Fesenjan with Meatballs

Fesenjan with Meatballs Rice and Feta Cheese

How to make Fesenjan with Meatballs

Fesenjan with Meatballs Rice and Feta Cheese

Fesenjan with Meatballs

A sweet and sour Iranian stew originating from Northern Iran
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Course Dinner
Cuisine Middle Eastern
Servings 6 Servings
Calories 552 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 lb Chopped walnuts
  • 1 lb Ground Beef Over 80% lean
  • 1/2 Large Onion, finely diced
  • 3 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4-1 cup Pomegranate Molasses

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 350F.
  • Spread the chopped walnuts over a rimmed baking sheet so that they are in a single layer.
  • Bake the walnuts for 10 minutes, tossing them twice during that time. To toss, use a spatula to flip the walnuts over.
  • Add the toasted walnuts to the bowl of a food process and process until they are finely ground, but not a paste.
  • Using a spoon or your hands, combine the ground beef, finely diced onion, minced garlic, turmeric, and kosher salt in a medium sized bowl.
  • Form meatballs by taking a little less than a tablespoon of the beef mixture and rolling it between your hands. If any onion pieces are sticking out too much, just push them or let them fall out. Repeat this process until you’ve used all of the beef. This should make 20-25 meatballs.
  • Heat a skillet over high heat. If you are using lean ground beef, add about ½ tbsp of oil to the skillet. If you are using fattier beef (anything less than 80% lean), do not add any oil. Place the meatballs into the skillet (you will likely need to do this in 2 batches) and cook until browned, turning to brown each side.
  • Add 5 cups of water and the ground walnuts to a large pot. Heat to a boil, and once boiling reduce to a steady simmer. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.
  • Stir in ¾ cup of the pomegranate molasses and stir well to combine. Simmer for 45 minutes. A thin oil layer will appear at the top. If it has appeared after 45 minutes, continue to the next step. If not, simmer for an additional 15 minutes.
  • Taste the stew and add up to another ¼ cup of pomegranate molasses if desired. I added an extra 1 tbsp.
  • Add the meatballs to the stew and stir to combine. Simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Serve with rice, feta cheese, and additional pomegranate molasses if desired.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cupCalories: 552kcalCarbohydrates: 15.5gProtein: 28.2gFat: 44.2gSaturated Fat: 7.4gCholesterol: 64mgSodium: 162mgPotassium: 28.2mgFiber: 3.9gSugar: 4.2gCalcium: 121mgIron: 3mg
Keyword Fesenjan, meatballs, persian
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Nutrition Facts
Fesenjan with Meatballs
Serving Size
 
1 cup
Amount per Serving
Calories
552
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
44.2
g
68
%
Saturated Fat
 
7.4
g
46
%
Cholesterol
 
64
mg
21
%
Sodium
 
162
mg
7
%
Potassium
 
28.2
mg
1
%
Carbohydrates
 
15.5
g
5
%
Fiber
 
3.9
g
16
%
Sugar
 
4.2
g
5
%
Protein
 
28.2
g
56
%
Calcium
 
121
mg
12
%
Iron
 
3
mg
17
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Origins of Fesenjan

Fesenjān, also known as fesenjoon, is a sweet and sour Iranian stew  originating from Northern Iran, particularly the Gilan region near the Caspian Sea. This flavorful dish has a rich history that spans centuries:

The earliest known reference to fesenjān dates back to 1881 in Mirza Ali-Akbar Khan Ashpazbashi’s work, Sofra-e at ema. It lists ten different varieties of the dish, including walnut (now the most common), almond, eggplant, kidney bean, quince, potato, carrot, pumpkin, fish, and yogurt. Fesenjān is often reserved for special occasions, considered a rich man’s dish. It has become a festive dish for special occasions and is often part of Jewish Rosh Hashanah celebrations. It is also considered part of Sephardic cuisine. In Azerbaijan, where it’s known as fisincan plov, the stew features lamb meatballs instead of poultry.

Fesenjān with meatballs is flavored with pomegranate molasses and ground walnuts. Spices like turmeric, cinnamon, orange peel, cardamom, and rosebud enhance its aromatic profile. Traditionally, it’s made with eggplant and poultry (duck or chicken). However, variations exist, including using ground meatballs or chunks of lamb. Fesenjan is usually served over Iranian rice, also called tahdig.

Fesenjan cooked in a Dutch oven

Turmeric meatballs

When researching this recipe, I found it really unique how the meatballs are spiced with turmeric.  It ads a bit of flavor but also gives the meatballs hint of yellow.    Everyone knows turmeric turns food yellow, I just didn’t expect this much impact on ground beef. 

Low and Slow

This recipe might seem daunting given that it takes 3 hours to cook.   Don’t worry, most of that time is spent simmering.   When you taste the deep rich flavor of simmered walnuts and pomegranate, you’ll know the recipe was well worth it. 

Other great ground beef recipes

Check out some of my favorite ground beef dinner recipes

  1. Copycat Maggiano’s Meatballs
  2. High Protein Chili
  3. Linguine Genovese
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