Lamb Stew (Qaymeh)
Makes about 7 cups (6 servings)
This is a popular khoresht or stew (pronounced GHAY-meh), which is traditionally served with steamed basmati rice or with crisped matchstick french fries on top.
The recipe calls for dried limes and advieh; the latter is a Persian spice blend. Both are available at Middle Eastern stores. Chef Maziar Farivar of Peacock Cafe in Georgetown says the limes in this dish become soft and delicious although they remain tart. At a typical Persian family meal, he says, the limes might be cut in half to make sure everyone gets a share. From Farivar, chef-owner of Peacock Cafe in Georgetown.
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 medium onions, cut into thin slices
1 pound boneless leg of lamb , trimmed of excess fat then cut into 1/2-inch cubes (may substitute boneless chuck roast or filet tips)
Freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
4 or 5 whole dried limes, pierced with the sharp tip of a knife
3 cups water
1 teaspoon advieh (Persian spice blend; see headnote and NOTE)
1 large tomato, peeled and diced (may substitute a good-quality, whole canned tomato)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
Finely grated zest of 1 orange (about 1 tablespoon)
Pinch saffron threads
1/4 cup dried yellow split peas
Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and stir to coat. Cook for about 12 minutes, stirring a few times, until they are softened and lightly colored, then add the lamb cubes. Cook to brown them on all sides. Season them with salt and pepper to taste, plus the turmeric, stirring to coat.
Add the dried limes and water. Cover and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook for 30 minutes.
Stir in the advieh, tomato and tomato paste, the orange zest, saffron and split peas. Cover and cook for 30 minutes or until the peas and meat are tender. If the consistency is thin, uncover and cook the stew a bit longer.
Because the limes are quite tart, not everybody may like them. Extract the limes and place them alongside portions of the stew, to be cut and portioned like a condiment. Serve hot.
NOTE: To make the Persian spice blend called advieh, combine 2 tablespoons ground dried rose petals; 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon; and 1 teaspoon each ground cinnamon, ground cardamom, Angelica powder, freshly grated nutmeg, ground cumin, ground coriander and powdered dried lime in a small container. Seal and store at room temperature for up to 6 months.
NUTRITION Per serving: 190 calories, 18 g protein, 11 g carbohydrates, 8 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 50 mg cholesterol, 95 mg sodium, 3 g dietary fiber, 3 g sugar