Pronounced: Khore-esht-eh Gore-meh Sab-ZEE
Sometimes there is just nothing in the fridge. Sometimes there is no money (in the fridge either). But really, sometimes there is just no TIME, and the best you can do is pull out a box of Mac ‘n cheese from the cupboard, pour that neon orange powder over those noodles and call it dinner. Let’s be honest, you’ll probably call it dinner two nights in a row because that stuff gets in your blood and you just gotta …. (pant)….have ….more.
But this is a perfectly legitimate factor to insert into the no money, no time equation. All it calls for is meat, 1/4 a c of kidney beans, a few bundles of herbs – parsley, cilantro and leek – an onion, turmeric and one probably unfamiliar ingredient: dried lemons. Now, I realize this raises questions for the “no time” element. So plan ahead! It’s worth it because once you do about 15 minutes of “actual cooking” you just let this cook on the stove for a couple hours by itself. I bought the dried lemons at a Middle Eastern store, but I’ve also seen them at several Chinese markets in SF, and they are really fun to experiment with in your cooking. You cannot make this meal without them though – they are what lend the distinctive Ghormeh Sabzi flavor. But go out and buy them! Try something new! If you’re especially pressed for time, you can use dry herbs. Many Middle Eastern stores sell a package of dried herbs for this dish, but you can also just buy them separately.
Ghormeh sabzi is probably “the” Persian dish to know. Just a quick google search will pull up dozens up recipes, videos and images. If you are nervous about trying Persian food, this is definitely the recipe to start with because it’s practically impossible to screw up and requires no attention whatsoever. My only caution is that the vegetarian version out there does leave something to be desired. I haven’t yet found out the right way to make this vegie-style, but I have added chunks of celery cooked down, as well as cauliflower. Let me know if you try a spice combo that is amazing. The other things is, it’s totally worth trying this with whatever greens you have at home – spinach, green onion, kale… let me know how it goes!
What you need:
3-4 dried lemons; if you have a food processor or coffee grinder, blitz one of those into powder
1 yellow onion; diced
1/4 c oil
1/2 -1 tsp salt, your preference
1 tsp turmeric
1 lb stewing meat
1/4 c kidney beans
4 c fresh parsley; chopped
2 c fresh cilantro; chopped
1 c fresh leeks; chopped
1 c fresh fenugreek (optional); chopped – you can also just get about a tblsp of dried fenugreek, alternately)
How to do it:
Just one note to begin: this is a stew, so it should be somewhat liquidy, like, probably a little more liquidy than the top picture. But add the water slowly. If you check on it after an hour and it’s dried out, pour in 1/4 at a time. Based on the water, you may have to readjust the salt level. Happy cooking!
First, chop all those herbs. It can be a messy chop or you can just whir them around in the food processor. Next, heat up oil in a pan over medium-high heat. While that’s heating up, chop your onion. Drop a few onion pieces on the pan to see if it sizzles. Once it does, toss all the onions in and add your salt. You want them to brown, so just let them sit there without too much stirring. The darker they are, the less visible they will be through the stew. Once they’ve begun to brown, add the turmeric and mix it up well. Add your meat and let it brown on either side.
While the meat’s browning, put a small amount of oil in another pan and just quickly fry all the chopped herbs until you begin to smell their aroma. If you’re using dried herbs, soak them in water, strain and then place directly into the meat dish. Once you smell the aroma of the fresh herbs frying and your meat is browned on both sides, add the herbs to the meat mixture and give a quick toss. Add about 1/4 cup of water. Take each of your lemons and slam them onto the counter to get them slightly cracked – this way the aroma will come through. Some people soak them first. I don’t. If you aren’t successful in your slamming, VERY carefully use a knife to puncture the sides. You can try slamming them again after or you could slap a pot on them. You don’t want to pulverize them; just get them slightly cracked. Add them to your pan and add the powder, too. Add 3/4 c water, reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for at least one hour and at most 2-2 1/2. About 15 minutes before you’re done cooking, add the beans. Serve over white rice! Be careful not to eat the lemons, unless you love a VERY tart flavor (I personally do). Enjoy!