ABGOOSHT, MILLENNIAL PERSIAN STEW
Abgoosht is a stew that has been in Middle Eastern cuisine for thousands of years. This stew is prepared with: lamb bones, chickpeas, white beans, potatoes, tomatoes, paprika, and spices.
It is a tasty and high yield and a cheap dish that has always been prepared by the poorest. The current recipe contains fine spices and other vegetables. And it has become a must-have dish in Iranian cuisine.
The word "Abgoosht" means "meat broth." This famous meat broth contains, besides to meat, vegetables, spices, and legumes. That are then mixed with pieces of “sangak” or “lavash” bread.
How do you eat the Abgoosht?
When thinking of a stew, it is easy to imagine a single container filled with a mixture of meats, vegetables, and legumes in the same cup. But this dish is quite different, and its consumption is a family ritual.
After cooking the stew over low heat for several hours, the cook separates all the solid elements from the broth, using a large strainer. The broth is served in individual small cups, one for each guest. The solid elements are presented in two ways, either all in a large plate to share, or they are crushed into a paste.
Additionally, the broth can contain a type of flat bread, chopped into pieces. It can be sangak or lavash. When the bread melts in the meat broth, the latter acquires the name "Tileet".
Iranians usually use a "goosht-koob" meat mortar to process all the solid ingredients. And then they serve them with yogurt sauce, radishes, fresh tomatoes, and a piece of very fine bread. Like our Naan recipe.
Variations of the Abgoosht
Older versions of the Abgoosht used second-rate cuts of meat, meaty lamb bones. The current versions use the shoulder of lamb, with enough meat, and also add beef often.
The addition of white beans and green beans seems to be a bit more recent as well.
About vegetables, there are also many variations, which depend on each cook. Some use green peppers, okra, or sour flavors such as sour green grapes (ghooreh) or dried lime.
This dish is quite modest, but it takes time to cook the ingredients. If you dare to do it, I recommend that you start cooking right after breakfast. And consider marinating the meats and soaking the beans the night before.
We will prepare an Abgoosht for four, you can adjust the quantities according to your needs. But this stew can be frozen for a couple of weeks, and it will still work great.
1 kg. leg of lamb, bone-in, cut into chunks
500 g. beef
12 cups of water
1 cup chickpeas, dried
1 cup navy beans, dried
1 large white onion
1 green bell pepper
2 large potatoes, 250 g.
6 ripe tomatoes, 600 g.
½ cup tomato paste
2 limoo amani, or the juice of two fresh limes
½ teaspoon cinnamon
3 garlic cloves
1 fresh turmeric root, peeled and grated or 1tbsp turmeric powder
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 tbsp of salt
1 tsp of black pepper
To serve flatbread (naan, pita, sangak, or lavash), radishes, onions, pickles, olives, and yogurt sauce
Place the beans on a flat surface, such as a table, and remove any impurities or damaged beans. Then rinse them over a colander with plenty of running water. Lastly, let them soak in enough water overnight. Repeat the same procedure with the chickpeas.
Crush the garlic and grate the turmeric. Season the lamb and beef with crushed garlic, grated turmeric, limoo amani, ground cinnamon, tomato paste, salt, and pepper. Rub both types of meat so that all the seasonings are in contact with them. Put the meats in a glass bowl and refrigerate overnight.
Drain the chickpeas and beans and rinse once more.
Place in a large pot: the chickpeas, the white beans, the marinated meats, and the twelve cups of water. Turn the stove on to medium-low heat, and cook for a couple of hours until the lamb and chickpeas are soft.
While the first ingredients are cooking, prepare the vegetables: peel the onions and cut them into small squares. Remove the stem and veins from the paprika and cut them into long strips. Peel the tomatoes, extract the seeds, and cut them into cubes. Peel the potatoes and cut them into approximately three-centimeter cubes.
Make sure the meat is tender. Remove the bone-in meat from the pot and leave it to cool on a separate plate.
Add to the stew: diced potatoes, finely chopped onion and tomato, and sliced paprika. Continue cooking for about an hour more, until all ingredients are soft and cooked through.
At this point the lamb meat should already be cold. Place it on a cutting board, and with a sharp knife remove all the bones and the skin. Return the pieces of meat to the pot.
Turn off the stew, wait for it to cool slightly. Taste and add salt if necessary. Strain all the stew to separate the broth from the solid elements.
Serve the entire contents of the strainer in a large serving dish. Divide the broth into individual bowls, and fill with naan breadcrumbs.
Note: the traditional thing is to cook this dish over low heat for many hours. However, you can use a pressure cooker and cook it over moderate heat for a couple of hours. It will also work very well.