Khoresh Karafs – Ghermez (Chicken, Celery & Tomato Stew)

A Persian stew made with chicken thighs slow-cooked with celery in a tomato sauce. Wonderfully simple to prepare but with maximum flavour from the combination of garlic, turmeric and saffron with the tomato sauce.

A Familiar Stew

This stew is the lesser-known of the Persian celery stews. The famous one being Khoresh Karafs made with lamb, mint, parsley and celery. This version can be made with chicken, lamb or beef with the stew being tomato-based.

In my family, we distinguish between the two by referring to the colour: ‘Sabz,’ which translated means green in Farsi, for the herby version; and ‘Ghermez,’ which means red, for the tomato-based version. In fact, this version is probably the most popular among my mother’s side of the family, who primarily come from Mashhad in the Khorasan Province of Iran.

With tomatoes apparently only being introduced to Iran in the late 19th century, this stew is inevitably fairly young in the longstanding history of Iran and the Persian Empire. Some Iranians have never heard of this stew!

How to Serve Khoresh Karafs – Germez?

Serve with this stew with Kateh (Persian rice cooked the easy way). A simple salad with a citrus dressing, or fresh herbs, or pickle / olives also make complementary side dishes.

I cannot recommend this recipe enough with it being so easy to prepare and cook, using only a handful of ingredients but maximising on flavour. It is a comforting yet light stew so I love eating this in the earlier part of Spring as we make the gentle transition away from eating the heartier dishes and move towards salads, BBQ’s and a Mediterranean feel to our dishes.

Other Chicken Recipes

Khoresh-Karafs (Ghermez)

Chicken stew with celery and tomatoes
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time1 hour 40 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Persian, Iranian
Keyword: easy recipe, stew, slow cooked, comfort food
Servings: 4 (to 6)
Author: Mersedeh Prewer


  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 8 skinless chicken thighs on the bone
  • 1 medium onion (finely diced)
  • 3 cloves garlic (crushed or minced)
  • 1 red chilli (minced - optional)
  • 1 medium leek (medium sliced)
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 3 tbsp tomato purée
  • 650 ml water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Juice of 1 lemon or lime
  • 1/8 tsp ground saffron (bloomed in 2 tbsp of water)
  • 1 head celery (chopped in 2 inch chunks)
  • 5 small / medium tomatoes (halved)
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)
  • Chopped fresh parsley (to garnish)


  • Place a shallow casserole pan or equivalent on a medium-high heat. Add 1 tbsp oil. Seal the chicken thighs on both sides, remove from the pan and leave to one side until ready to use.
  • Add 2 tbsp oil to the pan and add onions. Cook until the onion turns golden. Then add garlic and chilli and stir in until evenly distributed.
  • Add leek to the pan and and cook until softened. Add turmeric and stir. Follow with tomato purée and stir in until evenly distributed. Then add water, bay leaf, lemon juice, saffron water and stir.
  • Add chopped celery. Then evenly arrange the chicken thighs in the pan so that they are just submerged in the liquid of the stew. Place the tomato halves evenly in the stew.
  • Bring stew to a boil and then lower the heat to allow to simmer with a lid on the pan for about an hour or until the chicken is practically falling off the bone. If the stew is too watery, allow to simmer further without the lid on to thicken the sauce.
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley before serving. Serve with saffron Kateh.

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