Sunday, 9 December 2007

Khoresh-e qormeh sabzi: Persian lamb and herb stew

Also known as ghorme sabzi, this dish is, by all accounts, the taste of Iran. I'd read so much about it it had reached almost mythical proportions in my mind before I ever got to try it. Why I did not get round to sampling it when I was in Iran, I'll never know. (Mostly it was a problem of too many things to eat, and not a big enough stomach (despite good intentions). A common enough problem for travelling foodies (g).)

In fact this is just the second time I've made/eaten this glorious green stew of herbs and lime. But since it is an adaptation from Najmieh khanom's recipe in New Food of Life (the definitive Persian/Iranian cookbook in English), you don't just have to take my word for it that it is the real deal.

Now, you will either need to do some shopping or some chopping for this one, as it contains some 7 cups of fresh herbs that need finely chopping and sauteing for 20 minutes before going in the stew pot. Or you can do as I do and get a bag of dried herbs that have been carefully blended in the right proportions for this dish (and this is vitally important, it seems--when I was buying my bag from the good guys at Tehran Shop near Yokohama Stn., one of the GG's friends got so worked up about the difficulty of getting the proportions of meat to beans to herbs just right that he eventually recommeded I just get a tin of the ready-made stew instead!). You will also need dried Persian limes (limu omani), also available from Tehran Shop or your own local stockist of such things. Hunting these things down is all part of the fun, now, isn't it?

I use a pressure cooker for khoreshes and tagines. If you don't have one, just double the the cooking times and add more water, if necessary.

Khoresh-e qorme sabzi: Persian lamb and herb stew


2 large onions, peeled and sliced thinly
1 kg lamb leg, cut into stew-sized pieces
3 tbsp oil
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp turmeric
4 whole dried Persian limes, pierced in 3-4 places
4 tbsp fresh lime juice
(4 cups finely chopped fresh parsley
1 cup finely chopped fresh chives or scallions
1 cup finely chopped fresh fenugreek
1 cup finely chopped fresh coriander)
(1 3/4 cups dried ghorme sabzi herb blend, soaked in lukewarm water for 20 min and drained)
1 cup cooked red kidney beans (I used beans I had cooked previously and frozen; if using dried, use 1/3 cup and add with the water in step 1)

1. In a large pressure cooker, brown onions and lamb in oil. Add S&P and turmeric. Pour in 700 ml water (or to cover). Bring to boil and skim off scum. Bring to pressure and cook for 10 minutes on low.
2. If using fresh herbs, fry in extra oil over medium heat, stirring constantly for 20 min, or until the herbs become aromatic.
3. Add fried fresh herbs or drained dried herbs and lime juice, bring back to pressure and cook for 40 min on low.
4. Check that the meat (and beans if using dried ones) is tender and add pre-cooked beans. Adjust seasoning and transfer to a large serving dish.

I served this with adas polo (rice with lentils), but plain steamed rice or saffron rice would also be great.



Anonymous said...

Hi Saffron!
I am excited to hear there is a persian food shop near Yokohama station! I am half Persian and living in Yokohama.. would love to make ghorme sabzi for some friends but didn't think I'd be able to find all the ingredients!

Is that shop still there you think? Tehran Shop?

Kheli mamnoon


Saffron said...

Hi AB!

Tehran Shop's still there alright, and you'll find all you need there for a ghorme sabzi dinner, including the music!

I can mail you the directions if you leave a for-my-eyes-only comment here with your address, or you'll find the directions at , if you can read Japanese. (The shop has changed hands a couple of times since then, so some of the info is out of date, and you won't meet the guy in the photo.)

PS I had my first success with tah dig last night. Yes!! Watch out for a post on that soon.

Reeshiez said...

Interesting. In Bahrain the herbs are slightly different. The main "green" is spinach so we'd put maybe four cups of that and then maybe one cup each of parsley, coriander and dill. Some people add other greens and herbs too but as far as I know, the spinach is always there.

Saffron said...

Now that really is interesting. Is ghormeh sabzi considered a Persian dish in Bahrain or has it "gone native"? I'll have a look in my other Persian cookbooks for some hints! Spinach is thought to originate in Iran, to...

Reeshiez said...

Ppl acknowledge that the dish is persian in its origin. BUT since Bahrain has a large persian population (20%-40%) it is considered a bahraini dish. Everyone makes it - not only those of persian descent. Its also popular across the persian gulf and in Iraq also. Kind of like how fasajoon is originally persian but popular in Iraq and the gulf also.

Saffron said...

Well good food will travel!

Offhand, I don't remember seeing a ghormeh sabzi-like recipe in Nawal Nasrallah's Iraqi cookbook (which I originally heard about on your blog!), so I'm interested in the connection. Maybe it's more common in the Shi'a dominated areas?

There are also fesenjan-like recipes in the Georgian canon. I was really struck by the similarities in those two cuisines long before I knew the historical connections.

Meanwhile, Bahraini cuisine seems to be a happy intermingling of many delicious influences. If I ever go on my dream culinary tour of the world, I'll definitely be stopping by!