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Persian Khoreshs: lape, lubia and beef

Speaking of mood food, how do you get through the winter blues?

…a plateful of exotic, luscious Persian khoresh with a side of aromatic basmati sure helps me!

Persian cuisine is well known for its lavish, exotic dishes including “khoresh or khoreshs” which refers to a type of stew that’s traditionally served alongside “chelo polo” or steamed basmati rice. Persian cuisine is world renowned for the variety of their khoreshs. It’s the basis of their culinary repertoire. And thank goodness for that. Once you experience the comfort and richness of the flavor profile, you’ll quickly know why…and come back for more.

Varieties of khoreshs include:

–          ghormeh sabzi or green herb stew

–          khoresh-e lubia sabzi or green bean stew

–          khoresh-e fesenjan or pomegranate-walnut chicken stew

–          kashk-e bademjan or eggplant stew

–          beh khoresh or quince stew

–          lape khoresh or yellow split pea stew

–          khoresh-e alu or prune stew

–          khoresh-e esfanaj or spinach stew

–          khoresh-e hulu or peach stew

–          khoresh-e kadu or squash stew

–          khoresh-e karafs or celery stew

–          khoresh-e mast va kari or yogurt and curry stew

–          khoresh-e portghal or orange stew

–          …think you get the idea.

The base concept for making khoresh is quite rustic and simple actually. Sauté the base aromatics, add khoresh ingredients, sauté again, then turn heat low and simmer while feeding it juice, for a couple of hours until the stew takes on the sexy consistency – in this case, sexy means thick, rich, tender morsels of stewy goodness. The key technique for khoresh is to layer the flavor of the ingredients gradually, allowing each ingredient to bloom fully so their full flavor profile is extracted, then when all ingredients have had their turn to shine, allow them all to simmer for a long time until the combined flavors are fully infused and the dish becomes a harmonious family united for the sole purpose of making your taste buds dance with their rich, deep, sweet, savory flavors.

Making basmati rice is an art form for Iranians. The Persian cuisine wouldn’t be what it is today without the contribution of the perfectly cooked basmati rice. I’ll be writing another post to focus fully on the technique of basmati rice. So I ask the basmati purists to forgive my brief side mention about basmati today. I will take time to give it the due respect in a post all on its own alongside jeweled rice which includes saffron, nuts, raisins, apricots, or any other favorite savory-sweetness you’d like to pair with the accompanying khoresh.

Over time, I’ll be sharing lots of Persian khoresh recipes with you and plan to have post talking about the technique of basmati rice. Today, I’ll start by sharing 3 different khoresh recipes: khoresh-e lubia sabzi or green bean stew, lape khoresh or yellow split pea stew, and beef khoresh.

The 2 magic ingredients in these recipes and most other Persian recipes are:

–          Advieh – a Persian spice mix which combines rose petals, cinnamon, cardamom, turmeric, black pepper, nutmeg, cumin and coriander. You can find this spice mix at Middle Eastern specialty food stores or create a combination that suits your palate.

–          Limu amani –  Persian dried lime

Khoresh-e lubia sabzi or green bean stew

This recipe can easily transform to vegetarian. Simply omit the beef.

1 lbs cubed stewing beef, optional

6 whole black peppercorns

Cold water, enough to cover

¼ cup good quality olive oil

1 large yellow cooking onion, small dice

¼ tsp advieh or Persian spice

4 heaping tbsp good quality tomato paste, Krinos preferred

3 cups green beans, cleaned, bias cut / sliced at an angle

Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Place stewing beef cubes and black peppercorns in pan, add cold water, just enough to cover the beef. Over medium-high, bring it to boil and skim impurities from surface. Drain beef, remove peppercorns, and set aside.

Sauté onion with the olive oil until onions become translucent. Add the beef cubes, advieh, salt and freshly ground black pepper. Sauté until aromatics of the combination is released.

Add the tomato paste, stir, au sec or until moisture is evaporated.

Add the green beans, sauté and stir to make sure green beans are coated with mixture.

Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Pour enough cold water to cover an inch over/above the mixture. Bring it to a boil, then turn down to a low heat, and simmer the stew until green beans are tender and the sauce has reached the sexy consistency.

Add water during cooking, pending on evaporation and absorbance level of the stew.

Lape khoresh or yellow split pea and prune stew

This recipe can easily transform to vegetarian. Simply omit the beef.

1 lbs cubed stewing beef, optional

6 whole black peppercorns

Cold water, enough to cover

¼ cup good quality olive oil

1 large yellow cooking onion, small dice

¾ cup yellow split peas – pre-soaked overnight

¼ cup chopped prunes

¼ tsp advieh or Persian spice

1 limu amani or Persian dried lime, roughly cut in half

4 heaping tbsp good quality tomato paste, Krinos preferred

Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Place stewing beef cubes and black peppercorns in pan, add cold water, just enough to cover the beef. Over medium-high, bring it to boil and skim impurities from surface. Drain beef, remove peppercorns, and set aside.

Sauté onion with the olive oil until onions become translucent. Add the yellow split peas, beef cubes, prunes, dried lime, advieh, salt and freshly ground black pepper. Sauté until aromatics of the combination is released.

Add the tomato paste, stir, au sec or until moisture is evaporated.

Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Pour enough cold water to cover an inch over/above the mixture. Bring it to a boil, then turn down to a low heat, and simmer the stew until the split peas are tender and the sauce has reached the sexy consistency.

Add water during cooking, pending on evaporation and absorbance level of the stew.

The classic and simple beef khoresh

Equally good made with lamb.

1 lbs cubed stewing beef, optional

6 whole black peppercorns

Cold water, enough to cover

¼ cup good quality olive oil

1 large yellow cooking onion, small dice

¼ cup chopped prunes, optional

¼ tsp advieh or Persian spice

1 limu amani or Persian dried lime, roughly cut in half

4 heaping tbsp good quality tomato paste, Krinos preferred

Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Place stewing beef cubes and black peppercorns in pan, add cold water, just enough to cover the beef. Over medium-high, bring it to boil and skim impurities from surface. Drain beef, remove peppercorns, and set aside.

Sauté onion with the olive oil until onions become translucent. Add the beef cubes, prunes, dried lime, advieh, salt and freshly ground black pepper. Sauté until aromatics of the combination is released.

Add the tomato paste, stir, au sec or until moisture is evaporated.

Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Pour enough cold water to cover an inch over/above the mixture. Bring it to a boil, then turn down to a low heat, and simmer the stew until the meat cubes are tender and the sauce has reached the sexy consistency.

Add water during cooking, pending on evaporation and absorbance level of the stew.

As they say in Persian, “Nushe janetan bashad,” or bon appètit!

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