Ghormeh Sabzi lamb stew – Persian herbal magic


I originally found out about this dish when I was browsing Persian recipes. I hadn’t even known that something like this existed, but seeing it I immediately knew I would love it. I mean, how could this not be amazing, the amount of herbs, soft lamb, kidney beans, just the thought made my mouth water. And I thought it would be nice to cook something that my husband might recognise from his childhood.

Ghormeh Sabzi Iranian lamb stew with kidney beans

I think I googled a couple of different recipes and combined the bits I liked in each. There are many ways to cook this interesting stew. You can use beef or lamb, some recipes have dill or spinach, some don’t. You can also use dried and soaked kidney beans or canned ones.  And some recipes also include fried potato, I leave the potato out, although usually I love potatoes as every Finn is genetically programmed to do. But in this it somehow feels out of place to me and a bit heavy. I don’t think I’ve ever followed any single recipe religiously, I’m sure my combination of herbs is a bit different every time. But I always use lamb instead of beef, I just think it’s tastier.

I don’t use coriander, which often is in the recipes and I’m sure would be lovely in this. It’s one of those foods that seem to have a completely different taste for some people. I love it, I love the smell and taste of it. I love it in Mexican foods, Thai cooking, salads, anywhere really. But I have heard some people say that it tastes like soap or medicine. My husband calls it devil’s food and will immediately notice if I try to sneak it into anything.

Bunch of parsley and dill

One important thing I think is the dried fenugreek, you must have it there, but don’t add too much, it might make your stew taste bitter. Another must is the dried lemons. I love them, I actually eat them although I suppose they have done their job once they have given their taste to the stew and usually would be discarded.

The first time I cooked this and lift the lid and said “I made you Ghormeh Sabzi” to my husband, his face was such a sight. He was amazed and delighted that I would have found something that was so familiar to him. He grew up in the Emirates but he has family in Iran and anyway the recipes travel across the Persian Gulf. He testified that my Ghormeh Sabzi tasted just like the real thing.

Ghormeh Sabzi Persian lamb stew

Ghormeh Sabzi Iranian lamb stew

Recipe: Ghormeh Sabzi – Persian lamb or beef stew ( serves 4)

1 yellow onion
1 tsp turmeric
600 g cubed lamb
1.5 cups parsley
¾ cups of dill
2 tbsp dried fenugreek
1 cup of leak or spring onion (green parts) or chives
1/2 cup of spinach
1 cup of Kidney beans (dried and soaked or canned)
3-4 dried lemons
Salt and pepper

Chop the onion. Heat oil in a large casserole dish or dutch oven. Fry the onion on low to medium heat until it starts to brown, add turmeric and fry for another minute or two. Add the cubed lamb and fry until lamb is all nice and brown.

In a separate frying pan fry all the chopped herbs on low to medium heat for 10-15 minutes.

Once the lamb is brown incorporate the fried herbs, add salt and pepper, dried lemons (pierce each with a fork) and the dried kidney beans. If you are using canned beans, don’t add them yet. Add water enough to cover everything by about an inch. Let simmer until the meat is soft about an hour or 90 minutes, add water if it looks like it’s getting too thick. Then add kidney beans if you are using canned beans, check the seasoning and let simmer for another 15 minutes.

Serve with saffron basmati rice and flat bread, shirazi salad and yogurt-mint dip (mast-o-khiar).
Here is how I cook saffron basmati rice with a crispy bottom - or tahdig as the locals call it.

Shirazi salad

Recipe: Shirazi salad

2 large tomatoes or two cups of cherry tomatoes
2 lebanese cumucber or one normar large cucumber
2 tbsp chopped parsley or dill
2 tbsp chopped mint
2 scallions
1 clove of garlic (optional)
juice of 1/2 large lime
salt pepper

Cube tomato and cucumber, add chopped herbs and chopped scallion and minced garlic, squeeze in the juice of the lime, drizzle with olive oil, add salt and pepper. Check seasoning and serve,

Persian rice with saffron and tahdig

Persian saffron rice, Ghormeh Sabzi and Shirazi salad

Mast-o-khiar - Yoghurt and cucumber dip

Recipe: Mast-o-khiar (Yoghurt and cucumber dip)

This is a simple and fresh dip to serve with biryanis or grilled meats and rice as well.

1 cup of natural yoghurt
1 tbsp of minced fresh dill or 1tsp dried mint
1 lebanese cucumber or half normal cucumber choppen (small chop)

Mix all ingredients - the taste develops if you can prepare in advance and let sit in the fridge for awhile.

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    Highly recommended!

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