnuts add such a unique, rich, nutty flavor and texture to the stew that is irreplaceable. To prepare the walnuts, you’ll first toast them in a skillet on low heat for about 10 minutes. Toasting helps bring out the nutty flavors. Then, you’ll want to grind up the nuts. I used a mini food processor for this and pulsed the nuts until they were a very, very fine texture.
The Vegan Chicken
In this recipe, I’m using my Perfect Vegan Seitan Chicken. These vegan chicken pieces add a chewy and tender texture to the stew. If you’d prefer to not make your own vegan seitan chicken, you could substitute in store-bought vegan chicken (although I have not tried this method). You could also substitute in more chickpeas instead, and it would be absolutely delicious.
Serving the Vegan Pomegranate Walnut Stew
This Vegan Pomegranate Walnut Stew (Fesenjān) is best served warm with Jasmine rice. You can garnish the stew with more pomegranate seeds (or arils). These seeds add such a nice, crisp burst of sweetness with each bite. Feel free to also garnish with some fresh chopped parsley for color. This recipe makes about 4-5 servings and can be kept in the fridge for 5 days.
This Vegan Pomegranate Walnut Stew (Fesenjān) made with seitan and chickpeas is a delicious vegetarian take on the traditional Persian dish. Tangy, savory yet sweet, and rich, this dish has so many deep and absolutely unique flavors.
If you’d like to try more comforting main dishes, you can check out these recipes!
- 1 small yellow onion, chopped
- 1 small red onion, chopped
- 1 small shallot, chopped
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 ½ cup walnuts, toasted
- 4 cloves fresh garlic, minced
- 1 tsp tomato paste
- 2 cups veggie broth
- 3 tbsp pomegranate juice
- ½ cup chickpeas
- 2 1/2 tbsp Pomegranate Molasses, see notes for how to make your own
- ⅛ tsp salt
- ⅛ tsp pepper
- 1 tsp cumin
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp nutmeg
- orange zest, one 3” long strip of peel, see photos in the post above
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 tsp additional salt, or salt to taste
- In a large pot, heat the olive oil. Add the onions and shallot and cook on medium-low heat for 10 minutes until caramelized.
- While the onions are caramelizing, add the toasted walnuts to the food processor. Grind into a fine powder.
- Add the garlic to the onions and cook for 3 more minutes. Add in the ⅛ tsp salt, pepper, cumin, cinnamon, nutmeg, and tomato paste. Stir until the spices coat the onions evenly.
- Add in the cinnamon stick, orange peel, veggie broth, ground walnuts, pomegranate molasses, and pomegranate juice. Stir to deglaze the pan. Add the chickpeas and cook for 5 minutes until simmering.
- In a skillet, brown all sides of the sliced or shredded vegan chicken with a bit of olive oil. This should take about 10 minutes on medium heat.
- Add in the sliced vegan chicken to the stew and cook for 3 more minutes until warmed through.
- Stir in the remaining 1 tsp salt (or salt to taste).
- Top with parsley and pomegranate seeds. Serve with Jasmine rice.
To Make the Pomegranate Molasses:
- 1 cups pomegranate juice
- 1 1/2 tbsp coconut sugar
- 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
Combine the above ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring them to a gentle simmer over low heat. Simmer for about 40-50 minutes, stirring occasionally until the mixture is reduced to about 1/4 cup.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 400Total Fat: 18gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 14gCarbohydrates: 26gFiber: 6gSugar: 8gProtein: 19g
Nutritional info is an estimate.
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