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Fesenjan (also called fesenjoon or khoresh-e fesenjan) is originally from the province of Gilan, bordering the Caspian Sea. This region is known for its wild ducks. In fact, the original fesenjan recipe is cooked with duck . Duck was eventually replaced by chicken. It is usually prepared with chicken legs or wings (with bones). I cooked this version with pieces of deboned chicken thighs and chicken breast. This dish can also be prepared in a vegetarian version and some also cook it with lamb, ground beef or fish, but I have personally never tasted or seen these versions here in Los Angeles.
This dish is typically prepared during the fall season when pomegranates mature. This is also a traditional dish of Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year as pomegranate is one of the new fruits that are eaten during this holiday. Luckily, this is the theme of the week on 196 flavors !
According to the original recipe, this dish is cooked with fresh pomegranate juice. However, nowadays, Persian mamas cook fesenjoon with pomegranate syrup or molasses. Los Angeles has the largest Persian community in the diaspora, i.e. outside of Tehran. We therefore have access to many supermarkets, restaurants and other shops selling Iranian products like pomegranate molasses.
Khoresh-e fesenjan is one of many khoreshs in Iranian cuisine. Khoresh (which translates to “meal” in Farsi) , is actually a generic term that defines many stews in Persian cuisine. One of the most famous is khoresh ghormeh sazbi, a beef stew with herbs, red beans and dried lemons (called limu omani). It looks very similar to pkaila… although it’s obviously not as good !
Fesenjoon is a very unique dish. Indeed, even if sweet and sour is very common in Mediterranean cuisine, as illustrated by the use of dates in Moroccan dafina , pomegranate gives here a very tart taste that is not found in Moroccan dishes.