Circassian cooking is from the North Caucasus, which was at different times part of the Ottoman and Persian empires. This chicken stew recipe is made with a creamy walnut sauce and was originally served as a main dish, but became a mezze somewhere along the way. Serve at room temp along with some bread for dipping.

Anya von Bremzen
Source: EatingWell Magazine, September/October 2018


Recipe Summary

45 mins
7 hrs 25 mins


Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • Place chicken, meat-side down, in a large saucepan and add broth. Bring to a simmer over high heat. Reduce heat, cover and simmer, turning occasionally, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part without touching bone registers 160 degrees F, 25 to 30 minutes.

  • Meanwhile, process walnuts and garlic in a food processor to a fine-textured paste. Add 1/4 cup cilantro; pulse just to combine. Mix salt, coriander, paprika, Aleppo, savory (or tarragon), cinnamon, fenugreek and saffron in a small bowl.

  • Transfer the chicken to a clean cutting board to cool. Strain the broth (discard the solids).

  • Wash and dry the pan. Add butter and oil and heat over medium heat until the butter is melted. Add onion and cook, stirring, until very soft but not browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the spice mixture and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the broth and bring to a simmer over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and add the walnut mixture; whisk until smooth. Cook, whisking occasionally, until the sauce starts to thicken, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

  • Shred the chicken (discard the bones) and place in a large bowl. Add the sauce along with 2 tablespoons vinegar and the remaining 1/4 cup cilantro. Refrigerate, stirring occasionally, until cold, at least 6 hours and up to 1 day.

  • Stir the remaining 1 tablespoon vinegar into the chicken. Let stand for 30 minutes. Serve topped with more chopped walnuts, cilantro, Aleppo, red onion and pomegranate seeds, if desired.


Tips: Aleppo Pepper: Named for the city in northern Syria, these dried chile flakes lend bright fruitiness and gentle heat. Use it up: Sprinkle on roast vegetables, meats or even fresh fruit or your avocado toast.

Fenugreek: Both the leaves (fresh or dried) and their mustard-colored seeds (whole or ground) have a complex flavor that's a little nutty and almost maple-y. Use it up: Ground seeds can be used in curry powders, teas, rubs or as a seasoning for cooked vegetables. Add fresh leaves to salads, sauces and curries.

Saffron: These crimson-colored threads are the delicate stigmas of the saffron crocus flower. They lend a vivid golden hue and rich floral flavor. About 90 percent of saffron comes from Iran. Use it up: Add to risotto, rice pudding or paella.

To make ahead: Prepare through Step 5 and refrigerate for up to 1 day.

Nutrition Facts

190 calories; protein 16g 32% DV; carbohydrates 2.9g 1% DV; dietary fiber 1g 4% DV; sugars 0.5g; fat 13.1g 20% DV; saturated fat 2.7g 13% DV; cholesterol 40.4mg 14% DV; vitamin a iu 162.5IU 3% DV; vitamin c 0.7mg 1% DV; folate 13.8mcg 3% DV; calcium 23.8mg 2% DV; iron 1mg 6% DV; magnesium 31.2mg 11% DV; potassium 217.4mg 6% DV; sodium 177.6mg 7% DV.