Khorak Loobia (lubia) Sabz is a Persian green bean stew with beef and potatoes. Loobia sabz translates to green beans, also called string beans. Khorak in Persian cooking usually describes a stew that is not “khoresh.” Khoresh is a different kind of Persian stew that is always served over Persian rice.
Green beans are grown in many parts of the world. The reason they are also called string beans is the fibrous string that runs along the side of the beans. Some people prefer to strip this string when they are cleaning the beans. This is what my mom used to do and when I first started cooking years ago, I used to strip this string off the beans before cooking. However, I have discovered that when the beans are cut into segments this is not necessary and they cook very tender without any hard fibrous strings.
Before I add the fresh green beans to Khorak Loobia Sabz I either steam them or blanch them briefly until they are bright green in color. This makes the beans, and consequently the stew, taste better than when they are added directly to the stew. I have used “cross rib roast” beef in this stew, but lamb or chicken may be substituted for beef.
My mom used to cook this stew with thin elongated small potatoes that looked like white fingerling potatoes, called sibzamini estanboli (Istanbul potatoes). When I’m able to find tiny white or red potatoes in the market I have to get them and make this stew and it always takes me back to old times.
This stew tastes better with some sour ingredient, which could be fresh lemon juice or some type of sour fruit, fresh or dried. I have used dried sour plums (aloocheh khoshk) which I get from Iran, but on rare occasions I have seen them sold in the Persian markets. Another type of plum called “aloo Bokhara,” which is a dried yellow plum and super delicious which works very well in this stew. Aloo Bokhara is also available in Persian or Middle Eastern markets.
Small white or red potatoes should be brushed well under cold water if they are going to be used with skin. Wash and prepare the green beans by clipping the two ends and cutting them to 2-3 inch pieces. Steam or blanch the green beans briefly until bright green in color. Soak, then carefully wash the dried plums in water to get rid of any possible debris.
Saute the diced onion in some butter with turmeric, ground black and cayenne peppers until translucent. Add the cubed beef and saute until natural meat juices form in the pot. Add water and cook the meat until half tender then add the rest of the ingredients (please refer to the printable recipe for details) and simmer until all the ingredients are tender and the sauce is reduced and thickened. I usually sprinkle the optional saffron over the potatoes which gives them a nice golden color.
Serve Khorak Loobia Sabz (green bean stew) with sangak, lavash or pita bread. Enjoy this delicious Persian stew with some or all of the following sides: Spicy or sweet fresh peppers, raw onions, Salad Shirazi, or Sabzi Khordan, and of course doogh (Persian yogurt drink)!
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour 40 minutes
- 1 pound cross rib roast (or a similar marbleized beef roast) cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 small yellow onion, diced medium
- 2 TBSP butter
- ½ tsp ground turmeric
- ½ tsp black pepper
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
- 1½ cups hot water
- 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced and fried to golden brown
- 2 TBSP butter, for frying the onion
- ¼ tsp turmeric, to be added to the fried onions
- 2 TBSP tomato paste
- ½ tsp salt, more to taste
- 1 cup hot water
- 1 pound green beans, cut into 2-3 inch pieces and blanched (or steamed)
- 1 pound small white or red potatoes with skin (peel them if you like)
- A handful of dried sour plums (aloo Bokhara or aloocheh khoshk; may substitute with 1-2 TBSP fresh lemon/lime juice)
- ⅛ tsp saffron powder (optional)
- Naturally sun dried sour plums may contain debris and should be soaked in water for 5-10 minutes, then washed carefully before use.
- Scrub the unpeeled potatoes under water to get rid of any dirt, or peel them if you prefer.
- Heat 2 tablespoon butter in a nonstick 6-Qt pot. Add the diced onions, ground turmeric and peppers. Saute over medium heat for 2 minutes until the onions are translucent.
- Add the cubed beef and continue to saute until the meat browns and natural juices form (about 5-7 minutes).
- Scrape the bottom of the pot with spatula to get every bit of flavor. Add 1 ½ cups hot water, and bring it to a boil. Cover the pot, lower the temperature to medium low and cook for 30 minutes, until the meat is half cooked.
- For blanching the green beans: Wash the beans and clip the tips off. Cut them into 2-3 inch pieces. Add them to a medium pot and add ¼ cup cold water. Bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat to just above the low mark. Cover the pot and simmer for 7-10 minutes, or until the beans are bright green and crisp. Remove the lid and set aside. As an alternative method you may also steam the beans in a steamer basket.
- Meanwhile in a large nonstick skillet fry the thinly sliced onions in 2 tablespoons of butter. When the onion slices start turning golden brown add ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric and continue frying until a rich golden brown in color.
- Add tomato paste to the fried onions and saute for couple of minutes until fragrant. Add to the cooked meat in the pot. Add 1 cup hot water, salt, blanched green beans, small potatoes, sour plums (or lemon/lime juice) and the optional saffron. Bring it to a boil over medium heat.
- Reduce the heat to medium low, cover the pot and cook for about one hour, or until the ingredients are tender and the sauce has thickened and reduced. If the ingredients are tender and the sauce has not thickened yet, leave the lid off and continue cooking until it is reduced.
- Serve Khorak Loobia Sabz with sangak, lavash or pita bread and a side of Salad Shirazi or sabzi khordan.