Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Koresh of Beef and Nectarines: a Persian Treat

Few American families can boast having taken a vacation in Iran.

We did, at least a brief one, in Teheran many years ago. That's back during the Shah's days, before the Islamic Revolution. It was during our return from years in Malaysia.

Frankly, I don't recall specific Persian dishes we had. But what I remember is that the food was wonderful, elegant actually, with amazing flavors and fruits and subtle spices cooked with meat.

Here's a koresh, a stew, that I fixed for my wife's staff meeting. The group has lunch during the meeting, pay for the ingredients, and have agreed to guinea pig dishes I'm working on.

The inspiration for this particular dish was having some white-fleshed organic nectarines to use up.

I made a double batch, to feed the crowd. The recipe below will serve six, when accompanied by basmati rice and a yogurt condiment.

[This is added later, based on the comment from a reader, a woman whose father was Iranian. A really Persian yogurt side dish for a koresh would be whole milk yogurt beaten, then mixed with grated cucumber (with liquid squeezed out), salt, and dried mint leaves. I'm pretty sure the name of the dish is "mastakheah." It's a close relative of raita in India and cacik/tsadziki in Turkey and Greece.]

Wine or beer would be culturally inappropriate with Persian food. More typical would be fruit drinks, like limeade or pomegranate juice or a rosewater-scented drink. Iced tea will also do well, even if more of an American drink.

Persian Beef and Nectarine Koresh (Stew)

1 1/2 pounds lean beef (I like "flatiron" steak), cut in 1 1/2-inch chunks
Olive oil or clarified butter for frying
1 large onion, diced
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 inch fresh ginger, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 medium nectarines, rinsed but not peeled, pitted and coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon salt plus more to taste
1 1/2 cup water
1 pound potatoes, peeled and cut in 1 1/2-inch chunks
1 sprig fresh mint (or 4 large leaves)

In stewing pot over high heat, fry meat in a little oil or clarified butter, stirring frequently and scraping bottom of pot. When starting to brown, remove meat to a bowl.

Add more oil or butter to pot. Fry onions over medium heat, stirring frequently, until becoming golden in color.

Reduce heat to medium low. Stir and fry in garlic and ginger 1 minute.

Add spices and stir and fry another minute.

Add nectarines, salt, and water. Bring to a boil and cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add pre-seared beef plus juices to the pot. Simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until meat starts to become tender.

Add potatoes plus enough water to just reach the surface. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered and stirring occasionally, until potatoes become tender (test with toothpick). As the mixture cooks, add salt as needed to bring sauce to just faintly salty (the potatoes will soak up more).

When potatoes are tender, turn off heat and stir in the mint.

Serve with lightly salted basmati rice with a side dish of yogurt (preferably whole milk). Stir yogurt before serving to make it creamy.


Blogger ModaresiBeal said...

How wonderful that you have been to Iran, the country where my father is from. Many of their khoreshts mix the sweet and savory, like your dish does, which makes them so full of delicious flavor.
I would suggest adding some dried mint, salt, and shredded cucumbers to that yogurt for a true Persian yogurt dish.
Thanks so much for featuring some little known Persianesqe cuisine.

8:47 PM  

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