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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baghali polow: steamed basmati rice with dill and fava beans served with saffron braised veal

last year my special someone chose steak and fries (with entrecote wannabe sauce) for his birthday dinner. that was a good dinner, and we were all happyhappy afterwards. boy did the year go by in a flash! he just had another birthday, and this time, he chose baghali polow { باقلا پلو } for his special dinner, served with saffron braised veal shanks as a must, no less! i called the butcher right away, and they actually had some beautiful fresh ones available-oh joy! baghali polow is the perfect (special) meal for the spring and early summer months when the ingredients are abundantly available. i’ve already shared a {brown rice} “mock” baghali polow recipe, but this time we’re making the traditional version-the one my grandma used to cook for us often with so much love and care. there’s nothing like the smell of chopped fresh dill (combined with the garlicky warm aroma of slowly cooking veal) traveling through the house with the promise of a most delicious meal to follow. every time i chop herbs for my persian dishes i literally see my grandma’s (mammaan) hands in my mind’s eye as she held a huge bunch of clean herbs together tightly and slicechopslicechopsliced away at the ends with a sharp knife and an unbelievable combination of intensity and grace. she would often caution: “pull you fingers in like this so that you won’t cut yourself by mistake…” i’m reminded of a funny story: years ago i was buying  mounds of herbs (we’re talking bunches and bunches of parsley and mint) for a persian celery stew (khoresh-e-karafs)  (for a dinner party) and the woman at the check out asked me if i  had a bunny i was feeding!! i told her i has several :-) you will need plenty of fresh dill weed for this dish-some people use dry dill and insist that it works just as well (it does NOT)! if you have the patience and time necessary to double peel (see here for how) the broad (fava) beans, fresh is always best, if not, the frozen ones are a good substitute. get ready to be surrounded by the heavenly aroma this dish creates as it braises (veal shanks) and steams (rice) away! Continue reading
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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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