Wanting to share a little of my Persian heritage with you, I have decided to bring you 3 recipes over the next few weeks, in the hope that I can introduce you to the wonderfully diverse and authentic cuisine of the country in which I was born, Iran.
This is one of the most popular stews from my home land and it really is hearty and moreish. I would be lying if I said I was raised on it as my family weren’t the best of home cooks per se, but having broken that tradition, I want to share this fantastic recipe with you. It’s a real family dish, made at parties or as one pot meal for the whole family. I hope you like it as much as I do.
1kg of lean beef braising steak (diced roughly into 1 inch cubes)
200g of dried yellow split peas
3 small or 2 large onions, roughly diced
2 heaped teaspoons of turmeric
2 generous pinches of Saffron
3 bay leaves
1 heaped teaspoon of cinnamon
4 dried ‘Omani” limes (Found in Iranian & some Middle Eastern supermarkets)
2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
Juice of half a lemon
3 tablespoons of olive oil
3 pints of water
Using a large heavy based cooking pot over a medium heat, add your olive oil and diced onions and soften the onions until translucent and cooked through and then turn the heat up to high. Add your beef and fry the meat for about 5 minutes, ensuring you constantly keep the meat moving, to avoid ‘stewing’ it in the pan.
Add your turmeric and stir the meat making sure it gets an even coating of turmeric. Do the same with the saffron and cinnamon, then add your two tablespoons of tomato puree and give the meat a good stir and cook the tomato puree through for about a minute.
Then pricking your dried limes several times with a fork, add them to the pan, along with your yellow split peas, chopped tomatoes, lemon juice, bay leaves and water.
Stir the pot well and then reduce the heat right down to a very low temperature and slow cook the stew for a minimum of 3 hours and then serve with basmati rice.
This stew tastes even better the following day when, as we Iranians say ‘Jaa oftadeh”, which literally means ‘It has fallen into place” and the flavour have really fused together and created an ever thicker and richer sauce to enjoy. The only problem is, you may not be able to wait that long!
If you do manage to wait until the following day, don’t be afraid to add a little boiling water from a kettle, to revive it’s sauce content. But don’t go overboard as it will thin out the flavour if you overdo it. A mug of hot water is often all you need!