Persian Lamb and Rhubarb stew

I really love Persian food. Generally I wait for my neighbors to cook it. But I bought a batch of rhubarb, and there was a lot left after Louise made a pie. So we both thought of Khoresh-e Rivas, or Rhubarb Khoresh. Because we do -some- Persian cooking I have most of the ingredients. Good saffron, a big bag of powdered dried mint. Anyway I can taste this stuff already, although I haven’t even bought the lamb (wonder if I can find shanks?).

Here is a link to Najmieh Batmanglij’s wonderful cookbook.

Awesome. One of the first Persian dishes I cooked from New Food of Life. Haven’t had it in years.

Thanks, Frank. I’m always looking for savory dishes with rhubarb. Love the flavor, don’t want the sugar.

Several years ago, at a local farmer’s market, I bought something I hadn’t seen before and haven’t seen since: white rhubarb (actually, a creamy pale green). When I asked the grower about how to use it, she started in on pie, jam, etc. When I asked about savory, she said substitute it for celery. Wow! Like celery on steroids! Wonderful in chicken salad.

Maybe Lamb sirloin!! Frank

I notice that the cookbook (an old edition) only mentions chicken in this stew. I think our neighbors have mainly made it with lamb because that is what it “tastes like” in my memory. Fragrant tender chunks of lamb with that interesting sourish flavor of the rhubarb. Mmmm!! The copy of the cookbook that I own says you can use chicken, beef, veal, or lamb. There are also hours of cooking, in stages, with the rhubarb only going in for the last 15-20 minutes.

I’ve never made rice with a Tadiq. In Persian cooking, ideally you want to invert the rice on a serving dish, so that the bottom as it cooked is on top, and you want to see a lovely dome of browned crusty rice. Sometimes people slice up a potato to provide enhanced browning and crunchiness. People kind of fight over the crust, the tadiq. My Persian-cooking neighbors are out of town, they always take care of the “Polo” course. Maybe I could put it into a frying pan?? You can actually buy Persian style rice cookers which “overcook” the bottom deliberately. But I don’t have one. The reason I can do Japanese rice so perfectly is that my neighbor gave me her old rice cooker when she bought a Persian one…

Anybody got hints for me? Nice article here:

I used the New Food of Life stovetop recipe. The other book you link to has an oven recipe in the rice section that will give you the gist of it.

Patrick, I have Food of Life or New Food of Life at home – it’s pretty new. So I will look at the recipes.

I’m at work now…

I got some steaks cut from the leg, and some “stewing” lamb. It was easy to cube up the boneless steaks, whereas the stewing lamb turned out to be largely bone and gristle. I threw that in for a more complex flavor. Browning everything started the good smells in the kitchen. Honestly I am not sure I understand the “why” of the recipe sequence but it sure presents a rich and exotic sequence of smells. Browning the lamb, softening the onions, and then simmering for an hour to braise the meat. Only AFTER that you make up some saffron water and squeeze a lime, and add those along with some tomato paste. Imagine how the aroma changes when you do that. And THEN you fill a frying pan with chopped parsley and mint and fry just until the aromas become strong, and add that to the stew. Wow. It really smells the way I remember – almost. Finally a few minutes ago I cut up the rhubarb and dumped that in to float on top and soften. Rhubarb smells about the same raw as it does in a pie, what a great smell. And now that is another note in the scent of this stew. Mmmmmmm…

Well, a small “oops”! The recipes always say to be careful not to overcook the rhubarb because it will fall apart.

I looked at the stew, good deal, I could still see all the rhubarb pieces, although they had blanched. Then I tasted the stew and said “wow, it really got sour when I added that rhubarb!” so I found some Demerara sugar and added a spoonful or so. Then I stirred the pot. No more rhubarb, it basically disappeared.

If we were feeding this to real Persians I might need to start all over from scratch. But for the 2 of us, eh, no biggie. Still it is a lesson to be learned, you REALLY have to be careful if you want the rhubarb to be separate and visible. And I think to have RED rhubarb showing in the stew (as is shown in the cookbook) you probably need to be a food stylist who cheats with raw rhubarb added just before taking the photo…

The rhubarb loses the red color quickly after being added to the pot.

So I cooked a batch of Basmati rice, we chopped up fresh flat parsley, dill weed, and green onions.

I tried the “trick” in the URL I posted above, mixing egg and yogurt and rice and putting that into frying butter in the rice pan, and then filling up with layers of rice, onion, rice, dill, rice, parsley, rice.

The rice was delicious and a great match with the Khoresh.

But the “fake” Tadigh was really sucky. It was nice and brown, but I know what the crust should taste like and this was miles away from that. I should just have rice and butter on the bottom, or rice and some kind of grease. BTW I don’t consider thinly sliced potatoes as “fake” because they taste really similar to a rice crust. I need practice with the crust.

Anyway Louise was pretty thrilled with the dish and it totally scratched the itch I had, it tasted exactly like what I had been expecting.