Ghormeh Sabzi ~ Persian Herb Stew

by My Persian Kitchen on May 21, 2010

Today is The Sous Chef’s birthday.  Yap, he is a Taurus and Gemini cusp baby and represents both signs rather well!

Since today is his birthday, I am going to tell you yet anther humorous West meets East story within our relationship. This one involves one of the most beloved Persian stews, Ghormeh Sabzi. If you thought the one I shared on the Sabzi post was funny, this one  by far tops them all! I think after you read this one you will agree with me that he is super lucky that I continued to date him back in the day!

When I first met him, one fine day we made our way to Westwood to go Shaherzad Restaurant for what was to be his first Persian meal. Of course I was super excited to introduce him to our cuisine.  I love going to Shaherzad because they bake their own bread in the oven in the back corner of their dining room.

We parked our car in one of the side streets and let our noses lead us to the source of the delicious smell of Persian food that lingered in the air.  We were seated at our table for two and a basket of fresh out of the oven bread was placed immediately on our table along with some butter, and a whole white onion with the skin removed.  The Sous Chef’s reaction to the onion was the first comical event of our dining experience.  I explained to him that traditionally in Persian restaurants, and households, layers of onion are eaten along with the food.

We opened our menus and I offered some suggestions on possible dishes that he might find appetizing.  I should add that during that time The Sous Chef was on his favorite diet where he avoids carbs and sugar because he has a sensitive stomach. Needless to say that he only took a small piece of the bread just to try it. I suggested trying a Kabob dish and ordering all salad on the side instead of rice. He went through all the dishes and finally settled on Ghormeh Sabzi. I was a bit concerned about his choice because this stew can be sometimes a hit or miss with non-Persians;  some people simply love it and others simply hate it! But he was absolutely sure he wanted to try it because it sounded so good.  I reminded him that the stew comes with rice.

“I am not going to order rice with it.”
“But you can’t have Ghormeh Sabzi without rice.”
“Why? Says whom? It is a stew, you don’t always eat a stew with rice.”
“But… but you eat “Persian” stew over rice, always.  You can’t have khoresht without rice,”
I replied horrified.
“Says whom?” said he with a mischievous smile.
“Listen to me, you can’t have Ghormeh Sabzi without rice. It’s too strong of a stew.”

Just then the young waiter approached our table to take our drink and food order. I asked for the usual: Dough for drink;  The Sous Chef asked for a soft drink. When time came to order our food I went ahead and ordered Jujeh Kabob and The Sous Chef did the unthinkable.  He ordered Ghormeh Sabzi with salad….no rice.

The waiter’s expression of disbelief was priceless!

“You want Ghormeh Sabzi without rice??” asked the waiter bewildered glancing back and forth between me and The Sous Chef. He clearly recognized the fact that I was Iranian and I know it in my heart of hearts that he was waiting for me to jump in and put a stop to this insanity.

In the mean time I just wanted to roll down my chair and hide under the table, or better yet for the ground to open and for me to melt away.  I just kept my head down and completely avoided making eye contact with the waiter. Seriously, how dare he insult my people’s food like this?!!

The food came  and The Sous Chef ate the first spoonful of Ghormeh Sabzi and his eyes widened in delight.  He ate the entire bowl spoonful after spoonful along with onion layers with much gusto.  I just watched him eat  and shook my head in disbelief. And to top it all off he even ordered a glass of Dough for himself after having tasted mine.  Oh my what an experience that was! He should seriously consider himself lucky that I continued going out with him after his shenanigans!

Now onto our recipe! Let me begin by saying that this recipe is the first of a few as far as Ghormeh Sabzi is concerned.  There are a variety of recipes for this dish. Some people  only use herbs, some people use leeks, and others use spinach in this dish.  Today’s recipe is made in the most simplistic form of it: with herbs only.

Ingredients

1 onion
4 cloves garlic
1 tsp turmeric
1 lb stewing meat
4 dried Persian limes
1/3 cup kidney beans, dried
4 cups fresh parsley, packed
2 cups fresh cilantro,packed
1 cup fresh feenigreek
2 cups fresh chives
salt & pepper
oil

Please note that for this recipe you will need to soak your beans for a few hours.

Small dice onion and mince garlic. Sauté in oil until translucent.  Add turmeric and stir well.

Cut meat in cubes and add to onion.  Season with salt and pepper and allow to brown on all sides.

Make a couple of small holes in each of the dried limes.  Add to the meat along with the beans. Add 4 cups of water, cover, and cook on medium for 1 hour.

In the mean time fine chop herbs.

Sauté herbs in oil for a few minutes until you smell the aroma of the herbs.  This is a very important step in making this recipe.  I highly recommend that you don’t skip it because it really does make a difference in the taste.

Add herbs to the meat and beans.  Cook covered on medium low for 2 to 2 1/2 hours.  Make sure to stir the pot every so often and also taste and adjust seasoning.

Note that some people either add lemon juice or ground dried limes to Ghormeh Sabzi along with the whole dried limes. Personally, I find that the four dried limes add enough tang to this stew.

Serve over chelow, white rice.

Ingredients

1 onion
4 cloves garlic
1 tsp turmeric
1 lb stewing meat
4 dried Persian limes
1/3 cup kidney beans, dried
4 cups fresh parsley, packed
2 cups fresh cilantro,packed
1 cup fresh feenigreek
2 cups fresh chives
salt & pepper
oil

Soak beans for a few hours. Small dice onion and mince garlic. Saute in oil until translucent.  Add turmeric and stir well.  Cut meat in cubes and add to onion.  Season with salt and pepper and allow to brown on all sides. Make a couple of small holes each of the dried limes.  Add to the meat along with the beans. Add 4 cups of water, cover, and cook on medium for 1 hour.

In the mean time fine chop herbs. Sauté herbs in oil for a few minutes until you smell the aroma of the herbs.  This is a very important step in making this recipe.  I highly recommend that you don’t skip it because it really does make a difference in the taste.

Add herbs to the meat and beans.  Cook covered on medium low for 2 to 2 1/2 hours.  Make sure to stir the pot every so often and also taste and adjust seasoning.

Serve over chelow, white rice.

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{ 105 comments… read them below or add one }

My Persian Kitchen September 25, 2013 at 10:44 am

Sharlyn, I would omit the rice but still cook the beans from scratch. I would also add a little more beans to make up for the meat.

Loubna September 27, 2013 at 2:34 pm

Thank you for posting this recipe. I’ve always wanted to make Ghormeh Sabzi for my husband, who is Persian. I will give it a try today and let you know if I am successful. I will however use pre-chopped frozen greens to save some time.

Jasmine October 20, 2013 at 6:21 am

I am an iranian and let me give you a piece of advice :) you should let the herbs fry in the oil completely until they go Dark green I mean really dark!
and chop the herbs into small pieces use a mixer it will work for now but in Iran we’ve got a device that is designed for chopping herbs for ghormesabzi, Enjoy!

Jasmine October 20, 2013 at 6:25 am

and for preventing your stew from getting bitter make small holes with a fork on the dried limes put them in the water for an hour that would work ;)

Loubna October 24, 2013 at 10:36 am

Jasmine, thank you for the advice. I did make it the other day. I followed your recipe and it was really good :) Thanks again!

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