Quince Tas Kabob | A Persian Dish with a New Yorker Flair

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4quince tas kabob Persian Iranian food cooking blog

Tas Kabab is a type of Persian dish that is a fusion of meat and various vegetables, layered and piled on top of each other, nestled in close proximity in a pot, and cooked ever so slowly. In this simmering manner, the various ingredients grow cozy and intimate. They bond! Each conveying its distinct quality to a neighboring companion but also picking up the essence of its in-the-same-pot comrades. The result: a dish with a fusion of flavor, aroma and texture far greater than the sum of its parts. What’s more, it’s a healthy and nutritious meal.

This dish really reminds me of New York. What I mean is that if New York had to be a Persian dish, I think tas kabab is what it’d be. And not just because the ingredients are crowded together in tight quarters, much like people are in the subway or a typical New York apartment building. And not just because this dish reaches skyscraping heights of dizzying flavor. Which boy oh boy, it does. It’s also because tas kabob is ultimately a dish that is all about layering, lauding, and harmonizing diversity; and in that sense, it mirrors the breathless diversity of origin, ethnicity and race of New Yorkers of all walks and standings who live, work and mingle together and in the process create a tapestry of energy that is far more interesting and vibrant than it’d ever be were this a homogenous city.

3quince tas kabob Persian Iranian food cooking blog

I think I love tas kabob nearly as much as I love New York: it’s the ultimate in comfort food with a core of unpretentious sophistication that can not be beat. The ingredients for it are pretty flexible and interchangeable, almost all types of vegetables would work out beautifully. My all time favorite though is when it’s made with quince, that deceptively brutish-looking fruit with an intoxicating aroma and delectable flesh. If quinces are out of reach, green apples can be substituted in a pinch. Traditionally, meat is the anchor igredient of any type of tas kabob, but for a vegetarian/vegan meal it is possible to skip it and one may substitute the meat with portobello mushroom instead without missing out on much of the goodness of this dish.

Tas Kabob is one of those dishes that’s all about the prep and assembly, which you can do in a cinch, and once you’re done with that, you can kick back and let chemistry take its slow course and do its delicious deed.

2quince tas kabob Persian Iranian food cooking blog8quince tas kabob Persian Iranian food cooking blog

beh tas kabob quince Persian food New york recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 quinces, washed, cored and sliced  (or substitute 2-3 green apples)
  • 4 medium-sized potatoes, peeled and sliced
  • 1 pound flank steak, cut into several pieces (omit, or substitute with portobello mushrooms for a vegetarian version)
  • 2 big onions, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 large tomatoes, sliced
  • 4 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 3-6 leaves of fresh sage, chopped
  • juice of one lemon
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste dissolved in 2 tablespoons hot water
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon powder of dried Persian limes (or substitute a dried lime, punctured with a fork)
  • 1″ cut of ginger, grated (optional)
  • 1 sprig of rosemary (optional)
  • salt, pepper, and olive oil

Notes:

  • You can substitute other vegetables for this dish, including: squash, zucchini, eggplant, cauliflower, etc.
  • You could omit the lemon juice and lime powder and instead, when serving the dish, sprinkle it with cinnamon. If you choose to do so, you could also substitute turmeric with ground saffron for added oomph.
  • 5quince tas kabob Persian Iranian food cooking blog

Direction

  1. Mix turmeric, lime powder, salt and pepper. (This is your mixed spice to sprinkle the layers. )
    Add 3 tablespoons of water and 3 tablespoons of oil to a medium-sized pot. Construct a mixed layer of ingredients in this order: onions, meat, potato, quince, carrots, and tomato. Sprinkle each ingredient-layer with a bit of the mixed spice; and some of the chopped up sage. Repeat till you’ve used up everything.
  2. Mixed dissolved tomato paste with the lemon juice and sprinkle on top.  Add the rosemary sprig.
  3. Cook on low heat, covered, for 2-3 hours. (Ideally, use a heat-diffuser for the stove.) Correct seasoning before serving.

Serving

Serve hot in a deep serving bowl.  This dish pairs deliciously with yogurt and flat bread. This is a healthy, low-cal dish bursting with nutrition and a flavor that can’t be beat.

Make it, enjoy it, and noosheh jaan!

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67 thoughts on “Quince Tas Kabob | A Persian Dish with a New Yorker Flair

  1. This sounds wonderful. I love your metaphor with the city. I agree that it has all of the elements of culture and class, diversity and crowd, and possessing everything you might want with meat, fruit and veggies. I must try this. I love that you included substitutions. Beautiful pics and very well -written! I look forward to reading your posts.

  2. Were you able to breathe during the last sentence of the first paragraph?! I’m impressed, as always.

    What’s the purple veg/fruit? Potato? Shame I can’t get quince where I am. Although, I might head up to the dreaded superstore next week and check with them as they did have greengage early autumn. As for dried lime, I’ve never seen that here. To be honest, I’ll be lucky to find both fresh sage and rosemary in the same store! It’s hardly surprising I have a whinge now and then 🙂

    So want to make this, ingredients allowing!

    • Thank you! And sorry for belated response …

      The purple thing is a potato. You can sub dried lime with adding a tangy element of some type, i.e. lemon juice. Sage and rosemary can be dispensed with as well. And quince can be substituted with green apples. I do hope you’ll make it and put that indelible “Johnny” stamp on it.

      • So glad you responded, as I noticed dried limes in the International store literally only two days ago. And (this won’t surprise you) couldn’t remember where I’d seen them used! Grief! My memory really is that bad. Will have to wait until next week to get up there again. How exciting, though. A new ingredient 🙂

      • Cool!!! I’m practically rubbing my hands together, ha ha, b/c I’m so excited to see if you make this and how it turns out.

  3. Fantastic! Love the analogy between the city and your dish. It will be 6 months before quinces reappear in Melbourne, but as appropriate here as in NYC!! I’ve put the recipe in a safe place until then 🙂

    • Fabulous! You know, you could always substitute quinces for green apples if you decide to make this earlier should there be an unseasonably cold spring day ahead! 😉

  4. What a fabulous dish Azita – as always packed full of flavour! Love that this is slow cooked to allow those ingredients to nestle in and work their magic together. I fell instantly in love with New York when I first went there and you’re right about the incredible energy created from diversity. I’d love to find an opportunity to live there for a couple of years, sometime down the track! Another little dream of mine… 🙂

    • I’m rooting for you to get to live in NY for a couple of years! And once that happens you know what’ll happen next? Potlucks! 🙂

  5. You made me want to be a New Yorker, well…almost. I don’t know how long I could last piled up on top of each other, in close proximity. I need space! That doesn’t mean I don’t love people, of course. Just give me space, lol… This dish sounds really wonderful, Azita! I’ve had quince jelly before, but never tried quince in a stew with meat. I have to say the sound of it just makes my mouth water. The smell of quince actually makes my mouth water. I need to get me some asap. And put them in my car to perfume it! Faboo tablecloth, btw. 🙂

  6. I love everything about this post – the superbly descriptive writing, the beautiful photos and topped off with a mouthwatering recipe that I’m going to make for dinner tomorrow. I have a box of quinces ready for poaching, but will certainly be putting a couple aside for this delicious dish. Thank you for sharing this recipe with us. 🙂

  7. Azita, I LOVE your descriptions! So evocative. I will now always think of NY as a Persian dish!
    Oh and two weeks back I bought dried limes, sumac and a lot of other interesting ingredients and planned on asking either you or Fae how they were to be used.
    Been really busy with all my chocolate orders… no time to write or even read.
    R

    • Apologies for delayed reaction, I was similarly tied up with no time to even respond to comments. I’m so glad you liked this recipe Radhika, and intrigued to find out down the line how you use the sumac and dried limes. And curious about what other “interesting ingredients” you bought! 😉

  8. The recipe, the ingredients, the colors … everything looks fabulous, Azita!
    I love your comparison between this dish and New York. Your description of the city … sophisticated but not pretentious … is simply perfect. You nailed it with just a few words. What a gift! 🙂

  9. Oooh, thank you for lovely comment Francesca! Please forgive delayed reaction, I was FRAZZLED. But please know that your comment made my day then and does again re-reading it. 🙂

  10. Azita, that sounds stunning! Quinces are only ever in season here for a very short time, but this looks like the perfect recipe to keep for the next time they’re around. And I love that you used flank steak – I’ve only just discovered the cut myself, and was surprised how flavourful it is! x

  11. I like how beautifully and rightfully so you compare these two mixing pots together. It is raining here in SF (the 1st rain of this season) and I have a platter of freshly cut quince on the table which took some pictures of. Wish could send it to you. I don’t know what is it about this magical season and quince that so perfectly complete one another. Combination of the weather today and reading your blog inspires me to stay home and do some more persian cooking. Few days ago I made FESENJOON with fresh pomegranate and added some quince to it. Simply delicious. I thought I should share that with you.
    Again Merci for beautiful thoughts & writings.

    • Ah, you are a quince lover! 🙂 Corny as it sounds, I find it heartwarming to hear that you stayed home and cooked Persian food. Yay! I love LOVE your idea of adding quince to fesenjoon. That sounds so delicious. I’m going to copy-cat you.

      Do share pix of your Persian culinary creations, you could always email them to me fig @ figandquince dot com Would love that actually

      bizou bizou!

      • Please do & let us know how u like it. I’m curious. Since I had all these quinces I ended up making quince-apple sauce with lots of cardamom & rose water. I tried making quince jam but it never turns that beautiful deep amber color unless it is cooked for ever which by then all the yummy juice has evaporated. Do you have any suggestions on that?
        Merci
        Bizou bizou

      • Umm, your quince-apple sauce sounds wonderful as well! I definitely plan to make the quince fessenjoon – (I’m thinking of cutting the quince in big chunks) really love the idea and can’t wait to see how it turns out.

        Re tips for the jam: my mom says you should cook it for a good bit, nearly 3 hours or so, and the trick is to use a “dam koni” for the lid, same as if you were making a rice. Hope this helps! 🙂

  12. I love the addition of fruit in stews like this. Looks delicious, both in raw and cooked forms. It’s been over 10 years since I last visited New York but I loved everything about the experience. I need to get back there one day. For now, I want to try this stew! I need to track down some quinces…. xx

    • It’s a good and simple text with big flavor, so do recommend it. Next time you visit New York, Laura, I’m going to insist on a tete-a-tete!

  13. I was very excited to taste this stew. I have never used quince and was a bit concerned how it would taste. I followed the recipe and it is very , very delicious , thank you for sharing.

  14. What a wonderful dish! We just had it for dinner and loved it all the way! I added cauliflower since we had some extra. I wasn’t sure how the ginger was supposed to go, so I ended up layering it with the other vegetables. We served it with naah bread and bulgur yogurt (just happen to have that).I I couldn’t fine the lime powder and actually forgot to sprinkle the cinnamon! Regardless it was delicious and very easy to make. Totally a keeper! Thanks so much for sharing!

    • Adriana,this is one of my favorite dishes and I’m really happy to hear that you made and enjoyed it. You could always use a bit of lemon juice to tart up the flavor if you like. I love the idea of using cauliflowers in this dish. It is actually a perfect and natural addition. I’ll follow suit as well, next time.
      Thank you for letting me know! 🙂

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