As you have now realized, preparing most Persian foods is very time-consuming. This is especially true for dishes which use a lot and varieties of fresh from-the-market herbs. In the old days, one prerequisite for selecting a suitable wife was, that the mother of the groom-to-be would visit the potential bride’s house, to watch how efficiently and quickly the candidate strip the herbs without waste, and how cleanly she washed them. Persian/Iranian cuisine has many, many dishes which use a variety of greens/herbs. So far, I have presented several of such dishes, dolmehs, áshes, rice-meatballs/kufteh berenji, polos/rice dishes and torshi. (Check out RECIPES.) I will introduce more.
Well, life has been made very easy for us. At least two Iranian food manufacturers have come to our rescue. One is Sadaf (meaning mother-of-pearl) and the other Kadbanou (meaning superb homemaker). I hope your area has a Persian grocery specialty store which carries these brands. This will help you save time when preparing these wonderful dishes which are otherwise very time consuming. I also intend to introducing more of these products. There are Iranian ladies who insist on buying fresh herbs and stripping, soaking, washing, chopping and frying… I am not one of them. If there are quality products which help me save time and effort while cooking, I’m game.
Here is a 30-second video in Farsi (Persian language). Don’t worry, by its tone, you can figure that the narrator is stating how Kadbanou company prepares the best quality herbs to make cooking easier. “Bah bah” in Farsi is an expression used when one is in awe/delighted.
Ghormeh sabzi (stewed greens/herbs) is one such dish that includes many herbs, and hence, its name. It is a khoresh/stew loved by many. Often said to be the Iranian national dish, it is considered one of the decadent dishes/stews of Persian cuisine. Moms are usually asked to make on weekends, and always a staple at major events.
Herb Stew • Khoresh'e Ghormeh Sabzi • خورش قورمهسبزی
Recipe by: Fae’s Twist & Tango (fae-magazine.com)
Note: ¹ In order not to compromise the authenticity/integrity of the taste of this traditional dish, I advise not using any other substitutes or fillers as listed in Wikipedia or many recipes on-line/internet .
² Although a great aroma, while cooking this dish, keep your exhaust-fan on from the beginning to end. 🙂
For the meat
• 900 g/ 2 lbs = 2 pieces ‘premium’ Australian lamb shank (most people make with beef or veal)
• 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
• 1 medium onion chopped
• 2 cloves garlic
• 1 ~ 2 large bay leaf (a must)
• ½ tsp turmeric powder
• ¾ tsp salt
• ¼ tsp ground black pepper
• 2 ~ 3 cups water room temperature
For the herbs
• 1 package frozen Kadbanou Fried Ghormeh Sabzi (parsley, chives, fenugreek) plus
• 1 cup finely chopped cilantro (if it is not included in the frozen herbs’ ingredients) – cilantro does not need to be fried – not a traditional ingredient, but adds a nice touch
↓ or ↓
• 4 cups parsley, finely chopped (jãáfãri جعفری )
• 1 cup garlic chives, finely chopped (tareh تره )
• 1 cup fenugreek, finely chopped -or- ¼ cup dried  (shãmbãlileh شنبليله )
• 1 cup cilantro/coriander, finely chopped (not traditional) (geshniz گشنیز )
• vegetable oil
  If using dried herbs for any/all, use ¼ of fresh amount. In a container that can be covered tightly (to keep smell from spreading), soak the dried-herbs in enough water-at-room-temperature, to almost cover the herbs. Let them soak from the day before (put it in the refrigerator). Check it a couple of times to add more water if needed, to reconstitute as much as possible, and also to avoid needing to drain too much of the liquid. Drain the liquid well, through a fine sieve before frying. Or, follow the instructions on the packaging, if any.
For the stew
• 3 whole dried Persian limes (limu omani لیمو امانی خشک) -or- ¼ cup verjuice
• ½ tsp turmeric powder
• ¾ tsp salt
• vegetable oil
• 1/3 ~ 2/3 cup dried kidney beans, soaked overnight -or-
. or→ 1 ~ 2 cans (430 g/ 15 oz each) red kidney beans drained and rinsed
• 5 cups hot water (including the liquid from cooking the meat)
• 1 Tbsp ground, dried Persian lime (púdré límu khoshk پودرلیمو خشک)
◊ If using dried beans, soak the red kidney beans overnight. Drain and rinse well before use.
◊ Poke the dried Persian limes with tines of fork in three places and soak in hot water for at least 2 hours. It is preferred that its water be refreshed a couple of times. Drain before use.
To prepare the lamb
(Option: Usually, I use meats that I have bought in bulk, cooked and frozen. Check out → Stewed Meat)
◊ Wash lamb shank well and pat dry. Use scissors to trim off any excess loose sinew if necessary.
◊ Add 1 Tbsp oil to a deep, medium size pot on medium high heat. Sear shanks on all sides, 1 ~ 2 minutes each side. Remove and place in a dish.
◊ Rinse the pot with hot water, on medium high heat, add 1 Tbsp oil and when hot, add onion and sauté for 2 minutes. Add garlic cloves and sauté for 1 more minute.
◊ Put shanks back into the pot, add remaining ingredients for the lamb, put water to cover the shanks half way and bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium-low and simmer for 1¼ hours. Although enough liquid is planned for, periodically check the pot to insure there is enough liquid while cooking. Remove bay leaf and skim any fat in the pot and discard.
To prepare the herbs
◊ If using fresh herbs: After stripping, wash herbs thoroughly and drain them well (use salad spinner if needed). Put a few cuts to the herbs, and then use food processor to chop the herbs into small pieces. (Don’t purée them.) If using dried fenugreek, reconstitute by soaking in equal amount of warm water for at least 30 minutes. Drain before frying (see recommendation  above).
◊ (If using frozen Kadbanou Fried Gormeh Sabzi , skip this step.) In a large, non-stick fry pan, on medium-high heat, add ¼ cup oil and when hot, add herbs (fresh and/or reconstituted) and ¾ tsp salt. Fry them while stirring, until all liquid is gone and oil separates, about 20 minutes.
To assemble the stew
◊ When meat is ready, add fried herbs, (cilantro if using Kadbanou Fried Gormeh Sabzi) and all ingredients for stew (except the ¾ tsp salt if using fresh herbs -and- the ground, dried limes), including the drained and rinsed beans, soaked and drained, dried whole limes and 5 cups hot water. Bring to a boil. Simmer on medium low for 1½ hours, or until meat is cooked and the oil separates/floats on top. Add and stir ground, dried Persian lime and let it simmer for 5 minutes. Test taste, if needed, add more salt, pepper or ground, dried lime to taste, and let simmer for 3 more minutes. Turn off the heat and let the stew stand for 10 minutes before dishing out.
◊ Ghormeh sabzi is always served with Persian rice/ polo , -and- should be eaten with spoon held in right hand and fork in the left, for the fork to push bite-full of food into the spoon. (If left-handed, the reverse). 🙂
~ Noushe jan! • نوش جان ~
A few important points in making an outstanding Persian khoresh:
♦ Don’t skimp on oil… use as much as needed for frying/sautéing. Boiling oil also cooks and adds flavor. It can be skimmed off before serving.
♦ Brown/sear onion and meat very well.
♦ Adding 1/16 ~ 1/8 tsp of ground saffron, dissolved in 1 Tbsp hot water, will substantially add to taste.
♦ Don’t use too much water for cooking, just enough to steam and condense. –Simmer on low heat for a long time. This helps flavor fusion of ingredients.
♦ Best if stew is made a day in advance and refrigerated for taste to meld.
♦ Almost all stews can be frozen. Exception: If stew includes potato(es), potato pieces to be removed before freezing.
♦ There are red  stews (using tomato paste) and green  stews (using herbs). Garnishing red stews sparingly with caramelized onion before serving not only further enhances taste but visually enhances the dish.
 Slang: ‘red’ and ‘green’ are used to specify types of stews or mixed rices, using tomato paste vs. herbs respectively. This concept also helps host/hostess plan an event menu and serve a balance of reds and greens.
So, what’s cooking in your kitchen?
 If these products are not available at your local Persian/Mediterranean grocery stores (cheaper), here are options and check for the best prices available at amazon.com (if delivery service available to your locality).