ghormeh sabzi ~ persian fresh herb stew with dry omani lemons

ghormeh sabzi black eyed peas

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 recipe

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!


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persian green bean stew: khoresh-e-loobia

i love summer: long days and warm  nights, beautiful golden sunsets, lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, the warmth of the sun, swimming in the ocean (this, more recently), visiting (with) friends from near and far, endless sand (everywhere), the smell of sunscreen, outdoor barbecues, grilled food, family time, the occasional scoop of ice cream, carefree kids, and leisurely road trips. as much as i try to hold on to it, labor day still rolls around every year and signals the end of my favorite season. i was feeling that slight heavy feeling on labor day afternoon-the one that used to hit you as a kid on sunday nights when you had to sit down and do homework or when the holidays (or summer for that matter) were over. in order to make us feel better, i decided to make some comfort food-which for me usually involves steamed basmati rice with saffron braised chicken (or persian morgh polow). this time, though, i had bought a lot of fresh organic green beans, and decided to make a persian green bean stew, or khoresh-e-loobia. as i cut the beans in threes and sliced them down the middle (quite a bit of work, but rather relaxing once you get into it), i realized i knew how to do this because i’d watched it being done so often as a child (when i’d snip off the ends of the beans for the adults who did the cutting). this meal took a good amount of time and attention to prepare (which is exactly what i needed to lift off the heaviness), but it provided the much needed comfort to our last night of summer.
ingredients for 6-8 servings:
  • 1.5 pounds grass fed organic beef (stew) 
  • 2-3 tbs turmeric
  • 4 tbs vegetable oil
  • 2 pounds fresh green beans, cut in 2 or three sections, then sliced in half
  • 3 ripe roma tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 tbs tomato paste diluted in 1/2 cup water
  • 1 heaping tsp ground saffron (or a 8-10 strands seeped in a few drops of warm water)
  • sea salt and ground pepper to taste
  • juice of 1 large lime (or more if not using sour grapes)
  • 2-3 tbs sour grapes (optional)

1. before processing the green beans, start braising the beef: add 1 tbs oil to a small dutch oven or heavy pot, then brown the beef with 1/2 of the onion and 1 heaping tbs turmeric, sea salt, and pepper. when the beef is browned add about 1/2 cup of water and allow the beef to simmer (partially covered) on medium/low heat  for at least one hour until very tender. keep an eye on the beef to add water if necessary.

2. add a touch of saffron just before removing from the heat. the onions should be almost melted, and there should be good tasty broth surrounding the tender beef. taste and adjust for salt.

3. add 2-3 tbs vegetable oil and 1 tbs turmeric to a dutch oven or large deep skillet with the green beans and fry on medium heat (stirring every 2-3 minutes) until tender, about 10-15 minutes.

4. once the beans are ready, add the beef and juices to the skillet (or dutch oven), add salt and pepper to taste, lime juice, tomato paste, quartered roma tomatoes, the saffron, and  piaz dagh (1/2 of the sliced onion, fried to a golden brown see how to make PIAZ DAGH), and the sour grapes if you have them. allow the stew to simmer for an hour (or up to 1.5 hours) on med/low heat. taste for salt & lime juice, and adjust to your taste. serve with steamed basmati rice (recipe) or cooked brown rice.

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