Fesenjan Persian Walnut Chicken Pomegranate Stew (AKA: THE BLACK SOUP)


If no one believes it when you insist that “The Black Soup” tastes better than it looks, then there’s just more for you and the more adventurous souls around you. Huzzah!

Darius’ mother made this stew when he was growing up. I did not know this. I just had some chicken to use, and had all of the ingredients for this recipe. When I told him what I was making, his face lit up in a way I hadn’t seen it light up about food in a long time. Maybe ever. I had never heard of this Persian dish, let alone eaten it. Darius was so moved, he was able to tie how he felt about “The Black Soup” and music together. I’ve added his thoughts below the recipe and process.

I started with the pomegranate molasses.

  • 4 cups pomegranate juice
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • Bring all three ingredients to a boil, then turn down to simmer until it is the consistency of molasses. I started it around noon, and it was ready around 3pm.
    pom juice

    This is after simmering for about an hour and a half.


Then roast the walnuts on the stovetop until they started becoming fragrant and turning dark brown.


About 2 cups of walnuts. OMG this is so good. Just wait.

Set the walnuts aside to cool, and check your pom molasses. When it looks like this, it’s ready:

pomegranate syrup drop

Don’t taste it at this point, or you might decide to have it with waffles for dinner.

Pat down the chicken and salt it again, and brown in the butter and oil in a dutch oven or large pan over medium high heat.

Remove the chicken from the pan, and use the drippings to fry the onion until it starts to brown. Add some more butter if you need to. When the onions are caramelized, deglaze the pan to get all of the yummy goodness off of the bottom.

While the onions are cooking, put the cooled walnuts into the food processor and chop until finely ground. (Don’t overdo it, or you’ll be eating walnut butter for breakfast the next morning. Ahem.)

Put the chicken back in the pan, and add the chicken stock. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat, and simmer for half an hour.

ingredients for 3

Stir in all of the other ingredients, and cook on medium low for another hour, stirring occasionally.

Serve with parsi pulao, which I will be adding to the blog tomorrow (or whenever I get a good photo of it…it was gone pretty fast.)


  • 1 to 2 large yellow onions, chopped, (3 cups)
  • 2 Tbps unsalted butter
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 5 Tbsp pomegranate molasses
  • 1/2 pound walnut halves (about 2 cups)
  • 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs and/or breasts, trimmed of excess fat, cut into medium size pieces, patted dry and salted
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 Tbsp plus 2 teaspoons of sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Salt



More than 4 years after releasing (Grammy award winning) “Vol. 3 The Subliminal Verses” the metal band Slipknot released their fourth album “All Hope Is Gone”.  The 11th track on that grim album was a ballad entitled “Snuff”.  In an interview with Kerrang! magazine Corey Taylor the band’s lead vocalist said, “…it’s about someone who helped me through a lot and I thought she felt the same way I did and she really let me down.  At the same time, it was good that she did, because it was that final push to me figuring out myself.”

As recorded by Slipknot, “Snuff” evokes dark images of abandonment, loneliness and the fury of hopelessness.  Its brooding beginning then surges with waves of rage through the wasteland left behind after love’s departure.  Taylor’s lyrics are backed by instrumental potency of the eight other band members (including the drummer and two “custom percussionists”) in an arrangement that captures both furious anguish after love and the painfully beautiful echoes love leaves behind.

Darkness, pain, loneliness, hopelessness… Throw in some infidelity, musings about suicide and a lesbian or two and you have the makings of a song by Holly Figueroa-O’Reilly.  It is not surprising that Holly included a cover of “Snuff” on her 2011 album “One”.

Holly’s recording of Snuff sounds like ears ringing in silent desolation after hearing the words that have killed love.  Unlike the Slipknot version which builds potency with its instrumentation, Holly uses a spare arrangement that seems to build the walls of a dark room where her voice seems to be painfully alone. It is lonely, hopeless and manages to be even darker than the Slipknot version.  There is perhaps no better example of the futile despondency of this song than “It took the death of hope to let you go.” It is hard to find a song darker than “Snuff” on Holly Figueroa’s “One”.

In the words of Spinal Tap’s lead guitarist Nigel Tufnel:

“There’s something about this that’s so black, it’s like how much more black could this be? And the answer is none.  None more black.”

Very dark music and very dark food:  fesenjoon (khoresh-e fesenjan) is a Persian stew known to some as “The Black Soup”.  Its flavors are not spicy, complicated or intense but are powerful in their subtlety and intricate combination.  It is dark not only is appearance but the pomegranate molasses, ground walnuts and dark poultry create a dark, quiet, beautiful experience.  For both “Snuff” and fesenjoon the answer is none.  None more dark.

Get “Snuff” recorded by Holly Figueroa here:


Get Slipknot’s “Snuff” on iTunes or at Amazon.com



3 thoughts on “Fesenjan Persian Walnut Chicken Pomegranate Stew (AKA: THE BLACK SOUP)

  1. Pingback: Potato Tah Dig (Chelo) | Another Damn Cooking Blog

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