A traditional comforting Irani stew, with warming spices and tangy pomegranate molasses, thickened with walnut meal. Typically made with chicken, this vegetarian fesenjan by Minimalist Baker is completely vegan, made with lentils instead. You won’t miss the meat! Super easy and lots of exotic flavors to push you out of your comfort zone. A curry or stew is the perfect way to explore vegan cuisine and still get a hearty and delicious meal.
What is fesenjan?
According to Thomasina Mier’s, who put it better than I ever could: “Richly sweet, subtly sour, with a satisfying depth of flavour from ground walnuts: fesenjan is a tempting Persian stew traditionally eaten during the winter solstice. ” Typically prepared with poultry- chicken or duck-but can also be made with lamb meatballs. Clearly, this recipe shows it can also be made without any meat at all. The spices and the flavor and thickness from the walnut meal and pomegranate carry more than enough weight to make up for any missing meat. The lentils are a great vehicle to carry all this flavor forwards.
Pomegranate Molasses- Explain.
Basically an intensely reduced pomegranate juice. It has a very distinctive tangy and lip smacking flavor. I love this! We especially use it a lot in Palestinian/Levantine cuisine. Where can you find it? In the Middle East, at any supermarket. In the US, at specialty Middle Eastern stores, or follow the instructions here to make your own with pomegranate juice
You’ll toast walnuts by placing them in a single layer on a baking sheet in a hot oven (180C or 350F) for 10 minutes or until light golden brown and fragrant. You let them cool, then process them into a meal. In a pan on the stovetop, you’ll sauté an onion with some salt and pepper, then pourin some vegetable broth, the lentils and cook the lentils until just tender. In goes some pomegranate molasses, spices, and maple syrup and the dish simmers for about 10 minutes or until thickened. So easy and hands off!
Rice of choice, and garnish with some fresh pomegranate seeds for a beautiful color and juicy crunch. Top with some minced parsley and enjoy! This is best eaten fresh but can be stored in the fridge for 3-4 days or frozen for up to a month.
- 1 cup toasted walnuts (Toast raw walnuts in a 180C (350F) oven for 10 minutes)
- 3 tbsp pomegranate molasses more or less to taste
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion, finely diced
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 cup rinsed brown or green lentils
- 1-2 tbsp maple syrup or coconut sugar
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- Jasmine rice or rice of choice or serving
- Pomegranate seeds for topping
- Parsley for garnish
- Process the toasted walnuts once cooled in a food processor until a fine meal forms.
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and once hot add the diced onion, the salt and pepper. Cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally until onion is soft and cooked through.
- Add the vegetable broth and bring to a simmer, then add the lentils. Cook uncovered for 20 minutes or until lentils are just tender. Add more broth or water while cooking as needed to keep the lentils submerged.
- Once lentils have just cooked through, add the walnut meal, pomegranate molasses, maple syrup, turmeric, cumin and cinnamon. Stir to combine, bring to a simmer, then lower heat and let simmer for 10 minutes until thickened and fragrant.
- Taste and adjust seasoning with more salt and pepper or additional spices or pomegranate molasses if needed. If too thick, you can add more vegetable broth or water.
- Garnish with pomegranate seeds and parsley and serve over rice.