Over a decade ago I was taking the train from Montreal to Toronto to return home for Thanksgiving from University. I sat with my younger brother and his new friend, who was also Persian. It was exciting to meet someone Persian as I didn’t have any Iranian friends at school. We spent what seemed like the entire four hour train ride talking about, what else: food. We were comparing our favourite Persian dishes and what food we missed most from home. He told me that his absolute favourite was Khorest-e Loobia. My brother and I were perplexed…….we had never heard of it. My mother made Loobia Polo (rice with beef and green beans) but never Khorest-e Loobia. Our fellow traveller was outraged and insisted that we had to try it.
I asked my mom and she said it wasn’t a dish she grew up with, so I combed through recipe books until I found one for this delicious stew. Over the years I have made this dish many times and over time I have adapted and changed the recipe to suit my own palate. It’s exciting to make my family a Persian dish that my mother did not cook.
If you like Loobia Polo you will love Khorest-e Loobia – a luscious stew of braised beef and tender green beans in a rich aromatic tomato sauce. I add mushrooms to my stew because my mother adds it to her Loobia Polo and I love the combination of the beef and green beans with the mushrooms, but you may omit them if you wish.
3 tbsp canola oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 lb stewing beef, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 lb fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces*
1/2 lb mushrooms, halved and then sliced
4 heaping tbsp tomato paste (one small can)
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp fresh lime juice (or bottled Persian lime juice)
1/4 tsp ground saffron dissolved in 2 tbsp hot water
salt and pepper
In a large pot (or Dutch Oven), heat canola oil over medium heat. Fry the onions, stirring occasionally until soft and golden, about 10 minutes. Add the turmeric and fry for another minute.
Turn the heat up to medium-high and add the stewing beef. Saute the beef for five minutes until browned.
Add the green beans and mushrooms. Fry for one minute. Add the tomato paste and fry for two minutes.
Add the chicken broth, cinnamon, cumin, lime juice, saffron water, 1/2 tsp ground pepper and 1 tbsp salt. Bring to a boil and then turn down to medium low heat.
Cover and simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Taste and add more salt and pepper if necessary. Serve with steamed basmati rice. Enjoy!
* I prefer using fresh green beans but you may also use frozen.