Flavorful and fragrant walnut, chickpea and pomegranate stew, topped with crispy aubergine/eggplant and fresh pomegranate seeds. This Persian dish called Fesenjan will quickly become one of your favorites!
Fesenjan is a Persian stew made with pomegranate paste and ground walnuts. Traditionally, Fesenjan is cooked for hours with chicken but there is a version where meatballs are added instead.
Vegetarian or vegan
As I was cooking the stew, I thought that adding cooked chickpeas to the stew will make it richer with plant protein and more filling. So I grabbed a can of chickpeas and added that to the stew. Great decision! I can safely say that my version of
How to roast an eggplant/aubergine?
Depending on how sweet or bitter your eggplant is, decide whether you would like to leave the skin on or peel it. I usually get sweet eggplants that are young and don’t contain too many seeds, and I leave the skin on.
Cut the eggplant into 5x2cm (1x2inch) long sticks, place on a baking sheet with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast at 395f (200c) for around 20 minutes flipping half way through. Or until they’re golden. Make sure not to burn them.
How to make Fesenjan?
Start by grinding the walnuts in a food processor. You need fine crumb, but don’t overwork the walnuts so they don’t release the oils.
Heat oil in a frying pan, and cook the onion until it’s soft and translucent. Add garlic, and cook for 1 more minute. Add chili powder, cinnamon, maple syrup, pomegranate molasses, and cook for 1 more minute.
Then add the ground walnuts and chickpeas. Cover with a lid and cook for 5 minutes.
The sauce will thicken. Then add the chickpeas and let the sauce simmer for a minute. And that’s the sauce ready!
To plate, pour the sauce with the chickpeas and all in shallow bowls, top with roasted aubergine/eggplant and sprinkle with fresh pomegranate seeds, walnuts, and fresh cilantro/coriander leaves.
Serve with white basmati rice on the side, or naan bread if you prefer.
It can be easy to veganize such recipes that have more elements in it than just meat. The contrasting textures and flavors in this dish is what makes it so interesting. A mix of sweet, savory and tart flavors are very well balanced, and serving fesenjan with rice makes it a comforting dish that you can enjoy for lunch or dinner.
How to make the perfect basmati rice?
Rinse the rice under running water, until it’s clear. Then soak in cold water for 20 minutes.
Add the rice to a pot, and cover with cold salted water by 1 inch. Bring to a boil, then put the heat down to lowest possible and cook for 7 minutes or so until the rice is soft enough to eat but not overcooked. Strain if there’s water left.
Here’s a list of my best eggplant recipes:
Middle Eastern stuffed eggplants
Vegan eggplant sandwich
Eggplant and chickpea curry
Mtabbal eggplant dip
Eggplant cinnamon jam
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- 100 grams walnuts
- 1-2 eggplant/aubergine cut into sticks
- 2 tbsp olive oil 1 tbsp for roasting and 1 tbsp for frying the onion
- ½ tsp salt and pepper
- 1 red onion thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic crushed
- ½ tsp chili powder
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- 2 tbsp pomegranate molases
- 1 cup 250 ml vegetable stock
- 1 can chickpeas
- pomegranate seeds to garnish
- coriander/cilantro leaves to garnish
- Place the walnuts in a food processor, and finely grind them. Set aside.
- On a baking tray, lay the eggplant/aubergine sticks, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 20-25 minutes until they become soft.
- Heat oil in a frying pan, and cook the onion until it's soft and translucent. Add garlic, and cook for 1 more minute. Add chili powder, cinnamon, maple syrup, pomegranate molasses, and cook for 1 minute. Then add the ground walnuts, and chickpeas. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. The sauce will thicken. Then add the chickpeas and let the sauce simmer for a minute. And that's the sauce ready.
- To plate, pour the sauce in bowls, top with roasted aubergine/eggplant and sprinkle with fresh pomegranate seeds, walnuts and fresh cilantro/coriander leaves.
- Serve with white basmati rice on the side.