Khorest-e Sib o Aloo (Persian Chicken, Apple and Dried Plum Stew)

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Ten years ago tomorrow I married the love of my life. Our wedding was a grand affair and  the meeting of two completely different cultures. My husband is about 10th generation Canadian, so it was quite a sight to see some of his extended relatives from rural Ontario (who I’m sure had never set eyes on a Middle Eastern person before our wedding) dancing to Persian music. It was truly spectacular!

Before and after the wedding was filled with parties and celebrations. I don’t think any of us had anticipated that our wedding festivities would go on for a full year! Leading up to the wedding I had three bridal showers, but probably my most memorable shower was the one our dear family friend Behi-joon threw for me……it was like a wedding in itself!

One of my favourite keepsakes from this shower was a recipe book that she had put together for me in which all ladies in attendance submitted their favourite recipe. In celebration of my anniversary, I thought I would include one of the delicious recipes from this collection. Our family friend Pouri-joon had graciously given me her recipe for Khorest-e Sib o Aloo, which was her specialty.

With braised chicken, apples, dried plumes, pomegranate and aromatic spices, this sweet and slightly tart stew is not only easy to make, but also nourishing and the perfect Fall dish.

Khorest-e Sib o Aloo
(Serves 4-6)

2 tbsp canola oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 tsp turmeric
10-12 boneless skinless chicken thighs
3 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp pomegranate paste
1 tbsp sugar
2 cups chicken broth
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
3 cooking apples (I used Fuji), peeled, cored and sliced
1 cup pitted dried plums (prunes)
1/4 tsp ground saffron dissolved in hot water
salt and pepper

Heat canola oil in a heavy pot over medium heat.  Add the onions and saute for 8-10 minutes until lightly golden. Add the turmeric and saute for another minute.

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Add the chicken pieces and brown for 10 minutes over medium heat.

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Add the tomato paste and saute for one minute. Add the chicken broth, cinnamon, pomegranate paste and sugar. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Once boiling turn down the heat to low, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir occasionally.

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Add the apples, prunes, lime juice, saffron water, one tsp of salt and 1/2 tsp of pepper. Cover and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust seasoning adding more salt, pepper, sugar or lime juice if necessary. The stew should be a little sweet and a little sour – if it’s too sweet for your taste, add some lime juice. If it’s too sour add a bit of sugar.

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Serve with steamed rice. Enjoy!

Wedding photo

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Khorest-e Esfanaj (Persian Beef, Spinach and Dried Plum Stew)

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Sleep – how I miss thee. A full nights sleep has become a distant memory for me. Coffee has become my best friend. Life with a teething four-month old and an energetic four-year old lends to little rest. It would be safe to say that I’ve been a little run down lately!

Therefore, I thought I’d prepare something delicious and nutrient rich to help keep me and my family healthy and energized. Khorest-e Esfanaj is the perfect remedy to exhaustion. A nourishing stew of braised beef with spinach, golden onions, and dried plums, this dish is loaded with protein, iron, B vitamins, zinc, vitamin K, vitamin C, vitamin A and fibre. This stew could be the next best thing to a double shot of espresso in keeping your energy up!

Khorest-e Esfanaj
(Serves 4-6)

3 tbsp canola oil
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
1 tsp turmeric
1 lb stewing beef, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 1/2 lbs fresh spinach (approx 4 bags), washed, well dried and coarsely chopped or torn.
1/2 cup chopped chives
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
2 cups pitted dried plums (prunes)
juice of one lime
salt & pepper

In a large pot (or Dutch Oven), heat the 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.

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Turn the heat up slightly to medium-high and add the beef to the pot. Brown the beef well on all sides, about 5-10 minutes.

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Add the spinach and chives to the pot (you might have to add the spinach in batches until it wilts down). Cook for about 5-10 minutes until all the spinach is wilted.

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Add the chicken broth, lime juice, prunes, 1 tsp of salt and 1/2 tsp pepper. Bring to a boil and then turn down the heat to low. Cover and simmer for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

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Serve with steamed basmati rice. Enjoy!

Khorest-e Ghaimeh Bademjan (Vegan Persian Eggplant and Yellow Split Pea Stew)

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A couple of years ago I flirted with veganism. I had started seeing a holistic nutritionist and she suggested a wheat-free vegan diet. Needless to say it didn’t last long…….I missed lamb chops and spaghetti bolognese way too much! But, it did instil in me a respect and appreciation for meat-free cooking and I must admit it was the healthiest I have ever felt.

My mother taught me this vegan version of Khorest-e Ghaimeh Bademjan years ago when I was having a vegan friend over for lunch and was at a loss as to what to prepare. Rich and  nourishing, this stew combines caramelized onions, eggplant, mushrooms, yellow split peas and aromatic spices in a silky tomato sauce. Khorest-e Ghaimeh Bademjan is so delicious and hearty that I can guarantee you won’t miss the meat!

Khorest-e Ghaimeh Bademjoon

canola oil
2 medium eggplant or 5 japanese eggplant
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 tsp turmeric
8 oz cremini mushrooms, stemmed and quartered
4 tbsp tomato paste
2 cups vegetable broth
1/4 tsp ground saffron dissolved in 2 tbsp hot water
juice of one lime
1/2 cup dried yellow split peas
salt and pepper

Cut the top off the eggplant, peel them and quarter them (if using Japanese eggplant just half them).  Put them in a colander and liberally sprinkle salt on them to remove any bitterness. Leave them for 30 minutes – 1 hour.

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Meanwhile, in a large pot (or Dutch Oven), heat the 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.

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Add mushrooms and fry for about 5 minutes until starting to brown.

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Add the tomato paste and fry for one minute. Add the vegetable broth, the split peas, the lime juice and the saffron water. Cover and bring to a gentle boil. When boiling turn the heat down to low and simmer for 15 minutes.

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Rinse the salt off of the eggplant and pat dry. In a separate non-stick frying pan, heat about 1/4 canola oil over medium-high heat. Fry the eggplant in batches until browned on all sides (about 2-3 minutes per side). Add more oil if necessary as the eggplant will absorb it.

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Add the eggplant to the stew and simmer for another hour to hour and a half or until the split peas and eggplant are tender.

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When ready, taste and season with salt, pepper and more lime juice if necessary.

Serve with steamed basmati rice. Enjoy!

Khorest-e Loobia (Persian Beef and Green Bean Stew)

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.

Khorest-e Loobia
(Serves 4)

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.