Chicken, Walnut & Pomegranate Stew Recipe

I had my birthday gathering at Comptoir Lebanese restaurant this year. It was my first visit to a place which served this kind of food, so was my first real experience of tagines and I loved it so much, I wanted to try my own versions. There were plenty of delicious looking recipes in the Persiana book, including the Chicken, Walnut and Pomegranate stew which I set out to make myself. Tagines generally take a long time to make, so I set aside a free weekend to make sure I had the four or so hours required.
Ingredients (serves 6-8)
Vegetable oil
2 large onions, diced
1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
1lb 5oz (600g) walnuts, finely ground in a food processor
8 bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
5 cups (scant 1¼ liters) cold water
3 Tablespoons superfine sugar
3 Tablespoons (450ml) pomegranate molasses
seeds from 1 pomegranate, to serve

Preheat two large saucepans over medium heat and pour 3 tablespoons vegetable oil into one. Fry the onions in the oil until translucent and lightly browned.

In the other pan, toast the flour until it turns pale beige. Add the ground walnuts and cook the mixture through.

Once the onions are browned, season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper and add them to the pan containing the onions. Increase the temperature and stir well to ensure you seal the thighs on both sides. Once they are gently browned, turn off the heat and set aside.

Add the water to the walnut pan, stir well, and bring the mixture to a slow boil, then cover with a lid and allow to cook for 1 hour over low-medium heat. This will cook the walnuts and soften their texture; once you see the natural oils of the walnuts rise to the surface, the mixture is cooked.

Add the sugar and pomegranate molasses to the walnuts and stir well for about 1 minute. Take your time to stir the pomegranate molasses well—it takes a while to fully dissolve into the stew due to its thick consistency. Once this is done, add the chicken and onions to the walnut-pomegranate mixture, cover, and cook for about 2 hours, stirring thoroughly every 30 minutes to ensure you lift the walnuts from the bottom of the pan so that they don’t burn. Once cooked, what initially looked beige will now have turned into a rick, dark almost chocolaty-looking color. Serve sprinkled with pomegranate seeds and enjoy with a generous mound of basmati rice.

The stew was deliciously rich and nutty but with a slight acidity which came from the pomegranate. I would say that it isn't the cheapest of recipes but I even though the recipe suggests it serves 6-8, I believe they are quite large portions when served with rice. I made a half batch and it served two hungry people two meals.


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