Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Jilla's Gheymeh Nesar - Persian Stew (Khoresh) Recipe

I'm very excited about this recipe! And it's a long one. My sister-in-law Aida told me this recipe originates in a city in Iran called Qazvin which is probably why, after doing several internet searches for the recipe, I came up with nothing. Outside of Qazvin, my mother-in-law Jilla must be the only person who knows how to make this. When I heard mom Jilla was going to make this today, I grabbed my pen and notebook and watched every step of this beautiful dish as it was being prepared. Don't let the number of ingredients in this recipe intimidate you. It seems complicated but it's worth taking the time to make because it's just SO delicious. I wrote this recipe very detailed because I didn't want to miss a step.

For the stew:
3 lbs stewing beef or veal, cut into chunks
1 large onion, diced
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads, ground
1/3 cup tomato paste
2 cups water
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/3 cup dried (not candied) orange peel
1/2 cup raw slivered almonds
1/2 cup raw slivered pistachios
1 1/2 cup barberries

For the rice:
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads, ground
1/4 cup hot water
6 cups uncooked basmati rice
12 cups water
1/3 cup butter
1 cup barberries
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 medium potatoes, peeled (or 1 pita bread)
2 tablespoons canola oil

Put 1/2 a teaspoon saffron in a glass and cover with 1/4 cup boiling water. Set aside.

Put uncooked rice in a large bowl and cover with cold water. Add 2 tablespoons of salt and stir. Let it sit for an hour on the counter.

In a nonstick pot, fry the onions in oil on medium high heat until golden. Add the turmeric and give it a stir. Add the meat, salt and pepper to the pot and cook for about 10 minutes until the meat is cooked through. Sprinkle the saffron over the beef and stir. Mix tomato paste with 2 cups of water and add to the pot. Stir well. Liquid should just cover the meat. If needed, add a bit more water until the meat is covered by liquid. Simmer on medium heat for 1 hour checking occasionally to make sure the liquid doesn't run out or the stew will burn.

After one hour stir the stew and have a taste. Add more salt if needed. If the liquid is getting thick add a cup of cold water and stir will. Continue to simmer over medium heat for another 1/2 hour.

While meat is cooking, bring a small pot of water to a boil and cook the orange peel for 3 minutes. Drain and rinse the peel in a collander then boil, drain and rinse 2 more times. Set aside on paper towel.

In a collander, rinse the barberries in cold water a few times to remove any sand or dust. Pick them over for any stems, then place on a paper towel. Set aside. Rinse the nuts in cold water and set those aside on another piece of paper towel.

After 1 1/2 hours of cooking, the meat should be tender. The best way to tell is to taste it. If it's still chewy cook it a bit longer until it becomes soft. Add more water if needed. When the meat is ready, taste it again to see if it needs more salt.

In a nonstick pan on medium heat, fry the orange peel and nuts in oil just until the nuts start to brown. Add the barberries and cook for another minute. When the meat is tender, stir the nut mixture into the stew. Taste it. If it's slightly sour from the tomato paste, add 1 teaspoon of granulated sugar and stir it well. Taste it again. It shouldn't taste sweet. Reduce heat to medium low and continue cooking until your rice is ready.

When the stew's been cooking (and the rice has been soaking) for an hour, you can start your rice. Bring 12 cups of water to a boil in a large wide pot. Add 1 tablespoon of salt. Drain rice and add it to the pot. Boil on high heat for 10 minutes. Rice should still have a bite to it. Drain the rice in a large collander and wipe the pot dry with paper towel. Place the pot back on the stove on medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of oil. If using potatoes for the tah dig, cut them into 1/4inch slices. Sprinkle a bit of salt in the oil and place the potato slices in a single layer on the bottom of the pot. Sprinkle a bit more salt over the potatoes. If using pita, simply break the pita into large pieces and place on top of the oil. No salt needed for the pita. Place the rice on top of the potatoes or pita in the shape of a mountain. Place your glass with the saffron water inside the pot to the side. Reduce the heat to medium low and cover the pot with a tight fitting lid. If your lid isn't tight fitting, put a clean kitchen towel between the pot and the lid. Tie the ends over the top of the lid so they don't touch the burner and catch fire. Let the rice cook for 30 minutes and don't be tempted to lift the lid.

Melt 1/3 cup of butter in the microwave for a few seconds at a time just until melted. Lift the lid on your rice pot and drizzle the butter over the rice. Use a fork to fluff it up. Cover and cook for 10 more minutes.

Meanwhile, rinse 1 cup of barberries a few times in cold water to remove dust. Check for stems. Place on paper towel to dry. On medium heat, cook the berries in 1 tablespoon oil just for a minute. Set aside.

Time to assemble the dish.

Remove 2-3 cups of rice from the pot and place in a bowl. Add the saffron water and toss with a fork.

On a large serving platter, place some of the rice followed by a layer of the meat mixture. Keep layering rice and meat mixture ending with a thin layer of rice. Place your reserved saffron rice on top in a nice design as well as your reserved barberries.

Remove the tah dig from the bottom of the pot and serve on a seperate serving dish.

Serve with plain yogurt and an assortment of pickles.

Tip: You can save a scoop of the nut mixture that we put into the stew and use it as a garnish on top of the dish at the end. Simply mix it in with the barberries we cooked for topping the rice. *Some of the specialty ingredients can be found in middle eastern stores and probably online. The barberries are sour little things that look almost like goji and we usually buy them dried. The almonds and pistachios are also available at specialty stores although I've seen slivered almonds at regular grocery stores, slivered pistachios may be harder to find. *It's important that the pot be nonstick or your tah dig may not come free from the pot.

- jilla's gheymeh nesar -

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful post! I have to say that I love how generous you were with your saffron rice for decoration, in my humble opinion it makes all the difference in the world.

    PS. I've added you to my "Links I Love"! Thanks for adding me to yours.