قرمه سبزی Ghormeh Sabzi

Submitted by:
Ali Rafe, Mashhad, Iran
Food Engineering

Image Source: Author

Ingredients

1 1/2 pounds lamb shoulder or beef chuck, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 heaping teaspoon ground turmeric
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup dried kidney beans
3 tablespoons plus 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 pound Italian parsley (about 3 large bunches)
1 pound cilantro (about 3 large bunches)
2 bunches chives
1 bunch scallions, roots trimmed
1 tablespoon dried fenugreek leaves
4 Omani (dried Persian) limes, rinsed and punctured multiple times with a fork
1/4 teaspoon crumbled saffron threads
Polo Ba Tahdig (Persian Rice With Bread Crust), for serving

The main ingredients are a mixture of sauteed herbs, consisting mainly of parsley, leeks or green onions, and coriander, seasoned with the key spice of dried fenugreek leaves. The herb mixture has many variations. Any dark bitter greens can be used, such as kale, mustard greens, or turnip greens, although none are part of the original recipe.

This mixture is cooked with kidney beans or yellow split peas, yellow or red onions, black lime (pierced dried limu-Omani Persian lime), and turmeric-seasoned lamb or beef. The dish is then served with chelow (Persian parboiled and steamed rice) or over tahdig. Vegetarian ghormeh sabzi may substitute whole walnut pieces or mushrooms for the meat. The preparation was provided as follows:



1. In a medium bowl, season the meat with turmeric, 2 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Set aside.

2. Rinse the beans and place in a medium bowl with 1 cup water and a generous pinch of salt. Set aside to soak for 30 minutes.

3. In the meantime, place a large Dutch oven or similar pot over medium-high heat. Add 3 tablespoons oil. When it simmers, add meat and cook, turning regularly so that it browns evenly on all sides, about 15 minutes. Once the meat has browned, move it to the edges of the pot and add the onion to the center, along with a generous pinch of salt. Cook, stirring regularly, until the onion begins to soften and turn brown, 8 to 10 minutes.

4. Drain the beans and add to the pot, stirring to combine everything and coat the beans with oil. Add 4 cups water, increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover pot and simmer for 2 hours.

5. In the meantime, prepare the herbs: Wash parsley and cilantro, then use a salad spinner to dry very well. Remove and discard the tough stems. Chop the leaves and tender stems very, very finely, or feel free to use a food processor to get these herbs as finely chopped as possible. The more finely chopped the herbs, the more green and unctuous the ghormeh sabzi will be.

6. Separately chop the chives and entire bunch of scallions (including the green tops) as finely as possible by hand. These, too, must be very finely chopped — nearly minced — but they will turn to mush in a food processor and thus should be chopped by hand.

7. Set a large frying pan over medium heat. When the pan is hot, add the remaining 1/4 cup oil and the scallion-chive mixture. Allow to wilt, stirring constantly, for about 2 minutes, then add remaining chopped herbs and fenugreek leaves, crushing the fenugreek leaves between your fingers as you add them. Cook, stirring continuously, until the herbs are wilted and very dark green — but not burned — and they give off a bright green oil when pressed with a spoon, 18 to 20 minutes. This step is crucial to the flavor and colour of the stew. You’ll know the herbs are ready when they feel dry and emit a strong, savory aroma.

8. When the meat has cooked for 2 hours, add the cooked herb mixture, Omani limes and 1/2 cup water. Season with salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover pot, and simmer for another hour. Check on the limes occasionally to make sure they are submerged in the stew but not falling apart. Gently push them into the stew if they’re still floating after 20 minutes.

9. As the stew nears the 3-hour mark, remove the lid and check the meat; it should be very tender. If the ghormeh sabzi seems a little watery, leave it uncovered for the last 20 minutes of cooking and allow to reduce into a thick stew. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. If the stew needs a little acidity, juice a lime into the stew through a sieve by pressing down on it with a spoon (avoid letting the seeds through the sieve, as they can be bitter). Set aside. Taste the stew and continue adding more lime juice until the stew is sufficiently tangy. Stir in the saffron. The stew should be a very deep, dark shade of green and quite thick when done. Return dried limes into the stew to serve.

Background

Ghormeh sabzi dates back as far as 5000 years and originated in Iran.
It has been stated that most Iranian like the Ghormeh Sabzi which mothers make, emphasizing that the dish reaches perfection via fine-tuning in the home setting.

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