The pomegranate is a staple of Persian (Iranian) cuisine. This rich, hearty stew gets its dense flavour from the pomegranate molasses and ground walnuts which comprise its sauce. It takes some time to make, but this labour of love will be the perfect dish to make on a cool autumn or winter night to cheer yourself with a taste of the Middle East.
Cooking for an hour ensures that the chicken is 'fall apart tender'.
Ingredients 2lbs of chicken thighs
2 onions, chopped
2 cups walnut halves
2 cups chicken stock
2 tbsps butter
3 tbsps olive oil
5 tbsps pomegranate molasses
1 piece of cassia bark
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
Fresh pomegranate seeds to garnish
Rice or cous cous to serve
Flaked almonds to serve
Lightly toast the walnuts in large skillet pan on a medium high heat, stirring occasionally and set aside.
Chop the chicken thighs into pieces, removing all pieces of visible fat and pat all pieces of chicken dry.
Heat 1 tbsp butter and 2 tbsp olive oil in a large pan.
Add a batch of chicken to the pan, sprinkle salt over the pieces and cook on medium high heat until golden brown, then remove and set aside.
Add the next batch of chicken, sprinkle on some salt and cook until golden brown and continue in the same way until all of the pieces are cooked (note if the chicken isn't browning, make sure the pan isn't too overcrowded and also ensure that the pan is hot enough).
Remove all the chicken from the pan and set aside.
Add another tbsp butter to the pan with a tbsp olive oil then turn down the heat, add the onions and cook until translucent. Keep stirring to release the brown bits from the bottom of the pan.
Place all of the cooked chicken back into the pan with the onions and add 2 x cups of chicken stock.
Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer, cover and simmer for half an hour.
Whiz the walnuts up in a food processor until they become finely ground.
Pour in the pomegranate molasses, along with the sugar, spices and ground walnuts.
Cover again and cook on a very low heat for approximately one hour, stirring occasionally to ensure that the stew doesn't stick to the bottom.
Remove from the heat, add salt or sugar to taste.
Serve over rice or cous cous topped with flaked almonds and garnish with fresh pomegranate seeds.