If you ask any Iranian to name some of their favorite foods, Khoresh Ghormeh Sabzi would be on the top of that list. I could honestly say not too many khoreshs (Persian stew served with rice) can match the unanimous popularity of Ghormeh Sabzi.
The name Ghormeh Sabzi translates to fried herb stew, but the herbs are not really fried, just sauteed on high temperature for a few minutes then mixed with the rest of the ingredients. The picture above shows the herbs for Ghormeh Sabzi plus, radishes. The reason that I photographed them together is that the same herbs plus some additional herbs such as basil, tarragon, mint, summer savory and dill sprigs are mixed together and are called Sabzi Khordan which is basically an assortment of fresh herbs and radishes that is eaten as a preferred side dish with many Persian foods.
So usually when I’m shopping for Ghormeh Sabzi I buy some extra parsley and cilantro and of course, radishes. I use the top white part of the scallions (the greens are for the khoresh), the top tender leaves and stems of cilantro and parsley, and the radishes to make Sabzi Khordan and serve it on the side with this all time Persian herb stew.
This khoresh is called Sabzi Ghorma in Azeri and it is cooked with some slight variations in different parts of Iran. For example my family who are Tabrizi (From Tabriz) cook the Sabzi Ghorma with a little tomato paste and quartered tomatoes, which usually are not used in other parts of Iran. Another difference could be the type of beans, which can be pinto beans (my mom used this), kidney beans, or black-eyed peas which is less common but I remember eating it at some dinner parties when I was growing up in Tabriz. All of these beans taste good in Ghormeh Sabzi, it just depends on which one each family uses by tradition. The other difference is whether or not shanbalileh (fenugreek) is used in Ghormeh Sabzi. Opinions are divided on this, some love shanbalileh, but some truly dislike it. The most commonly used herbs are tareh (which is a type of narrow flat leaved chives, but since it is not readily available in most states I have substituted it with sliced scallion greens), parsley (flat leaf or curly), and cilantro. Another visible difference is that in some parts of Iran the herbs are chopped fine and this gives the Ghormeh Sabzi a dark green look. But no matter where you eat this amazing herb stew, one thing is for certain, it is going to be amazing!
The herbs are picked through, chopped and sliced, then soaked in water. The meat is cooked in the pressure cooker, then the rest of the ingredients have been added to the meat in the pressure cooker and cooked for a very short time. This is the technique that I’ve come to love in the last few years. I used to cook the Ghormeh Sabzi in a regular pot before, but this is faster and in my opinion the flavors blend better and the result is a very delicious Ghormeh Sabzi that is ready in a fraction of time. However I will also give you the instructions for the regular pot technique in my notes.
Pierce 4 of the dried limes (limoo amani) with a knife or a fork and crush the other 4, discard the pits and add all of the limoo amani to the pressure cooker with the cooked beef and rest of the ingredients and cook for only 5 minutes after the pressure regulator starts rattling.
Transfer the content of the pressure cooker back to the skillet. At this point the ingredients are cooked through and the hard limoo amani is tender, but the khoresh still needs to simmer with some tomatoes a bit more to be Sabzi Ghorma (Azeri Ghormeh Sabzi). You may leave out the tomatoes if you wish.
Enjoy the Ghormeh Sabzi with tomatoes, OR
Over the White Steamed Rice,
and Yogurt Saffron Tahdig, the best bottom of any pot of rice!!
- 3 Cups sliced scallions, green parts only (about 3 bunches cut to ½-inch slices)
- 3 cups cut curly or flat leaf parsley (about 2 bunches, no tough stems)
- 2 cups cut cilantro (about 1 bunch) stems and all
- 2 TBSP vegetable oil
- 1 pound cross rib roast or another marbled beef cut into 2-inch cubes
- ½ large yellow onion, keep it in one piece
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- ½ tsp ground black pepper
- 3 cups cold water
- 1 ½ large yellow onions, sliced very thin and fried to golden brown (or about 4 ½ -5 ounces of fried onions)
- 3-4 TBSP vegetable oil for frying the onions
- 2 TBSP tomato paste
- 1 cup home cooked pinto beans or canned pinto beans
- 1 ½ cups water
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 4 crushed limoo amani (dried lime)
- 4 whole limoo amani, pierced with the tip of a sharp knife or a fork
- 2 Roma tomatoes (optional)
- Recipe: Persian Steamed Rice
- Pick through the herbs, slice the scallion greens and cut the parsley and cilantro into about 1 ½ inch pieces (don’t chop too small). Add all the herbs to a large bowl and fill with cold water. Agitate with your hand a few times and let the herbs sit in water for about 10 minutes to loosen any possible gravel. Use a slotted spatula to transfer the herbs to a colander. If you notice any grit in the bowl, repeat until you see none. Set aside to drain all the water.
- Add beef, turmeric powder, ground black pepper, water, and half of a large onion to a 4-6 QT pressure cooker. Close the lid and top with the pressure regulator. Cook over medium high heat. Follow the instructions for your specific pressure cooker. Once the pressure builds up and the pressure regulator starts rattling, set the timer for 20 minutes and reduce the heat a little bit ( to between med high and medium) and continue cooking. Remove the pressure cooker from heat and without removing the pressure regulator place the pressure cooker under running cold water to release the pressure. Always follow the safety precautions set by the owner’s manual of your pressure cooker. Once all the pressure is released open the lid, remove the onion half and discard. Leave the cooked meat and broth in the pressure cooker.
- Add the herbs and 2 TBSP vegetable oil to a 12-inch nonstick skillet. Saute over medium high heat for about 5 minutes, stir frequently. Transfer the herbs to the pressure cooker.
- Wipe the skillet with a paper towel and in the same skillet fry the sliced onions in 3-4 TBSP oil until golden brown. Add the tomato paste and saute for 3-4 minutes over medium heat until aromatic. Add the onion mixture to the pressure cooker.
- Add 1 tsp kosher salt, 1 ½ cups cold water, 4 crushed limoo amani, 4 whole limoo amani, and the cooked pinto beans to the pressure cooker. Cover the lid, top with the pressure regulator and heat over medium high. Once the pressure regulator rattles, set the timer for only 5 minutes this time. Remove the pressure cooker from the heat, follow the safety steps described above and transfer the content of the pressure cooker back to the large skillet.
- Cut 2 Roma tomatoes to quarters and add to the skillet. Cover the skillet and simmer over medium low heat for another 30 minutes. Stir occasionally around the tomatoes so they don’t fall apart and keep their shape and brilliant color.
- Serve over White Steamed Rice with Saffron Yogurt Tahdig, or Lavash Bread Tahdig.
Add the 4 whole limoo amani to a small bowl, add enough hot water just to cover it, and let it soak for 5-10 minutes.
In the large skillet saute the fried onions with the tomato paste for 2-3 minutes until aromatic. Add the cooked beef along with the broth, sauteed herbs, water, salt, pepper, crushed and whole limoo amani, and the cooked pinto beans to the skillet. Cover and simmer over medium low for 1 more hour, or until the meat and limoo amani are tender. If needed add more water.
If adding fresh tomatoes: Add the quartered tomatoes, cover and simmer over medium low for another 30 minutes until the sauce reduces.
Limoo amani (dried Persian lime) may be purchased from Middle Eastern markets.
Fae's Twist & Tango says
I did not know about the Azeri version of ghormeh sabzi. It is so interesting, with quartered tomatoes. Having said that, I do know of people who add a little tomato paste to the stew. I love, love, love your blog… full of variations!
Persian Mama says
Fae, thank you! thank you! I hope you try the Azeri version of Ghormeh Sabzi next time and let me know what you think!
Coco in the Kitchen says
Homa joon, you put tomatoes into the khoreshkt. That’s a great idea! I’m going to give that a try next time I make this one. xo
Persian Mama says
Colette joon thank you! This is the Azeri version and I really like the taste and the color that tomatoes add to this khoresht. Let me know what you think!
Just wanted to thank you for helping me discover the amazing world of persian cuisine! Your site was recommended by an Iranian friend. Ever since, I’ve been impressing my wife with out of this world dishes 🙂 You got yoursef a regular follower and a devoted fan of persian food!
Dear Dusan, pleasure is all mine! It is truly wonderful to hear that you and your lovely wife are enjoying my recipes. I do appreciate your ongoing support and hope you’ll keep in touch and tell me about the recipes that you try. Thank you and have a pleasant weekend!
I made this but omitted the cilantro (which I hate passionately), and it was still very tasty. Dried limes are very odd looking but they do get the sour note in there! The toddler pointed at her bowl and opened her mouth as wide as possible, something she only seems to do for Persian food. This dish is actually very health for pregnant women because the beef, beans, and parsley all have a ton of iron.
Thanks for another tasty recipe!
Hi Allison, I’ve read many articles about cilantro and how it just does not taste good to many people; I’m however, on the other end of the spectrum 😉 I’m so glad that you made the khoresh without it and enjoyed it! It just makes my day to read about your little one’s love of Persian food; so adorable 🙂 Thanks for your comment!
One of my very favorites!
Oooh, mine too 🙂
I am usually so intimidated to try making something so beautiful, but you walk me through every detail, so I feel like I can actually do it! Thank you
Thank you Kevin; that is so nice to hear! Enjoy 🙂
This was delicious! I’ve always thought that this is such a difficult recipe to make, but I followed your instructions and it turned out great! So herby and tasty.
Hi Hugh, that is wonderful to hear! Not too many Persian recipes are difficult, all you need is a good recipe and a dose of patience and you will have success every time!
Judi Daneshfar says
I pressure cook the meat with onion, tumeric, and dried lime and add to the Sabzi. For when I’m in a hurry!
Yes, pressure cooker saves so much time and the meat is always perfect. I think a lot of people feel uneasy about using a pressure cooker; if only they knew 😉 Thanks for writing to me Judi, please keep in touch!
Hello again, I cook the vegetarian version since I don’t eat red meat, mostly fish, chicken and seafood. Also, limo omani is hard to come by here, so I dried my own lime..took a few months naturally after blanching them and leaving them in the sun and later in a dry place. Used what we call ‘button mushrooms’ here in Australia; on another occasion used canned whole button mushrooms as substitute for meat. No tomatoes. Worked GREAT! I think key in this dish is frying the veggies well and then the use of limo omani or dried lime to give it that unique flavour. I follow your blog and it’s one of the very best ones for instructions. Thanks!
Hello Nellie, thanks so much for the kind words and I’m so happy your vegetarian version was delicious. That is amazing that you’ve made your own limo omani; way to go my dear!!
Hi Homa! I made this delicious dish with meat. I really loved it (even more than another version that I cooked some time ago.) I found your wonderful blog some weeks ago. I’m planning to make a vegan version to my relatives who don’t eat meat. I think that button mushrooms will be just right for this. I was thinking of soy “vegan meat” before I read Nellie’s comment. What do you think about soy meat-balls and button mushrooms? I’d put in the “meatballs” at the end of the cooking time. I love the habit of serving fresh herbs and radishes with the meal. I tried to give this recipe 5 stars but it didn’t work.
Hi Minou, so happy you’ve liked this recipe. Mushrooms will be delicious! I have never made this with soy meatballs but they sound fantastic and everyone will love it! Take care and keep in touch. Happy cooking 🙂
I’m excited to try this. Do you think I could make in a slow cooker?
Hi Debbie, I’ve never made this in the slow cooker, but it should work! You will need to soak the beans overnight and drain before using; cooked beans will fall apart. Follow the recipe for fried onions, sauteed herbs and dried limes and add all along with the meat, spices and water to the slow cooker and cook on high for 6-7 hours. I would try this, the first time, when you’re home to make sure about the time, etc. If you’re adding tomatoes, add them at the last hour of cooking, and continue cooking for an hour. Please let me know how this works out for you!
Kim R says
Thank You so very much for sharing this wonderful recipe, I hadn’t made Ghormeh Sobzi in several years (since an Iranian roommate taught me) I made it tonight using your recipe and it’s the BEST I’ve ever made..I’m looking forward to making a lot of your other dishes too. Thanks again, Kim R.
Hello Kim, thanks so much for your comment. How nice that you’ve learned to cook Ghormeh Sabzi from an old roommate, but it is even nicer that you like my recipe better 😉 😉
Please keep in touch my dear and write me back when you try more recipes!
Ghormeh sabzi is one of my favorite dishes and this recipe is amazing! I made this tonight with black eyed peas and kidney beans since that’s what I had on hand, and it was delicious. My husband and I devoured our dinners lol
Thanks so much for your comment Sarah jan! I’ve never used two different types of legumes in this khoresh, but it sounds delicious, and I would imagine very appealing to the eye. I will have to try it next time 😉
I have a question. You have written how to cook the beef for Ghormeh Sabzi in stockpot. But I didn’t find how to cook the green vegetables without pressure cooker? When I should add them to pot with meat and for how long they should be cooked together?
PS Thank you for your site! I’m so glad that I found it! My husband is Iranian and now I can make him happy with some of his favorite dishes 🙂 I have already tried some of your recipies and the food was great!
Hi Dasha; it’s very nice to hear that you’ve tried some of my recipes and liked them; I’m sure you will find many of your husband’s favorites here 🙂 The sauteed herbs are added to the cooked meat at the same time as the fried onions, limoo amani, and the rest of the ingredients; I just added that to the ‘Notes,’ for clarification. Please keep in touch and let me know when you try more recipes. Have a great weekend!
Malinda Khayat says
Homa khanum salam- I’m a little afraid of limoo amami – I think it left a bitter note – maybe mine was too old. I would like to try the ground variety from Sadaf ? What do you think? Any guess as to the proportions for the ground ? Btw I making this vegan with red kidney bean for my daughter very nutritious. Thank you for your blog!
Hello Malinda! I’m glad you’re trying this recipe; the vegan version will be awesome with vegetable stock. I’m sure your daughter will love it. The pits might be responsible for the bitterness that you’re associating limoo amani with; I personally love the stuff, pits and all 😉 Most of the ground variety is made with whole dried limes and contains the pits, and it tends to make the broth cloudy, so I would suggest cracking the whole limoo amani with a nut cracker, or something similar. Remove the pits and use the rest to get the best flavor. However, if you prefer to use the ground form, one limoo amani makes 1 packed teaspoon of ground.
Hello Homa – Some of my fondest memories growing up were of the amazing Persian food my uncle Reza used to make for my little brother and I. He was from a small town in Iran and married my aunt, who was an American. I was fortunate enough as blond-haired, blue-eyed American kid to have visited there in 1977. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Not that you needed to know all that to answer this question, but nevertheless; I’ve had a little luck with making Ghormeh Sabzi over the years but I’m embarrassed to say that for some reason I cannot ever seem to get the rice and the tahdig just right. I know they are the usually the easiest part of the dish, but I always seem to mess them up somehow. Do you have any recommendations for how to make the perfect rice and tahdig? Your picture above looks perfectly done. Any advice would be deeply appreciated. Thank you!
Hello Mason; thank you for sharing your beautiful experience visiting Iran all those years ago. I’ve answered more questions from my readers about the Persian rice than any other dish, so no worries, you’re in good company 😉 Rice is one of the most important dishes in Persian cuisine but it can be unpredictable. I have a comprehensive post about making the rice: https://persianmama.com/persian-steamed-rice/ Many of my readers have had good results following these instructions. Another point that I would like to make is choosing a good quality long grain basmati rice. I have mentioned some brands here: https://persianmama.com/the-brands-that-i-use/ One common point about any brand of rice is that, the initial par-boiling of the rice is really the most important part. If the rice is overcooked at this point, there is no going back, so it’s best to follow the guidelines on my post about the look and bite of the grains at this stage. I hope this will help your next rice; just don’t give up and keep making it until you are happy with it. Good luck, and let me know of your progress.
thank you so much homa
So glad you like it ghazaland; thank you 🙂
Hi Mrs. Homa,
Wonderful recipe.. I can’t find limoo Amani here, so I was wondering if I could make them on my own, abundance of sunlight is here, can you explain how to prepare them,
Thank you so much..
Thank you so much Ariya! Please see your email! However, as I have mentioned in the recipe, fresh lime juice makes a good substitute for dried limes, when needed.
Brion Kidder says
Very good recipe. I have made ghormeh sabzi many times before but have never been truly satisfied with the result. I found your method actually easier to prepare and better in flavor, although I might dial back the number of crushed limes from four to three or even two. Thanks for a great recipe, very delicious!
Hello Brion; it’s a pleasure to hear from you! I’m just thrilled that you’re happy with my recipe. Yes, the recipe is only a guideline and it should always be adjusted to taste; I love limoo amani 😉 I hope you will find more of your favorite recipes on my blog. Please keep in touch!
I absolutely love Sabzi Gormah from Tabri. My mother In law is from there and hers is just like yours! The tomato and dried limes are what makes it outstanding. I sometimes add fresh spinach to mine because I love the added taste of spinach. What do you say about the spinach, I know it’s not traditionally done. Thank you for your beautiful recipes.
Hi Emma; I’m glad to hear that; this is how my entire family makes ghormeh sabzi and I’ve always loved it! I’m all for using spinach in this stew; it’s one of the best greens we could add to our diet, so by all means go for it my dear 😉
Thanks for writing to me and please keep in touch!
Connie E. Lee says
Hi Homa! I love this dish and have made it with whole limoo because I don’t want to buy crushed on line. Can I crush them on my own at home? By the way, you have made me fall in love with Persian food. Thank you!
Hi Connie; yes, absolutely; you could use a meat tenderizer to crush them and then remove the pits before using them.
Thanks so much for your comment; I’m happy to hear that! Please keep in touch and happy cooking 🙂
Thank you for sharing your gift to us. I so appreciate this. I love cooking Persian food.
1. Please tell me why some recipes instruct you to “finely”chop the herbs and for this recipe its more of a 1 1/2 chopping of the herbs.
2. Also, I have the dried bag of spices from an Iranian store and know that I could just use those as well. I have never done a direct comparison, do you have an opinion about how these two really differ?
Hi Amy, this ghormeh sabzi is from Tabriz, Iran which is incredibly delicious but different from the other parts of Iran. I don’t fine chop the herbs, or fry them until they are dark like some recipes call for. I also add a bit of tomato paste which is also a regional specialty.
I am not quite sure what kind of dried spices you have in mind.
I have made this dish often for my family and they love it. I learned how to make it from my friend, Fatima. She also uses leeks, fenugreek and Advieh. Is that unusual? No tomatoes or radishes. My husband tried your recipe and liked it too
Hello Farida, I’m glad to hear that! Leek and fenugreek are the common herbs used in this recipe. However, I don’t know what kind of advieh your friends uses, the common seasonings are salt, pepper and some turmeric. My recipe does not have radishes but tomatoes are in the Tabrizi version of this recipe. Please keep in touch 🙂
HJ Trinity says
Yum yum!!! I made this for my husband and we LOVED it!!! I am Azari too but I was raised in U.S. My husband is American and loves loves Persian food. Thank you so much Homa Joon for this website. I can find anything and everything here. My mom is an Azari and Azari women definitely know how to cook. Next on the menu is your Gheymeh. Another favorite of ours. Noosheh jaan and bon appetit. Blessings!!!
Hello HJ! Lovely to meet another Azari here, welcome!
I’m really happy to read your comment; it is great that you’ve found your favorites here!
I totally agree with you about Azari women 😉 Thanks so much for writing to me and please let me know what you think about the Gheymeh! Take care and keep in touch
Carol Dilmaghani says
I decided to make this for my husband for Father’s Day and wow !! the whole family enjoyed it so much ,that I am making it again for dinner tonight ,I dried my limes in the oven at low temp for a couple of days and this made the dish. Thank you again for this awesome recipe.
Dear Carol, it is very nice of you to write back with your delicious ghormeh sabzi story! I am truly happy that all of you have enjoyed this recipe. This is how my whole family makes it and we love it too! Freshly dried limes must add an incredible flavor. Have a great week and please keep in touch