* can be made vegetarian style!
2 medium sweet onions, chopped
2 pounds boneless beef shanks/lamb/chicken, cubed (omit for vegetarian)
8 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons ground turmeric
1 package dehydrated herbs (sabzi vegetables) *
3 to 4 cups water (approx.)
2 cans dark red kidney beans, drained
0.25 cup lemon juice
3 dried omani *
0.5 tablespoon honey
salt to taste
pepper to taste
* can be found at international food stores and/or middle eastern markets
listening to: amr diab – wala-ala-baloh
whenever i visit texas with my good friend tabbi, we always eat at kasra persian grill so that i can have one of my favorite meals ever: a big plate of tahdeeg (the crispy rice and/or potato layer on the bottom of the rice pot) piled high with ghemeh and ghormeh sabzi. ghemeh’s lentil-laced tomato goodness and the tang of the greens in ghormeh sabzi are complimented by the buttery basmati, which is fried to crispy perfection.
needless to say, the flavor combination is insanely good. since i’ve already touched on ghemeh in a prior post, it’s only fair that i now share the recipe for ghormeh sabzi.
ghormeh sabzi is most similar to indian saag in its construction – a stew of pureed/chopped greens. instead of the mellow creaminess typical of a saag, ghormeh sabzi is highlighted by citrus notes in the dried omani (dried lime) and a splash of fresh lemon juice. it’s tart and satisfying. my favorite way to prepare it uses cubes of boneless beef shank, but it can also be made with chicken, lamb, tofu, turnips, and potatoes. it also makes a very good argument all on its own. if you’re a vegetarian or a vegan, you will love this dish.
there are many types of herb blends you can find to make ghormeh sabzi. the most popular one (and the easiest to find) is used in this recipe – dehydrated herbs (sabzi). there are also fried and canned versions, but if you cannot find any of these, you can create your own herb blend from equal parts of fresh leeks, dried fenugreek, dried parsley, dried dill, fresh cilantro, and fresh spinach. i find that you need to fry the vegetables longer if they are fresh, but it should not alter the flavor much in the absence of prepared sabzi.
i begin by sautéing the 2 chopped onions with 2 tablespoons of canola oil in a large pot with a lid. i toss in the 2 pounds of cubed beef shanks and add the 2 tablespoons of ground turmeric, along with a dash of salt and a sprinkling of pepper. let the meat and onions cook together until the meat is no longer pink.
in a large heat-safe bowl, empty the contents of the dehydrated sabzi along with enough boiling water to cover. allow the sabzi to reconstitute for at least 20 minutes before draining entirely of water. squeeze as much excess water out as possible. now, fry the reconstituted vegetables in a frying pan along with 6 tablespoons of canola oil for at least 10 to 15 minutes on medium heat. there should be no visible water in the frying pan, and the vegetables should have darkened to a deep green color. once the sabzi is finished frying, add it to the pot with the beef and onions. cook everything together for 5 to 7 minutes more before adding 2 drained cans of dark red kidney beans and 3 or 4 cups of water. don’t pour in enough water to make a runny nightmare, but make sure there is enough to at least cover the contents of the pot.
now, toss in 3 omani and bring the stew to a boil. allow it to boil for a few moments before covering with the lid and reducing the heat to a high simmer for at least 1.5 hours. the longer it cooks, the better it tastes – my best ghormeh sabzi was left overnight in a slow cooker on low.
10 minutes before serving, add 0.25 cup of fresh lemon juice and 0.5 tablepoon of honey to the ghormeh sabzi. honey is NOT traditional, but it’s my little non-persian addition to the dish. for some reason, i think the touch of honey cuts through the tartness of the lemon and vegetables with just the right hint of sweetness. this may warrant a strong “tsk, tsk” from a real persian chef, but the hell with it . . . i like it that way, and i’ll do as i please in my kitchen.
lastly, season with salt and pepper to taste before serving atop a bed of basmati rice.
gotta love it, because i sure do! ah, i can’t wait to go to kasra again.