On the menu

Recipe of the week: Khoresh fesenjan – Persian pumpkin and chickpea curry

This is a rich dish with walnuts, pomegranate flavourings and a hint of cinnamon

This is my vegan version of an Iranian classic, says Atul Kochhar, a rich dish with walnuts and pomegranate flavourings and a hint of cinnamon.

You can use vegetable stock if you’d like, but I wanted to keep the flavours of the other ingredients quite pure, which is why I’ve specified water.

Ingredients:
  • ½ a large pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into bite-sized cubes, about 400g prepared weight
  • sunflower oil
  • ground cinnamon
  • 75g walnut halves
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 7 cm piece of cinnamon bark
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 x 400g can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 100ml pomegranate juice
  • 75g pomegranate molasses
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp ground black pepper
  • freshly grated nutmeg, to taste, or a pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 1 unwaxed orange, zested
  • about 500ml water, as needed
  • maple syrup, optional
  • 80g pomegranate seeds
  • salt and ground black pepper
  • chopped flat-leaf parsley or coriander, to garnish
Method:
  • Preheat the oven to 220°C. Put the pumpkin cubes on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Drizzle with sunflower oil and lightly dust with ground cinnamon, then shake the tray so all the cubes are well coated. Roast in the oven for 20mins or until the pumpkin is tender and the tip of a knife slides through easily.
  • Meanwhile, heat a frying pan, ideally non-stick, over a medium-high heat. Add the walnuts and toast, stirring often, until lightly browned. Leave to cool, then transfer to a food processor and process until finely ground. Set aside.
  • Heat 2 tablespoons of sunflower oil in a large saucepan over a medium-high heat. Add the garlic and onion and fry, stirring often, until the onions start to soften. Add the cinnamon bark and continue frying, stirring, until the onions are light brown. Stir in the cumin, turmeric and ½ a teaspoon of ground cinnamon, and stir together for 30 seconds. Add the chickpeas, pomegranate juice, pomegranate molasses, salt, pepper and a good grating of nutmeg. Increase the heat and bring to the boil, stirring.
  • Add the pumpkin cubes and ground walnuts and return the mixture to the boil, stirring until the stew thickens. Add the orange zest and stir in just enough water to get the thickness you like. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary, and if you think it’s too sour, add maple syrup to taste. Stir in the pomegranate seeds and garnish with parsley before serving.
Curry Everyday

Taken from Curry Everyday by Atul Kochhar, published by Bloomsbury Absolute at £26. To buy from The Week Bookshop for £20.99, call 020-3176 3835 or visit theweekbookshop.co.uk.

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