Split-peas stew, “khoresh-e gheymeh”

In Persian, we have a proverb that compares the “sacrificial lamb” to the benevolent scapegoat- both victims in happy and sad times.

Well, split-peas stew (khoresh-e gheymeh) brings to mind that proverb, as it is traditionally made and served at both weddings and funerals.  No upcoming wedding or funerals planned, yet I have got to share this as one of my favorite  stews.

Ingredients (serves 5-6)

  • Beef, veal or lamb, half a kilo, defatted, washed and cut into tiny cubes.
  • Onion, 1 medium, thinly sliced.
  • Split peas, ½ cup, cleaned, washed and drained.
  • Tomato paste, ½ tbsp.
  • Turmeric, ½ teaspoon.
  • Cumin, 1 teaspoon (not everyone uses this ingredients, I do and find it an excellent addition).
  • Whole dried lemons, (limo amaani), 3.
  • Potatoes, 3 medium, peeled, thinly sliced, washed and dried (to be fried for topping).
  • Slat, pepper, oil.

Method: You start this stew pretty much in the same way you do most of Iranian khoresh: In a pot, sauté onion in 1-2 tbsp. of warm oil over medium heat until slightly golden.  Add meat and fry with onions for 5-6 minutes, or until the meat’s color changes. Add turmeric and continue frying another 2 minutes. Cover with hot water, add salt and pepper and cook over medium heat until tender (usually less than an hour).  Cook split-peas in separate bowel (in case the cooking time for meat and beans vary). Add the tender, half-cooked split peas along with the remaining juice to the main pot. Pierce dried limes in few spots, wash and add them to the pot. At the same time, add tomato paste and cumin. Simmer for at least 30 minutes.

Ten minutes before serving, first, squeeze dried lime with the back of a spoon to release its juice into the stew, and taste the stew for adjustment. Secondly, prepare your fried potatoes. It is a good idea to fry potatoes in lots of oil and then use paper towel for excess oil. Fried potatoes go on the top of the stew dish and should remain crispy.

Khoresh gheymeh is always served hot with Iranian-style rice – as lunch or dinner.


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