Thursday, December 3, 2015

Khoresh (Iranian Inspired Stew) - {AIP, Paleo, Whole30}

My favorite thing about life in Dubai is my church. I'm part of The United Christian Church of Dubai which has about 450 members from most corners of the earth. I couldn't even start to venture a guess of how many nationalities are represented in our church. It's a glimpse of heaven as we experience the nations together in worship of God.

As an example of the beauty and diversity of our church, last week a young man in the church hosted a Thanksgiving dinner for the young adults. (see pics below). 77 people showed up with food to share... mostly traditional American Thanksgiving fare, but there was also fresh guacamole, chicken biryani, hummus and more. Among the guests I would assume there were people from at least 18 countries, although I'm sure there are some (many) I'm not thinking of right now. Living life with 'the world' gathered here in Dubai is always exciting, but as a self-proclaimed foodie, it's especially exciting when you get to experience new foods from around the world. 


One such culinary experience was recently had at the home of an Iranian friend of mine. He enjoys cooking (and is a great cook), and I know that whenever I'm at his place he'll have something 'safe' for me to eat, because on top of being a great cook, he's an excellent host and takes care of his guests well. It's great, being on a restrictive diet, to be able to go to someone's home and not worry about coming home hungry having just eaten steamed broccoli. Admit it...you've been there too!

On a recent visit to his home he made "Khoresh Ghormeh Sabzi" (basically stew with lots of herbs). Khoresh is a generic term for stew type dishes in Persian cuisine, and this is a most beloved national dish. After enjoying the dish at his home, I asked what it was called and googled for recipes. The recipes I found started with leg of lamb, or beef stew meat and with some sort of legume (often Red kidney beans), and all were seasoned with lots of fresh herbs -  fenugreek, parsley, spring onions or leeks, plus onion and dried limes. 

I do ok with legumes in small quantities, but wanted to make a fully AIP compliant version to share with you. I also thought it never hurts to add veggies, so I upped the veggie content. I was also in a hurry to recreate this dish while the flavor memory was fresh, so I used ground lamb as that was more readily available in my store. I also added in some flavors that seemed to make sense to me - figs, mint & ginger. Not really authentic, but I've always been one to think outside of the box. :)

So, without further ado I present to you a stew inspired by Khoresh Ghormeh Sabzi.....

NOTE: I have been told that this recipe is way off the traditional, although to my simple palate the flavors seemed very similar. If you want a more traditional recipe, check out this one (that also includes a funny story of introducing this dish to a date) or this one. These seem to have the most similarities of all the recipes I looked at online. I was told that cinnamon, ginger, garlic & rosemary are never in this dish. So, if you've had this dish you might find them weird. I tend to throw flavors in a pot until I come up with a balance that makes sense to me. Carrots are also a no-no, but as I needed something AIP compliant to mimic the kidney beans they gave the texture I was looking for.



Khoresh Ghormeh Sabzi (Iranian Stew)
Serves: 8
Time: 1 hour

Ingredients:
1 T olive oil
1 kg ground lamb
1 large onion - finely diced
1 t dried garlic
6 fresh figs - finely chopped
2 t cinnamon 
4 dried limes (or dried lemons)
1 bunch of cilantro 
1 bunch of parsley
2 T fresh mint
2 T fresh rosemary 
1 t turmeric 
1 t salt
1 t dried ginger
small package of frozen spinach - 1 - 1 1/2 cups thawed
2 cups broth (or water)
3 carrots - chopped into bite sized pieces

Method:
- finely chop all of the herbs
- heat olive oil in a heavy bottom stock pot/ dutch oven
- add lamb, onion and garlic and allow meat to brown
- once meat is almost browned, stir in the chopped figs
- add dry spices and allow to cook for a couple of minutes
- add spinach & herbs and cook with the meat & onion for a few minutes for flavors to combine and aromas to release
- add dried lemons and broth or water and bring to a boil
- reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes while you chop the carrots
- add carrots and allow to simmer until carrots are tender (20 minutes)
- serve as is, with an AIP flatbread, or over rice (if you have reintroduced it)
- you may want to remove the lemons before serving

If you want a traditional Persian accompaniment for this dish you might want to try pickled garlic - that's what my friend served with this dish - but it takes a little longer to make, so you better plan ahead. :)