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Fresh herb stew with lamb (or mutton) and dried Omani lime

Persian culture is defined by stunning stews, numerous and complex these stews and thick soups form the basis if the cuisine and the culture. This herbed stew is no exception.

In my library I have a number of herbed stew recipes but I chose this beautiful version because of the specific combinations of the herbs and the use of dried Omani limes (also called Limu Omani). Omani limes are small limes that are fermented and dried. They are beautifully tart with subtle flavors that add the perfect pop to any dish, especially stews. They are a standard in my kitchen when I want to add that zing to any dish. More here on Omani limes. They are available on Amazon in India, or in any Middle eastern grocery store internationally.

This is a hearty and delicious stew with characteristic Persian flavors. The meat is cooked till it is fork-tender and accompanied by the creamy red kidney beans. The stew is loaded with herbs, the addition of fresh fenugreek leaves is spectacular. Finally, the stew is shines with the subtle tartness from the Omani limes. The flavors are complex but addictive and so, so good! I served it with pita bread, but you can also serve it with challaw. Although this stew is traditionally made with red meat, you can substitute chicken if desired.

Greg and Lucy Malouf have traveled across the Middle East extensively, publishing a number of specialized cookbooks along their journey. This cookbook is one of my favorites, a thick volume filled with amazing recipes, like this one, and photographs. This cookbook will make you want to get out to the closest Mediterranean store (or on Amazon) and order a pantry full of new ingredients for this cuisine. I have cooked a few, definitely not enough, recipes from this book and each is spectacular. I need to complete the collection of their cookbooks, oh I wish I had a larger cookbook budget. This book is for those who are looking for spectacular Middle Eastern cuisine.

For more delicious recipes from this cookbook click here.


2 tablespoons oil

1 onion, finely diced

1 leek, finely diced

3/4 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 teaspoon pepper

1 lb lamb shoulder, without bone

1 cup cilantro leaves, chopped

1 cup parsley leaves, chopped

1/2 cup fresh or dried chervil or 1/2 teaspoon lightly crushed anise seeds (saunf)

1/2 cup dill, chopped

1/3 cup fenugreek leaves, or 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds, lightly pounded

3/4 cup red kidney beans, soaked overnight in 5 cups water

2-3 dried Omani limes, punctured with a fork or a sharp knife

6 cups chicken stock or water

Salt, to taste

2 cups spinach, stemmed

Juice of 1/2 lime, or to taste

Yogurt, whipped, to garnish

Heat the oil on low heat in a deep pan, large enough for all the ingredients. Add the onions and leeks and sauté till soft and translucent and soft, do not brown. Add the turmeric and pepper and sauté for 1 minute till the turmeric is aromatic.

Add the meat to the pan and turn up the heat to medium-low. Cook for 3-4 minutes till the edges of the meat are sealed. Add the cilantro, parsley, chervil, dill and fenugreek leaves and mix in well. Add the kidney beans, dried limes, stock/water and salt. Stir in well and bring to a boil. Simmer for 1 1/2 hours, stirring the pot occasionally to make sure the spices and meat are not sticking to the bottom. Also squeeze the limes to extract the juices a couple of times. When cooked, check the meat should be fork tender and the beans soft and creamy. Taste and adjust salt as needed.

While the stew is simmering, wash the spinach and blanch the spinach in hot water or in the microwave, for 1 minute. The leaves should still retain their fresh green color. Cool and chop finely.

Add the spinach to the stew and simmer for an additional 5 minutes to integrate the flavors. The stew at this point should be thick and the sauce clinging heavily to the meat.

Serve hot in a bowl garnished with dollops of yogurt and with pita bread or challaw.

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