Abgoosht or Abgusht is a one-pot comfort food that is a rustic dish with wholesome ingredients. This stew has been enjoyed by our Persian ancestors over the centuries and still remains as one of the most popular meals in Persian cuisine. Abgoosht means “meat broth” word by word, but it is so much more! It is a delightful combination of the most tender meat and potatoes plus, vegetables, spices, and legumes. Then there is the broth mixed with pieces of sangak or lavash bread; that is the best part of the “meat broth” called, Tileet. There is yet another very old fashioned stew called, Persian Shorba, which is similarly served with the broth on the side.
Tileet is a soup made with this flavorful broth, tossed with bite-size pieces of Persian flat breads, sangak or lavash. The bread soaks up the broth and all of its flavor. Tileet is served on the side of Abgoosht and it literally melts in the mouth. The meat and vegetables may be enjoyed whole, or mashed into what is called, goosht e koobideh which is the traditional way of eating Abgoosht. Goosht e koobideh is made with a goosht koob, which looks like a meat pounder with a smooth surface.
Different cooks add different ingredients to this much traditional favorite. To start with the cut of meat varies quite a bit, more so than almost any other Persian stew. The meat is usually either beef, or lamb. Some use lamb shanks, others use stew meat, some use ribs (dandeh in Farsi). I have even had an Abgoosht made with goat meat, which was very delicious. I personally love bone-in short ribs that are large with a lot of very tender meat, and the bones add flavor and richness to the broth.
Most cooks in my family add okra and green pepper to abgoosht, but this recipe can be made without these vegetables. I personally love okra for all of its health benefits and how it thickens the stew. The type of legumes may also vary; some cooks use white beans instead of garbanzo beans. The use of souring agents such as unripe sour grapes (ghooreh) or dried lime (limoo amani) is also a personal preference. In this recipe I have used the ghooreh from my grapevine, and I love the special flavor that it adds to Abgoosht. I have also used limoo amani in the past and it tastes equally wonderful. I also have a recipe for Tas Kabob, which is made with thin slices of beef or lamb stewed with onions, potatoes, and carrots that you might enjoy.
The short ribs are cooked in water with turmeric powder, ground black pepper, garlic cloves and onions until the meat is very tender. At this point the bones can easily be pulled off the meat and discarded.
Next, tomato paste, salt, tomato halves, sour grapes, okra, green peppers, and garbanzo beans (chickpeas) are added to the pot with cooked meat and its rich broth. The optional saffron is added at this point. The pot is covered with the lid and Abgoosht is simmered until all the ingredients are tender. As expected, the rich broth is incredibly flavorful and it transforms plain pieces of bread into the scrumptious soup called, Tileet!
To serve Abgoosht, use a slotted spoon to transfer the meat and vegetables to a serving platter. Then pour the broth over pieces of toasted flat bread in a bowl. Enjoy Abgoosht, this traditional healthy dish, with fresh herbs (Sabzi Khordan), raw wedges of onions, Torshi (pickled vegetables) and toasted Sangak (Persian flat bread) or wedges of pita bread.
You might also enjoy a cup of freshly brewed Persian tea after this wholesome traditional meal for a total Persian experience!
- 2 ½ - 3 pounds bone-in beef short ribs, about 5 large meaty ones
- 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and diced
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- ½ tsp ground black pepper
- 5 large garlic cloves, peeled
- 2 ½ cups water
- 1 ¼ tsp kosher salt
- 1 TBSP plus 1 tsp tomato paste
- 2 ½ cups home-cooked garbanzo beans, or drained canned beans
- 5 ounces fresh small okra (optional)
- 2 Roma tomatoes, halved
- 1 cup ghooreh (unripe sour grapes) (may substitue with 3-4 Persian dried lime)
- 12 ounces white potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 ½ inch chunks
- ½ cup medium-diced green bell pepper (optional)
- ¼ tsp saffron powder (optional)
- Pieces of Sangak or pita bread for “Tileet,”or broth soup
- Trim all the external fat from the short ribs. Place the ribs in a bowl and cover with cold water. Let it sit until the other prep work is done. Adding cold water helps drain some of the blood that is in the meat and gives it a nice pink color and a better taste. Drain and discard the water before adding the ribs to the pot.
- In a medium dutch oven, or a stockpot with a heavy lid that will not allow too much moisture loss, add the short ribs, diced onion, ground turmeric, ground black pepper, garlic cloves, and water. Bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium low and cook covered for 1 ½ -2 hours, or until the ribs are very tender and fall off the bone. Pull the bones off the meat and discard.
- Select small green okra when buying; the larger ones will be woody and not as tender. Wash and drain the okra, remove the tip and stem. If the okra is larger than 2 inches long, cut into 2-inch pieces. Set aside.
- Add salt and tomato paste to the pot . Use a spoon to stir the tomato paste around in the broth until it dissolves completely.
- Add the cooked garbanzo beans, okra, ghooreh (sour grapes), diced green pepper, halved tomatoes, and cut potatoes to the pot.
- Sprinkle ¼ tsp optional saffron powder over the ingredients.
- Bring the ingredients to a boil then reduce the heat to medium low, cover and cook for about one hour. There should be about 1 ½ cups of broth after everything is nice and tender. This broth will be used to make “Tileet,” or broth soup with flat bread. Add more water as needed but if you add it at the end, bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium low and cook for an extra 10 minutes so the broth does not taste watered down.
- Fill ⅓ of a medium bowl with bite size pieces of Sangak (Persian flat bread) or pita bread. Set aside.
- To serve the Abgoosht: Use a slotted spoon to transfer the ingredients to a serving platter leaving as much broth in the pot as possible. Pour all the broth over the bread pieces in the bowl and toss to coat and serve immediately.
- Serve the rest of the Abgoosht ingredients (either whole or mashed) with additional toasted flat bread, wedges of raw red or white onions, Sabzi Khordan (fresh herbs), Torshi (pickled vegetables).
Limoo amaniis dried Perisan lime and is sold in Persian markets as whole dried limes that may be used in two forms: Either crush them with a nut cracker and remove the seeds, or use whole and soak in hot water for 5 minutes, before adding them to Abgoosht at the same time that the recipe calls for the unripe sour grapes.