Khoresteh ghormeh sabzi is a classic Persian stew made with fresh green herbs like parsley, cilantro, fenugreek and scallions. This version adds some healthy green kale to the mix.
There are certain foods and aromas that evoke strong childhood memories for me. Being Persian, even half Persian, meant food was a big part of our family. We ate dinner together every night.
When it came to extended family, those gatherings involved tables overflowing with food. Back in Iran, we would meet at my grandparents’ apartment for weekly family meals. As I walked up the stairs and down the hallway, I could smell my favorite stew, khoresteh ghormeh sabzi.
And when I make Khoresteh Ghormeh Sabzi for my family, the smell takes me back to my grandmother’s weekly dinners.
What is khoresteh ghormeh sabzi?
Khoresteh Ghormeh Sabzi is a staple stew in most Persian households. Traditionally, Khoresteh Ghormeh Sabzi is made with parsley, cilantro, fenugreek and green onions. It’s the combination and quantities of each of these herbs that makes every version unique the cook preparing it.
Although not a terribly complicated meal, Khoresteh Ghormeh Sabzi is a bit labor intensive. Most of the work is spent washing and cleaning the herbs. For the parsley, I trim off the excess stems. For the cilantro, I’m not as picky about the stems, but I definitely remove the fat woody ones.
Everything gets chopped up nicely in the food processor. Although it is very possible to chop the herbs by hand, I have done it, it will take MUCH longer than whirling it through the handy food processor.
Can I use dried herbs for gormeh sabzi?
Today at middle eastern grocery stores, you can find dried herb packets to make this dish. Some people make their own dried herb combinations. My mother-in-law has her favorite brand of gormeh sabzi mix she likes to use.
But, to be honest, I do know many people who make this dish using only dried herbs. It certainly is easier using dried herbs, but the flavor is different compared to using fresh herbs.
My personal preference? Fresh herbs are best. The only dried herb I use in this dish is fenugreek, because it is very difficult finding fresh fenugreek here in the US.
The strong pungent smell of Khoresteh Ghormeh Sabzi is from the fenugreek. The amount, again, is dependent on the preferences of the person cooking the meal. My mother tells me she uses very little fenugreek because it smells up the house.
But for me, it’s all about that beautiful smell. And remembering my grandmother. So I never skimp on the fenugreek. When the kids come home from school, they can smell this dish as they approach the door and now they smile in anticipation.
Other greens in ghormeh sabzi
I started adding other green vegetables to my khoresteh ghormeh sabzi after I had kids. Wanting to get them to eat more greens, I began adding spinach to the stew. No one noticed the difference.
Since I always had frozen spinach in the freezer, it was easy to add and it became a staple ingredient. I have recently switched to adding kale (kalam-e peech) to my stew and again, no one noticed a difference.
Other key ingredients for ghormeh sabzi
Fenugreek is not the only key ingredient for this delicious herb stew. The sourness of the stew comes from lemon juice as well as dried Persian limes (those shriveled up brown balls pictured below). You can just use lemon juice, but the flavor of the dried limes (limoo amani) is very distinct and used in almost all of Persian stews.
Ghormeh Sabzi also contains beans. Again, there are some differences of opinions here. My mom likes to use pinto beans, I prefer red kidney beans. Both are totally fine to use.
For the meat in the dish, you will typically find beef, but lamb can also be used. I use beef stew meat, my mom likes to use shanks. The bones add great flavor. For a vegetarian version, a dear friend of mine uses baby portobello mushrooms.
How to serve ghormeh sabzi
This delicious stew is usually served over a bed of fluffy basmati rice. You can also add Shirazi salad or some mast-o khiar to go with it. I personally prefer my Khoresteh Gormeh Sabzi with a little bit of rice and some radishes on the side. OMG I’m drooling just thinking about it.
Got an Instant Pot? You can also make gormeh sabzi in the Instant Pot! I’ve got the full directions for instant pot ghormeh sabzi here. I even have a video.Yes, you CAN freeze ghormeh sabzi to enjoy another day. My husband keeps asking me to make a giant pot and freeze half of it. What he doesn’t understand is that I do make a giant pot, but we all love it so much and can’t help ourselves.
Yes, you CAN make ghormeh sabzi days before you are going to serve it. In fact, Persian stews taste even better the next day. I don’t usually serve Khoresteh Ghormeh Sabzi the same day that I prepare it.
So don’t be intimidated by this dish. It might take a bit of work to prepare, so do it over the weekend so you can enjoy it later during the week.
What food takes you back to your childhood?
- 3 lb stew meat, 1-inch cubes
- 3 tsp turmeric, divided
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp black pepper
- 2 TBS all purpose flour (optional)
- 9 TBS extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 3 cups diced onions
- 2 cups beef broth
- 6 small dried Persian limes
- 26 oz fresh parsley (approximately 6 big bunches)
- 10 oz fresh cilantro (approximately 4 bunches)
- 9 oz fresh kale (7 oz kale without stems)
- 1/2 cup dried fenugreek, divided
- 8 oz fresh green onions (approximately 2 bunches)
- 4 cups water
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 20-ounces canned red kidney beans
- In a large bowl mix together stew meat, 2 tsp turmeric, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/8 tsp pepper and 2 TBS flour (optional).
- In a large Dutch oven over medium high heat add 3 TBS olive oil and diced onions.
- Cook until onions start to soften, then reduce heat to medium-low and cook until translucent, just before caramelizing.
- Stir in 1 tsp turmeric and 1/4 tsp salt with the onions.
- Raise heat back to high and when onions and oil are crackling, brown seasoned stew meat on all sides.
- Once browned, stir in beef broth.
- Scrape bits that have browned on the bottom of the pot and bring broth to boil, then reduce to low heat.
- Cut slits into dried limes and add to the pot, cover and cook on low heat for 1 hour. Once limes have softened, you can press them flat with your wooden spoon to remove the air inside.
- While meat is cooking, remove stems, especially the thick woody ones, from parsley, cilantro and kale.
- Wash, drain and spin green vegetables dry. A salad spinner works great with this step.
- Once dried, chop vegetables in batches using a food processor with a metal blade.
- Using a large non-stick frying pan, over medium-high heat add 2 TBS olive oil.
- Sauté half of the green vegetables in the hot oil, stirring in fenugreek.
- Reduce heat to medium and continue cooking until vegetables are dark green. Transfer to the pot with the stew meat.
- Add 2 TBS olive oil to the hot frying pan and sauté the second half of green vegetables in the hot oil, stirring in 1/4 cup fenugreek.
- Again, cook until vegetables are dark green. Transfer to the pot with the stew meat.
- Clean and dice, both green and white parts of green onions.
- Add 2 TBS oil to the hot frying pan and sauté the green onions in the hot oil until onions are lightly browned and greens are dark. Transfer to the pot with the stew meat.
- Stir in 4 cups water and 1/4 cup lemon juice the stew.
- Cover pot, reduce heat of stew to low and cook for at least an hour or two. The longer the stew cooks, the more fragrant and flavorful your stew will be. Ideally, you can serve the stew the next day.
- Drain liquid from canned red kidney beans and soak in a bowl of water for 2 hours. This step is optional. By soaking the canned beans in water, you reduce the gassy side effects of eating beans.
- Drain beans, stir in with the stew and cook for one more hour.
- Serve with white basmati rice. Click here for recipe.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 560 Total Fat: 23g Saturated Fat: 6g Trans Fat: 1g Unsaturated Fat: 16g Cholesterol: 135mg Sodium: 522mg Carbohydrates: 37g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 12g Sugar: 5g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 57g