- 3 bunches fresh parsley
- 2 bunches cilantro
- 4-5 leeks (green leaves only)
- 1 bunch fresh chives
- 1 bunch fresh fenugreek
- 500 gm boneless lamb cubes (fat removed)
- 2/3 cup red kidney beans, washed and soaked overnight
- 1 medium red onion, diced
- 3 dried lemons
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp salt
- 1-2 red chillies, chopped (The dish doesn't require it, but I do)
- 1 tsp nutmeg powder
- 6 tbsp vegetable oil
- 4-6 cups water
Ghormeh Sabzi is a rich, flavorful Iranian dish packed with aromatic fresh herbs and acidic dried limes and slow-cooked for a couple hours. This is one of the key dishes in a Persian feast, especially during Nowruz, the Persian New Year, when families get together and welcome the arrival of the spring.
I first had this stew at Persian restaurants — many of them use dried packets of herbs instead of fresh ones because they come ready with the mixture. But cooking the stew at home with fresh herbs and dried limes is an entirely amazing experience: the kitchen fills with the aroma of fresh parsley and fenugreek as you chop them. There are lot of variations of this recipe, as people try to replace some herbs with different kinds of spinach. I’m using lamb for this recipe, but you can also use chicken (recommend legs and thigh) or veal.
This Ghormeh Sabzi recipe uses parsley, cilantro, leeks, chives, and fenugreek, which should all be available locally. You can also use dried fenugreek leaves. If you can’t find that, roast fenugreek seeds and crush them using a mortar and pestle. Make sure you’ve soaked the red kidney beans overnight so they’re soft on the day of the cooking. But the one ingredient you must have: Limoo amani or dried black limes, which you should be able to get at any Middle Eastern store. If you feel adventurous, you can try making them at home.
Wash the herbs separately and use a salad spinner to dry before you finely chop them. Heat half of the vegetable oil in a skillet and saute the chopped herbs for about 10-15 minutes, stirring every few minutes. Set it aside in a bowl.
In a large pot, pour some oil and fry the chopped onions until they are caramelized. Put in the lamb cubes, turmeric, salt, chillies, and nutmeg and mix well. Cook the lamb cubes until they turn nice and brown. Then add in red beans, the sauteed herbs and dried lemons (you can pierce the lemons before putting them in, or do it later when it turns slightly softer during cooking). Stir to mix well, and then add cold water to the pot, enough to cover the entire mixture. Bring it to a boil before lowering the heat. Then cover the pot with a lid and cook on low hear for about an hour and a half.
If it’s too watery, you can turn the heat a bit higher and cook for about 15 more minutes. If it looks like the water is drying up quicker, add some more water and continue to let it simmer. Halfway into the cooking, you can pierce the dried lemons if you haven’t already. You can add more salt if you like, but I’d wait till the end to adjust because the dried lemons work their magic. When it’s ready, it should have the consistency of a thickened sauce.
Serve this on a bed of saffron rice or rice with cumin.