cooking ghormeh sabzi: to celebrate our beloved grandma, my sister and i did the one thing we knew would most closely connect us to her in our sadness. we cooked. we cooked all day. we prepared many of the favorite dishes she had so lovingly made for us over the years. we stood side by side and quietly chatted while we chopped, sliced, fried, and simmered our stews. as the familiar aromas surrounded us, we remembered, and we felt the connection-to her, and to the past that is so much a part of the present and the people we have become today. the way we live, love, and feed our families. there was sadness, for sure, but there was also an incredible sense of hope and responsibility towards the next generation and the huge legacy we have to live up to. at the end of the day, we gathered with our loved ones around the table, said our prayers, and enjoyed the foods we only know how to cook because she taught us so well. we laughed and cried, but mostly we felt enormous gratitude for having been so lucky to call her our mommoni (grandma) for so many years.
ghormeh sabzi is my favorite persian stew by far, and i requested it pretty much every time mommon asked me what i wanted to eat. since i didn’t like stewed meat, she would make tiny little peppered meatballs (infused with grated onions) and add them to the stew for me. to this day ghormeh (deep fried meat they preserved in oil for the winter months) sabzi (greens-or fresh herbs) does not hit the spot without the little delicious meatballs. mommon also went against general consensus and used black eyed peas instead of the typical kidney beans that most people use in their stews. this is a stew that requires a good bit of time and patience to prepare, and even more time to cook (slow simmer/braise) for the flavors to really build up to where you want them to be. please don’t let the time factor prevent you from trying it. it is worth every millisecond that you spend on it and more. promise, & noosh-e-jan!
- about 2 pounds grass fed organic stew beef, cubed (or lamb or veal shanks)
- 2 large onions, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup oil
- sea salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1/3-1/2 cup dried black eyed peas (or red kidney beans)-pre-soaked
- 6-7 dried persain limes (omani lemons), pierced with the tip of a knife (or you can use the powder, about 4-5 tbs)
- 4 cups finely chopped organic parsley
- 3 cups finely chopped organic chives or scallions
- 4 cups finely chopped organic cilantro (coriander)
- 1 cup finely chopped fresh fenugreek (or 1/2 cup dried)
- optional for meatballs: about 1/2 -1 pound (lean, organic grass fed) ground beef (combine in a bowl with 1/4 of an onion, finely grated, water removed, sea salt, and plenty of freshly ground pepper, then make small meatballs. add to the stew about 1 hour prior to serving). yumyum.
1. brown onions in a heavy pot or dutch oven with 1/2 of the oil, then set 1/2 of the fried onions aside (see piaz dagh recipe), and add the beef, sea salt, pepper and turmeric. brown the beef, then add about 2-3 cups of water, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer (med/low), and allow to cook for about 1 hours until just tender.
2. cook pre-soaked beans (at the same time as the beef) separately until tender, set aside.
3. fry the chopped herbs in a deep skillet with the remaining oil over medium heat until most of the moisture evaporates, about 20-25 minutes (stirring constantly). the herbs should shrink down quite a bit and have almost no moisture.
4. add the fried herbs, fried onions (piaz dagh), and dried lemons to the cooked beef with about 1-2 cups water, and taste and adjust seasoning. cover the stew and simmer for about 1.5 hours before adding the cooked beans. simmer for another 30 to 45 minutes. taste and adjust seasoning. serve with persian steamed rice, or chelow (see method). you can transfer the stew to a casserole and keep covered in a warm oven until ready to serve.