Cooking is really an art form. Some folks have a natural talent for blending flavors, while others need to cultivate their skills over time and with practice. I have always enjoyed cooking and have never been very intimated in the kitchen.
When I was single and working in Miami, the only way I could eat Persian food was to make it myself. Those initial attempts at Persian stews did not compare with my mother or grandmother’s cooking. But, I was rather pleased with myself, all the same.
When I married a Persian, I became more determined to better my cooking skills in the kitchen. I watched my mother-in-law cook family favorites and quizzed my mother, aunt and uncle about recipes. Some attempts made it straight to the trash, and other times beginners luck was on my side.
There was a lot of growing pains as I cooked more and added more dishes to my recipe repertoire, especially for Persian dishes. One staple dish, is Persian green bean stew with lamb shanks (Khorest Loobia Sabz).
Why this recipe is so awesome
Persian food is not just about kabobs. Persian cuisine is also all about the stews or khoresht. Persian stews are typically brimming with vegetables. We have stews featuring herbs, green beans, okra, eggplant or squash, to name a few.
Khoreshts also use a variety of meats too from beef, lamb, chicken and duck. You can also serve Persian stews without meat, if you are vegetarian. Most, but not all Persian stews are tomato based. Khorshteh loobia sabz is one of those tomato based stews.
In this dish, fresh string beans are the focus in this dish. And like any Persian stew, it all starts with browning onions and turmeric.
For this version of khoresht lubia sabz, I chose to use lamb shanks instead of beef. You will need to brown the shanks first, then add the broth and water and let the shanks slowly braise and work their magic. When the stew is done, the lamb will be fall-off-the-bones-tender!
If you are familiar with Persian foods, then you probably heard of loobia pollo. This is a rice dish where the green bean stew is mixed with partially cooked rice, combined in a pot and finished cooking together.
Ingredients you need
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- Green beans: You can use fresh or frozen string beans, both work well. I am partial to the thin French string beans and use a frozen bag I find at Trader Joe’s when I don’t feel like cleaning and snipping ends of fresh green beans!
- Lamb shank: I use lamb shanks for this stew, but you can also use beef shanks, boneless beef stew meat or even chicken thighs. Add yellow split peas if you want a vegetarian stew.
- Onion: You can use brown, yellow or white onions.
- Persian dried limes: Limoo Omani offers a unique sour flavor. I use the whole dried lemons in the soup and crush it up for the meat purée. My husband’s family likes it more sour so I typically serve it with ground limoo omani on the side.
- Lemon juice: Persians love the sour flavors. I add both lemon juice and dried Persian limes in this stew. You can use fresh or bottled lemon juice.
- Pantry staples: Extra virgin olive oil (or vegetable oil), beef broth, canned diced tomatoes and tomato paste.
- Seasonings: Dried turmeric, ground cinnamon, kosher salt and ground black pepper
1. In a large Dutch oven over medium high heat add olive oil and sauté the onions. When the onions soften, about 5-7 minutes, stir in turmeric.
2. Season lamb shanks with salt and pepper. Add seasoned lamb shanks to the onions in batches, two at a time, browning the shanks evenly on all sides.
3. Return lamb shanks to the pot and stir in beef broth, water and dried limes. Reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook until meat starts to soften and retract from the bone, about 1-1 ½ hours. Rotate the lamb shanks every 30 minutes or so as it cooks.
4. Wash and pinch the stems from green beans. Cut beans so that they are 1-2 inches long. In a large pan, over medium-high heat add and sauté string beans for about 5-7 minutes, until color starts to darken.
You can cut them as I did, or keep them long. Again, it is up to personal preference. Persians usually eat with a fork and spoon, so it is easier to scoop up string beans that are cut up.
5. Season green beans with turmeric then transfer to the pot with the lamb shanks along with diced tomatoes, tomato paste, lemon juice and cinnamon.
6. Stir to combine everything in the pot and continue to cook one more hour for flavors to meld together.
Recipe tips and FAQs
All of Persian stews are served over a bed of basmati rice. It is usually white rice, even yellow saffron rice. Sometimes stews are served alongside flavored rice dishes, pollo. But it is usually accompanied with plain white rice or even brown basmati rice.
I have used a variety of green beans in making khorshteh loobia sabz. I usually use regular fat green beans, but I have also used the thinner French string beans. I have also used frozen green beans, when I can’t find fresh. Do not use canned green beans as they contain less nutrients, more sodium and are mushier than fresh or frozen.
- 3 TBS extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- ¾ teaspoon dried turmeric
- 4 large lamb shank
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 cup beef broth
- 1 cup water
- 4 dried Persian limes
- 2 lb green beans
- 28 oz canned diced tomatoes
- 3 TBS tomato paste
- 3 TBS lemon juice
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- In a large Dutch oven over medium high heat add olive oil.
- When oil is hot, stir in diced onions.
- Sauté onions until soft, then stir in turmeric.
- Season lamb shanks with salt and pepper.
- Add seasoned lamb shanks to the onions in batches, two at a time.
- Brown lamb shanks evenly on all sides, remove and brown remaining two lamb shanks.
- Return lamb shanks to the pot and stir in beef broth, water and dried limes.
- Reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook until meat starts to soften and retract from the bone, about 1-1 ½ hours. Rotate the lamb shanks every 30 minutes or so as it cooks.
- Wash and pinch the stems from green beans.
- Cut beans so that they are 1-2 inches long.
- In a large pan, over medium-high heat add 1 TBS oil.
- Sauté string beans for about 5-7 minutes, until color starts to darken.
- Transfer string beans to the pot with the lamb shanks along with diced tomatoes, tomato paste, lemon juice and cinnamon.
- Stir to combine everything in the pot and continue to cook one more hour for flavors to meld together.
Serve over a bed of basmati rice. Persian stews taste even better the next day. The longer it cooks at low temperature, the softer the meat will become. You can also freeze the stew and eat another day!
Cooking Tips: You can substitute the lamb shanks with 2-pounds of boneless beef stew meat. You can use frozen string beans instead of fresh. They will take less time to cook, so add towards the last 20-30 minutes of cooking time.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 307Total Fat: 15gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 60mgSodium: 547mgCarbohydrates: 26gFiber: 9gSugar: 12gProtein: 21g
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Disclosure: I received a 10-piece cookware set from Wolf Gourmet to review. I did not receive a stipend for this post. The story I have written is all true, and the opinions are truly mine. If I didn’t like it, I wouldn’t blog about it.