Ghormeh Sabzi ( Ghormeh is stew and Sabzi are greens/herbs) made with Lamb Shank, Chickpeas, Herbs and Lime Omani (Photo above, in the white bowl are the Lime Omani -dried lime)
I often say, “when I’m too tired to cook, too lazy to go out to eat, I look at food porn (food photos and food related sites) and I am sated.” On one of these particular occasions, i came across Iranian and Persian cuisine. I was not too familiar with Iranian cuisine (except for dining at Iranian restaurants), as I had not been to Iran (however the seed has been planted), but have since versed myself on the recipes, ingredients and history of Iranian and Persian cuisine.
As I was reading through the recipes and articles, I stumbled upon an Iranian-American cookbook author – Najmieh Batmanglij, who lives in the states and has written countless Iranian and Persian cookbooks. Which her husband initially created a publishing company to publish her cookbooks.
I continued further down the internet rabbit hole, which eventually led me to articles about her family, specifically her two sons. Which incidentally, one of her sons is a co-founding member, of “Vampire Weekend,” an Indie band. A little bit of trivia.
Ingredients for Ghormeh Sabzi (Iranin/Persian Stew): Left bowl – Ghee (clarified butter), Middle bowl – Dried Fenugreek Leaves, Right bowl – Turmeric Powder
After reading about Najmieh Batmanglij (and family), I finally settled on a couple quintessential Iranian/Persian dishes, Ghormeh Sabzi and few others I will post in the near future. Ultimately, I didn’t use her recipe, but, rather a combination of many, after I had read about the cuisine. I decided to embark on my own recipe, but still staying true to the basic ingredients for Ghormeh Sabzi, which are Turmeric Powder, Fenugreek Leaves, Parsley, Cilantro and Lime Omani-dried lime.
First thing to note when making Iranian/Persian cuisine is they enjoy a combination of “bitter and sour” flavors in their food (I promise it is delicious). And one ingredient in particular that produces this distinct sour flavor is Lime Omani -dried lime (photo below – the brown, round ingredient in the pot below). This is an important ingredient to use when making this dish and should not be omitted, if you would like the dish to be authentic.
Yes, you can substitute lime juice, which i have done in the past, however it just doesn’t provide the same flavor. Dried lime (sometimes labeled lemon Omani- which is the same) can be purchased from a Middle Eastern Market, Spice Shop, Specialty Supermarket or online.
I would suggest using one or two dried limes, when making this dish for the first time. Also, be sure to pierce the dried lime with a fork or crack it with your hand, as this will bring out the flavor when cooking. Discard the dried lime after cooking.
Ghormeh Sabzi – with Lamb Shank, Lime Omani (dried limes), Parsley, Cilantro and Dried Fenugreek Leaves
Next, you will need Dried Fenugreek Leaves (photo above), which are sometimes labeled “Kasuri Methi.” This is a bitter herb, which is also used in Indian cooking. As such, it is easy to locate, in any Indian Market, Spice Shop or online. I have this ingredient on hand, as i also use it in many of my Indian recipes.
The additional ingredients are basic everyday ingredients that can be located, from any supermarket. I used Lamb Shank for this recipe, which is a costly cut of meat and does take several hours to cook, but you cannot beat the final result. You, can substitute stew meat – beef or lamb, which will cut down on cost and time.
As for the bean, i used garbanzo beans, as this is what i had in my pantry. Really, you can use any bean, however, the traditional bean used (and what is generally severed at the Iranian restaurants i have dined at) is kidney beans. The choice is yours, i personally like it with garbanzo beans, after many times of making this dish with various beans.
To make this dish vegetarian, omit the meat and add additional fresh greens, such as Kale, Spinach, Mustard Greens and a bean of your choice. And you have a meal.
Ghormeh Sabzi provides unique flavors of bitter, sour and salty, incorporated all in a one hearty stew. I would recommend making Ghormeh Sabzi on a cold wintery Sunday, for dinner. Serve it with rice, barely, couscous, quinoa, egg noodles, or bread.
- 1-1½ pounds lamb shank or stew meat (or for vegetarian option see notes)
- 3 tablespoon clarified butter (ghee) or vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoon turmeric
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 1 finely chopped garlic clove
- 2 cups finely chopped parsley
- 2 cups finely chopped cilantro
- ⅓ cup dried fenugreek leaves (Kasuri Methi)
- 2 dried limes (sometimes labeled lemon or lime Omani), pierced with a fork
- 4-5 cups water
- 1 cup cooked garbanzo beans (or a bean of your choice), dried or canned
- Salt to taste
- [b]Cooking the beans
- If using dried beans, soak beans for 4 hours or overnight in water. Drain the beans and rinse. Place in a large saucepan and add 1 quart fresh water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and skim off any foam. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer 1 hour or until tender. Set aside. Add cooked beans to stew, 30 minutes before stew is finished.
- Heat the ghee or oil in a large, heavy-pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Salt the lamb shank or stew meat, coat with one tablespoon of turmeric powder and sear until golden brown. Remove from pot.
- Add chopped onions to pot and turmeric, cook, stirring often, until onions soften. Turn the heat to low and cook until the onions are soft and are a caramel color, about 20 minutes.
- Add the garlic, fresh herbs and dried fenugreek to the pot and fry, stirring, until the herbs darken. About 5 minutes. If making vegetarian option, add additional greens at this step.
- Return the lamb shank (or stew meat) to the pot and add water.
- Add the dried lime (pierced several times with a fork) and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for about 2 hours for lamb shank (until meat is falling off the bone), about 1 hour for stew meat or 40 minutes for vegetarian.
- Thirty-minutes before meat is finished, add the cooked beans to the pot and continue cooking.
- Salt to taste
- Serve with rice, barely, couscous, egg noodles, or bread
1 bunch spinach, kale or mustard greens (about ¾ pound), stemmed, washed thoroughly and coarsely chopped. Add the greens when the parsley, cilantro and fenugreek leaves are added.
Use any bean, however, make sure they have been cooked prior to adding them to the stew. Use dry-cooked beans or canned.
Lamb Shank, which takes about 2 hours, stew meat - beef or lamb, chicken bone in or pieces (preferable legs and thigh meat) or even duck breasts for a change.
Rice, barely, couscous, egg noodles, or bread
Herbs can be chopped 1 day in advance.
Beans can be cooked 1 day in advance.