I’m proud of my Persian heritage…as well as the food that comes with!
I try and learn a little more about it every day, as I also do with my father’s European background. I’ve been to Iran, speak a little Farsi (Ye kami farsi baladam) and know some of Hafez’s beautiful poetry. What made me incredibly joyful this week was successfully cooking a classic khoresh – Ghormeh Sabzi.
A khoresh (also spelled khoresht) is the common term for Persian stew. It comes from the Persian word xordan which means “to eat” or literally “meal.” In Persian culture, khoresht is the most wholesome, healing and welcoming meal one can have. I made Ghormeh Sazbi this week because I’ve been under the weather and needed some good ol’ stew like mamma would make!
You typically have your stew with polo (rice) and perhaps some paneer (cheese), sabzi (herbs), mast (yogurt) and nan (bread). Most Persian stews have plenty of saffron or zarchoubeh (turmeric) which give them an incredible fragrance and taste.
The most popular khoreshs are Gheymeh, Fesenjaan and Ghormeh Sabzi.
I believe most non-Persians love Gheymeh the most. It’s very rich and made of meat, tomatoes, lentils, onion and lime. I think some of the flavors are akin to some other stews in American/European culture so that helps with it being so well liked.
Then Fesenjaan – very intense flavor. It’s thick and tart, made up of pomegranate syrup and ground walnuts. A must try for sure.
Finally, the dish of this post. Ghormeh Sabzi. In essence, it is a beef stew with a lot of herbs. In Farsi (Persian language), sabzi refers to herbs and vegetables as the word sabz means green.
Now the Ghormeh Sabzi recipe I made is my personal preference. There are a variety of ways to make the dish from what herbs one chooses to the type of beef used (or another meat or no meat if one prefers). For example, the photo at the very top was a version I made with lamb meat and kidney beans. The photo just below was a version made with beef, no beans.
Ingredients (Serves 2-3 people)
- Garlic cloves (4)
- White Onion (1/2)
- Stewing meat (1 1/2 lb)
- Kidney Beans (1/2 cup, dried)
- Parsley (4 cups, fresh)
- Cilantro (2 cups, fresh)
- Chives (2 cups, fresh)
- Fenugreek (1 cup, fresh) *This herb is essential for Ghormeh Sabzi, gives it a specific aroma and taste
- Dried Persian Limes (4) *If you don’t have these, squeeze some lime juice into the stew.
- Salt or Sea Salt (1 tsp)
- Pepper (1 tsp)
- Turmeric (1 tsp)
- Oil (2-3 tsp) *I use Grapeseed oil
- Soak beans a few hours ahead of time. If you’re making rice with the dish (khoresh is best with polo!), you can soak that ahead of time too.
- Dice the white onion and mince or press the garlic.
- Finely chop herbs.
- Cut meat into small pieces and season with salt and pepper, even a little turmeric ahead of time if you want.
- Pour oil in pot. Turn on to medium heat.
- Throw in the onion and garlic. Stir them a little then sprinkle on turmeric. Stir again until the oil makes onion translucent. You should get a nice yellow color going in your pot.
- Add the meat to the pot and stir about. Let meat to brown on all sides.
- Poke small holes in dried limes. Add them and soaked beans into pot. (If you don’t have dried limes, can squeeze lemon or add lemon juice here…or while stew cooks later on)
- Add 4 cups of water. Cover your pot and let khoresh cook on low-medium for one hour.
- Nearing the end of the first hour, saute your chopped herbs in oil. Once you can smell the aroma of the sabzi, add them to the stew. (I love this step the most. It’s when the stew really begins to look like Ghormeh Sabzi!)
- Cook stew for another 2 – 2.5 hours. When using a crock pot or regular pot, be sure to check on the stew and give it a stir here and there. Smell those herbs as they cook with meat – so aromatic!
When done, serve alongside or over rice! I enjoyed my dish with some mast and nan. The yogurt can help to cool down your freshly cooked stew, plus it tastes great with the meat and herbs.
- Have you ever tried Persian food? Khoresh or something else?
- What is your favorite stew?
- What food would you say represents you? Your culture?
- When was the last time you cooked longer than an hour? What did you make?
- Will you try making this stew? Let me know how it turns out!