I know, I didn’t know what a Khoresh was either. Turns out it’s a Persian Stew.
A dish containing a large amount of herbs and fruit, Diana Henry tells us in the intro that the Persians ‘think of them as ‘sauces’ to dress big bowls of plain white rice’.
It’s a very orange-heavy recipe: 3 oranges (using both the peel and the flesh), 275ml orange juice and finally 10ml orange flower water. As with all the recipes I’ve made so far from Crazy Water, Pickled Lemons, this was going to be a new flavour combination for me – lamb and orange, hmm.
The recipe turned out to be much more involved than I had anticipated. I naively thought: stew – brown the meat, chuck it all in, oven, done. But no. The first step involves removing the peel from three oranges, slicing it into fine strips and boiling in a sugar syrup before leaving to cool. I’m exhausted already. Don’t get me wrong though, the end result makes all this prep totally worth it, so stay with me.
I bought a small leg of lamb, and hacked it to bits. No seriously. My knife skills need some work. Once I had chunks of meat roughly 3-4cm cubed, they were tossed in the pan.
Don’t you just love those bits of meat that turn the darkest brown, and get beautifully caramelised? I mean just look at those gorgeous, glistening nuggets of juicy lamb. Yum.
Chopped onions are cooked until soft before being unusually (well, unusual to my English palette) combined with cinnamon and ground cardamom seeds. The lamb goes back in with the other ingredients and it’s cooked long and slow on the hob.
Towards the end of cooking, strips of carrot and then the segments of orange are added, before a good handful of fresh mint leaves and the caramalised orange peel.
Even at this stage I was like ‘really?!’. It just went against everything I have ever been taught about a ‘stew’. Fresh orange? Mint? And then orange flower water and pistachios??!
It looked very different to anything I’ve had before. I’m conscious that I sound like someone who’s never tried anything on the menu beyond fish and chips before now, but that’s not at all true! This stew was just so dense with orange and mint, that I didn’t really know what to expect when I tasted it. Even when I dished it up, I said to Matt ‘I’m not sure what this will be like, but hey….’.
It was lovely. Just lovely.
I expected the orange to overpower the dish. It didn’t. The ‘gravy’ had a deep, meaty flavour and the lamb was SO tender. The different levels of ‘orange’ just made the dish exciting, and intriguing, and you just wanted to eat more and more.
My advice would be that if you’ve never tried a recipe like this before, or, like me, have previously been put off by the fruit and meat combination, try it. Just try it. This was delicious.
The recipe serves 6, so the leftovers went in the fridge. I never got to see those leftovers – Matt polished it off the next day, in secret. I’ll take it as a compliment.
I discovered at the start of the month that I somehow ended up buying two copies of Crazy Water, Pickled Lemons.
I don’t really need two copies of this book! So for a chance to win the paperback copy, all you need to do is follow me on twitter @letseatfirst and look out for the competition details.
The winner will be chosen at random on the 30th April 2015, and notified directly on twitter. Good luck!