Fesenjaan: a delicious persian eggplant, pomegranate & walnut stew
To make this recipe truly vegan, substitute the honey for agave syrup. The walnut sauce is an excellent texture for this stew and holds well with the honey which balances sweet with the sour pomegranate seeds. The little bit of spice from the crushed red pepper and delicate spice from the cinnamon and tumeric make this a tasty dinner that is guaranteed to please!
In our house, we find the number of steps can sometimes be overwhelming for one evening, especially with three young kids under foot. We sometimes prepare the fried eggplant and walnut toasting steps the day before for easier work the next day.
- 5 Japanese eggplants (the long thin light purple ones)
- 6 Tbs. olive oil
- 2 cups (1/2 lb.) toasted walnuts
- 2-3 cups pure pomegranate juice (the real stuff)
- 2 tbsp honey
- 1 medium-sized onion, peeled and sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
- 1-2 tsp. ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1-2 tsp. salt
- 1-2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
- 1 tsp. crushed red pepper
- 1 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley (+ more for garnish)
- 2 cups chopped cilantro leaves (+ more for garnish)
- 2/3 cup chopped fresh mint (+ more for garnish)
- Fresh pomegranate seeds (for garnish)
Yield: 6-8 servings
- Fry the eggplant: Cut eggplants into 1/2 inch thick rounds. Heat 3 tbsp oil in a pan over medium high temperature. Sautee the eggplant on both sides until wilted and brown. Remove from the pan and let sit on a paper towel while you prepare the stew.
- Toast the walnut pieces: I often use my toaster oven (watch them carefully or they will burn. I have burned a few batches in the past trying to multi-task while making fesenjaan). Otherwise I toast them in the hot pan before the eggplant. Use a blender to grind the walnuts very finely.
- Add pomegranate juice and honey (or agave) and blend until incorporated.
- Add the other half of the oil to the pan and sauté the chopped onion for 10 minutes or so until brown, approaching caramelized. Add garlic and sauté another 2-3 minutes. Add the cumin, cinnamon, salt, pepper, turmeric, crushed red pepper flakes and continue to sauté another 2-3 minutes.
- Pour the walnut and pomegranate sauce into the pan and mix together. Add the sautéed eggplant and simmer for 30 minutes or until it is thick. Add more pomegranate juice, as needed.
- Garnish with herbs and fresh pomegranate seeds.
- Serve over rice, couscous, or even quinoa!