Tuesday, 8 February 2011

My Khoresht-e-Gheimeh

I was reading an article yesterday about how Iranian state telly had been told by the Ministry of Culture to stop showing cookery programmes on foreign food; while the whole thing was a bit of a non-story, I did have a scout around to try and find out about some of the Persian recipes mentioned in the piece. One in particular took my fancy: khoresht-e-gheimeh (or khoresh ghaimeh, or any one of a dozen spellings - my Farsi is non-existent and I've lost touch with Sara) is the name, and here - about as traditional as coq au smirnoff - is my take on it.

Serves two, with some left over for tomorrow.

3/4 lb (350g) stewing lamb, cut into large cubes
A large onion, sliced
A 400g tin of tomatoes
A red pepper, thickly sliced *
A handful of dried, split yellow peas
A medium sized potato, cut into big cubes *
A handful of white cabbage, shredded *
Half a lemon (unwaxed) *
Two lime leaves *
Two or three cloves of garlic, chopped *
One teaspoon of turmeric
Half a teaspoon of cinnamon
Quarter to half a teaspoon of cayenne pepper *
Two tablespoons of tomato puree
Half a pint of vegetable stock (probably less) * or water
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

Heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pan (for which you have a lid) and fry the lamb and onions together for about five minutes or until most of the liquid is gone. Add the garlic and cook for another couple of minutes, then tip in the spices and fry for another minute.
Stir in the tomatoes, tomato puree, peppers and split peas, throw in the lemon half and the lime leaves, then add the stock/water to cover. Bring it to the boil then turn the heat right down - you want to do this really slowly - cover it with a foil lid and put the pan lid on top of that. Leave it for an hour, then give it a stir, check the seasoning and add the potato and cabbage, with some more water/stock if it's getting too dry (you're aiming for a rich, thick sauce). Seal it back up with the foil and the lid and stew for another half an hour or so. Leave the lid off for a few minutes at the end to reduce if you've overdone the liquid.

Serve with steamed rice, or cous cous or bread or whatever - these days I make slow-fried potatoes. I thought about adding some dates or prunes at the start, and Yulya reckons that would have worked well. She also fancied that rice as taught to her years ago by an Iranian chap would have been good - fry a little onion in butter/ghee then stir in basmati to coat; add some broken spaghetti and raisins, pour in water (about the same amount as the rice used) and seal the pan as best you can to steam the contents, checking the water from time to time.

* The more traditional recipes I looked at didn't call for any cayenne pepper or garlic, and none of them wanted any cabbage or red pepper which I added, respectively, because Yulya likes the green stuff and we'd only half a tin of tomatoes left. Stock is also unheard of - water or nothing, seems to be the cry. The potatoes are supposed to be French-fried and used as garnish, and there should be two or three dried limes instead of the half-a-lemon-and-two-lime-leaves I used, but it was quite zesty enough for us.

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