Serve this rich sweet-sour braised chicken dish over plain basmati rice or, better, Persian rice with a shard of tahdig (the buttery crust that forms on the bottom of the skillet as Persian rice cooks).
You’ll notice that there’s no salt in this dish: It simply isn’t necessary. Sometimes I use low-sodium chicken stock instead of the water and bay leaf, but the flavor is just as deep and complex with plain water.
- 2 pounds chicken thighs (about 8), skin and excess fat removed
- 3 cups walnuts
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ cup sugar
- 1/3 cup pomegranate molasses (see Note)
- ½ cup fresh pomegranate seeds or dried barberries
Put the chicken thighs in a 4-quart slow cooker.
In a large skillet, toast the walnuts over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes. Transfer the walnuts to a food processor and finely chop them. Add the walnuts and bay leaf to the cooker. Pour in 1 2/3 cups water and cook, covered, on the low setting for 3 to 4 hours, until the chicken is tender.
Using tongs, remove the chicken thighs to a board and pull the meat off the bones in large chunks; set the meat aside.
Turn the cooker to the high setting. Stir the sugar and pomegranate molasses into the sauce and cook, uncovered, for 1 hour, until the sauce is thickened and simmering. (If you prefer a much thicker sauce, pour it into a large saucepan and bring to a full boil over high heat; boil for 20 to 25 minutes, then add the chicken to the sauce and cook to heat through.) Return the chicken to the sauce and cook until heated through; retrieve and discard the bay leaf. Serve hot, sprinkled with the pomegranate seeds.