Ghormeh Sabzi, Persian Herb Stew
Son, if your wife doesn’t smell like Ghormeh Sabzi, there is something wrong!
This outdated and controversial phrase shows Ghormeh Sabzi’s place in Persian Cuisine and culture. Every Iranian believes that their mom makes the best Ghormeh Sabzi in the world! This iconic meat and vegetable stew or as Iranians call it “Khoresht” is the ultimate test of cooking skills and gets cooked in different colors, tastes, and styles. In this article, we cover everything about Ghormeh Sabzi or as some people call it Khoresht Sabzi. We show you the standard way to make Ghormeh Sabzi, how to cook the perfect Persian rice and even Vegetarian and Vegan Ghormeh Sabzi which are kinda ironic due to the fact that Ghormeh means fried meat in Persian!
What do you need to make Ghormeh Sabzi?
You can use red beans, Roman beans, red kidney beans or a mixture of these in Ghormeh Sabzi. The beans need to be soaked in water for at least 2-3 hours and get drained before using. If you want to make the best Ghormeh Sabzi in the world, you need to plan ahead and soak the beans overnight. This prevents the beans from making you gassy which makes it easier to digest.
Fresh herbs and vegetables play an important role in Ghormeh Sabzi. Other than onion which appears in almost every single Iranian dish, the most common combination of the vegetables is 2 parts parsley, 1 part chives, 1 part spinach, and a small amount fenugreek plant. We recommend using dried fenugreek to increase the mouth-watering aroma. You can also add coriander, scallion and even garlic.
Lamb meat is the heart of every Iranian Khoresht (Persian stew). The amazing and delicate cubes of lamb meat give Ghormeh Sabzi lots of flavors as well as diversity in texture. If you are one of those people who care only about the taste and are in love with meat, you can add some lamb bone resulting in a more intense taste and aroma. Of course, you can use beef instead of lamb to decrease the amount of fat and be more healthy too. Don’t worry if you are a vegetarian, my friend, you can substitute the meat!
Being tart, acidic and salty is the main character of Ghormeh Sabzi. Using Limoo Amani in other words: Persian Lime (dried lime) is the most exciting way to flavor this tasty dish. Persians use Limoo Amani as a whole with tiny holes in them and let the unique and exotic taste of Limoo Amani change Ghormeh Sabzi slowly into the most delicious Iranian food. Traditionally, you should even serve Ghormeh Sabzi with at least one Limoo Amani in each Khoresht dish which helps the appearance too. You can use lemon, lime or unripe grape juice as substitutes to Limoo Amani.
Like any Persian stew, Ghormeh Sabzi should be served along with a tray of aromatic Persian rice. Cooking Persian rice to perfection is an art! There are lots of varieties of rice and each one of them needs a separate introduction and instruction. The rice gets cooked separately and there are two methods available, Chelo and Polo. We will try our best to teach you Chelo in full details and with additional tricks and tips because it is the most suitable method of rice for Ghormeh Sabzi.
How Do You Make Ghormeh Sabzi?
- 4 Cups Parsley
- 2 Cups Chives
- 2 Cups Spinach
- 2 tbsp dried fenugreek leaves
- 1 Cup Beans
- 1 Large Onion
- 3-5 Cups Water
- 300 Grams of lamb meat
- 2 tbsp vegetable or olive oil
- 3-5 Limoo Amani
- Salt, black pepper, saffron, cinnamon or turmeric depending on your taste
If you have not soaked the beans overnight, soak them in a large bowl of water for 3 hours and change the water every hour. Wash and pat dry your finely chopped vegetables, chop them and saute your vegetables with oil for 10 minutes on medium heat.
Choose a suitable pot and saute your onion, lamb cubes, turmeric (or saffron) and oil on medium heat. The meat should get a nice golden brown color. Season the meat with salt and pepper and add 4-5 cups of water let it boil for about 10 minutes to have half cooked meat.
Rinse the soaked beans and add to the pot, let it get cooked for 20 minutes. Add the vegetables to the pot and let it cook for at least 3-4 hours. In the last hour, you should add the Limoo Amani (dried limes) to the pot, this prevents the lime from collapsing and would look perfect in your dish of Ghormeh Sabzi.
Note: This is the traditional way of cooking Ghormeh Sabzi as this dish gets better and better when you cook it slowly and with lower heat. You can use a slow cooker to perfect this dish.
How to Make Vegetarian and Vegan Ghormeh Sabzi?
In order to make Vegetarian or Vegan Ghormeh Sabzi you just need to substitute the meat with Walnuts. The process is the same as the traditional way but instead of the lamb meat, you should use whole walnuts. Some people substitute the meat with mushrooms but I personally don’t like the taste of Vegetarian Ghormeh Sabzi with mushrooms and do not recommend it.
How to Make Persian Rice, Chelo?
For this tricky part of our recipe, I’m going to share my mom’s recipe with you. These are secret and professional tips that you can not find anywhere else!
Step 1: You need 1 cup of rice for each person. Clean the rice from any potential tiny twig or stones. Wash it with mild water and be careful not to break the rice seeds.
Step 2: Now you need to soak the rice in mild water and salt for 1-2 hours. For every 3 cups of rice, you need 1 tbsp salt. Pick a proper pot and fill half of it with water. Boil the water and add the rice along with salty water. (You can add 1-2 tbsp Persian yogurt or 1 tbsp lemon juice)
Step 3: When the rice started boiling, add 1 cup cold water. It starts boiling again, pick up a seed of rice and pinch it between your fingers, it should be half cooked. When you get to this point take the pot off.
Step 4: Strain the rice and wash it with hot water. Taste it, it should not be too salty or tasteless.
Wash the pot and warm it up with high heat, add 2 tbsp olive or vegetable oil. Add the strained rice and try to make a dome, add 1 cup of boiling water around your dome.
Note: For a better Tahdig (that delicious crunchy crust), you can use some potato slices or Flatbread before adding the rice.
Step 5: Cover your pot with high heat until it starts steaming then let it cook for about 30 to 60 minutes on low heat.
Note: You can design the rice tray with saffron rice, barberry, and sliced almonds or pistachios. Don’t forget to put some of that crunchy Tahdig on top! Enjoy.
Final note: Usually Iranians have a rice dish in front of them and add Ghormeh Sabzi on top of that repeatedly. Each bite should contain a little bit of Ghormeh Sabzi along with rice.