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Vegan Fesenjan (Walnut & Pomegranate Stew)

By December 23, 2014 around the world, easy dinners, recipe series, recipes, savoury, vegan

This vegan Fesenjan (Walnut & Pomegranate Stew)  is my all time favourite Persian meal. Toasted, nutty walnuts with tangy pomegranate molasses – what more could you ask for in a stew?

Vegan Fesenjan | The Macadames

Not sure if I have mentioned this before but I am half Persian. My Dad is from Iran and my mum from Ireland. Although I haven’t grown up with my Dad since I was 6, I have always tried to keep ties to my Persian heritage. The Iranian people are some of the warmest, most intelligent and generous that I’ve ever met. Although I have never been to Iran, I would absolutely love to go one day. With my Dad if possible.

I actually used to speak fluent Farsi until I was 7 or 8 and losing it is one of my biggest regrets. I’ve often enrolled in classes to learn again but life gets in the way you know? And I always seem to be doing one more thing than I can realistically achieve. Okay…. maybe two or three at times.

With family all over the world, I have always made the effort to stay in contact or visit when possible. As the years pass this becomes harder but I am looking forward to having most of my family come to my wedding next year.

Although I never re-mastered the language, I have recently taken a keen interest in Persian cooking. Their food is filled with exotic spices, fresh herbs & rich flavours. My favourite dish of all time is Fesenjan (pronounced fessenjoon) which is a walnut & pomegranate stew traditionally made with chicken or beef.

Vegetarian Fessenjan | Anisa Sabet | The Macadames-21

Vegetarian Fessenjan | Anisa Sabet | The Macadames-12

Because I’ve been avoiding animal products as much as possible, I decided to try a vegetarian version. When cooking this dish with my ame (aunty in Persian) years ago, she added pumpkin, saying it added a creamy texture and richer flavour. I decided to use pumpkin and eggplant as the basis for the vegetarian version, which worked perfectly.

To make this dish, first you toast the walnuts then grind them up in a food processor. Toasting them first gives them a rich and nutty (dahhh!) flavour. The sweet tartness of the pomegranate molasses marries well with the creamy pumpkin and soft eggplant. It’s like a party in your mouth and all your friends are invited.

Could I be lamer? Wait and see.

Vegetarian Fessenjan | Anisa Sabet | The Macadames-17

Although it does take just under an hour to prepare, this dish is actually very easy to make. The hardest part being de-seeding the pomegranate. Those tasty suckers are a bit of a handful. So… for those of you that haven’t done this before. Here are some fool proof steps….

How to de seed a pomegranate The Macadames

Note:  Pomegranate stains stuff, so wear old clothes and use a plastic board as the juice will stain the board (I learnt the hard way).

1. Slice the bottom of the pomegranate off.

2. Place the cut side down on the chopping board so it sits evenly. The crown should be on top.

3. With a paring knife, cut a circle around the crown, angle in to try & get under it. Use the end of the knife to lift the crown out.

4. Feel around the pomegranate and you will notice slight ridges, cut along the ridges, just under the skin from bottom to crown. You should cut it 6 times and don’t press too hard otherwise you’ll cut the seeds underneath.

5. Pull open the pomegranate using your fingers, it should open pretty easily. Expose the seeds and over a bowl work your fingers over the seeds to pull them loose into the bowl. It’s rather fiddly but I promise you it’s worth it.

Pretty simple hey?

Now would you look at that? Serve with soft and fluffy rice, sprinkle some fresh pomegranate seeds on top and garnish with fresh parsley and you’ll be in Persian heaven!

Vegetarian Fessenjan | Anisa Sabet | The Macadames-29

Befarma’id! (Bon appétit in Farsi)

Don’t forget to hashtag #cookwiththemacadames when making our recipes. We love to see how you went and get a peek at your kitchen table.

 

What you need:

  • Large saucepan
  • Small deep set pan
  • Blender/food processor

 

Ingredients (serves 6):

  • 2 cups walnut halves (can use more if you like)
  • 1 large brown onion, finely chopped
  • Lug of olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • Pinch of nutmeg, freshly ground if possible
  • ½ butternut pumpkin
  • 1 large eggplant
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate molasses
  • Honey (maple for vegans) to taste
  • To serve: Jasmine or brown rice
  • To garnish: handful of pomegranate seeds and chopped fresh parsley

 

Method:

1. First up you need to toast the walnuts. Either on a baking sheet in the over or in a shallow pan over medium heat for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown and fragrant.

2. Once they have cooled down blend in a food processor until broken up and similar to the consistency of oats.

3. If you’re serving with rice, pop it on.

4. Heat the oil in a large pot and add the onion. Stir until translucent. Add the spices and cook for a few minutes longer.

5. Add the pumpkin and eggplant and stir to coat in the spices. Add the stock and bring to the boil.

6. Reduce heat and add pomegranate molasses, honey and ground walnuts. Simmer for 15-25 minutes or more, until desired thickness is reached. Add more stock or water if you need. Adjust spices to taste.

7. Serve over soft fluffy rice and top with pomegranate seeds and parsley.

Storage: in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

Tips: if you can’t find pomegranate molasses at your local Persian grocer, I found it online at Herbies. If you really want to make your own, you can by using pomegranate juice. Pour into a saucepan, bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer. Add a pinch of salt & some lime juice and simmer for 45 minutes until thickened.

What I tell you? It’s amazing no?

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Like this recipe? Yum it on Yummly.

 

 

Vegetarian Fessenjan | Anisa Sabet | The Macadames-15

For another hearty & delicious dinner, try my Beef Bourguignon.

Recipe - Slow cooked beef bourguignon | The Macadame - 08

Anisa – The Macadames. xx

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13 Comments

  • Reply LEE @ Modern Granola December 23, 2014 at 10:39 am

    Woah this is the coolest thing I’ve ever heard! You’re half Persian? So awesome! This dish looks incredible.

  • Reply Anisa December 23, 2014 at 3:06 pm

    Well now Lee you must try it and tell me how you go and what you think! Add chicken instead of the eggplant to make it meaty 🙂
    xx

  • Reply Stephanie @ Long Distance Baking December 26, 2014 at 10:30 am

    This sounds so interesting! I love the flavors of both walnuts and pomegranates, I can’t wait to give this a try. I hope you make it to Iran one day!

  • Reply Anisa December 28, 2014 at 12:33 pm

    Let me know how you go Stephanie – I love this dish so much!
    Happy New Year! xx

  • Reply Nathan August 20, 2015 at 3:58 am

    This looks delicious Anisa! Love Persian everything. I have *got* to try this one of these days. It will be getting cooler soon up here in the northern hemisphere, so this will be perfect.

    I’m trying to learn Farsi too. I think it would be easier if they used the Latin alphabet.

    Cheers,
    Nathan

    • Reply Anisa August 20, 2015 at 10:26 am

      Where are you from Nathan? You should definately try this, I absolutely love this recipe. Yes most languages would be easier if they had a latin alphabet 😉 Hope you’re well! Ax

  • Reply Ah So Yummy February 9, 2016 at 6:06 am

    Very interesting take on fesenjoon. When I first saw your beautiful photos, I thought oh tofu fesenjoon (BTW I tried that once and didn’t care for it), but after reading your post, I realized you used eggplants and pumpkin yummy! I had heard of pumpkin being used in this dish but never eggplant (I LOVE eggplants). I cannot wait to try your recipe. Thank you:). You didn’t specify how to prepare the eggplant and pumpkin but it’s obvious from the photos that they need to be cut in pieces 🙂 and used raw! And Oh, I do hope you get to go to Iran one day with your father.

    • Reply Anisa February 9, 2016 at 10:19 am

      You’re too right, I forgot to write “diced”. Will update now 😁 How embarrassing, this is one of my popular recipes to date.

      I hope you like it, I too like eggplant as it provides a bit more structure and goes well with the other flavours.

      Let me know what you think.

  • Reply Selene June 9, 2016 at 3:21 pm

    THIS IS BRILLIANT!! I’m half Iranian too and I LOVED fesenjoon while growing up, but after I went vegan I just never really figured out how to adapt the recipe – I’ll definitely try this out, thank you so much!

    • Reply Anisa June 9, 2016 at 3:56 pm

      How cool! It was my fav dish too. Try this recipe and let me know how you go. I love it! xx

  • Reply Victoria Olson July 3, 2017 at 11:14 am

    To be authentic, this recipe requires at least 1 cup of pomegranate molasses, available at middle eastern markets or online.

  • Reply Sara July 14, 2017 at 1:53 am

    This is amazing! I was experimenting for a vegan fessenjan for years and this one is awesome. Thank you so much for sharing!

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