This Persian Green Plum Stew (Khoresh Gojeh Sabz) celebrates a Persian favorite, sour green plums, that are only available in the spring.
A staple of Persian cuisine is the stew. We have so many different varieties of stews with some having a tomato base and others an herb base. The stew can be meatless or have a base of beef, lamb or chicken.
Persian stews are almost always served with Persian rice, steamed basmati rice usually studded with saffron. While kabob is what many westerners think of when they hear about Persian food, kebab is typically served on special occasions and restaurants.
Stews are also served in Persian restaurants, but they are more commonly served around the family dinner table on a day to day basis. The stew I am sharing today is not a common stew, but one that originates in the Northern part of Iran, near the Caspian Sea.
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Green Plums – Gojeh Sabz
Persians also have a love for sour foods. We use all kinds of ways to sour of dishes. There’s the obvious first choice, lemon juice. The most common way we sour our stews and soups is with dried limes. We use whole dried limes as well as ground dried limes.
The stew I am sharing today, uses green plums. These are small cherry plums that are not ripe. Most people see an unripe fruit and simply wait for it to ripen and sweeten. But green plus, gojeh sabz, are enjoyed in their unripe and sour stage.
Gojeh sabz are in season in mid to late spring, usually the months of April and May. It is a short season, but these green beauties are a coveted treat among Persians. My family enjoys eating them alone, with a bit of salt. The salt helps cut the sourness.
If talking about sour plums makes you wince, just consider opening your horizons. You can find sour plums in Persian and middle eastern markets in late spring. Although we usually enjoy these gojeh sabz as is, you can also pickle them or use them in a stew.
Plums aren’t the only unripe fruit that Persians enjoy. We also enjoy sour unripe grapes, gooreh. We also pickle the gooreh or use it in stews, specifically Persian Eggplant Stew (khoresh bademjan).
And yes, there is another unripe fruit we enjoy: raw green almonds (chaghaleh badoom). This is the stage where the outer pod is soft and edible and the inner almond is still not fully formed. The center is deliciously sour.
We enjoy chaghaleh badoom by itself, like gojeh sabz, with a bit of salt or in a stew, Khoresh Chaghaleh Badoom.
Why you have to try this recipe
Hopefully now I have tickled your imagination and tantalized your taste buds, wanting more information on this Persian green plum stew, Khoresh Gojeh Sabz. The base of the stew is made with herbs, fresh parsley and mint. This is the similar base found in khoresh karafs, celery stew.
I typically use beef stew meat for my meat base, but you can also make it with lamb, whole chicken or keep it meatless. Some vegetarian friends use mushrooms and substitute meat with them.
This delicious and aromatic stew is unique and perfect for spring time. The sourness of the stew is dependent on the sourness of the green plums. You can add more or less plums based on your own personal preference.
You can also add more dimensions to the sour base by adding lemon juice or limoo omani.
Ingredients you need
- Beef stew meat: I used 1-inch chunks of London broil for this stew, but you can also use bone-in beef or lamb shanks. You can also make it with bone in chicken.
- Green unripe plums: The star of this stew are the sour green plums (gojeh sabz). They are typically available here in the US in middle eastern markets in April and May. They bring the sour that Persians love. You can adjust the sourness by adding more or less plums to the stew. If you want more sour flavor, you can also add lemon juice.
- Fresh herbs: I am a proponent of using fresh parsley and mint and not dried herbs. They offer more flavor and texture to the stew as compared to their dried counterparts.
- Onion: You can use a brown, white or yellow onion.
- Beef broth: Some people add water to their stew, but I prefer to add beef broth for more flavor.
- Extra virgin olive oil: Oil is needed to sauté the vegetables and meat. You can also use a neutral vegetable oil.
- Seasonings: Salt, pepper and turmeric
1. In a large bowl mix together stew meat salt, pepper, turmeric and flour until meat is coated evenly.
2. Heat a large dutch oven over medium heat and add oil. When oil is hot, add chopped onions.
3. Cook until onions start to soften, approximately 7 minutes then season with salt, pepper and turmeric. Cook for a 2 minutes, then raise the heat to medium-high, add stew meat and brown all sides, approximately 7 minutes.
4. Stir in beef broth. Using a wooden spoon, scrape up browned bits of meat from the bottom of the pot. Reduce heat to low, cover pot and simmer for 2 hours, stirring the stew every 30 minutes.
5. Using a food processor (or chop finely with a knife) chop parsley and mint.
6. Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat and add oil. Sauté chopped greens for 5 minutes then add it and the green plums to the meat mixture.
7. Cook stew covered over low heat for an hour. The plums will have semi-melted in the stew, but should still hold their shape. Serve stew over basmati rice.
Recipe tips and FAQs
As I mentioned before, this green plum stew is a seasonal dish and not something that is served all year round. Although most Persians love to eat these sour plums as is or with some salt, this stew is another way to showcase our beloved gojeh sabz.
Just like other Persian stews, you serve this stew over basmati rice. You can also use brown basmati, if you prefer. Serve shirazi salad, mast o khiar or a platter of fresh herbs (sabzi khordan) with your stew and rice.
Just because unripe green plums are sour, does not mean they are not edible. Green cherry plums (gojeh sabz) are a specialty in Persian cuisine. These sour delights are enjoyed fresh with a bit of salt, or can be cooked in a delicious stew.
- 2 lb beef stew meat, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ¾ teaspoon turmeric
- 2 teaspoon all-purpose flour (optional)
- 2 TBS extra virgin olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped (approximately 1 cup)
- 2 cups beef broth
- 3 cups parsley, packed
- 2 cups mint, packed
- 20 green unripe plums (approximately ½ pound)
- In a large bowl mix together stew meat ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper, ¼ teaspoon turmeric and 2 teaspoon flour until meat is coated evenly.
- Heat a large dutch oven over medium heat and add 1 TBS olive oil.
- When oil is hot, add chopped onions.
- Cook until onions start to soften, approximately 7 minutes and add ½ teaspoon salt ¼ teaspoon pepper, ½ teaspoon turmeric.
- Cook for a 2 minutes, then raise the heat to medium-high, add stew meat and brown all sides, approximately 7 minutes.
- Stir in beef broth. Using a wooden spoon, scrape up browned bits of meat from the bottom of the pot.
- Reduce heat to low, cover pot and simmer for 2 hours, stirring the stew every 30 minutes.
- Using a food processor (or chop finely with a knife) chop parsley and mint. Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat and add 1 TBS olive oil.
- Sauté chopped greens for 5 minutes then add it and the green plums to the meat mixture.
- Cook stew covered over low heat for an hour.
Persians love sour foods. Depending on how sour the plums are, your stew may be too sour or not sour enough. You can adjust the sourness by the amount of green plums you add. If you like it more sour, add lemon juice.
Serve stew over basmati rice with fresh herbs, yogurt and/or cucumber tomato salad.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 567Total Fat: 12gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 112mgSodium: 625mgCarbohydrates: 78gFiber: 3gSugar: 53gProtein: 40g
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