Most Beloved Persian Stew; Khoreshte Karafs

by Marjan
Interest for eating and maintaining a healthy weight with lifestyle seems to be a common topic of discourse amongst my friends, no matter age or culture. Lately, I have been most fascinated with the use of herbs in Persian cuisine. Herbs and vegetables are common ingredients inebriated in a majority of stews and side servings at our meals. Which leads me to introduce you to one of the most beloved Persian stews, Koreshte Karafs (literal translation, celery stew).



Celery is a crunchy, low-calorie antioxidant vegetable with noteworthy nutrients and health benefits such as rich anti-inflammatory agents, vitamin C and flavonoids. Koreshte karafs incorporates delicious herbs such as mint, celery leaves and parsley along with stewed beef shank rendering succulent earthy flavors. Addition of lime juice elevates this aromatic healthy low-calorie stew with the perfect balance of zest and herbs. No wonder khoreshte karafs is a beloved Persian stew; it has it all! Served along with saffron laced basmati  Persian rice,  I guarantee this will become one of your favorite stews as well.

Delectable aromas of khoreshte karafs remind me of a very sweet story I must share with you. Thirteen years ago when Anja live in Los Angeles, I invited two of our mutual friends over for 'Valentine's Day Friendship Dinner'.  We were all single in LA at the time and decided to celebrate our friendship since neither of us had prospective dates. Sounds boring; right? Wrong! We shared photos and stories of loved ones and spent a heart warming night eating, drinking, and exchanging gifts. Now that's fun! Our friendship elevated to another level; St. Valentine worked it's magic.

For our special dinner, I prepared khoreshte karafs along with Lubia Polo (Persian rice dish with green beans, spices, and meat). At the time, our friendship was new. Even though Anja and I connected at the heart level, we were learning about one another's history, likes and dislikes. We already established our shared passion for food, but at the time, I was not aware of Anja's disliked for mint in stews. I began to pour khoreshte karafs onto her plate meanwhile mentioning herbs used, which included mint. She hesitated and politely asked me to serve her a small tasting portion. After a couple of spoonfuls, 'the green minty celery stew' won her over and she asked for a second serving!

Recently during Anja's visit to California, I invited Shirl over for lunch. Of course when three Savorychicks gather, it's going to be gastronomic experience. Upon Anja's request, we served fesenjoon, tahcheen, and koreshte karafs with Persian rice. Yes, it was a hearty meal indeed! Nervous about serving this minty, dark green stew to Shirl, I was relieved when she gave it two thumbs up!


Therefore, I had to share this delicious aromatic stew recipe with you as well! Stay tuned next week, for I will share with you my favorite Persian stew, Ghormeh Sabzi (stew of herbs).

Noushe Jan!

Serves 4-6

Persian stews are a labor of love; not meant to be rushed or made in haste. Therefore, patience and time is required to render a stew made to please all senses! Set aside 3-4 hours to prepare this delicious stew. Key is using quality, organic produce and meat; washing herbs thoroughly and mincing herbs well. A food processor may be used to mince herbs; however, make sure to not over process as herbs will turn into a paste vs. minced properly.

Ingredients:

1 celery bunch; thoroughly rinsed and julienned into 2" long and 1/4" wide pieces of the stalk. Reserve leaves to be used and minced 1lb. organic Beef Shanks with bone; ask butcher to cut into 1" to 2" (same cut as for Osso Buco) 
3-4 cups boiling hot water 1 cup minced of each: Mint, Celery Leaves (important to rinse, air dry, and minced fine each herb)
1 bunch of flat leaf parsley; minced (rinse, air dry and mince fine)
1 large onion; diced into small pieces 1 teaspoon turmeric
Sea Salt and black pepper 4-6 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lime juice (limoo amanee, dried limes, may be use; however, my family always uses lime juice) Olive Oil

Serve with Persian Style rice In a large pot over medium low heat, sauté onions with 4 tbsp olive oil until caramelized golden brown. Toss in beef shank and slightly brown all sides. Add turmeric,1 tsp each salt and pepper, 3 cups of hot water and simmer over medium heat for 30-40 minutes.  

Meanwhile, in a frying pan over medium-low heat with 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil, sauté minced parsley and cilantro for 20-30 minutes. Add to the herbs minced mint and sauté for additional 15 minutes. Stir consistently making sure herbs do not burn and evenly sautéed to render a dark green color. Once complete, remove and add herbs to beef stewing. Place lid, decrease heat to medium low and boil for an hour or 1 1/2 hrs. Occasionally gently stir from the bottom to prevent herbs from settling and burning.

If serving with Persian rice, start preparing the rice at this time.

In the same frying pan herbs were sautéed, add 2-3 tablespoons more of olive oil; over medium low heat, toss and stir celery for 8-10 minutes until bright green. Add sautéed celery to stew. Gently stir all ingredients together. Add more boiling water if need so that celery, herbs and beef mixture are just covered in water. Over medium low heat, boil stew for additional hour until meat falls off the bone. 

Add 4 tablespoons of lime juice and 1 teaspoon of salt. Taste stew for acidity and salt. If more is needed, add as desired for a robust lime taste. Remove and discard shank bones and transfer stew to a deep serving bowl. Serve with Persian Rice .




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Comments

  1. Such good memories! Back then, during the most magical Valentine's night when I had my very first serving of koreshte karafs, and just recently on my last visit to L.A., when we were once again in awe that neither time nor distance would change anything about our deep friendship. I'll always have a soft spot for khoreste karafs because it is so closely linked to precious moments.

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    Replies
    1. Time passes so quickly! It is the magic of special events in our lives that last a life time! Thank you Anja joon!

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