Fresh Herb Khoresh (Khoresh-e qormeh sabzi)

Makes 6 servings.
Preparation time: 25 minutes
Cooking time: 3 hours

Ingredients


2 large onions, peeled and thinly sliced
2 pounds lamb shank or 1 1/2 pounds deboned leg of lamb cut in 2-inch pieces, or 2 pounds chicken legs, cut up
1/2 cup oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground
black pepper
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/3 cup dried kidney beans
4 whole dried Persian limes (limu-omani), pierced
4 cups finely chopped fresh parsley or 1 cup dried
1 cup finely chopped fresh chives or
scallions or 1/4 cup dried
1 cup finely chopped fresh coriander
1 cup chopped fresh fenugreek leaves or 1/4 cup dried
2 tablespoons dried Persian lime powder (limu-omani) or 4 tablespoons fresh lime juice  

Directions

1. In a Dutch oven, brown onions with meat or chicken in 3 tablespoons oil. Add salt, pepper, and turmeric. Pour in water—4 cups for meat or 2 cups for chicken. Add kidney beans and whole dried Persian limes. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for about 30 minutes for meat or 10 minutes for chicken over low heat, stirring occasionally.
2. Meanwhile, fry the chopped parsley, chives or scallions, coriander, and fenugreek in the remaining oil over medium heat for 20 minutes, stirring constantly or until the aroma of frying herbs rises (this stage is very important to the taste of the stew).
3. Add the sauteed herbs and lime powder or juice to the pot. Cover and simmer for another 2 1/2 hours for meat and 1 1/2 hours for chicken over low heat, stirring occasionally.
4. Check to see if meat and beans are tender. Taste the stew and adjust seasoning. Transfer to a deep casserole; cover and place in a warm oven until ready to serve.
5. Serve hot from the same dish with chelow, saffron-steamed rice. Nush-e Jan!

Note: You can make your own dried Persian lime powder, powdered limu-omani, from a whole dried Persian lime (limu) by removing the seeds and grinding the remainder to a powder in a food processor. Fenugreek leaves and dried Persian limes are available in Iranian specialty shops.

A dried mixture of herb stew is available in Iranian specialty stores. Just add it in step 3.

Variation: 1 pound fish fillet may be substituted in the last 30 minutes of cooking in place of the meat, or 12 ounces cooked kidney beans with their water may be substituted in the last 15 minutes of cooking. In this case reduce the water to 2 1/2 cups.
Note: If using dried herbs, place a sieve in a bowl of lukewarm water and soak the herbs for 20 minutes. Remove the sieve from the bowl and use the herbs.

Recipe excerpted from New Food of Life: Ancient Persian & Modern Iranian Cooking & Ceremonies or Silk Road Cooking: a Vegetarian Journey by Najmieh Batmanglij.