Khoresh Gheimeh Sibzamini | French Fries Stew
Recently I’ve written a round of posts mostly about the people and culture and country of Iran. What about the food? What about recipes? Where’s the beef? (Are you old enough to remember that very funny campaign?)
Well, today I have for you the recipe for a wonderfully crowd-pleasing Persian khoresh made with cubed meat and split peas and limoo amani and potatoes that is called khoresh ‘e gahimeh sibzamini – or as my nephew calls it “French Fries Stew.” If our relations with France begin to suffer, first I will cry bitterly as I am a devout Francophile, but then after I pull myself together we can regroup and commence to rename the khoresh to Freedom Fries Stew. So no worries! Anyhow, as a French Embassy spokeswoman stated (rather condescendingly I might add … so French!) fries are, in fact, Belgian. Belgium has never provoked ire to any nation I believe. So, really, no worries!
This is such a delicious khoresh that instead of talking a blue streak I’m motivated to get you to the recipe straightaway. Allow me to only make a few culinary notes re its preparation:
As with every other type of Persian stew, khoresh ‘e gaimeh sibzamini begins it wondrous journey with making a batch of piyaz dagh (chopped onions fried for 12-15 minutes till they are golden and translucent and caramelized but also somewhat crispy and yes onion can become all these things simultaneously!) and then browning the meat in the said piyaz dagh. Once you get the hang of both of these things, you’re pretty much well qualified to tackle almost every type of Persian khoresh.
Here in the East coast, it generally takes 70-75 minutes in total to cook khoresh but the cooking time (meat and even split peas) for Khoresh is longer in Tehran (nearly 2 hours) since temperature there is dry and not humid. The thickness and quality of pots and pans have an impact as well. Accordingly, as you cook Khoresh do keep an eye out and make a note of the perfect timing per your geographic location and other factors.
Final comment is a comforting one that should give you solace! Namely, while making rice in the Persian style takes finesse and technique and rather precise timing and can be a fussy temperamental wench, khoresh is entirely forgiving and docile and is relatively hard to mess up. Traditional tricks are: If khoresh becomes too ragigh (watery) to bring it to a boil and then simmer till it thickens; and alternatively if khoresh ends up too ghaliz (thick) add just enough hot/warm water to dilute it a bit, stir to mix, and simmer till the look and texture are satisfactory. (Of course don’t neglect the common sense step of tasting and adjusting salt and other seasonings.)
As promised let’s cut to the chase and click our heels and then click on the link below to continue to read the recipe!
Khoresh Gheimeh Sibzamini | French Fries Stew
- 1 1/2 lb stir fry round meat (or any type of meat that’s more or less fat free)
- 5 yukon potatoes
- 1 large onion, peeled, and chopped into small pieces
- 6 dried lime (limoo amani لیمو عمانی )
- 1/3 cup split peas
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger (optional, maman’s signature)
- 1 bay leaf
- several dashes of turmeric
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste (more or less to taste)
- a dash of cinnamon
- saffron water (optional: a dash of ground saffron dissolved in 2 tablespoons of hot water)
- 2 cups of hot water
- salt & oil
Prep meat: Rinse meat in cold water, drain, pat dry with a paper towel. Transfer to a dry cutting board, cut into one inch sized (or a bit smaller) cubes with a sharp knife.
Prep dried limes: Puncture each limoo amani (dried lime) with a fork on each side. (Securely hold limoo amani in place with one hand atop a cutting board or counter top and stab with a fork held in your other hand. By the way, yes, you do eat the cooked limoo amani. The texture is soft and chewy and the taste is delightfully tart.)
Prep split peas: Rinse split peas in cold water a few times and drain. In a small skillet sautee split peas with just a bit of olive oil. (This step prevents split pea from bubbling and frothing.) Add a cup of warm water and bring to a gentle boil on medium high heat, then reduce heat to low and simmer with the lid ajar and cook for 10-15 minutes till al-dente. (In Iran, once sauteed, split peas would be added and cooked with the meat because due to less humidity in Iran it would take far longer for split peas to cook than here in the U.S when it cooks quite fast.)
Make piyaz dagh: Peel and quarter an onion and make vertical and horizontal cuts (or your favorite method) to end up with small chopped pieces. (Ideally uniformly in size.) In a large wok or skillet heat (on medium high) 1/4 cup of oil till sizzling, add onions, reduce heat to medium, sprinkle with a dash of salt, and fry for 15 minutes. Initially, don’t stir at all. As onion shrinks and changes color, stir with a wooden spoon as needed, moving pieces from the outer corner (where it tends to fry more readily) into the center and around to make sure pieces fry evenly. Do so for 12-15 minutes, stirring as needed to prevent burning, until onion reduces in size, turns almost translucent and golden and a bit crispy. Then sprinkle with a dash of turmeric (1/8th of teaspoon) and ground ginger and stir to mix. With a slotted spatula remove fried onions and set aside for now but save the oil remaining in the skillet.
Brown the meat: Add 2 tablespoons of oil to the same skillet you used to fry the onions and heat till sizzling. Once sizzling, add meat, season with salt, add ground ginger (optional) and fry for just a minute or so on each side till lightly brow. If your skillet is large enough, stir fry all the chopped meat at once, otherwise do so in separate batches, adding more oil each time as necessary. (Note: Meat tends to release juice and if so, discard remaining oil, wipe skillet clean, add more oil and heat till sizzling and start afresh.)
Prepare the stew:
- Transfer both the browned meat and piyaz dagh (golden fried onions) to a roomy pot. Add bay leaf and sprinkle with a bit more salt and a dash of turmeric. Stir to mix. Add 2 cups of hot (or warm) water. (Cold water will reduce the temperature of the meat and is not advisable. 2 cups of water should just about be enough to cover the meat mixture. If not, add more hot/warm water.) Bring mixture to a gentle boil. Then cover and reduce heat and simmer for at least one hour. After stew has been simmering for 10 minutes, add the limoo amani. (To make life easier for yourself, you could add it as soon as you start simmering the khoresh.)
- After khoresh has simmered for an hour, lift lid, remove bay leaf, test a piece of meat to make sure it’s cooked (add more water if necessary to cook meat longer.) Add tomato paste, al -dente split peas, saffron water (optional) and a dash of cinnamon. Bring to a gentle boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer again for an additional 10-15 minutes. Or longer until the quality of khoresh is to your taste.
Prepare the French Fries: While khoresh is simmering prepare the potatoes for the French fries part. Wash and peel 4-5 potatoes. Slice in half and then cut into (as uniformly as possible) matchstick size. If you do this part a bit ahead of time, soak cut potatoes in a bowl of cold water to prevent discoloration. Fry potatoes once Khoresh is nearly done. To fry: heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet till sizzling, add a batch of potatoes, sprinkle with salt, fry till golden on each side. Remove with a slotted spatula. Repeat same steps (adding more oil) with remaining batches of fries till done. (Alternative: Instead of frying the potatoes, you could use your favorite method of baking/crisping them in the oven.) Set aside fries till ready to mix with the rest of the khoresh.
Transfer your lovely and yummy khoresh ‘e gaimeh sibzamini to one or more serving bowls, top with fried potatoes and serve. Traditionally (usually and ideally and nearly always) khoresh is served with fluffy Persian saffron-scented rice.
However, you are not required by law to serve khoresh with rice and if you wish, you are free to enjoy this delicious Persian Freedom Fries stew with … let’s say anything from bread, to yogurt, to quinoa to couscous to whatever else inspires your taste buds and palette.
Make it, enjoy it, and nooshe jaan نوش جان!