Farsi, the language of Iran, is a phonetic challenge when trying to anglicize the pronunciations (trust me, people love arguing about the spelling of Norouz incessantly). Gheymeh, a Persian dish similar to a stew, is one such an example. Unless you are a native speaker, good luck getting out the “Gh” sound, which is similar to that of a German “r”. So, unless you speak German, you might just want to give up right now. But, not all is lost. You could learn how to make Gheymeh, which is much easier than trying to pronounce it. As a novice cook of Persian cuisine, although I grew up in a Persian household and my mother was a phenomenal cook, I made this dish for the first time recently, so my commentary comes from a sincerely objective place.
The secrets to Persian cookery, in my humble opinion, are:
1) Find an authentic Middle-Eastern food shop to obtain the best ingredients
2) Give yourself a lot of time: stewing and simmering cannot be rushed
3) Use fresh ingredients as Persian food does not do a good job of “hiding” the stale flavors of left-over vegetables, or cheap cuts of meat
4) Read the recipe in advance, so you can organize the ingredients ahead of time (unless you have pomegranate paste and ground rose petals lying around in your pantry)
5) Find a Persian person and poll them on their cooking secrets (some things are just tried and true and not found in recipe books)
Alright, good luck with the Geymeh, whose recipe I adapted from New Food For Life. If you want to make a vegetarian/vegan version, you can always use tofu instead of red meat.
4 onions, peeled and thinly sliced
1 pound stew meat, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
5 Tablespoons olive oil
4 whole dried Persian limes, pierced
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon advieh (mixture of dried ground rose petals, cinnamon, cardamom, angelica, nutmeg, cumin, coriander seeds, and dried Persian lime powder)
3 large tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon ground saffron, dissolved in 2 Tablespoons of hot water
4 large potatoes, peeled and cut into sticks
1/2 cup sunflower oil for fryin
1 cup yellow split peas
1. In a non-stick skillet, brown onions and meat in oil. Add dried Persian limes and turmeric. Saute for 2 minutes. Pour in 1.5 cups of water and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 55 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2. Add advieh, fresh tomatoes, tomato paste, and saffron water. Cover and cook for another 45 minutes.
3. Heat sunflower oil in another skillet and fry potatoes. Place in dish with paper towel to drain the excess oil.
4. Cook yellow split peas in 5 cups of water and 1 tsp salt for 30 -40 minutes. Drain and add to meat mixture.
5. Place meat mixture in a slow cooker or Dutch oven and cook for either 2 hours on high heat, or 45 minutes on low heat on stove top.
6. Before serving, garnish with fried potatoes.
TIP: Gheymeh and other Persian stews (khoresh) confer the best flavor when stored before serving. Therefore, you can make the Gheymeh two days before a party, store in the fridge, and then reheat for 30 minutes before serving. Ensure you reheat the stew to an internal temperature of 70 degrees Celsius.