Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Choresht Sabzi

Written by Alon Lewin-Espstein:
Growing up in an Ashkenazi house, I was not exposed until much later in life to Sephardic/North African cuisine, such as Kubeh, Jachnun, and Sabich which are some of my favorite dishes these days. Fortunately, it is easier to find restaurants or eateries in Israel that serve Sephardic inspired dishes than Polish, Russian or Romanian restaurants.

It was when one of my good friends, that is half Persian himself, took me to an authentic Persian restaurant in southern Tel Aviv, that I discovered the unique flavors the Persian kitchen has to offer. That day we went to a little place called Salimi, which is on Nachlat Binyamin street, caught right in the middle of the bustle of Tel Aviv.

The place is small with not many tables, and has a tiny kitchen where the whole extended family who owns the place crowds in together. There is always a long line of people outside waiting for the next table to leave, eager to grab a precious seat.

Salimi during lunch is quite hectic and if you take your time on deciding what to order you might find out your waiter had already done it for you, which was what happened in my case. However, since my knowledge regarding Persian dishes wasn’t vast, it worked out pretty well for me. Among several dishes we had, one of my favorites was the Choresht Sabzi, a beef stew served with red beans over rice with an extraordinary green sauce made from a large variety of herbs including mint, cilantro, dill and celery. The dish brought such a circus of flavors to my mouth that I had to look for a recipe and cook it myself.

Choresht Sabzi

750 grams of beef (cut up to chunks)
100 grams of red beans (soaked over night)
2 cups of washed and dried cilantro
2 cups of washed and dried dill
1 cup of washed and dried parsley
1 cup of washed and dried mint
300 grams of washed and dried spinach leaves
2 stems of washed and dried celery
1 peeled and washed celery root (diced)
3 peeled onions (finely chopped)
1 tbl of dried fenugreek leaves
4 black dried Persian lemons
4 regular lemons (squeezed)

1. Put all the herbs in a food processor and blend by using the pulse function until they are finely chopped (be careful to not reach the point where it gets pasty)
2. Heat an oiled frying pan and add the diced celery root and the finely chopped herbs. Stir-fry for about 5 minutes until the liquids have evaporated. Take off of the heat and let it cool
3. Oil a big pot and put it on high heat. Stir-fry the chopped onions until the liquids have evaporated (do not wait until they turn golden)
4. Add the beef chunks and sear them until sealed
5. Add the beans
6. Add 2 liters of water and let cook on low heat for about 3 hours until the beans are ready and the beef is tender
7. Add the chopped herbs mix and the fenugreek leaves and cook for another 30-40 minutes as the liquids reduce
8. Add the Persian lemon, salt and pepper to taste, the squeezed lemon juice and cook for another 40 minutes on low heat
9. Serve on white rice


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