Chorosh Sabsi, or Persian Herb Stew with Dehydrated Limes, is pure goodness! I was very excited to share this recipe when Shannon Sarna told with me that it is her favorite Persian dish.
The meat of choice should be lean. Bison is a very lean meat, but unfortunately it is hard to find. Veal is a fine choice as well. All those greens will do wonders for your body! Make sure to get your portions right. Your protein (in this case meat) should be about the size of a deck of cards while your complex carbs (the vegetables) should be two handfuls. You get plenty of that in this stew. The beans, if you chose to use them, will also be an additional source of protein. In fact, if you are a vegetarian, you can either replace the meat for seitan or you can exclude it all together and double the kidney beans. Sour grapes are really hard to find, so don’t worry if you can’t add them…the lime is the one that does the magic!
Tricks of the trade
Keep in mind that Shirazis do not add red kidney beans, while Tehranis do. I personally add them for a splash of color! Also, the dehydrated limes give it a great taste and authentic look, but you can get away with not adding them too. If all you have available are ground dehydrated limes, use 1 tablespoon instead. You can order dehydrated limes online from sadaf.com under lemon omani.
1 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, pressed
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 pounds stew meat
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 bunches fresh parsley
2 bunches fresh cilantro
1 leek, chopped
½ bunch fresh mint
½ cup spinach (optional)
2 stalks celery, finely diced
½ cup lime or lemon juice or the juice of 3 limes/lemons
3 cups water
5 whole dehydrated limes (lemon omani), pierced
1 (15-ounce) can low-sodium red kidney beans, drained and rinsed (optional)
¼ cup gureh (sour grapes) (optional)
In a 6-quart saucepan, sauté onion and garlic in olive oil until the onion starts to become translucent (about 1 minute). Add the meat; cover and cook until meat no longer looks red, stirring occasionally. Add salt and pepper.
Grind fresh herbs in a food processor.
Add to the saucepan ground fresh herbs, celery, lime juice, water, dehydrated limes, kidney beans, and gureh, if using.
Bring to a boil; then simmer, covered, for 1½ hours or until meat is tender. Serve hot in a casserole dish over Basmati rice.
Persian Jewish food seems like the latest cuisine to tackle for adventurous cooks: exotic, a bit challenging and trendy. But what is it about Persian food that has inspired home cooks to take on the traditional fare? Perhaps it is the popularity of The Shahs of Sunset? Perhaps it’s the fact that traditional Ashkenazi Jewish fare has been taking center stage as the North American food scene focuses on comfort foods? Or perhaps it’s just something new that requires a slightly different perspective on cooking?
Reyna Simnegar was not born Persian, but is proud of her “adopted Persian heritage.” So much so that she blogs about her food and wrote a cookbook this year called Persian Food From The Non-Persian Bride. It is a beautiful cookbook with mouth-watering photos, and a perfect assistant for those trying master the art of Persian cooking.
Reyna puts a lot of herself into the book – not only her beloved recipes, but also photos and stories about (very large!) family. Her style is casual and warm – you really feel like you are sharing a glass of tea in her kitchen while she explains her recipes. She also includes some non-traditional Persian recipes that she has come up with over the years, things like “Persian Mussaka” and her favorite roast recipe that she assures are crowd-pleasers.
Her cookbook has a few unique features that makes the Persian recipes less daunting including a guide to herbs, ingredients and special tools commonly used in Persian cooking. Very helpful for those not as familiar with the array of new ingredients.
Reyna and her husband became Orthodox together as adults, and so to be honest, the cookbook at times has a bit of a religious undertone. But if you can get past this subtext, the recipes are accessible and interesting. And I do really enjoy Reyna’s candor and sense of humor.
I love Persian food, especially some of the traditional stews and crispy rice I have tasted with my Persian friends over the years. I also love the Persian culture, especially some of their over-the-top ways, which Reyna talks a bit about in her cookbook. We’ll be featuring one of Reyna’s traditional recipes later this week, but in the meantime, here was a quote from the cookbook that I enjoyed and thought got at the heart of what it means not only to enjoy this style of food, but also this incredibly special culture.
“Disclaimer: Throughout this book I relate many funny episodes and nuances I have experienced during the many years I have had the honor to be exposed to Persian Jews. Many of these episodes exemplify stereotypes, and throughout the book, I may seem to be mocking various behaviors and expressions. Often, I am making fun of myself and the people I love. Please take my words and memories as what they are: simply funny in the context they were expressed. I treasure my Venezuelan heritage, and I treasure my adopted Persian heritage with all my heart. Let us all laugh together at life!”
Indeed, Reyna, let us all laugh together at life and enjoy cooking some delicious comfort food, no matter the variety.