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.