Here is a modern Persian recipe, for one of the national dishes of Iran, that could have been and surely was also cooked in ancient times. Ghormeh Sabzi is a flavorful stew of LOTS of cooked herbs, with meat and a legume. The final texture resembles an Indian Saag or cooked greens dish, but this Persian version made entirely of herbs is a bit more tangy and pungent.
My version of Ghormeh Sabzi combines lots of parsley, coriander (cilantro), mint, and green onions, Goat meat, and chickpeas, to substitute for red beans which are usually found in the modern version, but were unavailable in the Old World. A stew fit for a King of kings!
-1.5 lbs. Goat, lamb, or cow Shoulder or other good stew meat
-2 large bunches parsley (any kind)
-2 large bunches cilantro
-2 bunches spring onions or scallions
-1 bunch mint
-1/2 cup olive oil
-1 white onion
-1/2 cup dry chickpeas
-Fresh ground spices (pictured: salt, mustard, fennel, sumac, coriander)
-1/4 cup red wine
-1/2 cup pomegranate molasses, plus more for garnish
-Yogurt to garnish
-Rice or Flatbread to serve with
Prepare all ingredients. Soak the chickpeas for at least 6 hours. Cut the meat into smaller pieces. Grind the spices into a coarse mixture and season the meat., Rough chop the onion into large pieces. Chop up all the herbs and green onions and set aside.
You’ve got three quick stages of cooking here and then all the hard work is over. Put a dutch oven or stew pot over medium high heat. When hot, add a little oil and brown the spiced meat for a minute or two. Be careful not to let the spices burn. Remove meat from the pot.
Add 1/2 cup olive oil to the pot and all the herbs. Fry for about 5 minutes until mostly wilted and fragrant, almost like a cooked pesto. Remove from the pot.
Finally, add a bit more oil and saute the white onion until just starting to, but not fully cooked. Add the wine and pomegranate molasses, stirring and scraping to deglaze the pan.
Add the meat and the herbs back into the pot, and enough water to just barely cover, about 6 cups. (You may need to add more later). Bring the mixture to a boil, stir, and then cover, simmering on low heat for an hour.
Next, stir the stew and then add the chickpeas, drained of their soaking water. Cover and simmer for one more hour, or until both chickpeas and the meat are melt in your mouth tender.
Taste and add salt and water as necessary for desired seasoning and consistency, and that’s it!
Garnish with a dollop of yogurt, and more pomegranate molasses drilled on top. For a modern Persian meal, serve over basmati rice, bonus points if you color and flavor it with turmeric or saffron! To go Ancient style, pair with NAN-E-BARBARI (Persian Flatbread)