22 January 2014

Ghorme sabzi; Persian herb stew

Ghorme Sabzi literally means herb stew in Persian language!.  In fact, the word “ghorme” is the Persian equivalent of the word “Korma” in Hindi and both mean stew. The similarity is not surprising as both languages share the same old Sanskrit root. Furthermore, Korma dishes are believed to have Persian origin and to have been introduced to Indian cuisine by Mongol kings who conquered and ruled both countries for centuries.

  Without a doubt, Ghorme Sabzi  is Iran’s most beloved dish of all time. When it comes to picking Iran’s national dish however, we might face some disagreement as some believe Kabob-Kobideh  deserves the crown!. Kabob-Kobideh is ground beef threaded on skewers and barbequed over charcoal. It is indeed fabulous and delectable but surely is not as unique as Ghorme Sabzi. There are similar examples of ground meat kabob in neighboring cousins like Turkish, Indian or that of Arabian countries. 

Ghorme sabzi however, showcases some unique features of Persian cooking and ingredients. The dominating flavor theme of Persian cuisine is sour and salty and Ghorme sabzi well resents that! It also contains dried Persian limes that are uniquely Persian and belong to no where else.  

Being a Persian, Ghorme sabzi is more than just food to me! It is a full package of childhood memories! And as John Irving says:

“Your memory is a monster; you forget—it doesn't. It simply files things away. It keeps things for you, or hides things from you—and summons them to your recall with will of its own. You think you have a memory; but it has you!” 

To tame the monster and summon parts of the memory, Ghorme sabzi is sometimes the way to go!

1 pound beef ribs or bone-in lamb stewing meat (preferably shoulder or neck)
Flour, salt and pepper for dredging 
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon of turmeric
1 teaspoon of coriander powder
Pinch of Saffron
3 cups brown beef stock (preferably) or water
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup (175 gram) of kidney beans(in some regions black eyed peas are used)
1 recipe Ghorme sabzi herb mixture(recipe follows)
3 dried Persian limes (see note)

Ghorme sabzi herb mixture:

200 gram of Chinese chives 
300 gram of parsley
50 gram fenugreek leaves
1 teaspoon of dried fenugreek
In some regions other herbs such as cilantro, spinach, Swiss chard and even tarragon(North western Turkish region) are used. I personally like the above simple mixture from the capital (Tehran)

Use 3 dried Persian limes to stick to the traditional versions. These could be found in Persian or
Middle eastern stores or more conveniently online!.
Other alternatives could be:

1 whole preserved lemon or 1 cup of verjuice or 1 cup sour orange juice.

Wash the herb, by submerging in plenty of warm water. Soil and solid wastes will be settled on bottom and herbs should be collected from surface. Dry herbs and to facilitate chopping, use a kitchen twine.
Wrap the twine around a bunch and turn into a bundle.  Starting from one end, chop the herbs super finely with chef’s knife. When reaching the twine, unwrap once till reaching  the other one and keep the process until all the bundle is chopped. 

Put the herb mixture in a pan over medium heat; cook until most of the moisture in herbs is evaporated.  At this point, add enough oil to fry the herbs. Cook until herbs are dark green and start to smell nutty. This procedure is usually done in fresh herb season (end of summer) with a large volume of herbs and the result is frozen to be used in winter.

 Assuming that your herb mixture is ready, we now can proceed to the next stage: cooking the stew!
Brown the meat in a hot skillet.  Remove  and set a side.

In the same pan, lightly brown the onions, add spices and then the herb mixture. Here I used sour orange juice (see note in recipe). Add the stock (or water as it is typically done).

The best way to cook Ghorme-sabzi is low and slow! And what would be better that slow cooker?

Layer the surface with parchment and cook on low over-night. This could be done on stove top as well. Lower the heat, put the lid and cook for two hours or till the meat is tender. 

This is what you are supposed to see the morning after! Skim excess fat with a spoon.

Serve with Persian style rice.


Nei Rang said...

اگه اشتباه نکنم, "قورمه" به گوشتی گفته میشه که به تکه های بزرگ برش خورده باشه؛ درست برعکس "قیمه" که ریزتر برش میخوره.
بهمین خاطره که به گوشتی که به روش قدیمی(سنتی!) کنسرو شده, قورمه میگفتن؛ چون برای اینکار از تکه های بزرگ گوشت استفاده میکردن.

Doozel said...

بله به هر حال ریشه کلمه سانسکریت هست و در هر دو زبان رایج هست