Sunday, 20 January 2013

Ghormeh-Sabzi - Persian Herb Stew - قورمه‌ سبزی

Persian dishes unite flavours of very simple ingredients rather than overpowering subtle flavours of each ingredient with spices or pungent sauces. A very simple ingredient that is not abundantly utilised in most cuisines are herbs. In Iran to this day, herbs take centre stage and without them cooking some dishes is impossible. There are not many traditional fresh salads and vegetable side dishes served with meals, but instead the use of vegetables and herbs has been incorporated in main dishes.  Eating fresh herbs with a meal is another popular way of eating lots of herbs. 

We decided to introduce the most loved herb stew now rather than later and seriously stress about the complexity of this dish.

Ghormeh-Sabzi is simply the queen of all herb stews. The North's eating culture is completely different to the rest of the country and Ghormeh-Sabzi can be served there for a family meal usually during winter. Generally, a laborious dish like this one is only prepared for loved ones and in special occasions to impress guests.  Mastering this dish is the pride and joy of every mother and wife. So important is this dish, that herbs used to be sun dried and kept in the pantry to be cooked when special herbs were out of season.  Of course now, fried herbs are kept frozen for convenience. 

Like all great dishes, the secret ingredients are plenty of love, patience and most importantly expertise.  A great tip for mastering this dish is first to know the flavour and texture of a great Ghormeh-Sabzi and secondly practise with your perfectionist hat on! 


1 big bunch Parsley
1/2 a bunch Coriander (optional)
A hand full of Spinach Leaves (optional)
1 small bunch Fenugreek
1/2 a bunch Baby Leeks
4 Cups water
400g Lamb, cubed
1 Medium Onion, chopped
1 Can Red Kidney Beans (390g)
3-4 Dried Limes, halved and seeds removed
Salt and Pepper
Lemon Juice
Oil for cooking


  1. Finely chop all the herbs either by hand or in a food processor.
  2. In a fry pan, heat a couple of tablespoons of oil on high heat.
  3. Add the herbs and stir occasionally until herbs are soft. 
  4. Add a generous amount of oil, keep stirring continuously until herbs absorb all the oil and turn into a deep green colour.
  5. In a pot, brown onions with little oil.
  6. Add chopped meat and stir occasionally until the meat is sealed.
  7. Add water and simmer until the meat is just cooked (roughly 30 minutes).
  8. Add fried herbs, can of drained beans, dried limes and close the lid.
  9. Cook for a further 45 - 60 minutes.
  10. To check to see if the stew is done, look for a layer of deep green oil covering the surface of the stew.
  11. Adjust taste by adding lemon juice, salt and pepper.
A few points worth mentioning:
  • Fried herbs can be stored in a freezer bag and frozen until needed.
  • Coriander and spinach are not traditionally used in this dish, however it can be used as a substitute. As long as herbs are fried perfectly, it should not alter the taste significantly.
  • Dried beans can be used by soaking it overnight and cooking it with meat.
  • When frying herbs, if the colour has turned black, it's burnt and the delicate flavours are all lost and will taste slightly smokey in the finished stew.
  • Beef can be used instead of lamb. 


  1. My mom has made me this ever since i was little for 15 or so years, amazing dish that can be made by anyone. Looks bad but is one of the best foods ever. All of my friends that have tried it were surprised because it doesn't look that good.

    1. This is probably the case for most Persian dishes ... just got to try them :)

  2. This is by far my most favorite Persian dish.! Never a disappointment. Thanks for sharing.