Celebrate fall and the Persian holiday, Mehregan, with Persian Squash Stew (Khoresht Kadoo), made with butternut squash, yellow split peas and dried sour plums.
We may not be feeling it here in San Diego, but Autumn is here. In most parts of the Northern hemisphere, the weather is starting to cool and the trees are showing off their spectrum of colors. In San Diego, we typically get a final surge of heat before any of the cool temps arrive.
Well, I was in Idaho last week with the Idaho Potato Commission (more on that in the coming weeks) where I was immersed in fall-like weather and I fell in love with the luscious landscape and brilliant trees.
Autumn is also special for Iranians. Jashn-e Mehregan, is an important holiday amongst Persians, second in significance only to the Persian New Year, Norooz. It is traditionally held during the first six days of autumn, celebrating the Autumn Equinox.
In ancient Persia, this was a time to honor the god of justice, Mehr, and to celebrate the end of the harvest season. Celebrating the bounty after the harvest is very common across many cultures.
Mehregan is cherished today as many Iranian expatriates desire to introduce Persian Iranian culture to the world and to pass down ancient Persian culture and traditions. The ruling Islamic government is not an accurate portrayal of the Iranian people or their rich culture.
Although there is not a specific food item related to Jashn-e Mehregan, unlike Norooz, I have collaborated with a wonderful group of Persian bloggers to share with you our fall-inspired Persian recipes. For me, autumn means two things: pomegranates (of course!) and squash.
About Khoresht Kadoo
My favorite squash is the butternut squash. I love the mild sweet flavor and how it is truly swoon-worthy when simply roasted. My daii (uncle) is an amazing cook. He doesn’t typically follow a recipe and he is truly a wizard in the kitchen. When I was a student at the University of Arizona, I spent many weekends with my aunt and uncle, enjoying being spoiled with my daii’s magical dishes.
This Persian Squash Stew (Khoreshteh Kadoo) was something my grandmother used to make in Kermanshah. And my daii taught me how to make this family favorite. He made it with butternut squash, but you can also use acorn squash or even pumpkin (fresh and not the canned purée).
Other ingredients in khoresht kadoo
The base of the stew can be lamb or beef. You can also make this with chicken, too, but please use chicken on the bone, not boneless chicken breast, as it will dry out. The stew also includes yellow split peas and dried sour yellow plums. All the beautiful colors of fall in one dish.
If you can’t find dried sour yellow plums at the middle eastern market, you can find them here on Amazon. You can also substitute with dried apricots, but just know that apricots are sweeter than these dried plums
Like all Persian stews, serve your khoresht kadoo with basmati rice, of course, and plenty of tahdig (rice crust)! It would be equally delicious with brown rice, too.
- 2 ½ lb London broil
- ¾ tsp salt
- ½ tsp dried turmeric
- ¼ tsp all-purpose flour
- 2 TBS extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 cup beef broth
- 2 TBS lemon juice
- ½ cup yellow split peas, rinsed in water and drained
- ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
- 3 lb butternut squash
- 6 oz sour dried yellow plums
- 1 cup water, if needed
- Cut London broil into 1-inch cubes and transfer to a bowl.
- Season evenly with ¼ tsp salt, ¼ tsp turmeric and flour.
- Heat a large dutch oven over medium-high heat and add 1 TBS oil.
- When oil is hot add chopped onions.
- Cook until onions start to soften, approximately 7 minutes then stir in ¼ tsp turmeric and ¼ tsp salt.
- Cook for a 2 minutes, then add stew meat and brown all sides, approximately 7 minutes.
- Stir in broth and lemon juice.
- Using a wooden spoon, scrape up browned bits of meat from the bottom of the pot.
- Bring stew to a boil then add split peas and cinnamon.
- Reduce heat to low and simmer for 3 hours.
- While stew is simmering, cut squash in half lengthwise and peel.
- Remove seeds from squash cavity and cut into ½-inch thick slices.
- Heat large skillet over medium-high heat and add 1 tsp oil.
- Season both sides of squash slices with remaining salt.
- In batches, brown both sides of squash slices. Place on a plate lined with paper towels to drain excess oil. Add more oil when browning, as needed.
- When stew meat and split peas are tender, stir in dried plums and up to 1 cup water, if you need more juice.
- Preheat oven to 350ºF.
- Transfer stew to a large baking dish and top with butternut squash slices. Cover with foil. Bake for 30 minutes, or until squash is fork tender.
- Stew can be refrigerated 3-4 days before serving at this point. Flavor is enhanced the longer the stew sits.
- Serve over white basmati rice.
Cooking Tips: You can substitute the beef stew meat with 4 lamb shanks or 6 bone-in chicken thighs.
Serving Size:1-2 cups
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 418Total Fat: 10.6gSaturated Fat: 3.2gCholesterol: 94mgSodium: 502mgCarbohydrates: 42.8gFiber: 8.6gSugar: 17.1gProtein: 39.4g
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