Six times a year, I acquire another Food and Drink magazine from the LCBO (Liquor Control Board of Ontario) to add to my collection. I found an interesting article on pomegranates in the Holiday 2014 Issue and I was drawn to this exotic Persian Chicken with Walnuts and Pomegranates recipe. It may have been the colourful and aromatic spice blend of cardamom, turmeric and cinnamon that caught my eye. It may have been the pomegranate molasses that has a sweet-sour taste. Or it may have been the combination of the two.
Pomegranate molasses can be made at home by reducing pomegranate juice and sugar but it has now become a more mainstream ingredient. Under the label of concentrated pomegranate juice or pomegranate molasses, it can be found in the ethnic section of your big supermarket…but more easily found at a mid-east supermarket.
The ingredients are few but the blend of all of them together is most wonderful: boneless, skinless chicken parts, walnut pieces, a sliced onion, the spice blend of cardamom, turmeric and cinnamon, chicken or vegetable stock (or water), pomegranate molasses, parsley and coriander.
Heat the walnut pieces over medium heat until toasted. Cool and then grind them in a food processor until a coarse texture is achieved.Next, the chicken pieces are browned in some olive oil. After browning, put them aside while the onion slices are sautéed until softened and the spices are added. Keep cooking until fragrant.Add the walnuts, stock and pomegranate molasses, season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Transfer the pan into the oven at 400°F and bake covered for about 15 minutes. Bring the pan back to the stove top, remove the chicken pieces and boil the sauce until it thickens, about 5 minutes. Add the chopped parsley and coriander. Return the chicken and heat thoroughly.
The garnish is important to the look and taste of the finished dish. I used sliced red onions, pomegranate seeds and coriander sprigs. Parsley sprigs could have also been used.Serve on a bed of basmati rice. An aromatic chicken with an exotic taste and aroma. And a beautiful array of colour. Enjoy.
Persian Chicken with Walnuts and Pomegranates
1 cup walnut pieces
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs (or boneless, skinless chicken breasts, if preferred)
salt and pepper
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 tsp. ground cardamom
1 tsp. turmeric
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
3 cups vegetable stock (or chicken stock or water)
1/2 cup pomegranate molasses
1/2 cup each of coarsely chopped parsley and cilantro
Suggested Garnish: sliced red onion, pomegranate seeds, coriander or parsley sprigs
- Preheat oven to 400ºF.
- Place walnuts in a dry pan over medium heat and stir until light toasted, about 5 minutes. Place in the food processor and pulse until ground.
- Heat oil over medium-high heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Sear in batches until browned on both sides, about 2 minutes a side.
- Reduce heat to medium and return pan to heat. Add onions and sauté until softened, about 4 minutes. Stir in cardamom, turmeric and cinnamon and cook for 1 minutes until fragrant. Add walnuts, liquid and pomegranate molasses. Return chicken and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and transfer to oven.
- Bake, covered, for 15 minutes or until chicken juices runs clear. Remove from oven and transfer chicken to a plate. Return pan to stove top and bring sauce to a boil until sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in parsley and cilantro. Return chicken to pan with sauce and reheat until warmed through.
- Garnish with thinly sliced red onion, pomegranate seeds and cilantro sprigs and serve on a bed of white or brown basmati rice.