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Meygoo Dopiyazeh (Persian Prawn, Pepper & Onion Curry)

Prawns are cooked in a spicy and fragrant sauce to create this curry-style dish heralds from Shiraz in the South of Iran.

What are Dopiyazeh Dishes?

You may be familiar with dopiaza dishes from South Indian cuisine where this curry-style dish made with lots of onions commonly features. This dish actually originates from  Khorasan (in present-day covering the East of Iran and the West of Afghanistan).  It was apparently introduced to South Asia by the Mughals. It apparently then spread to countries with a South Asian diaspora. Regional variants have evolved in locales such as Hyderabad, India and several regions of Pakistan. The name Dopiyazeh translates into two onions (‘do’ meaning two in Persian; and ‘piyaz’ meaning onion) which makes reference to the amount of onions used in this dish.

Dopiayzeh is now firmly established as a traditional dish from Shiraz. It can be made with cubed or ground lamb/beef, chicken, shrimp, potatoes, and a copious amount of sliced onions.  My recipe is made with prawns (‘meygoo’) and takes both the Persian origins and the South Asian development of this dish with a few extra additions of my own. There is a slight heat to my recipe, which you can leave out if you prefer.

How to Serve this Dish

This dish pairs well with my Sambuseh-e Sabzijaat (vegetable samosas) recipe, rice and some delicious pickles and chutneys such as mango chutney and turmeric pickle as pictured above. The rice I have made is Persian-style rice with naan tahdig but I have flavoured it with turmeric, cardamom pods, some cloves and cinnamon to make it a pilau-style rice.


Meygoo Dopiyazeh

Prawn, pepper & onion curry
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Total Time1 hr 20 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Persian, Iranian, Inspired by....
Keyword: curry, seafood, prawns
Servings: 4
Author: Mersedeh Prewer

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 large brown onion (finely sliced)
  • 6 cloves garlic (minced or crushed)
  • 1 thumb size fresh ginger (grated)
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp dried red chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 3 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 red pepper (finely sliced)
  • 1 red onion (finely sliced)
  • 800 ml water mixed with 1/8 tsp of ground saffron
  • Juice 1 fresh lemon
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 800 g frozen shelled tiger prawns (defrosted)
  • Salt and Pepper (to taste)
  • A small bunch of fresh coriander (finely chopped)

Instructions

  • Place a large casserole pan or skillet on medium-high heat and add oil. Add cumin seeds, coriander seeds and mustard seeds and heat until they sizzle. Then add finely sliced brown onion and cook until they start to caramelise.
  • Add garlic, then ginger and stir into the onion mixture. Follow with turmeric, red chilli flakes, ground coriander and stir until evenly distributed into the mixture.
  • Add tomato purée and stir into the mixture. Then add sliced red peppers and red onion and stir until softened. Add saffron water, lemon juice and garam masala and stir. Bring to a boil and then turn heat down to allow the sauce to simmer gently for 30 mins.
  • Add prawns to the sauce and stir. Add chopped fresh coriander and cook for a further 10 mins. Turn the heat off and serve the Meygoo Dopiyazeh with fresh chopped coriander sprinkled on top accompanied with rice and / or naan.

Khoresh Kadoo ba Aloo (Chicken, Courgette & Sour Plum Stew)

This sweet and sour chicken, courgette and plum stew, flavoured with cardamom, turmeric and saffron is a great addition to your catalogue of weekday meals. Ready to eat in an hour for you and your family.

Coming to the end of the Summer

Khoresh (Persian stew) season is awakening from it’s summer slumber after an array of kebabs, kuku and salads in my household.

I love this season with the deeply comforting stews to warm us through the colder months and, of course, any excuse to eat more Persian rice and Tahdig. I appreciate that cooking Persian food can appear daunting to some, but as with any recipe after you have cooked the dish say about 3 times, added your own little bit of magic to it too, the whole process is familiar and fairly swift. With all that said I am always looking for ways to produce delicious Persian food for weekday meals at a shorter time than sometimes prescribed for our dishes, particularly our slow-cooked stews.

AKA the 1 hour Stew

Let me introduce you to Khoresh Kadoo ba Aloo (chicken, courgette & sour plum stew). This khoresh is ready to eat about an hour from when you start chopping all the ingredients. The use of chicken breast means it doesn’t need to slow-cook and the meat remains juicy. Courgettes (‘kadoo‘) cook in no time at all and a few little tricks with additional spices / condiments means it is perfectly balanced and feels like the khoresh has fallen into place with its flavours (as if it has been simmering for hours). This dish is a great transition dish from summer to autumn as it uses courgettes which are still in season to October.

What is Aloo?

Aloo is the name we give to the dried sour plums (Aloo Bukhara) you can buy them from Asian (for example Indian and Pakistani) supermarkets. If you don’t use all the packet in one go then put the remaining plums in the freezer and they keep for ages until you want to cook this recipe again or try out my other recipe featuring them Khoresh-e Beh ba Aloo (chicken stew with quince, sour plums and apricots). Remember that the sour plums have pips in them which you can remove while you are eating – the plums will fall apart easily once cooked and you can remove them with your spoon and fork while eating.

How to Serve this Dish?

Serve Khoresh Kadoo ba Aloo with kateh (Persian easy cook rice) for dinner to be ready within an hour.

How to Store Leftovers?

Once cooled, store in an airtight container in the fridge up to 3 days. Gently reheat in a saucepan on the stove or in the microwave.


Khoresh Kadoo ba Aloo

Persian Chicken, courgette and sour plum stew (aka the 1 hr stew)
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time45 mins
Total Time1 hr
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Persian, Iranian
Keyword: easy recipe, stew, Middle-Eastern Food, khoresh, weekday meal
Servings: 4
Author: Mersedeh Prewer

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3 medium courgettes (quartered and then halved)
  • 1 large brown onion (finely diced)
  • 4 cloves garlic (crushed)
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 4 medium chicken breast (cut into bite size pieces)
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 3 cardamom pods
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 500 ml vegetable stock plus 1/4 tsp ground saffron dissolved in the stock
  • 15 to 20 Aloo Bukhara (dried sour plums)
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • Salt and pepper to season

Instructions

  • Take a large non-stick casserole pan / skillet with a lid and place over high heat. Add 3 tablespoons oil. Fry the courgette on all sides until browned and golden. Remove and place on a kitchen towel on a plate.
  • Add diced onions to pan and cook until golden. Add garlic and stir in, followed by turmeric. Stir until evenly distributed in the pan and you can smell the aromas.
  • Add chicken and stir until the chicken pieces turn white (from pink). Then add tomato purée and stir until the chicken mixture is coated evenly.
  • Throw in cardamom pods and bay leaf and then pour in the saffron infused stock. Add the Aloo Bukhara plums. Season with salt and pepper, squeeze in the juice of 1/2 lime and add honey. Stir the mixture.
  • Gently place the fried courgettes in the stew so they are part submerged. Bring the stew to a boil and then turn the heat down to allow the khoresh to simmer with the lid on (approx 30 mins).
  • Serve with Persian rice and salad.

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 mins
Cook Time1 hr 30 mins
Total Time1 hr 40 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Persian, Iranian
Keyword: easy recipe, stew, slow cooked, comfort food
Servings: 4 (to 6)
Author: Mersedeh Prewer

Ingredients

  • 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)

Instructions

  • 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.

Khoresh Beh ba Aloo (Persian Chicken & Quince Stew)

A seasonal stew made with slow cooked chicken, quince, sour plums and apricots. Deliciously sweet and sour and warming from the saffron and cinnamon aromatics.

What is Khoresh Beh ba Aloo?

Chicken is slow-cooked in a saffron and turmeric-infused sauce with apricots, sour plums and quince to give an amazing sweet and sour flavour.

This khoresh (stew) is not as well-known as other stews from Iran such as Ghormeh Sabzi (lamb stew with herbs and dried limes) or Fesenjoon (chicken stew with pomegranate molasses and walnuts). This is probably due to the hero ingredient of the stew – quince. Quince is in season between October and January in the UK and during these months I suspect most Iranian households (like my family) will try to cook this dish a few times before the season ends.

What is Quince?

Quince is the fruit from a deciduous tree. It has a similar appearance to a pear but the fruit is generally not eaten raw but processed. Many of you may be familiar with quince being used to flavour gin, eaten as a paste with cheese or made into jam.

For those of you new to quince, let me tell you about this lovely fruit. It is a member of the apple and pear family. It has a yellow, lumpy hard flesh with a bitter flavour when raw. Due to the unpalatable flavour when raw, quince is generally consumed after cooking. When cooked, quince becomes soft and dense and develops a sweet, slightly tart flavour with hints of apple, pear, and citrus. Quince can last up to several weeks if stored in a fridge.

Origins of this Dish

The best quince is grown in Esfahan in Iran and unsurprisingly the dish originates from this beautiful city. There are a few variations of this khoresh  with some cooking it with lamb; using tomato purée; adding lentils. The recipe I have shared below results in a sweet and sour stunning golden stew, an unusual colour by comparison to the other stews we Iranians cook.

Ingredients in Khoresh Beh ba Aloo

This dish is delightfully easy to cook with minimal preparation. The final dish is comforting and loved by adults and children alike, so it is a great family recipe.

  • Butter / Ghee and Vegetable Oil: to cook various elements of the stew such as the quince and onions.
  • Quince: available at most South Asian or Middle Eastern supermarkets when in season.
  • Chicken Thighs: skinless chicken thighs on the bone are the best cut for stews.
  • Onion: used as the basis of most stews including meat.
  • Turmeric, Saffron and Cinnamon: provides a warming and earthy flavour profile to the stew. The turmeric and saffron also provide the golden hue to the dish.
  • Water: the cooking liquid. Vegetable or chicken stock can also be used.
  • Corn flour: to thicken the stew.
  • Honey: to sweeten and balance the tartness of the quince and sour plums.
  • Dried Apricots: available in local supermarkets. Soak them before adding them to the stew.
  • Dried Bukhara Sour Plums: deliciously tart and will need to be soaked overnight before adding to the stew. You can buy them online or from most South Asian or Middle Eastern supermarkets.
  • Salt and Pepper: to season the dish.

How to Serve Khoresh Beh ba Aloo

Serve this khoresh with Chelow (Persian steamed rice) and Salad Shirazi. Alternatively, serve it with a parsley mash and steamed green vegetables or just eat it with crusty bread.


Khoresh Beh ba Aloo

Chicken stew with quince, sour plums and apricots
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time1 hr 20 mins
Total Time1 hr 30 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Persian, Iranian
Keyword: chicken, quince, apricots, sour plums
Servings: 4
Author: Mersedeh Prewer

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp butter or ghee
  • 2 medium quince (halved, sliced 1.5 inch thick and with core taken out)
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 8 chicken thighs or a whole large chicken (approx. 2 kg - quartered) (on the bone, skin removed)
  • 1 onion (finely diced)
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp ground saffron (bloomed in 2 tbsp of water)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 500 ml water
  • 1 heaped tsp corn flour (dissolved in 1 tsp of cold water)
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 15 small dried apricots (soaked in hot water overnight)
  • 20 dried bukhara sour plums (soaked in hot water overnight)
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)

Instructions

  • Take a frying pan, add butter and place on medium-high heat. Once the butter has melted, fry quince until caramelised on each side. Place them on a plate and put to one side.
  • Season chicken. Add 1 tbsp oil to the same frying pan and seal the chicken. Then place on a plate and put to one side.
  • Take a large casserole dish with a lid (minimum 3.5 litre capacity). Add 2 tbsp of oil and place on a medium / high heat. Then add diced onions and fry until translucent.
  • Add turmeric and stir until evenly distributed. Add chicken thighs, then add water and bloomed saffron. Add the corn flour paste. Season sauce to taste. Add cinnamon stick.
  • Drain apricots and sour plums from the water they have soaked in and add to pan with honey. Stir gently and distribute the fruit evenly across pan.
  • Arrange quince in the saucepan. Quince cooks very quickly and can be quite mushy so arrange the quince so it partially rests on the thighs. Once the liquid starts to bubble, turn the heat down to low and place the lid on the pan. Let the stew simmer for 40 mins to 1 hr or until chicken is tender and falling off the bone. Prior to serving, taste the stew and season further if required.
  • Serve with chelow and Salad Shirazi; or mashed potatoes and some steamed green vegetables; or crusty bread.

 

Khoresh Karafs – sabz (Lamb, Herby and Celery Stew)

This traditional Persian stew is made with lamb, slow-cooked with celery, mint and parsley resulting in a deliciously light yet comforting stew. 

Winter is the season of stews and Khoresh Karafs is a lovely introduction if you are new to Persian cuisine. Persian stews are relatively low maintenance to cook. They just need time to cook and for the flavours to fall into place.

What is Khoresh Karafs?

Khoresh Karafs is a Persian stew made with lamb, celery and fresh herbs (mint and parsley). ‘Karafs’ translated from Persian is ‘celery.’ And ‘Khoresh’ means ‘stew.’

We have two versions of Khoresh Karafs. The first one, the subject of this recipe and the better known version, is cooked with herbs. The second one is cooked with tomatoes and usually chicken. We refer to them by their colour: Khoresh Karafs-e-Sabz (‘sabz’ means green in Farsi); and Khoresh Karafs-e-Ghermez (‘ghermez’ means red in Farsi).

Ingredients In Khoresh Karafs

The ingredients for this khoresh (stew) are simple and easy to source with most items available at your local supermarket.

You will need:
  • Lamb – the best cut of lamb to use for this recipe is from the leg and from a butcher. Ask for the leg to be trimmed of the outer layers of fat and to be cut into stew size pieces with the bone.
  • Celery – use fresh celery to ensure you get the delicious peppery and savoury flavour profile  from this amazing vegetable.
  • Parsley & Mint – use fresh herbs. As a guide 2 large bunches or 250 grams of parlsey to 1 large bunch or 150 grams of mint.
  • Onion, Garlic, Turmeric, Saffron and Fresh Lime Juice – the aromatics and flavour enhancing elements of the stew.
  • Vegetable Oil – or any other neutral flavoured oil for cooking elements of the stew prior to adding the cooking liquid.
  • Water or Vegetable Stock – the cooking liquid for the stew.
  • Salt and Pepper – to season the stew.

Variations Khoresh Karafs

  • Some add dried limes (Limoo Amani) to their khoresh while cooking but I prefer it without.
  • You can use beef but make sure it is the cut of beef best for stewing i.e. braising beef such as skirt, chuck or blade.
  • You can also use chicken instead of red meat.

How to Serve Khoresh Karafs

As with all Persian stews, the flavour continues to mature and intensify if you leave it for a day before you reheat and serve. This is, therefore, a dish you can make on a Sunday evening and tuck into later in the week reducing the time spent in the kitchen and washing up afterwards. Serve it with Persian rice – Chelow and a lime dressed chopped salad like Salad Shirazi.

Leftovers

Store in an airtight container in the fridge up to 3 days. Khoresh Karafs can also be frozen up to 4 months. Defrost thoroughly before reheating. Gently reheat khoresh in a saucepan or in a microwave.


Khoresh Karafs

Lamb, herb and celery stew
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time1 hr 30 mins
Total Time2 hrs
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Persian, Iranian
Keyword: mint, parsley, lamb, celery
Servings: 4 to 6
Author: Mersedeh Prewer

Ingredients

  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 250 g fresh parsley
  • 150 g fresh mint
  • 1 large head of celery (about 7 to 10 stalks cut into 2 to 3 inch chunks)
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 cloves garlic (crushed)
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 0.6 to 1 kg lamb on the bone (preferably leg, portioned into chunks approx. 2 to 3 inches width)
  • 600 ml water or vegetable stock
  • 1/8 tsp ground saffron (bloomed in 2 tbsp of water)
  • Juice of 1 to 2 fresh limes
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)

Instructions

Gather and Prepare the Ingredients

  • Remove woody stems from herbs and discard. Wash herbs and place on a tea towel and dab them dry.
  • Finely chop herbs either by hand or using a food processor and set to one side until ready to use.
  • Finely dice your onion. Take the celery and chop into 2 inch chunks.

Prepare the Stew

  • Take a casserole dish / saucepan which has a lid and a minimum capacity of 3.5 litres and place over medium-high heat. Add 2 tbsp of oil and brown lamb and remove from pan.
  • Add diced onions to pan and cook until they turn golden. Add crushed garlic cloves and stir, being careful that the garlic does not turn brown or burn.
  • Add lamb, then turmeric and stir until distributed evenly.
  • Add water or vegetable stock and bloomed saffron (the liquid should just cover the meat so adjust if necessary). Place lid on pan and turn down heat to low and let simmer.

Saute the Celery and Herbs

  • Take a frying pan and add 1 tbsp of oil and place over medium-low heat. Add chopped herbs and stir until the herb mix has softened, being careful not to burn it. A few minutes will suffice. Then add the herb mix to the lamb and stir. Replace the lid.
  • Sauté celery over medium heat in frying pan used for the herbs with the remaining 1 tbsp of oil for no more than a few minutes. Just enough for the celery to take on some heat from the pan but not soften. Turn the heat off under your frying pan and add celery to the lamb and herb mixture.

Cook and Season the Stew

  • After 5 minutes of simmering, add the fresh lime juice (start with half the lime and then add more), salt and pepper and adjust according to taste.
  • Continue simmering the stew for a minimum of an hour, stirring gently every 15 minutes and checking the softness of the meat - ideally you want the meat to be falling off the bone.

Serve the Khoresh Karafs

  • When ready, turn off the heat and serve with chelow and either torshi or a salad with a citrus dressing.