This blog post is sponsored by Swanson®.
I could eat Persian food anytime of year. I know I’m biased but truly, so many of my favorites are perfect to serve any season. But with the holidays coming up, Chicago really doing its best to chill me to the bone, and my missing my family yet getting so excited for the moments we’ll get to spend together, there are certain Persian meals that truly make me feel at home and warm me up, body and soul.
One of these is a classic Persian stew (Khoresh) called Gheimeh. The main ingredients are meat, tomatoes, lentils, onion and some lemon and lime. I’ve noticed that many who aren’t accustomed to Iranian food absolutely love a bowl of Gheimeh. Maybe it’s the meat, maybe the sauce, or perhaps the fact that fried potatoes – essentially French fries – are used to garnish the stew.
They key to making good Gheimeh? Giving each of the ingredients proper time to cook well and soak up surrounding flavors. For example, to ensure my protein in the stew will be juicy and tender I give it the time it needs with onion, turmeric, cinnamon and so on. I also use Swanson® Beef Broth, which has a unique blend of delicious beef stock and is perfectly simmered with the flavors of garden vegetables.
Some serving suggestions: Gheimeh can be pretty potent flavor-wise so I suggest serving it alongside some rice and yogurt to help cool it down. I personally love serving Gheimeh with an Iranian specialty rice such as baghali polo, made with fresh dill and young fava beans.
You may be wondering… specialty rice? Over time, there have been several methods developed for preparing Persian rice: chelow, damy, kateh and polo. Chelow is parboiled rice mixed with seasonings then slowly steamed to form a crispy tahdig. Damy is rice steamed more slowly then mixed with uncooked ingredients (ex. beans, grains). Kateh is basically rice steamed with salt, oil, water and butter – and sometimes saffron. I love polo, a variant of chelow where aromatic ingredients such as vegetables, fruit and meat are mixed into the rice. Polo rice dishes can be complex but create sweet and savory flavor combinations… making it a very popular style.
So… Ready to cook some Gheimeh of your own?
- 2 lbs. meat (lamb or beef), cut into small pieces
- ½ c. Swanson® Beef Broth
- 1 c. yellow split peas (picked over, washed)
- 1 large onion (peeled, chopped)
- 3 Tbsp. tomato paste
- 4-5 dried limes (limoo amani)*
- ½ tsp. turmeric
- ½ tsp. cinnamon
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 4 Tbsp. olive oil
- 2 large potatoes (peeled, sliced, fried for topping)*Purchase from an Iranian/Persian grocery store. Soak them in water for 5 minutes and then pierce them in a few places with a dinner fork before cooking.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in small pot over medium heat. Add tomato paste then sauté for 2-3 minutes (stir frequently) until paste changes color. Set aside.
- Parboil yellow split peas until they are tender. Set aside until last 30 minutes of cooking. (You don’t want them to get too soft, so parboiling and leaving till the end ensures they’ll still have some bite)
- Heat 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large pan over medium heat. Make sure oil is well distributed. Add onion and garlic, and sauté until translucent. (Note: This is an important step of Persian cooking as you’re allowing the onion and garlic to release all that inner flavor.)
- Add turmeric and stir well, until onions have golden color (1-2 minutes).
- Add meat and broth, brown on all sides (lots of flavor magic happening now). Add salt, pepper and cinnamon. Stir well.
- Add dried limes and water to cover all ingredients in pot. Lower heat, cover and cook for 1 hour or until meat is well-cooked. Add a little bit of water or beef broth and adjust seasoning when needed.
- Add tomato sauce. Cook for another 1 ½ to 2 hours. Stir occasionally to ensure bottom of stew does not stick.
- During final half hour of cooking, add in split peas. Can add some potato slices in stew then save rest for toppings.
- Ladle Gheimeh into a bowl or serve over rice (as pictured). Garnish with potato slices/French fries.