Or, when it’s at home: Persian herb, meat and bean stew. Like a lot of Persian mains involving meat this stew normally contains lamb, but has been repurposed here for a relatively hands-off weeknight dinner. Khoresh-e Ghormeh Sabzi is one of the wonderful Samin Nosrat’s top 10 Persian recipes, and after making it several times over the past few weeks it’s easy to see why. It’s delicious! Obviously. The whole dish revolves around cooking a bunch of fresh herbs for about 20 minutes; the result of which is a very tasty stew and a sense of culinary achievement. As well as those patiently-cooked herbs, there are a few elements that separate this from being a usual ‘chuck it in a pot and let it sit’ number.
First up: you’ll need fenugreek. If you can source fresh fenugreek leaves in NI, then all the best; otherwise, Tesco and Sainsbury’s have ground fenugreek in the spice aisles. If you haven’t used it before, fenugreek is a herb often used in curry powder. Fresh fenugreek apparently has a liquorice-like taste, although thankfully we’ve never been able to source fresh fenugreek because liquorice is, objectively, disgusting. Ground fenugreek, which is readily available, has a celery-like vegetal aroma, and is essential in giving this stew a pungent bitterness. The other ingredient traditionally used in khoresh-e ghormeh sabzi is Omani limes, or dried limes. Again, good luck in sourcing those on these shores, but you could always make your own if you really want. Alternatively – bog standard limes will do just fine in adding to the acidic profile of the dish. “Acidic profile” – ha. Fuck me. Anyway:
- Don’t skimp on the herbs – The base herbs for this are fresh parsley and coriander (50% of the KeevaEats household detests parsley, which speaks to just how much it bangs in this stew). If you can’t get them, then hold off making it until you can. The last time we made this we added dill, although lots of people have strong opinions about dill at the moment. Coriander and parsley at a minimum please.
- Cook the herbs low and slow – The only part of this that requires any effort, so don’t rush it. You should cook the herbs down for about 20 minutes – they’ll turn a very dark green and give off a deeply savoury, vegetal smell. The rest of the dish is basically chicken, beans and water, so you’re relying on this for the flavour – don’t cut corners.
- Just a little taste – This is a dish you’ll probably want to taste a few times before serving. The fenugreek adds a bitterness that you may not totally be on board with at first; combine this with the cooked down herbs and you might find that you need to add a lot more acid/salt. Squeeze some of the limes that you’ll use to cook with, or add a tablespoon or two of red wine vinegar if you need to.
This is a very simple, tasty stew. Cook some herbs, let it go, and you’ll have an authentic (ish) Persian dish in a few hours. When seasoning the chicken with turmeric, try to do so in a bowl with a spoon, unless you want your nails to look like you smoke 20 a day. This would go well with saffron rice – check out our chicken adobo & saffron rice recipe for a handy recipe for that.
Khoresh-e Ghormeh Sabzi
- 2 cans Kidney Beans
- 1 pinch Salt
- 3 Chicken Breasts
- 1 tbsp Ground Turmeric
- 1 pinch Pepper
- 4 tbsp Olive Oil
- 1 bag Fresh Parsley
- 1 bag Fresh Coriander
- 100 g Spring Onions
- 20 g Fresh Chives
- 1 Yellow Onion
- 1 tbsp Ground Fenugreek
- 5 whole Limes
- Rinse the kidney beans and place in a medium bowl. Cover with water, and a very generous pinch of salt. Set aside to soak.
- In a medium bowl, cut up the chicken breasts into cubes (the meat will eventually pull, so it doesn't need to be precise). Season with turmeric, and a pinch of salt and pepper.
- Place a large pot over medium high heat and add olive oil. When the oil starts to shimmer, add seasoned chicken and cook, until browned on all sides. While meat cooks, slice and dice onion. Once all the chicken has been seared, remove from the pot onto a plate. Add onion to the pot and cook until softened, around 8-10 minutes.
- Drain kidney beans and add to the pot, stirring to combine with the onion and fat. Add the chicken and resting juices back into the pot along with a litre of water. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium low, cover pot, and cook for 2 hours.
- After about an hour and a half, prepare the herbs and green things. Chop the chives and scallions as finely as possible. Separately, chop up the parsley and coriander (including stems). Set a medium frying pan over medium heat and add a glug of olive oil. Once hot, add the scallion chive mixture. Stir for around two minutes, until wilted, before adding the chopped herbs. Add in 1 tbsp of fenugreek. Cook, stirring often, until everything is a dark green colour – around 20 minutes or so. Do not skip this bit.
- Once the meat has cooked for 2 hours, add the cooked herb mixture. Take five limes and pierce each one several times with a fork. Add limes to pot, cover, and simmer for another hour.
- After around 2.5 hours, check the stew – the meat should be tender and the whole thing should have the consistency of a stew. If it's too watery, cook for another half hour uncovered and increase the heat slightly. At this point, taste – season with salt and pepper and lime juice/vinegar if necessary.
- Remove limes from stew and serve stew over rice, and with yoghurt dolloped liberally on top.
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