I was recently gifted a duck from Salah, an Egyptian farmer who returned from a visit to his farm and family in Egypt carrying with him seven ducks on the airplane; he explained to me that he’d made sure they were totally frozen. His family’s farm raises ducks as well as buffaloes, from three different varieties. Unfortunately, these poor ducks get their wings clipped in the process.
This dish can be prepared with chicken as well. In fact, I made it with chicken (photo above) and the taste is equally delicious. It is easier to cut the duck or chicken in pieces prior to cooking them.
It is the most delicious stew, beloved in Iraq as well as Iran (but it is of Iranian origin). Its two main components are pomegranate molasses and walnuts. Luckily, I was offered a jar of exquisite pomegranate molasses from a prominent Lebanese food processor and could not wait to use it. This stew is as simple to make as 1,2,3; let it simmer gently and forget about it. Serve it with rice or bread.
INGREDIENTS: 4 servings (up to 6)
- 1 duck or chicken, cut up in 4 or 8 pieces
- 3 large onions, chopped
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil or clarified butter
- 1/2 cup pomegranate molasses
- 2 cups chopped walnuts
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 2 Tbsp sugar (optional, if needed)
- salt, to taste
1. In a large pot or Dutch oven, over medium-low heat, pour the oil and brown the duck or chicken and onions. Meanwhile, grind the walnuts in a food processor or blender with the pomegranate molasses and 2 cups of water; add the spices and taste; adjust seasoning, adding a bit of sugar if the taste is too sour to your liking.
2. Pour the pomegranate/walnut sauce over the chicken or duck pieces, add a bit more water if needed and cover; bring to a simmer and let it bubble up gently for one hour or longer, till thoroughly cooked. Taste and adjust seasoning if desired, adding more sugar or more pomegranate molasses. Garnish with pomegranate arils if desired. Serve with plain rice. NOTE: Najmieh Batmanglij who is my reference for all things to do with Persian cuisine says that walnuts in this dish can be replaced with almonds or pistachios or hazelnuts; in her version, the stew also includes cubed butternut squash, previously fried in butter as well. She adds saffron to the stew (I find it unnecessary). She says the squash can be replaced with beets or eggplants or prunes.