Persian Pomegranate-Walnut Lamb Stew

Persian Lamb Stew

It was a strange coincidence last week when I forayed into Persian cuisine with this sumptuous lamb stew… and it happened to be the Persian new year. A couple of weeks ago I made pancakes for breakfast for the first time in ages and ages… and later that day I realized it was pancake Tuesday. I must have food-focused holidays imprinted in my subconscious.

I recently bought a cookbook – The New Persian Kitchen, by Louisa Shafia, and it has me totally enamoured. I’ve read it cover-to-cover about three times. I haven’t cooked from it a ton yet, but I love Louisa’s style: fruit- and vegetable-centric recipes and inspired flavour combinations (mostly classic Iranian, plus many of her own twists). Think pomegranates, lime, fresh herbs by the bunch, yogurt, sumac, pistachios, saffron – really gorgeous flavours.

Persian Lamb Stew
This was the first recipe I tried, and I can’t believe I changed it (well, I can believe it actually). But my good friend Fariba is a wonderful Persian cook, and has made this (or a similar) stew for me with lamb. She always puts so much love into her food that I got the warm fuzzies when I thought about making it again in my own kitchen. Other than swapping the chicken out for lamb, though, I did follow Louisa’s recipe.

The foundation for this stew is walnuts, providing a toasty-nutty backdrop, and a generous pour of tangy-sweet pomegranate molasses. The flavour is really interesting – quite tart indeed, but balanced by lots of onion and earthy beet.

I like that there aren’t many ingredients – really simple to make, with impressive results. I served mine with fragrant saffron rice and a green salad. The only thing I’d do differently next time is double the recipe!

Persian Pomegranate-Walnut Lamb Stew
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
Adapted from The New Persian Kitchen, by Louisa Shafia.
  • vegetable oil, for searing
  • sea salt
  • 2 lbs lamb leg or shoulder, cut in 1" cubes (or skinless chicken legs, per original recipe)
  • 2 yellow onions, finely diced
  • 1 cup walnuts, coarsely ground
  • ½ cup pomegranate molasses
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup peeled and grated beets
  1. Heat a large, deep skillet over medium high; add a splash of oil and brown lamb on all sides. Transfer to a plate.
  2. Drain all but 2 tbsp fat from the skillet. Add onions and cook over medium heat for about 15 minutes, until golden. Stir in walnuts and cook until fragrant, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add pomegranate molasses and stock; bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and return lamb to the stew. Stir in beets. Cover and cook until lamb is tender, about 1½ hours. Season to taste with salt.
  • Dixya @ Food, Pleasure, and Health

    i wonder if i can do this with goat..this stew looks amazing!

    • Jennifer Pallian

      Absolutely! I think that goat has a stronger flavour which may stand up even better to the bold tang. Give it a go and let me know! ;)

  • Melissa

    This looks incredible, I’m so curious about the taste!

    • Jennifer Pallian

      It tastes…. delicious! Try it out :)

    • Maria

      This is a very delicious stew. It can be prepared in different ways though. You can make it extra tart, or a bit sweeter or, my fav which is sweet and tart combination. Persians prepare it in different ways/flavour depending on where/what city they came from.

  • McKenzie

    I bought a bottle of pomegranate molasses and was looking for a recipe to try it out – this must have been fate!

    • Jennifer Pallian

      Hope you enjoy, McKenzie!

  • Carol at Wild Goose Tea

    Pomegranate molasses??? Well that is a new one for me. And looks like a VERY tasty new flavor. I can see why you are intrigued with your new cookbook exposure. This is quite an interesting recipe. I cook very little with lamb, but I sure love to eat it. It’s the beets that seem odd—-and I find odd interesting. Lol

    • Jennifer Pallian

      Haha Carol :) You can’t really taste them, but they add a nice colour, and maybe a bit of sweetness. They melt into the stew.

    • Maria

      Pomegranate juice boiled to reduce water content and turns to a thick syrup. It can be used for making pomegranate juice or for cooking.
      I make the Walnut stew but I don’t add beets. That’s a new one – I’ve never seen nor tasted any Persian Walnut Stew with beets. But this food surely tastes good. It goes well with Persian pickles too.

  • Jenny Devine

    Hi Jen this sounds yummy! Just a question in regards the “beets”? I’m in Australia, so I’m assuming beets are what we call beetroot? If not then could you please enlighten me? Thanks so much, your blog is a constant source of inspiration! Keep ’em coming!! X Jen

    • Jennifer Pallian

      Jenny, yes it’s the same thing ;) Thank you so much for your kind words.

  • Maria

    Persian Walnut Stew is absolutely delicious. I don’t know how you were able to finish cooking the stew in 1.5 hours but if you got the right taste and texture, then it’s great. It will take me about 4-5 hours preparing just the sauce (ground walnuts and pomegranate molasses). The oil from the walnuts should separate from the rest of the sauce and there’s a trick to achieve it more quickly than waiting for it to come naturally through boiling. When the oil separates (oil will accumulate on top), then that’s the right time to add the pomegranate and other seasonings. I cook the meat separately and add them when sauce is ready and boil them together for a bit for the meat to soak in the sauce. You can prepare this with Persian style meatballs, chicken, beef or lamb.

    This food is one of my favourites. Easy to prepare though it takes a long time of boiling and will freeze well.