Chicken in Persian Pomegranate Walnut Sauce
from "A Feast from the Mideast" by Faye Levy
as seen in the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles
story by Judy Bart Kancigor
Makes 4 servings.
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 1/2 pounds chicken pieces, rinsed and patted dry
1 large onion, chopped
1 1/2 to 2 cups walnuts
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour (optional)
1 1/2 to 2 cups pomegranate juice or 1/3 to 1/2 cup pomegranate paste
1/2 cup water or chicken broth (if using pomegranate juice), or 1 1/2 cups water or broth (if using paste)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 to 2 tablespoons tomato paste or 3 to 4 tablespoons tomato sauce (optional)
1 teaspoon ground cardamom, or 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, or to taste
1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice, or to taste
1 to 2 teaspoons sugar, or to taste
1/3 to 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds (optional)
1 tablespoon chopped Italian parsley (optional)
A few toasted walnuts (optional)
- Heat oil in heavy, wide casserole or Dutch oven. Add chicken in batches and sauté over medium-high heat until brown. Remove chicken to plate.
- Discard fat from pan, leaving 1 to 2 tablespoons. Add onion to pan and sauté over medium heat for seven minutes, or until golden. Meanwhile, finely chop walnuts with pulsing motion of food processor. Reduce heat under onion pan to low. Stir in flour, then walnuts, and cook over low heat, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in pomegranate juice and 1/2 cup water, or pomegranate paste and 1 1/2 cups water, and bring to a simmer, stirring.
- Add chicken and any juices on plate to pan. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Cover and cook over low heat about 35 minutes for breast pieces or 40 to 45 minutes for leg and thigh pieces, or until chicken is tender, turning occasionally. Remove chicken from pan. Add tomato paste, if you like, and cardamom to sauce and simmer until thickened to your taste. Taste, adjust seasoning, and add lemon juice and sugar if needed. If you like, whisk in a few more teaspoons pomegranate juice or paste. Return chicken to sauce and heat through.
- Serve hot, garnished if you like with pomegranate seeds, parsley or walnuts, or all three.