Instant Pot Fesenjan (Persian Pomegranate Chicken)
Yield: 4-6 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
This aromatic Instant Pot fesenjan, or Persian pomegranate chicken, is packed with flavor thanks to pomegranate molasses, toasted walnuts, and fragrant spices, and will warm you right up on a winter’s night!
4.8 Stars (29 Reviews)
6 ounces walnut halves (about 1 2/3 cups)
1 tablespoon ghee or avocado oil
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut in half
1 teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 shallots or 1 small onion, chopped (about 3/4 cup)
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 cup chicken stock
1/3 cup pomegranate molasses
2 tablespoons honey**
1/2 cup pomegranate arils, for serving
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, for serving
Preheat the oven to 350°F and spread the walnuts out on a sheet pan. Toast for 6-8 minutes, or until the nuts smell toasty and are darker brown, shaking the pan once or twice. Transfer to a plate to cool. Chop in a food processor until finely ground.
Push the “Sauté” button on a 6-quart Instant Pot***, making sure the heat level is set to “Normal”. Season the chicken thigh pieces with the sea salt and a few grinds of black pepper. When the Instant Pot is hot, add the ghee. Once the fat is shimmering, add about half the chicken pieces (or as many fit in a single layer) and brown for 3-4 minutes per side. Do not worry if little pieces of chicken become stuck to the bottom of the pot–these browned bits will help add flavor to the stew. Transfer the browned chicken to a plate and repeat with the remaining pieces.
Add the shallot and sauté, stirring frequently, until beginning to brown. Add the turmeric, cinnamon, and cardamom and stir for about a minute, until very fragrant. Pour in the chicken stock, pomegranate molasses, honey, and ground walnuts and stir well, scraping the bottom of the pot to dislodge and mix in any browned bits that were stuck.
Press “Keep Warm/Cancel” and add the browned chicken back to the pot, discarding any juices that accumulated on the plate.
Put the lid on the Instant Pot and make sure the valve is set to “Sealing”. Push the “Poultry” button or use “Manual” to set the Instant Pot to cook at high pressure for 15 minutes.
When the time is up, press “Keep Warm/Cancel” to turn off the IP. Let the pressure release naturally, or wait at least 10 minutes and then do a manual pressure release by carefully turning the valve to “Venting”.
If you prefer a thicker sauce, push “Sauté”. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the chicken pieces to a bowl. Allow the sauce to bubble away for about 5 minutes, until thickened, then press “Keep Warm/Cancel” and stir the chicken back in.
Serve hot with rice or cauliflower rice, topped with pomegranate arils and fresh cilantro.
*If you’re having trouble finding pomegranate molasses, you can try making your own by boiling pomegranate juice.
**For Whole30, you could try omitting the honey or using applesauce or apple juice instead.
***I have not tested this recipe in an 8-quart Instant Pot, but reader feedback indicates the larger model likely requires more liquid. Consider increasing the chicken stock to 2 cups.