khoresh-e-gheimeh: meat & potatoes, persian style!

somehow i doubt this delicious traditional persian stew (khoresh-e-gheimeh) is what comes to mind when you think of meat and potatoes for lunch or dinner-but trust me, there is a reason its an all time favorite with most people who’ve been lucky to enjoy it regularly their whole lives. it is at once a simple, yet complex dish that combines ingredients as basic as meat and potatoes with omani lemons (black lime), tomato sauce, saffron, and yellow split peas. the stew (minus the potatoes, which are fried just before serving-yes, as in french fry style) simmers slowly for a good looong time to create a combination of rich flavors and textures that satisfy beyond expectation. have i convinced you to give it a try? all you need is the right ingredients, some (cooking prep & time) patience, and a very good appetite. as with all persian stews, khoreshe-e-gheimeh is served with steamed basmati rice (chelow)-oh, yes! just a few more starchy carb calories-ok, admittedly this is by no means a light meal—probably better served for sunday lunch than dinner.
for 4-6 servings:
  • 1 pound organic grass fed beef (stew beef), cut in to small chunks (1/2 inch-bite size)
  • 4-5 dry persian (omani) lemons, pierced (crack them against each other)
  • 1/3 cup dry yellow split peas
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup good tomato sauce (or 1-2 tbs tomato paste, diluted in water)
  • 2-3 ripe roma tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1 tsp ground saffron, dissolved in 2 tbs hot water
  • 1/2-1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1-2 tsp turmeric
  • sea salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 5-6 tbs vegetable oil (i use olive or grape seed oil)
  • 2-3 large potatoes, cut into small cubes, or thin slivers
  • 1 cup of oil for frying the potatoes
1. in a dutch oven or heavy non stick pot brown the beef cubes and 1/2 of the sliced onions with sea salt, pepper, and turmeric in 2-3 tbs oil. when the beef is browned, add the dry limes, cinnamon, and about 1 to 1 and 1/2 cups water. bring to a boil, then cover and simmer on low heat for an hour.
2. while the beef cooks, cook the split peas in about 2 1/2 cups lightly salted water for about 30-35 minutes. drain and set aside. fry 1/2 of the onions in oil (piaz dagh-see method), set aside.
start cooking (steaming) your rice about now (see recipe (leave out spices)).
3. add the tomato sauce, tomato slices (over the top), saffron water, and fried onions (piaz dagh), then cover lightly and cook for another 30-45 minutes (low simmer). at about half time, add the cooked split peas and combine well. taste the beef and make sure it is tender. adjust seasoning.

4. when the stew is ready, start frying the potatoes in hot oil, then remove from the oil and drain on paper towels, set aside.
5. just before serving the stew, scatter the warm fried potatoes over the top and serve with hot steamed rice and tah-deeg (crispy bottom). consider serving with a salad shirazi on the side. dig in….you will surely feel full and  happy happy!
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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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