RECIPE: GHORMEH SABZI – HERB STEW

Ghormeh Sabzi was the first Persian meal I ever attempted to make. I was so nervous because I desperately wanted to get it right to impress Peter. He raved about his Mum’s cooking so I knew that the bar had been set very high. I had cooked for him before and he always liked it, except for the time I made spaghetti squash and he politely told me that it would be okay with him if we never ate it again. We haven’t eaten it since! My first attempt at Ghormeh Sabzi wasn’t so great, but Peter let me down easy and said that it was “good, but not quite how Mum used to make it”. I did some research to figure out what I had done wrong, made some adjustments, and attempted it again. This time it was successful!

Ghormeh Sabzi is one of my favourite Persian stews. It’s so full of flavour and, if all the traditional ingredients are used, it’s a flavour that you’ve probably never tasted before. The two essential ingredients in this stew are dried limes and fenugreek. If you’re having trouble finding dried limes and fenugreek, the stew will still be good, it just won’t taste super authentic.

We live fairly close to a Perisan grocery store, so I’m never without the harder-to-find ingredients that I need for traditional Persian food. One thing we don’t get, however, is fresh fenugreek, so I substitute with dried fenugreek leaves. Do not substitute with fenugreek seeds! They have a very different flavour.

I like to use chicken and kidney beans in this stew. You could use beef or lamb instead of chicken (or omit the meat completely) and pretty much any kind of bean in place of kidney beans. Pinto beans and black eyed peas are popular choices. You can also add whatever greens you want. I use parsley, cilantro, dill, green onion, leek, spinach, and fenugreek, but feel free to add more. Kale would be a good addition.

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Ghormeh Sabzi (Herb Stew) served with saffron basmati rice.

GHORMEH SABZI

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 lbs chicken breasts, cubed
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups dried kidney beans, soaked overnight
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 pound spinach, finely chopped
  • 1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 cup green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 leek, green stems only, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup fresh dill, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp dried fenugreek leaves
  • 2 dried limes, soaked in hot water to cover for 15 minutes
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice

DIRECTIONS

  1. Clean the herbs and chop finely. Heat herbs on high heat in a large frying pan. Cook herbs, stirring frequently, until water evaporates. Add 2 tbsp of oil and stir fry until herbs darken, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set mixture aside.
  2. Heat oil in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat and add onion. Sauté the onion until it’s golden brown.
  3. Add the chicken, garlic, and spices to the onion. Cook until the chicken is browned.
  4. Add water, herb mixture, and kidney beans and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 30 minutes.
  5. While the stew is simmering, soak dried limes for 15 minutes in hot water. I use a french press to keep them fully submerged in the water. Pierce the limes and add them to the stew along with their soaking water. Simmer for another hour.
  6. Add lemon juice and stir. Serve.

As with every Persian stew, the longer it simmers, the better it tastes. Serve with rice and enjoy!

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