Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Fesenjoon {Persian Walnut Stew}

 Every year for Easter, my awesome Nana makes this traditional Persian stew filled with yummy walnuts, pomegranate concentrate and chicken! (Can be made vegetarian too!) Literally, her Fesenjoon is the talk of the town. So much so, that anytime I come home from school she makes me a little batch to take back with me. Of course, I hide that way from the roomie (just kidding!) but it is a hot commodity in my apartment. I always thought it was super super hard to make. But, really it is honestly one of the easiest stews I've tried to recreate, to date!

Since, I wasn't going home and was getting slightly homesick around the holiday, I figured... well it's as good as time as any to try my hand at this, no? This stew is chalked full of walnuts. WALNUTS! So what's the nutritional premise behinds consuming walnuts? What have you all heard? Walnuts are good for the brain? Walnuts have lots of oils? Well, all of those things are true, but there is so much more packed into that little nut than you would think!

Yes, they have lots of oils or "fats" but they are omega-3's! You know, like what you get in eating Salmon, but they are way more tasty.  Omega-3's are anti-inflammatory fats that aid in helping reduce inflammation diseases like, Crohns disease and arthritis! Additionally, researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health found that just one ounce of walnuts consumed at least 5X a week, can reduce the incidence of type 2 diabetes by 30%. WHAT! Well, there are way more than 1 oz in here, so feel free to make some for 5 days of leftovers!

4 cups ground walnuts, toasted
1/2 tbs. tapioca starch
2 cups of filtered water
8 oz. white meat chicken tenders
1/2 tbs. coconut oil
1/2 yellow onion
2 bay leaves
sea salt, black pepper
1 cup pomegranate concentrate

Traditionally served with Basmati Rice or can be kept 100% Paleo using Cauli-Rice 

Yields ~12 servings (1/4 c. each)

Directions:  Toast walnuts, cool them down completely before grinding them down to a flour consistency. I cooked my chicken during the time my walnuts were cooling. Cut up your onion and cook them in the oil under translucent and tender. Place seasoned chicken tenders on top of onion mix, add bay leaves and cover for 12 minutes. In a large pot, mix tapioca starch with the filtered water, until it is completely mixed with no lumps. Add in ground walnuts and stir vigorously. I even used a whisk here. Get all the lumps out! This is a very smooth stew, no need for teeth breaking chunks inside. 

Turn head to medium-low, until it boils. When it boils just a little, turn it down to low and stir, stir, stir. Usually, I would say that there is an issue with the stew sticking to the pan, but its really not an issue with such high oil content in the walnuts. When you start getting vigorous bubbles (like pancakes), add the pomegranate concentrate and stir it in.  Here is the time where you should add in the chicken if you are using it. Add only the tender cooked meats, not the onions/bay leaf mixture. 

Keep on low for 15 more minutes. If you start to see an oil layer separate on top of the stew, don't panic, like I said... walnuts are oily! feel free to remove it, I did and it still was creamy and delicious. Season to your liking with salt and pepper. Serve with long-grain basmati rice, for that true authentic Persian feel. 

Happy (early) Easter everyone!


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