Fesenjan (Stewed Chicken and Walnuts)

1 chicken
1 lb. shelled walnuts
3 level tablespoons pomegranate paste
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon marjoram
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Place the walnuts in the food processor and process on high until they have formed an oily paste that almost has the consistency of peanut butter. If a large pot (a clay pot, if you have it) put the pomegranate paste, 2 teaspoons of salt and 2 cups of water (see NOTE 2).  Mix well and bring to a full rolling boil (see NOTE 3).

While the pomegranate paste and water are coming to a boil, heat an iron cooking spoon (or kafgir) over another burner until it is red hot.  Immediately plunge it into the boiling mixture.  This well help to make the Fesenjan  “black” (dark brown in color).

Add the ground walnuts and simmer over a medium low fire stirring frequently so that it does not sick and burn.  Add an additional 1/2 cup of water whenever necessary.  Let simmer about 2 1/2 hours until the walnuts are cooked and the oil has come out from the walnuts.

Clean and cut the chicken into quarters or smaller pieces according to your own wishes.  When the walnuts are well done and a film of walnut oil has covered the top of the boiling mixture add the chicken.  Simmer for about 1 1/2 hours until the chicken is tender.  Turn off the fire and add marjoram and cinnamon.  Stir and serve with plain rice or Ta-Cheen Pollo.

NOTE 1:  Because the Fesenjan needs long cooking to properly bring out the walnut oil, it is advisable to start the night before, when you want to eat the Fesenjan at noontime.

NOTE 2:  If the pomegranate paste is not sour enough use 1 1/2 cups water and 1/2 cup verjuice.

NOTE 3:  If you start the Fesenjan the night before, you can stop at this point and continue the next morning.

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