Persian Beef Stew (Koreshte Geimeh)

Recipe contributed by Ramin Ganeshram; photo by Tami Ganeles Weiser Yield:  4 servings (4 cups total)
Prep Time:  45 minutes Cook Time:  2 hours

Persian Beef Stew (Koreshte Geimeh)

“This koreshte (stew) is the most common topper for tahdig, or the crust at the bottom of a well-made pot of Persian rice. Some modern cooks will use potato sticks—the fried snack—instead of homemade French fries as a garnish because they hold their crunch better. While this dish is traditionally made with lamb, I prefer to make it with beef or chicken. Some cooks even make small meatballs out of an equal amount by weight of the cubed meat you chose to use, adding them to the stew in the last 15 to 20 minutes of simmering.”--Ramin Ganeshram

Ingredients

Stew:

¼ cup yellow split peas

5 cups beef or chicken stock, divided

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, sliced thinly

1 clove garlic, sliced thinly

2 pounds beef, preferably chuck roast, cut into 1-inch cubes

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon tomato paste

½ teaspoon saffron, crushed and dissolved in ¼ cup boiling water

dried Persian lime (see Kitchen Tips)

 

Homemade French Fries:

1 cup of grapeseed oil

4 large potatoes, peeled and julienned

Instructions

  1. Heat the split peas and 1 cup stock in a medium-sized saucepan set over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, or until the peas are just cooked around the edges. With a skimmer or slotted spoon, skim the foam from the pot while cooking, as needed. Drain the peas and rinse them in a fine-mesh sieve under running water. Set aside.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat until it shimmers. Add the onion and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, or until softened and translucent. Add the garlic and cook for about 1 minute more.
  3. Add the meat and cook, stirring and shaking the pan, for 7 to 8 minutes, or until lightly browned. Add the salt, pepper, turmeric, and cinnamon, stir well, and cook for 1 minute more.
  4. Add the tomato paste and stir well. Cook, stirring, for 30 to 40 seconds. Add the remaining 4 cups stock and the saffron liquid.
  5. Poke a little hole in the lime with a sharp knife and add it to the pot. Simmer the stew at medium-low heat for 1½ hours. Stir in the yellow split peas during the last 15 minutes of cooking.
  6. While the stew is simmering make the fried potatoes: Heat the oil in a large, shallow frying pan over medium heat. Prepare a platter lined with paper towels or a wire rack set over a baking sheet.
  7. Add the potatoes to the oil and fry until golden brown. With a slotted spoon, transfer the potatoes to the prepared platter or rack and let cool. Serve the stew, garnished with the French fries (see Kitchen Tips). Serve with white rice and/or tahdig.

Kitchen Tips

From the Test Kitchen:

  1. Dried Persian limes are, to say the least, hard to find. They are available at Middle Eastern stores, some kosher markets and online through many vendors. You can use the peel from ¼ of a fresh lime (with the pith removed), but it will taste a bit different.
  2. For super crispy, restaurant-style French fries, fry them once, in very small batches until just barely golden and remove. They will be par-cooked. Just before serving, place them back in  hot oil (365° to 370°F) and fry for 30 to 45 seconds, or until desired doneness.

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