September 4, 2012
Persian Meat Stew
For step by step pictures visit: http://tajoon.com/ghaymen/
The first dish that I would like to talk about is by far one of my most favorites: Khoresht Ghaimeh. This is a delicious blend of meat, split peas, tomatoes, and spices topped with French Fries. Not only this dish is really good, it is also a very easy one to make. What I also love about this dish is the simplicity of the ingredients and how well they go together. I have made this recipe a few times a it has been a hit with our guests.
Without any further ado here is the recipe:
1 lb of meat – this can be any kind you may like, during this cooking demo I used lamb
4 cloves of garlic minced
2 cans (14.5oz) of stewed tomatoes diced
Let’s start cooking now!
Warm a Dutch-oven on medium flame and once hot add oil. Make sure that the oil is well distributed and then add onion and garlic
Cook onion and garlic until translucent. In my opinion this is a very important step because you are allowing the the onion and garlic to release their inner goodness. Persians call this step “taft”
Throw in the meat and let it brown for a few moments. This is an important step because you are sealing in the meat flavor
Once the meat has been browned add the turmeric. Look at the color, so vibrant! Give it all a few stirs allowing for the turmeric to release its flavor once it hits the oil and heat.
Now also add the Persian Lemons, add 5 cups of water, throw in some salt and pepper for seasoning, cover and cook for 1 hour. During this step you are essentially making your own meat broth for this stew.
Add tomato cans, split peas, tomato paste, and advieh. Cook for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
While your stew cooks give it a stir every so often to make sure that the bottom does not stick. Also adjust for seasoning as you cook. One thing is sure though, by now your kitchen smells heavenly!
About 15 minutes before you are planning to serve your food cook the French Fries. Now, you can totally be ambitious and make your own French Fries from scratch. More power to you if you do. Your other option is to buy a bag of frozen French Fries and go to town with it. I like to bake mine which always come out very good.
Take a cookie sheet and spray it with some olive oil and place French Fries on top –you might want to add a few extra than necessary because you will be tempted to take a few and eat them! Bake at 400 ° for about 7 minutes on each side. Take out of the oven and sprinkle with salt.
Once the Khoresht is done place it in a serving bowl and top with French Fries. Serve over rice.
Gheymeh (Yellow Split Peas Stew)
The word Gheymeh, literally refers to any meat that is cut into cubes, that is why some people call any stew with cubed meat inside it as Gheymeh. There are various types of this stew in Iran, but this recipe is for the classic Gheymeh, that is garnished with french fries and served with white rice. Also, in some religious occasions such as Ashoora, some people prepare it in big amounts and distribute it for free among people as a vow (Nazri).
Chop the onion. Fry them in a large pot with 2 tablespoons of oil until it turns golden.
Add meat and saute for 2-3 minutes.
Add ground cardamom and stir. This is an optional step but has a great effect on the aroma and taste of the stew.
saute until all sides of the meat are lightly brown.
Drain the yellow split peas and add to the pot and saute for 5 minutes.
Add saffron and mix thoroughly
Add tomato sauce and mix well.
Pour in enough water to cover the mixture by about 2 inches.
bring it to a boil on high heat for a couple of minutes. Then lower the heat, cover the lid and cook on medium to low heat for 60 minutes. Add a little more water if necessary
Add dried limes to the pot. Before adding the limes make some holes in them using a knife or a fork. Cover the lid and cook on low heat for 30 more minutes.
About Limoo Omani (dried Persian limes)
If you are new to middle eastern cooking, then an introduction to dried limes is a must. These little brownish-black balls might not look appetizing, but their flavor packs a powerful punch. Limoo Omani is a very common ingredient in Persian stews. Persians love the many profiles of sour, using sour grapes, sour plums and even lemon juice.
But these dried limes offer more depth of flavor, besides the puckering taste of lime juice. The entire dried lime is cooked in stews, where it softens and steeps it’s flavor into the dish. You can chop the dried limes first before adding them to the stew, or you can pierce the limes all over and keep them whole. As they cook and soften, you need to press them flat, to let the stew’s juices swim through lime.
Limoo Omani is also available crushed in powder form. The entire dried lime, seeds and all are pulverized. It is just another way to get the dried lime flavor when you just want a pinch. If you cannot find limoo omani whole or grounded, you can substitute with lemon juice. The flavor won’t be exactly the same, but it is a fair substitute in this dish.
Yellow split peas
As you may have figured out by now, every dish of the Persian cuisine is rich in fiber, protein, fat (mostly the good kind), and carbs.
According to Garden of Life, yellow split peas are rich in fiber and protein. In fact, a half-cup of cooked, or one cup of dried yellow split peas, provides 110 calories, 10 grams of protein, less than one gram of fat, and 12 grams of dietary fiber.
I don’t know which genius came up with this food, but I have all the respect for her/him. This Khoresht is packed with different tastes that all complement each other perfectly.
Caramelized onion is your best friend, not health-wise, god no, but taste-wise! When you eat fried onions, your taste buds thank you. So, of course, it is used in the tastiest food.
Salt, pepper, turmeric
The three musketeers of Persian cuisine. If anyone ever challenges you to cook a Persian dish without a recipe, use these spices, and you will have completed forty percent of the challenge.
Other than using saffron for making saffron rice, you can use it to give your stew a nice golden color. Fun tip, if you want to make anything fancy, use saffron.
Dried lime powder
Lime powder is a mystery to me, if it’s used in a stew, It’s hard to understand its taste, but then again, if it isn’t used, it’s obvious that something is missing.
The only way I can explain it, or better yet, try to explain it, is that lime powder is sour but not too sour, and it is a little bitter, but you really can’t taste the bitterness. By using it, your stew will have a unique taste, and also because of the brown color that it has, lime powder will give your Khoresht a subtle brown hue.
If you don’t have lime powder, you can use lime juice. Keep in mind that lime juice will not do lime powder any justice.
Okay, I kept the best for last. A tasty dish of Gheymeh always comes with fries on the side.
It’s the crunch guys! That’s what makes this Khoresht more wonderful. A spoonful of rice with a little bit of khoresht, and then the crunch of the fries comes in, YUM!
How to Make it With Dried Herbs
I love making things from scratch and especially for this stew I use fresh herbs. I even chop up and freeze herbs in bulk.
But I know people who make it using dried herbs mix and are pretty happy with the results. Sadaf is a popular brand that sells these and other Persian food ingredients. You can find them over at Amazon or Persian/middle eastern grocery stores.
For dried herbs, use about one fourth the quantity specified for fresh herbs in the recipe. Take the herbs in a sieve and immerse in a bowl of lukewarm water. Soak the herbs for 20 minutes, drain and squeeze out the water. Proceed as you would with the fresh herbs.
If using ghormeh sabzi herb mixture from Sadaf, then follow the package instructions.
- 2 dried limes
- 2 medium onions
- 4 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp turmeric, ground
- 1 lb 1-inch cubed lamb or beef
- 2 garlic cloves
- ½ cup yellow split peas
- 2 medium tomatoes
- 1 Tbsp tomato paste (opt.)
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 generous pinch of saffron
- 1 tsp rose petals, ground or 1 tsp rose water
- 1 large potato
- ½ cup vegetable oil, for frying
Place the dried limes in a small bowl and pour enough boiling water to cover the limes. Cover and set aside. This step will soften the limes and help liberate their perfume.
Heat a large pan on medium. Roughly chop the onions and sauté lightly in the oil. Stir occasionally.
Incorporate the turmeric and mix until the onions turn yellow.
Add the meat and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, mixing occasionally. Add the garlic and split peas.
Meanwhile, place the tomatoes and tomato paste in a food processor and liquefy. Pour into a pot and cook 5 minutes more.
Discard the lime soaking water and puncture the limes, using a fork, to avoid any splattering during cooking. Add the limes to the pan.
Salt and pepper. Add the saffron and bay leaves. Add enough water to barely cover everything. Bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat. Let simmer 1 hour or a little longer until the meat is tender. Cover halfway through cooking, once the sauce begins to thicken.
Turn off the heat then incorporate the ground rose petals. Let rest at least 15 minutes before serving.
Meanwhile, peel the potatoes and cut them into 3/16-inch matchsticks.
Heat oil in a small pan on medium and add the matchsticks once the oil is hot, but not smoking. Cook, stirring occasionally until they are golden (5 minutes). Remove, using a skimmer and place on a paper towel.
Persian Pomegranate stew | Ash-e Anar
The longest and darkest night of the year is a time when friends and family gather together to eat and read poetry (especially Hafez) until well after midnight. Fruits and nuts are eaten and pomegranates and watermelons are particularly significant. The red color in these fruits symbolizes the crimson hues of dawn and glow of life. The poems of Divan-e Hafez, which can be found in the bookcases of most Iranian families, are read or recited on various occasions such as this festival and Nowruz. Shab-e Yalda was officially added to Iran’s List of National Treasures in a special ceremony.
Yalda night, is the longest night of year. People eat snack and nuts, fruits and vegetables, hot and cold beverage. About fruits, there is a main fruit that is the symbol of that night. Pomegranate is the symbol of Yalda night, a lot of things and food are designed by Pomegranate that night, there are dishes, drinks and snacks made with it! There are several different dishes but today we want to take a look at one of them. The dish is called Pomegranate stew (Ash Anar). Here it’s a good piece of news for vegetarians! Anar stew can be cooked either with meat or with herbs.
How to Make Khoresh Rivas
There’s no getting away from it, it’s a rhubarb stew, so ya gotta have rhubarb! If you haven’t got rhubarb, you’ll have to make another sour Persian stew, like Khoresh Bademjan, below, which is an Eggplant and Meat Stew:
Khoresh Bademjan Persian Eggplant Stew
Here in the UK, rhubarb starts appearing on our shelves in January, with forced rhubarb that’s been grown indoors and well, forced. These rhubarb are just as delicious as their outdoor counterparts, but tend to be less red and are a little more sour. By around late April though, we start getting the pinker and slightly more sweet summer rhubarb.
Many Persian stews have a tangy nature, relying on various souring agents to achieve that tart quality, like sour grape juice (verjus) and dried limes. In our rhubarb stew, naturally, it is the rhubarb that does that, but we add sugar to the stew to give it some balance. How much sugar you add will be a matter of preference, and you taste the stew right at the end and adjust accordingly. The sweet should be a bit player.
Traditionally, and certainly, the first few times I tasted this recipe, the khoresh rhubarb was made with double the weight of rhubarb to the meat. I found it a little too sour and sweet for my taste, so over the years, have reduced the amount of rhubarb to be equal or almost equal in weight to that of the meat. Experiment and live a little, when you make it.
Lamb is the traditional meat used in this, as it’s synonymous with spring. But I just as often use beef, and have also used chicken in it. I tend to buy ready cubed meat for this stew, and, sometimes, like in Khoresh Bademjan, also use meatballs. Use meat with a little fat on it, and your stew will thank you for it, as it will be richer.
Vegan Khoresh Rivas
You can enjoy a vegan Persian Rhubarb Stew by omitting the meat altogether, and using chickpeas, the obvious choice, or any other pulses like fava beans, kidney beans and lentils. Courgettes (zucchinis) and eggplants are great in this too. And some vegetable stock for depth.
Water or Stock
My family finds this stew a little light on flavour when I make it with just water. When one is used to robust Western stews and Asian curries, Middle Eastern stews and tagines can be a little wanting in depth. It’s all a matter of taste and perception. However, these days, more often than not, I use chicken stock, whatever meat I’m using, as I find lamb stock too overpowering. Even my Persian friends prefer the version with stock.
You can use vegetable, chicken or meat stock, whatever you prefer. If you make your own stock, great, if not, use a good shop bought stockpot or cube, no artificial anything. We tend to have frozen homemade stock at home, but there are always some stockpots handy for when we run out, and because they are also very convenient. These are the ones I use.
One stockpot or stock cube is usually for 500ml (2 cups) of water. However, the stock is only supporting the other flavours, so I suggest half strength. So, for the amount of liquid here, 1 stock cube or pot is perfect.
Frying the Herbs and Rhubarb
Traditionally, the herbs are sautéed in a little oil before being added to the stew. I skip this part, and just do it with the rhubarb, which adds a little hint of caramelisation. If you do want to fry the herbs, just heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan on medium heat, fry the herbs for 2-3 minutes until they’ve softened and wilted, then tip into the stew 30 minutes before the end.
That’s it, let’s get our aprons on!
This Persian Butter Bean Stew May Be the Best Thing You’ve Never Eaten
With coronavirus making travel a tricky and even potentially dangerous prospect this year, we’re embracing the summer staycation. All week (and all summer) long, we’ll bring you transportive flavors and travel-inspired ideas from around the world, so you can take your tastebuds on a trip and give your mind a mini vacation while you’re still at home. Here, a Persian butter bean stew everyone should taste.
Iranian food (or Persian food) is underrepresented in most U.S. cities, even famously multicultural New York—but Sofreh is an excellent example of the vibrant and delicious cuisine traditional to Iran. Our senior video producer, Guillermo Riveros, spent some time with Sofreh owner and chef Nasim Alikhani to learn more about Iranian cuisine, and how to make a vegetarian butter bean stew packed with dill (baghali ghatogh) that’s one of the best things he’s ever eaten.
Chef Alikhani grew up in northern Iran. Cooking was a constant of her childhood, and indeed, her life, but she only opened her first restaurant at the age of 59. A two-day New School seminar she took just before that suggested it was a terrible decision (from a risk-reward perspective), but she went with her gut and did it anyway—and we’re very glad she did. Sofreh is a must-visit for the chef’s delicious dishes, but she was also kind enough to share one of her recipes, which we highly suggest making at home.
Iranian Food Is More Than Meat
A Full Meal 9 Dishes to Make for Persian New Year As chef Alikhani attests, Iranian food, like the country itself, is complex and varied many people tend to think of Iran as a homogeneous region, all deserts and camels, but in fact it’s a place full of surprises, like lush tropical regions around the Caspian Sea that might make you feel like you’re in Hawaii—and dishes like baghali ghatogh, a simple butter bean stew packed with dill and layers of flavor, which might not be what you imagine when you think Persian food.
Yes, there are a lot of meaty kebabs in Iranian cuisine, but this dish is naturally vegetarian and just as satisfying. It’s easy to make it vegan too, if you simply omit the egg.
Baghali Ghatogh: The Best Thing to Do with Butter Beans
The first step in making baghali ghatogh is to soak your butter beans (also known as lima beans, but don’t let that deter you*!) overnight.
*There is some debate about lima beans vs butter beans. Several sources—The Kitchn, Food52, Food & Wine, Wikipedia, and California Beans, just to name a handful—say that butter beans and lima beans are indeed the same thing, but others debate the truth of that statement. What it really comes down to may be the age and stage of the lima beans that you’re dealing with. Per Leaf.tv: “In the culinary domain, where the distinction between varieties is potentially crucial, lima beans typically refer to the small, green variety. Alternatively, the large, white and slightly creamy bean often is considered a butter bean.”
You definitely need to buy dried beans for this dish, whether they’re labeled lima beans or butter beans—they should be fairly large, ivory-white, and flat in shape. Canned or frozen lima beans are not an acceptable substitute. If you can find dried beans labeled butter beans, buy those. And in either case, soak them overnight.
The next day, drain the beans and cover them with fresh water (this helps aid digestion), then let them sit for 30 minutes or so—which gives you plenty of time to chop the mountain of onions and garlic that go into the dish. Chef Alikhani admits that she uses more onion and garlic than is traditional (“excessive,” even)—almost more onions than beans—but they get cooked down slowly and gently so they taste fantastic and not at all overpowering and practically melt into the dish. The key is to keep stirring and never let them stick or burn, lest they become bitter you’re looking at about a half hour just to properly cook the aromatics, but it’s absolutely worth it. (Meanwhile, you can cook your beans as well so they’re ready for the finished dish.)
When the onions and garlic are fragrant and golden and starting to stick even despite your stirring, it’s time to add turmeric, a brightly colored, earthy spice crucial to Iranian cooking (and also touted as a super-healthy ingredient for the past few years). Lemon juice deglazes the pan and water is added to make a thick broth chef Alikhani doesn’t like a soupy texture, so advises you add water slowly—you can always add more, but once you have too much, it’s hard to correct. Similarly, keep tasting your broth and adjust with salt and pepper as needed.
The other key element of this dish is a massive amount of dill—if using fresh herbs, you could be dealing with literal pounds of it, but good-quality dried dill is preferable if the fresh stuff is lacking in flavor. Once you stir your cooked beans into the herby, savory, lemony broth, follow chef Alikhani’s lead and drizzle in a good-quality olive oil to finish the dish. Then, there’s just one final step: adding the eggs.
Traditionally, in northern Iran, raw eggs are gently whisked into the finished dish, but chef Alikhani doesn’t like the resulting texture, so she tops each portion with a runny poached egg instead—an elegant and delicious option. If you need a vegan meal, just leave out the eggs entirely either way, serve the dish with plenty of saffron-tinted basmati rice and prepare to swoon.
Baghali ghatogh may be one of the best things you’ll ever eat, and will definitely inspire you to seek out even more Iranian food—or make more of it at home.
Nasim Alikhani’s Baghali Ghatogh (Iranian Butter Bean Stew)
Takes: at least one hour for cooking the beans plus additional prep.
- 2 cups dried butter beans, soaked overnight
- 1 large onion, finely diced
- 1/2 cup garlic, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup dried dill (Chef Alikhani recommends good quality Persian dill), or 8 ounces of fresh dill, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons turmeric
- 1 tablespoon freshly cracked black pepper
- 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt plus 2 tablespoons more for cooking the beans
- 1 cup fresh lemon juice
- 2 cups water
- 1 egg per person, poached
- Make sure to soak your butter beans overnight.
- Drain the soaked butter beans, place in a pot and over with plenty of cold water (to cover), and cook on medium-low heat for about 30 minutes, then add the 2 tablespoons of salt. Cook for another 20-30 minutes or until soft but still firm.
- While beans are cooking, sauté the onion in the olive oil on medium heat until dark golden this will likely take at least 20 minutes, but judge by the color (more golden than golden-brown) and the smell, which should be full and fragrant, not acrid or raw. Add garlic and continue stirring because it tends to stick to the bottom. Cook until mellow. Add turmeric, lower the heat, and continue stirring until the turmeric is fragrant, only about 1 minute (don’t let it burn).
- Add lemon juice to the hot pan to deglaze all the onions and garlic let sit for a moment, then use a wooden spoon or spatula to scrape all the browned bits off the bottom and mix them into the broth.
- Add the water and salt and pepper to taste, then cover pan with a close-fitting lid (if you are using fresh dill, you should add it at this point as well). Cook for about 10 minutes. If using dried dill, you should add the dill after 10 minutes.
- Add the cooked and drained butter beans to the onion-herb mixture. Adjust the seasoning and continue cooking on low heat for a few more minutes to warm through.
- Traditionally, eggs are cracked and incorporated into the stew before serving, but if you want to follow chef Alikhani’s lead, top each serving with a poached egg instead—and if you’re keeping the stew vegan, simply skip that step and serve!
- When plating, the chef suggests drizzling the stew with a little more fresh lemon juice and good quality extra virgin olive oil, with some freshly ground pepper to finish.
Dried Butter Beans
When buying dried butter beans, you’re more likely to see them labeled as lima beans, but banish any bad memories of frozen limas or suffering succotash you may have from childhood. Choose high-quality beans that haven’t been sitting on a dusty shelf forever, and remember to soak them overnight. (Rancho Gordo is a great source for beans, but their large white lima beans are currently out of stock.)
Camellia Large Lima Beans, $9.05/pound from Amazon
These happen to be a favorite in New Orleans too.
Fresh or Dried Dill
This dish really depends on good dill, so do not use the mostly full bottle that’s been in your pantry since 2016 buy a new one and a good brand (check out a local spice shop if you have one around)—and feel free to use fresh dill if it’s tasting good.
Simply Organic Dill Weed, $4.20 from Walmart
Otherwise, a dependable organic brand like this is a good choice.
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil to Finish
You’ll want a good-tasting olive oil for sauteing and cooking in general, but save the really expensive, complex stuff for finishing dishes (as well as eating with bread and vinegar, or using on salads). There are tons of options, and plenty of opinions on which of those are best, so if you’re overwhelmed, go to a local specialty market and ask for their recommendations. Below are just two highly rated options on Amazon.