By Norah Farahdel
Persian cuisine is the bright and vibrant keystone of Iranian culture. Every dish offers distinct flavors and sensations, paired with generations of memories and experiences. Traditional Iranian food has been carried from Tehran and Shiraz to cities around the world, from Los Angeles to Toronto, Malaysia to Sydney. Herbs like parsley and chives take the foreground in many dishes, painting our meals with hues of green.
If each Persian dish was a character in a high school movie, Ghormeh Sabzi would be prom queen. Ghormeh Sabzi is an Iranian stew (one of many– Persian cuisine has many, and they range widely in flavors and color palettes) composed of herbs, beef or lamb, kidney beans, and dried limes.
The beauty in Iranian cuisine is that every dish is cooked a little differently in each family. A single dish can be experienced in a million ways, the same ingredients singing a different tune, each seasoning telling a slightly different story. Each variation tells a tiny secret about the family it comes from.
I’ve experienced Ghormeh Sabzi about a hundred different ways, at intimate dinners and weddings alike. My favorite has and always will be my own mother’s cooking (and good luck finding anyone telling you otherwise).
I have shared my mother’s recipe below:
- Herb Blend:
- Parsley (5 bunches)
- Chives (5 bunches)
- Scallion (1 bunch)
- Fenugreek leaves (1 bunch)
- Onion (2)
- Kidney Beans (1 cup)
- Beef, cut into pieces (2 lbs)
- Dried Lime (6)
- Black kashk, (AKA qara qorut, to taste)
- Turmeric (1 teaspoon)
- Vegetable Oil (⅓ cup)
- Salt and pepper (as needed)
- Dice onions, then begin sautéing in a pot with oil. Add tumeric to the pot. Stir well until the onions are golden brown.
- Add small pieces of beef to the pot. Add ½ teaspoon pepper. Stir ingredients well until the beef browns.
- Wash and cut the mixture of herbs. Add the herbs to a separate pan and fry until they are lightly browned.
- Transfer the herb mix and kidney beans into the original pot. Stir everything well. Add water to the pot until it reaches about an inch above the meat.
- Let everything cook for about an hour.
- Add dried lemon, black kashk, and salt (as needed) to the pot.
- Let this cook on low temperature for about two hours, or until the meat is fully cooked.
Scoot the ghormeh sabzi over basmati rice. If you’re lucky, it’ll be just one flavor experience out of a table full of steaming dishes. Persian meals are cooked to feed a village: it’s impossible to leave the dinner table even remotely hungry. Above all, Persian food serves as a form of communication for many Iranian-Americans. It’s our mother’s language of love, it’s how children pay gratitude, it’s our grandmother’s impact on their new and foreign lands. It’s a clear reminder of who we are and where we come from,our past, present, and future all wrapped up into one.