Iranian beef and celery stew!
This Persian recipe is not your average stew! The flavors are very rich, yet light. The seasonings in khoresht-e karafs are not what you may expect them to be.
No beef stock is used to make this recipe. The onions are caramelized to a brown color, before adding the beef. Then the beef and onions are caramelized together, before stewing.
Persian and Arabic cooks are experts at using spices and herbs. Knowing when to add certain seasonings is the key to making great Persian cuisine. The seasonings are prepared and added late in this recipe, so the flavors remain crisp and bright.
I had a great Persian and Arabic cuisine education as a child. My step grandfather was a great chef from Lebanon and Syria. As a child, I had no clue as to where those places were. We sat together and looked at a map of the world one day. The easiest middle eastern name of a country for a child to pronounce is Iran. One thing that my Syrian grandfather did say about Iran was that the best food in the world is cooked in Iran! For a great Syrian chef to say that about Iran was a true sign of respect!
Some of the oldest ancient cook books in the world are from Persia. Persia has been known for fine gourmet food since ancient times. There is far more to Persian cuisine, than the kebab entrees that the western world is familiar with. Iranian cuisine is healthy food and it is almost always highly seasoned. If a good education on how to use herbs and spices is what you wish, then Persian cuisine is one of the best to learn.
Today's recipe is a traditional Persian beef and celery stew. This stew tastes far better than what the simple name would suggest. Beef and celery does not sound like anything special. It is the cooking techniques and seasoning that make this recipe exceptionally tasty!
This recipe makes 1 large portion!
Heat a saute pan over medium heat.
Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
Add 1 cup of thin sliced onion.
Add 1 minced garlic clove.
Saute the onions, till they start to caramelize. Be sure to stir the onions often.
Add about 8 ounces of beef chuck roast (beef shoulder) that is cut into bite size pieces.
Saute and stir the beef and, till they become caramelized with brown color.
Add enough water to cover the beef.
Bring the liquid to a gentle boil.
Reduce the temperature to low heat
Simmer the beef and onions for 45 minutes to 1 hour. (Add water as necessary while stewing.)
Add 1 1/2 cups of 1 inch long pieces of celery.
Heat a saute pan over medium low heat.
Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
Add 3 tablespoons of finely chopped Italian parsley.
Add 3 tablespoons of finely chopped mint leaves.
Saute till the herbs become aromatic, but not browned.
Add the oil, parsley and mint mixture to the stew.
Add sea salt and black pepper.
Add 1 tablespoon of lime juice.
Add 1 tablespoon of sugar.
Add 1 teaspoon of virgin olive oil.
Simmer the stew, till the celery becomes tender. Do not stew the celery till it is soft and mushy!
When the stew finishes cooking, the stew broth should be thin, like a jus. There should be plenty of broth in the casserole serving dish, but not enough to cover the beef and celery. There should be a thin layer of olive oil on the surface of the stew broth.
Place the stew into a shallow casserole dish.
Place the casserole dish on a serving platter.
Place some triangle shaped slices of warm pita bread (khubz arabi) on the platter.
Garnish with Italian parsley sprigs.
Serve with a bowl of Persian rice on the side.
The flavor of this Iranian beef and celery stew is so delicious, that it is hard to describe! Frying the parsley and mint for a minute does bring out the flavors. Only enough sugar should be added to give a hint of sweetness. The tart lime flavor combines with the herbs and broth to create a wonderful light exotic flavor. The celery adds a nice touch of savory warmth. Yum! ... Shawna