Fresh herb stew with lamb and dried limes

Fresh herb stew with lamb and dried limes

Khoresht-e ghormeh sabzi

Mark Roper

When made well, this dish is a stunner, and the definition of everything a khoresht stands for. It combines sweet, slow-cooked lamb with tangy dried limes, creamy kidney beans and a veritable mountain of fragrant fresh herbs. Although every part of my body screams ‘add the herbs at the last minute’, this is, of course, an entirely cheffy instinct to preserve their bright-green colour.

But ghormeh sabzi is not about the colour – and to be honest, it is not the world’s most beautiful dish. Instead it is about the richness of texture, aroma and flavour. Part of the distinctive flavour comes from fenugreek, which in the summer months can sometimes be found fresh at Middle Eastern stores. You can substitute crushed fenugreek seeds quite happily all year round, but use them cautiously as they have a tendency to overwhelm if you use too heavy a hand.


Quantity Ingredient
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
1 leek, finely diced
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
450g lamb, cut into 2 cm cubes
1 cup coriander leaves
1 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/2 cup chervil sprigs
1/3 cup dill sprigs
1/3 cup fresh fenugreek leaves
or 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds, lightly crushed
100g dried kidney beans, soaked overnight and drained
2 large dried limes, lightly cracked
1 litre good-quality chicken stock
100g spinach leaves
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
Saffron chelow rice, to serve
thick natural yoghurt, to serve


  1. Heat the oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan or casserole dish over a low heat. Add the onion and leek and fry gently until soft and translucent. Stir in the spices and fry for another couple of minutes.
  2. Add the lamb to the pan and brown over a high-ish heat for a minute. Add the herbs and fenugreek leaves or seeds and stir well. Stir in the kidney beans, dried limes and stock and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and cook, covered, for 1½ hours, or until the beans and lamb are very tender. As the limes soften, squeeze them against the side of the pan to extract the juice.
  3. Towards the end of the cooking time, bring a saucepan of water to a boil and blanch the spinach briefly. Refresh in cold water, then squeeze very firmly to extract as much liquid as you can. Chop the spinach finely, and stir it into the stew to revive the rich green colour (and make my chef’s heart happy!). Bubble vigorously for 5 minutes until the sauce is lovely and thick. Add lemon juice and salt to taste and serve with plain chelow rice and plenty of yoghurt.
Middle Eastern
Back to top
    No results found
    No more results
      No results found
      No more results
        No results found
        No more results
          No results found
          No more results
            No results found
            No more results
              No results found
              No more results
              Please start typing to begin your search
              We're sorry but we had trouble running your search. Please try again