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My cookbook: "Tehran to New York"

On the Norouz day of 2020 spring, I finally published my book. The manuscript is titled: "Tehran to New York: A culinary bridge between Persian and Western cultures" and aims at presenting a unique blend of classic and contemporary Persian recipes, as well as samples of Western-style cuisine, offered in a Persian context. It is important to build bridges between cultures, and not walls. This book aims at constructing a bridge between the Persian and Western cultures. The book may be ordered here:
https://www.amazon.com/Tehran-New-York-culinary-cultures-ebook/dp/B0861H47GS/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=tehran+to+new+york&qid=1584810930&sr=8-1

Khoresh Gheimeh; Persian meat, split peas and dried limes stew



The word "Gheimeh" literally means "finely minced meat" and shares the same Sanskrit origins with the Indian word “Keema.”  Made with split peas and finely chopped meat, this very traditional stew is seasoned with dry lime and cinnamon and finally topped with fried potato.  The addition of fried potato is somewhat a recent (in a couple of decades scale) trend as potatoes are not native to Iran. However, there still exist some older versions of this recipe around and particularly in some regions of Iran such as Kurdistan.  The older version (i.e. Khalal stew) is colored with a rich saffron solution in the tomatoes stead; instead of fries, slivered toasted almond is used.  My speculation is that tomatoes and potatoes, the gifts from the New World, caused a cost reduction by replacing the expensive ingredients and their addition to the stew gradually became the new paradigm.
As it is relatively cheap and easy to mass produce stew, Gheimeh is the official food in most of the religious festivals such as annual Āshūrā commemorations.  As it is a ceremonial dish, this stew should have a vivid bright orange color. To achieve the desired bright red color, cinnamon powder is omitted as it might turn the color to an undesired dark pale state. Only to be replaced with cinnamon sticks. A touch of rosewater is what gives the stew its nostalgic taste.  In this post, I first present my own recipe based on the traditional version; and in the end, shall present the home-style version, in which the color is not the most important issue.

Ingredients:
200 gr yellow split peas (one cup)
2 cinnamon sticks, divided
1 TSP turmeric
2 TBSP tomato paste
750 gr fresh or canned tomatoes
2 cups of light beef or turkey stock(or just water)
750 gr boneless stewing beef (or 1 kg lamb), finely cubed
2 medium white onion, finely chopped
8 dried black Persian limes
White pepper and salt to taste
1 TBSP rosewater (optional read the text)
Pinch of saffron
500 gr potato fries
Saute the split peas and one of cinnamon sticks until the peas are golden and fragrant. Add the turmeric and tomato paste and keep heating for a couple of minutes.

Puree the tomatoes and add to the golden brown peas. Add the stock (or water if you will) and simmer over low heat.

Meanwhile, saute the onions along with the other cinnamon stick until lightly caramelized. Add meat, dried limes and enough water to simmer.   

Skim the surfaced foam (resulting from meat's boiling) and simmer with the lid on until the meat is tender. When the meat is close to done, take off the lid and increase the heat. Cook until the moisture is evaporated and the beef is almost dry.  

When both the peas and meat are cooked, discard both the cinnamon sticks and add the meat mixture to the tomato mixture, add a pinch of saffron and the rosewater and simmer for a couple of minutes until the desired consistency is reached and the flavors are well-combined. 

This stew is traditionally served with thinly slice potato fries. Prepare or buy the fries (McDonald's stuff work very well) and cover the stew and serve immediately.  
For the homemade comfort-food version, replace cinnamon sticks of ½ TSP of cinnamon and dismiss the rosewater.  You can also omit using the fresh tomatoes and double the amount of tomato paste. Also, the dish is cooked one-pot and by first browning the meat along with the spices and then by adding the fried onions and peas. 

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