Vegan Lentil Fesenjān (Pomegranate Walnut Stew)

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Pan of gluten-free vegan Lentil Fesenjan and a cutting board with ingredients used to make it

We’ve been big fans of Fesenjān for years now—ever since John’s aunt introduced us to it at a Persian restaurant in San Diego. Traditionally prepared for special occasions, Fesenjān is perfect for colder months. It’s hearty, comforting, savory-sweet, and so simple to make. Let us show you how!

Wood cutting board with ingredients for making satisfying gluten-free vegan Lentil Fesenjan

Origin of Fesenjān

Fesenjān (also called fesenjoon) is an Iranian stew traditionally made with meat, pomegranate molasses or paste, and walnuts. It’s believed that during the Sassanian empire (224 -651 AD), it was served to celebrate the new year.

Our version is not traditional, but is our plant-based take made with similar ingredients and flavors, such as walnuts and pomegranate molasses. You can find a more traditional recipe from Rozina’s Persian Kitchen.

How to Make Vegan Fesenjān

This recipe is simple to make, requiring just 9 ingredients.

It starts with toasting walnuts and sautéing onions to create a rich and hearty base for the stew. The walnuts are blended into a fine meal and are almost undetectable in the final dish, but add a nuttiness that I just love.

Food processor with ground walnuts for making our Lentil Fesenjan recipe

The flavor comes from plenty of warming spices like cinnamon and turmeric as well as vegetable broth and a somewhat uncommon ingredient—pomegranate molasses.

You can find pomegranate molasses at most specialty stores, or—good news—you can make your own (which is what I do). Simply cook down pomegranate juice until thickened and reduced and you’ve got a great homemade substitute.

Stirring a skillet of our satisfying vegan Lentil Fesenjan recipe

Though this dish is traditionally cooked with meat, I first began cooking it at home with chickpeas (a recipe you’ll find in our cookbook!). But I must say, lentils and Fesenjān belong together. They become tender in the broth and take on the flavors so incredibly well. I’m hooked!

Skillet filled with hearty and flavorful Lentil Fesenjan

We hope you LOVE this recipe! It’s:

Incredibly flavorful
& So delicious

This would make the perfect meal for holidays, hosting, weeknight dinners, and beyond. We love preparing it in the winter months when pomegranates are abundant. Serve over rice and top with pomegranate arils and parsley for the ultimate festive dish.

More Hearty Stews

If you’re into hearty stews, also be sure to check out our 1-Pot Red Lentil Chili, Moroccan-Spiced Eggplant & Tomato Stew, Lentil Mushroom Stew Over Mashed Potatoes, and Easy Chana Masala. Mmm, comfort food.

If you try this recipe, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo #minimalistbaker on Instagram. Cheers, friends!

Plate of Lentil Fesenjan over rice for a hearty gluten-free vegan meal

Hearty Lentil Fesenjān (Pomegranate Walnut Stew)

9-ingredient vegan Fesenjān made with lentils! A hearty stew of toasted walnuts, pomegranate molasses, onion, and spices. A comforting, Persian-inspired, plant-based meal!
Author Minimalist Baker
Skillet filled with a batch of our Vegan Lentil Fesenjan
4.80 from 101 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 4 (3/4-cup servings)
Course Entrée
Cuisine Gluten-Free, Persian-Inspired, Vegan
Freezer Friendly 1 month
Does it keep? 3-4 Days



  • 1 cup raw walnuts
  • 2-4 Tbsp pomegranate molasses (or pomegranate juice // see instructions to make your own)
  • 1/4 cup water (or sub 1/2 the amount in olive or avocado oil)
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp each sea salt and black pepper (plus more to taste)
  • 2 ½ cups vegetable broth (or store-bought)
  • 1 cup rinsed uncooked brown or green lentils*
  • 1-2 Tbsp maple syrup (or sub coconut sugar // plus more to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric (plus more to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (plus more to taste)


  • 1 cup uncooked jasmine rice* (or sub cauliflower rice*)
  • 1 cup pomegranate arils
  • 1/2 cup fresh chopped parsley


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (176 C). Add walnuts to bare baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, being careful not to burn, just toast. Set aside.
  • In the meantime, if making pomegranate molasses from pomegranate juice, add 1 cup (240 ml) pomegranate juice (adjust amount if adjusting serving size) to small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Continue cooking for about 30 minutes, or until darkened in color and reduced to roughly 1/4 cup (60 ml // amount as original recipe is written // adjust if altering batch size). Reduce heat to medium-low if bubbling too vigorously. Once reduced, turn off heat and set aside.
  • Once walnuts are done roasting, let cool slightly then add to food processor or high-speed blender and pulse into a fine meal (see photo). Set aside.
  • Heat an extra-large rimmed skillet or pot over medium heat and add water (or oil) and onions. Season with a pinch each salt and pepper and stir. Cook for 4-5 minutes, or until soft and translucent.
  • Add vegetable broth and bring to a simmer (starting with the lesser amount and adding more later as needed). Add lentils and stir.
  • Cook uncovered for about 20 minutes, or until lentils are just tender, stirring occasionally. Add more vegetable broth as needed to keep the lentils submerged.
  • Once the lentils are just tender, add walnut meal, pomegranate molasses (start with the lesser amount and work your way up – store-bought can be more intense in flavor), maple syrup, and spices (see photo). Stir to combine and bring to a simmer. Then reduce heat to low and continue simmering for 10 minutes, or until thickened and fragrant. Stir occasionally.
  • Taste and adjust seasonings as needed, adding more maple syrup or pomegranate molasses for sweetness, salt for saltiness, turmeric for earthiness, or cinnamon for warmth. You can also add more vegetable broth at this time if it’s become too thick.
  • Serve over cooked rice (see notes for instructions) and garnish with pomegranate arils and fresh chopped parsley (optional), or enjoy alone as a hearty stew.
  • Leftovers keep well covered in the refrigerator for 3-4 days or in the freezer for 1 month, though best when fresh. Reheat on the stovetop until warm, adding vegetable broth to rehydrate as needed.



*If you’d rather use canned lentils, you can sub the written amount for 2 cups cooked, canned lentils. Rinse before adding and reduce cooking time by half since they’re already cooked.
*Prepare jasmine rice while walnuts are roasting: Bring 1 cup (180 g) rice and 2 cups (480 ml) water to a boil in large saucepan. Then lower heat, cover, and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until fork tender. Check package to verify instructions, which can vary depending on type of rice.
*Our version is not traditional, but is our plant-based take on this Persian dish. You can find a more traditional recipe from Rozina’s Persian Kitchen.
*A green salad makes an excellent side to this flavorful dish, as does pita.
*Nutrition information is a rough estimate for one 3/4-cup serving calculated with pomegranate juice, lesser amount of maple syrup, and without optional serving ingredients (like rice).

Nutrition (1 of 4 servings)

Serving: 1 3/4 cup servings Calories: 427 Carbohydrates: 53.8 g Protein: 17.8 g Fat: 18.1 g Saturated Fat: 1.8 g Sodium: 462 mg Fiber: 9.2 g Sugar: 15.7 g

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  1. Alex says

    I don’t think the instructions say when it’s best to add the cinnamon and turmeric. It just says when you can add more:) Guessing to add while cooking the onions?

  2. Anna says

    This was tasty. I made it quite soup-y so we could scoop it with homemade pita.
    My partner is Persian, and he enjoyed it but said his Persian ancestors would be rolling In their grave hearing of lentils in Fesenjoon! The lentils really threw him off and reminded him more of another Persian dish called “Adasi”. Next time I might try it with tofu (more neutral flavor) or chicken.
    But overall, the walnut and molasses flavor profile is so unique and fun to try!
    And another easy recipe!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      That sounds like a lovely pairing! Thank you for sharing your experience, Anna! We used to have a chicken version and can confirm it works well. xo

  3. Kayla says

    Delicious and super simple, especially if you prep the Pom molasses and walnuts in advance! I added an extra 1/4 tsp of turmeric and cinnamon, but I was surprised how little spice was needed for this to be so good! I think I’d go with pita on the side over rice next time (and there will definitely be a next time!).

  4. Katie says

    Hi there! Just made the chickpea fesenjan from your cookbook (thanks, it’s delish!). I searched other chickpea fesenjan recipes online just to see how similar they are and found that someone posted your recipe.

    Maybe they have your permission but I wanted to let you know, just in case.

  5. Tina says

    Hello – i have never had fesenjan before (traditional or otherwise) i am on the hunt for a plant based main to add to our thanksgiving line up and had your lentil stew over mashed potatoes in mind but this fesenjan recipe caught my eye as more special/unique for the holiday (i already make the lentil stew with mashed on a regular basis) i see that the recommendation seems to be to serve with rice. Do you thunk it unreasonable to consider serving with mashed potatoes? I understand it would not be traditional but wondering if it would be appetizing.

    I may potentially omit the walnuts due to a possible allergy in the family. Then up the lentils. Also intrigued by a comment suggesting to add butternut squash, though not sure if served with mashed potatoes.

    Do you have any other suggestions for similar recipes that might work here or other ways to customize your lentil stew over mashed recipe?

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Tina, mashed potatoes could be nice with this one, but we think the texture of rice is a better fit, especially if leaving out the walnuts (which also add texture). Another recipe we might suggest would be our Best Vegan Moussaka, which also has lentils and feels special for a holiday meal. Hope that helps!

  6. Rea says

    This has become one of my favorite winter recipes. I don’t make any adjustments to the ingredients but I add the spices to the onions as I’m sautéing them in oil. I also don’t have a food processor but my blender does a good job turning the walnuts into a meal. I garnish with pomegranate arils when I can find them, but they aren’t essential. Thank you so much for this wonderful recipe!

  7. Kat says


    I am planning to do this gorgeous looking dinner. One of the thing I’ve learned from my partner, who is a professional chef is to add spices to the hot pan with oil, in this recipe that would be to sautéing onions, instead of the liquid (after addition of the stock). Frying them in oil tends to enhance the original flavors of a spice. Do you think it would work in this recipe?


  8. Leila says

    Fesenjoon was my favorite meal growing up and I have been in such withdrawal since I became a vegetarian, eating only the tantalizing sauce when my family made it (not very satisfying). This recipe is awesome! The flavor is totally right for fesenjoon.
    I don’t have a food processor but used my bottle of pomegranate molasses to smash the walnuts into a meal and it turned out great. It did take me about 40 minutes to cook the lentils instead of 20, and I needed way more water than the recipe called for. Just takes some experimenting. Thank you so much for this!

  9. Barbara Golder says

    Came out great. Could not seem to make the pomegranate molasses– did not thicken. Seems like a lot of watching, tasting, stirring, simmering. a little tricky, but worth it. served it with 2 small bowls (pomegranate seeds and parsley) over left over brown basmati mixed with cauliflower rice and a salad.

  10. Tanya says

    Delicious! This is a great way to cook lentils and walnuts, plus use pomegranate. I found this recipe searching pomegranate. I added another tablespoon of pomegranate molasses. And I used coconut sugar instead of maple syrup. It’s a keeper recipe to add to my meatless diet!

  11. Mimi says

    This was amazing! I found that I wanted a bit more cinnamon and turmeric, but there was a warm, sweet, “meaty” flavor to this that was really delicious.

    I kept some toasted walnuts roughly chopped on top for crunch and served with roasted butternut squash and cauliflower for a comforting winter dinner. Highly recommend!

  12. Carmen says

    So, so delicious! I’ve never had this kind of cuisine before, but the pomegranate that I bought inspired me to try this dish and it did not disappoint. I think this mixture would also be delicious baked into pastry pockets to make a portable lunch option as well!

    I can always rely on Minimalist Baker’s recipes to turn out without having to make any adjustments, which is a rare thing, given the number of recipe developers out there – so, thank you!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Aw, that’s so great to hear, Carmen! Thank you so much for your kind words and lovely review! xo

  13. Greg says

    This is a life changing recipe. The flavor is amazing and warming. The dish is beautiful with parsley and pomegranate on top. We like to serve this with rice, salads and gourmet sabsi. It’s always a hit. Thanks for posting this creative recipe!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Yay! Thanks so much for the lovely review and for sharing your experience, Greg. So glad you enjoy the recipe!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      We’re so sorry to hear you didn’t enjoy this one! We’d be happy to provide some guidance on troubleshooting the flavor if you can share a little about what you disliked about the flavor or felt was missing. Either way, we hope you have a better experience with the next recipe!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Ekta, similarly, but with cubed boneless skinless chicken breasts in place of the lentils, chicken broth instead of vegetable broth, and a little less broth. Hope that helps!

      • Ekta Kumar says

        Hi there! Thank you for letting me know. I’ve made this recipe with lentils for years and I absolutely love it. I just wasn’t sure how to try it with chicken. Would the chicken just cook in the broth? I’ve never done it this way.

  14. Nicole says

    Really yummy and hearty and despite being so healthful, but not the prettiest dish without pomegranate arils (which aren’t around – I’m definitely making this out of season but I finally stumbled upon pomegranate molasses in a local Middle Eastern store). I love the pita idea if I make this again.

    • Nicole says

      Just made this recipe and omigoodness, i wasnt expecting it to be so flavorful and delicious! Its perfect for fall and I want to make it over the holidays as it tasted like christmas to me. So hearty and healthy, I love how it has no oil.

  15. Kavya says

    This is one of the first MB recipes I ever tried… and since, I’ve cooked MB nearly exclusively. This recipe is DIVINE. Flavor-loving plant-based eater’s dream. It is one of the most “intense” recipes that MB has in terms of steps (I’d dare say it is not exactly minimalist) but it is a “show stopper” in that it is absolutely unique (you’ll never eat anything quite like it!), has an umami flavor (pom!!), is quite nutritious (lentils + walnuts!!), and has a fresh taste (parsley).

    As a side note, a substitution I made in the past was almonds/cashews instead of walnuts and it worked out just fine.

    Leftovers freeze well. If you like lentils (or are going to give lentils a try) this recipe is for you!

  16. Lee says

    I just finished reading Marjan Kamali’s wonderful novel “Together Tea”, about a mother and daughter who return to Iran 15 yrs after escaping the revolution in 1979. There is a lot of talk about food throughout the book. This recipe will be made by next weekend (I have lentils, walnuts, the spices; just need the pomegranate juice or molasses).

  17. Karine says

    Delicious! I made this recipe during the Holidays, and the green and red colors made our plates look very festive. I used 2 tablespoons of homemade pomegranate molasses and 1 tbsp of syrup, and it was the perfect amount of sweetness for us. I served it over Jasmin rice with a side salad (greens, sliced radishes and cucumber). Everyone loved it. Thank you!

  18. Anchi says

    Fantastic recipe!

    Chicken fesenjan is my favourite Persian dish but I’m trying to cut down on meat and this is every bit as good, plus takes only a fraction of the time to make. I usually add honey because I never seem to have any maple syrup. Wallnuts are the best but I’ve also tried a hazelnut and cashew nut mix which is very tasty.

    Which vegetable dishes would you eat with this?

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Anchi, we’re so glad you enjoy it! Thanks for sharing! We think it would go well with roasted veggies (such as carrots or cauliflower) with za’atar or with this dip. Hope that helps!

  19. Antonia says

    This is delicious and tastes exactly as it should. I’ve always used an authentic fesenjan recipe but this is just as good (if not better). Made it exactly as stated. Fantastic!

  20. Krista says

    Hello. I followed your recipe to the tee and is was just okay. It didn’t come out as red, more of a reddish brownish color. It wasn’t as sour/tangy as traditional fesenjan. I had to use an entire carton of vegetable broth (4 cups) because it kept drying out although I had it on low simmering. And the lentils would not soften. I had to cook almost double the time to get the lentils perfect. I am so disappointed and confused why it turned out like this. My Persian husband was quite shocked too! :(

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Krista, we’re so sorry that was your experience! We wonder if the lentils were old? That can cause them to take longer to cook or not soften at all. The pomegranate molasses should make it tangy, so perhaps try adding more? Hope that helps!

    • Riley says

      Perhaps you used a different type of lentil? It’s very easy to mix them up and some of them take a very long time to cook thoroughly, compared to others.

  21. Amnily says

    Hi! I’m looking forward to making this recipe but am wondering if you’ve any advice on a substitute for the walnuts? I have histamine sensitivity and walnuts are very high in histamine. Thank you!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Amnily, you could try adding more lentils. Or perhaps sub half cashews / half pecans if you can have those?

  22. Emma says

    This was so good! I found that I had to add a lot more pomegranate molasses than the recipe called for because I love the taste of it! Will definitely make this again.

  23. CJ says

    Oh my WORD this was fantastic. I don’t even follow your blog! I literally just typed a few ingredients I had into Google and came across this. Thought it sounded weird, would never have put these things together on my own, but I’ve just finished eating 2 bowls of it and now I’m stuffed and happy!
    I made it with saffron rice. Also, I should say, I usually never follow recipes to the letter but since I was so unfamiliar with the flavour combinations in this dish I followed it exactly as written and it was *absolutely perfect*.

  24. Amy Perry says

    loved this! I made it from the cookbook and wish I had watched this first as I think I would’ve had a more thick version than what I produced . Your videos are so helpful!!! I hope one day you make an app with your recipes and videos.

  25. Holly says

    So good! Definitely a different flavor profile than I’m used to, but delicious none the less! I made the molasses from pomegranate juice and served with brown rice, parsley, and curried cauliflower. Wish I had some arils to toss on top – would’ve added a nice texture and pop!

  26. Rachel says

    This was tasty and easy! I made basically as written, but with no maple syrup and less pomegranate molasses because I prefer it less sweet. I also slightly caramelized the onions for extra flavor. It reminded me of mujadara, but came together a lot faster — I may make this in the future when I’m craving Persian lentils and don’t have several hours. I served with preserved lemon.

  27. Sateen says

    I’m Persian and my family uses butternut squash,
    Nutmeg, and I also caramelize the onions and garlic for the deep flavor. It really brings the flavors together.

  28. Sarah J says

    I’ve made this many times and am about to make it again for dinner this week. It is one of our favorites and always a hit with guests as well.

  29. Jasmeet says

    Phenomenal fool proof recipe. I used store bought pomegranate molasses and I substituted organic bouillon cubes with water for the veggie broth. Everything came together nicely. And tasted spectacular!