Ghormeh Sabzi is an incredibly delicious Persian stew that is served over steamed basmati rice. It has tender cooked meat in intensely fragrant, rich and lemon herb gravy along with kidney Popularly known as the national dish of Iran, this stew is packed with protein and fiber.
What is Ghormeh Sabzi?
Ghormeh Sabzi, has garnered the reputation of being one of the most beloved Persian stews. Call it the “King of Persian Stews” or the “National dish” – no Persian restaurant menu or buffet is ever complete without this well deserved star item.
There are certain things in life that are to be experienced in its pristine originality. And Ghormeh Sabzi is one of them. This ancient classic recipe involves the cooking down of a combination of herbs into a rather characteristic aromatic mélange.
The three key flavor elements for ghormeh sabzi are: roasting of herbs, fenugreek, dried limes. In Persian, ghormeh means “fried” and sabzi means “herbs”.
Ghormeh Sabzi Ingredients
It includes meat, herbs, beans, dried limes etc., and you can find all these easily at your supermarket or online.
- Ghormeh Sabzi is traditionally prepared with lamb, beef or veal. I like to cook this Persian herb stew with bone in meat as it is more flavorful.
- Variation: Try this addictive stew with chicken or fish adjusting cooking time and water. Add chicken in the last hour and fish in the last 30 minutes. Lower amount of water to half.
- Check out my tips below for making it vegetarian or vegan.
- It requires parsley, cilantro, fenugreek and green onions. That is LOT of herbs. Check below how to use dried herbs for this stew.
- A key step for making Ghormeh sabzi is the slow roasting of herbs, that results in a magical aroma that will lovingly wrap you. An essential herb is the Fenugreek, and like most recipes that use this herb, the dish tastes even better the next day.
- In Persian, Fenugreek is known as Shanbalileh. This herb is widely used in Indian cooking as well and available as fresh, frozen or dried in Indian stores. Check in Persian or middle eastern stores too.
- It is most common to use the kidney beans. I prefer to use the dried beans soaked overnight, but you can try canned too.
- Less commonly used beans for ghormeh sabzi are pinto beans and black eyed peas.
- I personally love the red beans with the green herb stew. You eat with your eyes too :)
- DRIED LIMES:
- This is so important for the taste of ghormeh sabzi. You can find these at Persian or middle eastern stores or online. I have even been able to dry lime or lemon slices in my dehydrator. But go for dried limes as they are fairly easy to get.
- Dried limes are pierced and added to the stew, gently releasing the juices and aroma while simmering. Persian dried lime powder or fresh lime/lemon juice may also be added.
How to Make Ghormeh Sabzi
- Heat some oil and sauté onions. Add meat, spices and brown it a little. Then add drained beans, some salt, water and bring it to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for half hour.
- Next heat some oil in a skillet. Add herbs and sauté until you smell the aroma of sautéed herbs.
- Then add sautéed herbs, dried limes and simmer for 1 to 1½ hour until meat and beans are tender. Add lime powder or lime juice as per taste.
- The stew should be thick and not runny. Adjust the consistency, salt, lime and other seasonings. Serve Ghormeh Sabzi hot with steamed rice.
How to Make it With Dried Herbs?
I love making things from scratch and especially for this stew I use fresh herbs. I even chop up and freeze herbs in bulk.
But I know people who make it using dried herbs mix and are pretty happy with the results. Sadaf is a popular brand that sells these and other Persian food ingredients. You can find them over at Amazon or Persian/middle eastern grocery stores.
For dried herbs, use about one fourth the quantity specified for fresh herbs in the recipe. Take the herbs in a sieve and immerse in a bowl of lukewarm water. Soak the herbs for 20 minutes, drain and squeeze out the water. Proceed as you would with the fresh herbs.
If using ghormeh sabzi herb mixture from Sadaf, then follow the package instructions.
Vegetarian Ghormeh Sabzi
Increase the amount of beans to replace the meat. Other options are to use grilled/roasted tofu or sauteed mushrooms.
If you use canned beans, add them in the last half hour. Also, if using beans or vegetables, make sure to lower the amount of water.
I haven’t tried it, but you could perhaps add some boiled eggs. Just make couple of slits in the egg white portion and slide them in the last 20 minutes and simmer the stew.
Tips for Best Ghormeh Sabzi
- If you are not careful, two things that can add bitterness to the stew are fenugreek and dried limes.
- Just don’t use more fenugreek than necessary, especially the dried herbs. Add dried limes, powder or juice in last half of cooking.
- IMPORTANT: Ghormeh sabzi should be thick and not watery. When herbs simmer for a long time, they disintegrate into a thick stew, sort of like tomatoes.
- If stew is watery but beans and meat are well done, then separate them out. Then evaporate the herb sauce at a higher temperature, stirring frequently. And add the beans and meat back.
- When the stew simmers, you will notice some of the oil trickling and separating out on the top.
- Canned or cooked kidney beans may be used. Just add them in the last half hour.
- Lamb leg or shoulder with some bone works perfect for ghormeh sabzi.
- Frozen or dried fenugreek leaves are available at Indian and Middle Eastern stores. Dried fenugreek leaves can be found online also.
- It is best to use fresh herbs but you may substitute with dried herbs. Ready made “Ghormeh Sabzi” dried herbs from Persian traders (Sadaf) are available online.
- Ghormeh sabzi tastes even better the next day. It is a favorite comfort food!
Persian Herb Stew Health Benefits
Ghormeh sabzi is what happens when tasty meets healthy! This Persian stew is loaded with intensely flavorful herbs that are rich with phytochemicals known for chemo preventive and anti-inflammatory benefits.
These herbs are also good sources of chlorophyll, which is effective in negating the carcinogenic effects of heterocyclic amines. And are also a good source of vitamin K, vitamin C and vitamin A.
It is packed with high quality protein, B vitamins and some minerals from the meat. And plant protein and soluble fiber from the beans. Ghormeh sabzi is low carb and gluten free as well.
This stew uses a good amount of oil for roasting the herbs. However, it is served with plain steamed rice. And you are going to need some fat to absorb all the lovely nutrients in this delicious stew. Still, you can skim off some fat from the top, once it has been used as a vehicle to cook the stew to perfection.
More Tasty Stews:
- Moroccan Lamb Stew
- Indian Kofta Curry (Meatball Curry)
- Persian Zucchini Stew with Chicken
- Spicy Rosemary Tomato Chicken
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Ghormeh Sabzi (Persian Herb Stew)
- 4 cups parsley fresh
- 3 cups cilantro fresh
- 1 cup green onions fresh
- 3/4 cup fenugreek leaves fresh or 3 tbsp dried fenugreek leaves
- 5 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onions yellow, large, sliced thinly
- 1½ lb lamb with bone or 1¼ lbs boneless cut in 2 inch pieces
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper ground
- salt to taste
- 1/2 cup dried kidney beans dried (soaked overnight)
- 4 dried limes dried, whole
- 1 tbsp dried lime powder or 2 tbsp lime juice (as per taste)
- Rinse the herbs and drain well. Chop herbs very finely.Tip: Spin herbs in a salad spinner or pat dry.
- Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a cooking pot at medium setting. Sauté onions until light golden brown.
- Add meat, turmeric, black pepper and brown it a little. Then add some salt and 3 cups water and bring it to a boil.
- Lower the heat, add the drained beans and simmer for 30 mins.Tip: Cook longer if using beef.
- Meanwhile, heat 3 tbsp of oil in a nonstick skillet. Add the herbs and sauté for 20 to 25 minutes until you can smell the aroma of sautéed herbs. Make sure to stir in between.
- Then add sautéed herbs and simmer the stew for 30 minutes.
- Next, add the pierced dried limes and simmer for another 30 to 60 minutes until the meat and beans are tender.Tip: Add dried lime powder or lime juice in the last half hour adjusting as per your taste.
- The stew should be thick and not runny. Adjust the consistency, salt, lime and other seasonings.
- Serve Ghormeh Sabzi hot with steamed rice.
- Two things that can add bitterness to the stew if you are not careful are fenugreek and dried limes. Don't add more fenugreek than needed, especially the dried herbs. Add dried limes, powder or juice in later half of cooking.
- Ghormeh sabzi should be thick and not watery. When herbs simmer, they disintegrate into a thick stew, sort of like tomatoes. If stew is watery but beans and meat are well done, then separate them out and evaporate sauce at a higher temperature, stirring frequently. Then add the beans and meat back.
- Canned or cooked kidney beans can be used. Add them in last half hour.
- Lamb leg or shoulder with some bone works great for ghormeh sabzi.
- Frozen or dried fenugreek leaves can be found in Indian and Middle Eastern stores. Dried fenugreek leaves are available online also.
- It is best to use fresh herbs but may substitute with dried herbs. Ready made "Ghormeh Sabzi" dried herbs are available online.
- Ghormeh sabzi tastes even better the next day.
- NUTRITION FACTS: Not including any added salt.
This post was first published on November 3rd 2016 and has been updated with improvements in recipe, formatting, tips, and additional enhancements.