My boyfriend’s parents are from Iran, so I am often lucky enough to be invited to their house for a home-cooked Persian meal. But the invitations don’t come as frequently as I would like.
Lately I’ve found myself craving Persian food so intensely that I have begged Novin to call his mom and ask if she will cook for us. The first time he obliged (She loved that we came over and told us to do it more often). The second time he felt bad and suggested we go out to breakfast with his parents instead…which I can’t understand. I call my mom on a regular basis to invite myself over and put in special food requests–which she happily makes and sends me home with a week’s supply of leftovers–no questions asked. That’s what moms are for, right?
I tried to convince him that his mom ENJOYS cooking for us and LIKES that we are asking to come eat her food and spend time with her. She should be honored that we think her food is that good. 🙂 He didn’t buy it. So, I resolved to learn how to cook Persian food myself, starting with one of my favorites–ghormeh sabzi.
Ghormeh sabzi is a “Persian stew” that is served over basmati rice. Its base is made of cilantro, parsley, green onions and fenugreek, stewed for a few hours with beef or lamb (chicken is good too, but not traditional). There are other variations using spinach or leeks. Don’t rush the process, it really needs the full two hours to tenderize the meat and for the flavors of the herbs to come out. I was thrilled with how this recipe turned out; it tasted exactly like Novin’s mom’s ghormeh sabzi!
I love Persian cooking because it is so light and healthful. The ingredients are fresh and simple, but it does take some time and patience.
If you’re adventurous, give this a try! It’s easy to make, just remember to make it on a day when you have some time. This is only the beginning of my Persian food exploration…more to come!
4 bunches of parsley
2 bunches of cilantro
1 cup dried fenugreek (or fresh if you can find it!)
1 to 2 cups green onions or chives (green part only)
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
3 dried lemons
juice of 3 fresh lemons
1 to 2 pounds of beef chuck, cut into bite-sized pieces
4 cups water
2 tsp. turmeric
salt and pepper to taste
Saute onions in oil over medium-high heat. Add turmeric and coat onions.
Add chunks of beef and season with salt and pepper. Brown on all sides. Add garlic and turn down heat to medium. Add 4 cups water and dried limes and cover. Cook for 45 minutes to an hour.
Meanwhile, finely chop parsley, cilantro and green onions. Saute them over medium heat in a little bit of oil until they are fragrant.
After the meat has been stewing for an hour, remove dried lemons (or they will make the stew too bitter). Add herbs (including fenugreek), cover and cook for another 45 minutes over medium-low heat; occasionally stir. Add beans and fresh lemon juice in the last 15 minutes of cooking, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Best served over basmati rice with saffron. Enjoy!