a spring stew: rhubarb and fresh herbs with braised beef {khoresh-e-reevas}

yesterday while walking through our local farmer’s market full of wonderful spring bounty i started thinking about the spring seasons of my childhood. the seasons were such an integral part of our lives, mostly because whenever possible we spent time outdoors. after the last of the winter snow had melted, the garden would start to come alive again, and there would be blossoms on fruit trees and fresh sprouts and herbs coming up everywhere. one of our favorite things to do was run around the garden with friends-we pretend-played a lot, and often, i’d end up being the mom of the group, preparing (mostly inedible) meals for my “kids” from the leaves, fruits, and herbs we gathered (this often upset my grandma because we’d waste the not so ripe fruits and baby sprouts of herbs she was waiting for). i remember our excitement as we jumped over the waterways that ran through the garden, the sun gently warming our skin, the scent of sweet blossoms strong in the air, making ourselves “homes” to play in from firewood, fabric, cardboard, and anything else we could find. those were sweet days. i so miss those days. back then, time had a different meaning (we seemed to have an endless supply) and all we worried about was having fun. yesterday i wanted to make a dish reminiscent of the meals i used to prepare in the garden-they were mostly green, and as fresh as you can imagine! at the market, i picked up some beautiful pinkish rhubarb (amazing health benefits) along with bunches of organic parsley and mint. ahhhhh, the scent of it. it was going to be a first for me: a savory rhubarb stew that tasted, looked, and smelled just like spring.

for 4 portions {serve with steamed basmati (or brown basmati) rice}

  • 1 pound fresh rhubarb, cut in 1-2 inch pieces
  • 1 large bunch (2 cups) organic parsley, washed, finely minced
  • 1 bunch (1 cup) organic mint leaves, finely minced
  • 1 large onion, peeled thinly sliced
  • 1 pound grass fed organic stewing beef (cut in cubes), or veal shanks (like for osso bucco)
  • 1-2 tbs sugar (to taste)
  • 2-3 tsp turmeric
  • vegetable oil (i use olive oil)
  • sea salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup good quality tomato sauce (or 2 tbs tomato paste dissolved in water)
  • 1 tsp ground saffron dissolved in 1-2 tbs warm water (optional)

 

1. in a dutch oven cook the meat (click here for recipe with pictures): add 3 tbs oil, 1/2 of the onion thinly sliced, turmeric, sea salt and pepper. sautee until browned, about 5 minutes or so, then add about 2 cups of water, cover and cook on med/low heat for at least 1 hour-or more until very tender.
2. in a skillet, add 1tbs oil and fry mint & parsley with a touch of salt for about 10 minutes on medium/ low heat until all the moisture has evaporated.
3. in a small saucepan, fry the remaining onion slices in oil to make “piaz dagh“, set aside on paper towel to drain the extra oil.
4. preheat oven to 350 degrees (F). add the saffron and tomato sauce to the cooked beef, stir, and taste for seasoning (adjust if necessary). transfer the beef mixture (or add everything to the dutch oven) to a baking dish (casserole). add the rhubarb, fried herbs, and piaz dagh (fried onions). cover with aluminum foil (with a few holes poked) and bake for about 30-40 minutes (make sure the delicate rhubarb does not fall apart or dissolve).
5. taste the stew-if too sour, dissolve sugar in a few teaspoons of water, add and bake for a few more minutes-if you’d like it more sour, then add a few teaspoons of fresh lime juice.
6. serve hot with a side of chelow, or plain steamed basmati rice (leave out spices).
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ghormeh sabzi ~ persian fresh herb stew with dry omani lemons

ghormeh sabzi black eyed peas

reposting in honor of #internationalghormehsabziday 11/28/15…better get cooking!

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 as 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 stew meat, she would make tiny little peppered meatballs (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 in her stew. obviously, i do the same thing-in this case, i forgot to take pictures after the beans were added (it was quite an emotionally difficult day), but you can use your imagination*. this is a stew that requires a good bit of time and patience to prepare, and even more time to cook (slow simmer) for the flavors to really build up to where you want them. please don’t let the time factor make you to miss out on trying it. it is worth every millisecond that you spend and more. promise. noosh-e-jan!

* i have since added the photo above with the beans…

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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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