This rich and incredibly moreish stew has just three key ingredients, which come together to create a truly sumptuous dish. Don’t be put off by the time it needs on the hob. It couldn’t be simpler to make, and once everything is cooking you won’t need to do anything other than let it bubble gently in the background. In place of chicken, you could also use duck.
In a food processor, grind the walnuts until they are extremely fine and have the consistency of a smooth paste. Place the ground nuts in a large casserole pot with 1 litre of water and mix well. Bring to the boil and cook on a high heat for 5 minutes, then reduce the heat. Simmer for 1 hour, partially covered, stirring occasionally to stop the walnuts sticking.
Add the remaining 200ml of water, give the sauce a good stir, then stick the lid back on and leave to simmer for another hour. If the sauce starts looking dry, add some more cold water. You are aiming for a thick, porridge-like consistency.
The sauce should now have thickened and darkened in colour. Add the pomegranate molasses, tomato purée, cinnamon, sugar, salt and pepper and golpar (if you have some) and stir well. Add the chicken pieces, place the lid on the pot and continue to cook over a low heat for 45 minutes, until the chicken is cooked and the sauce is a glossy, dark chocolate colour.
Taste the sauce for seasoning and adjust to your preference: to make it a bit sweeter add more sugar, or pomegranate molasses to make it sourer. Cook for a final 10 minutes with the lid off so the sauce thickens around the meat. Sprinkle with a handful of pomegranate seeds before serving with white rice, a Salad Shirazi and some crunchy radishes on the side.
Tip: The longer you leave the walnuts to cook, the more flavoursome the final stew will be, so feel free to let it simmer away before you add the chicken. Be sure to use fresh walnuts, as old ones can make the dish taste bitter.
Recipe originally published in The Saffron Tales by Yasmin Khan, Bloomsbury