Filled with fresh herbs and dried limes, this Persian Beef Stew is something I grew up eating almost every week. The aroma this dish brings to the house is incredible and nourishing in itself, and instantly presences me to family Shabbat dinners. Noush-ie-jan!
The word "sabzi" means greens, and we use large quantities of fresh herbs to make this stew earn it's name: parsley, scallions, fenugreek, and cilantro. Gourmeh sabzi means "fried greens" because we cook the herbs in oil until wilted, similar to how you sautee spinach.
Here is a resource for transliterated farsi cooking terms so you can make your family recipes without the language barrier getting in the way.
Why You Should Make this Recipe
This stew is loaded with incredible, fresh herbs: parsley, scallions, fenugreek, and cilantro. It’s packed with flavor and is a great, no-fuss, slow simmer stew.
The slower cooking method works to make the beef really tender and flavorful, while also infusing it with the herbs in the stew.
The magic element is really the dried limes: they add a subtle sour taste to the stew that takes it to the next level. A little goes a long way though with these!
Ingredients & Shortcuts
fenugreek - this herb has carries significant weight in this recipe. It has a distinct flavor that does not have a substitute. Trust me, I've tried to find one. If you cannot find fenugreek, the recipe is still delicious, just not traditional.
beef - you can use any stew beef including chuck or shoulder.
Dried limes are small limes that get boiled in a salt brine and left to dry until they are hard, and are about the size of a golf ball.
They are often used in Persian cooking to add a sour flavor to soups and stews. You crack the dried lime to release the aroma and flavor and pop them into whatever you are cooking that needs something a little sour.
I don't actually eat the limes after the dish is cooked. They are there to add flavor during the cooking process.
You can buy dried limes on Amazon (link opens in new tab) or at your local Middle-Eastern market.
You can find pre-made frozen fried greens aka "ghormeh sabzi" at a Middle-Eastern market in the freezer section. Most people I talk to swear by this shortcut because it takes so much time to prep the herbs in this recipe and most Persian homes eat this dish often. The frozen shortcut also makes it easy to make this dish all year round.
How to Make this Recipe
Clean and dry the herbs and scallions ingredients. Chop them very small and sautee in 2 tablespoon canola oil for 5-10 minutes on medium-high heat until wilted like sauteed greens. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
Add the other 2 tablespoon canola oil to the pan and cook the onion until translucent over medium-high heat.
Add the meat. Season with turmeric, salt, and pepper. Cook until browned on all sides.
Add 4 cups hot water, the cooked herbs, washed and drained kidney beans, dried limes, and lemon juice. Bring to boil. Simmer for 2 hours.
Shop dried limes on Amazon (link opens in new tab).
Optional: Before serving, steep the saffron in 1 tablespoon of hot water, add to the stew, and mix.
Serve ghormeh sabzi with Persian steamed basmati rice.
Ghormeh Sabzi FAQs
Gourmeh Sabzi freezes very, very well. You can freeze it in a freezer bag, or use a silicone tray. These are the trays I use to freeze my Persian stews, stocks, and more (Amazon link opens in new tab).
Ghormeh sabzi literally translates to "fried greens" and is the name of a popular Iranian stew that uses a large amount of fresh herbs that are sauteed in oil.
Yes. It doesn't contain any gluten.
Here are my favorite stews other than this ghormeh sabzi, and don't forget to check out all my Persian recipes on the blog.
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- 5 bunches Italian parsley large stems removed
- 20 scallions
- 2 bunches cilantro including stems
- 1 bunch fenugreek or 1 tablespoon dried fenugreek leaves
- 2 lb. stew meat cow shoulder, neck, or chuck, 1-1 ½ inch cubes
- 16 oz. can red kidney beans washed and drained
- 5 dried limes cracked open
- 1 onion diced
- 1 lemon juiced
- ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
- 4 tablespoon canola oil split into 2+2
- 1 pinch saffron optional
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Clean and dry the herbs and scallions ingredients. Chop them very small and sautee in 2 tablespoon canola oil for 5-10 minutes on medium-high heat until wilted like sauteed greens. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
- Add the other 2 tablespoon canola oil to the pan and cook the onion until translucent over medium-high heat.
- Add the meat. Season with turmeric, salt, and pepper. Cook until browned on all sides.
- Add 4 cups hot water, the cooked herbs, washed and drained kidney beans, dried limes, and lemon juice. Bring to boil. Simmer for 2 hours.
- Optional: Before serving, steep the saffron in 1 tablespoon of hot water, add to the stew, and mix.
- Serve with basmati rice.
This post was originally published in May of 2018, but was republished with new photos, step by step instructions, and tips September of 2020.
I had this once at a friends house so I wanted to try making my own and this recipe did not disappoint! I feel like I recreated it perfectly, thank you for the detailed instructions.
I'm so glad you liked it, Salima, and that it came out perfectly... such a compliment! Thank you for taking the time to share.
I'm going to try this recipe soon. Gourmeh Sabzi was mentioned in a movie that I was watching and I stumbled upon your lovely website when I searched for it. I'll will be trying Ash Reshteh as well as it looks like the ultimate comfort food. 😉
I live in the Netherlands and I hope I can find all the right ingredients.
I will let you know how it worked out.
Thank you for sharing, Rutger, and welcome! Can't wait to hear what you think.
Rutger, if you have Persian Markets you don't have to cook from fresh, you can also use dried herbs that come in a bag or can, or frozen, already fried herbs. Amazon carries canned and bagged as well as in a jar. Here is a link to the canned type:
by dried limes are you meaning Black Limes ?, recently I was given some and would like to try them
Hi Philip. Yes, you can use black limes. They are another name for dried limes or limoo amani.
Unreal! Uniquely sour flavor, we could not stop slurping the broth!
So glad you liked it, Sue! It's one of my favorites. Enjoy!
I eat a low carb diet -can you use 1/2 the kidney beans or substitute black beans without changing the flavour of this dish much?
Hi Vicky. I've never made it with black beans and most Persians would not be happy with this substitution. However, when it comes to flavor and texture, I think it would be OK.
You can use canned black eye peas. Just rinse well
Amanda N Barbian
About to make this recipe tomorrow! How much of the frozen herbs do you use to replace the fresh? I bought 2- 10oz containers because I wasn't sure but from the reviews I'm 100% sure I'll be making this again.
When I use frozen, the ones I buy are usually 12 oz., but one of your 10 oz. containers should work just fine. Let me know how it goes!