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The joy of Persian cooking

"Let's eat Persian tonight" is not a phrase we often hear in Napa, where enjoying the authentic cuisine of Persia in a restaurant requires an out-of-county drive. But with a few key ingredients, a little time in the kitchen and an Instant Pot or pressure cooker, you can easily recreate the signature stew called ghormeh sabzi. Also known as Persian Green Stew, ghormeh sabzi is a celebration of fragrance, color, texture and flavor that has been enjoyed since the days of the Persian empires, more than a thousand years ago. Today, the stew is still popular in Iraq, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan and Iran, where it is considered a national dish.

There are many versions of ghormeh sabzi today. We call ours Persian Red Bean Soup. Making it will fill your kitchen with enticing aromas. And with a pressure cooker or Instant Pot, this complex and savory stew can be on your table in less than an hour.

Seasoning the dish calls for a combination of sautéed fresh herbs and aromatics — leeks or green onions, parsley, mint, dill and cilantro — and spices. Authentic ghormeh sabzi will include turmeric, paprika and dried omani lemons. Omani lemons are similar to our normal dried limes, but stronger in flavor. The fruits are given a long soaking in brine, which intensifies their citrusy taste.

Ghormeh sabzi can be prepared vegetarian-style with kidney beans or black-eyed peas, or you can add turmeric-seasoned beef or lamb for a meat meal. You can also include any bitter greens such as kale, turnip greens or mustard greens. Serve the stew with rice or toasted bread for a hearty meal.

Please click the link for our Persian Red Bean Soup recipe.