When considering Persian food’s most famous stews, there are three that are most commonly mentioned: ghormeh sabzi, fesenjan, and gheymeh. Ghormeh sabzi is known for its tangy and citrusy flavors combined with the herbiness of fresh greens such as parsley, cilantro and fenugreek. Fesenjan is known for its perfect balance of sweet, yet tart, flavors, as a slow-cooked pomegranate molasses work perfectly together with Medjool dates, toasted walnuts and butternut squash. Gheymeh, like the other two stews, is the perfect craving satisfier when you’re in the mood for Persian food. In Persian restaurants, gheymeh is usually served alongside a bed of white rice or on top of a thin layer of crispy basmati rice, or tahdig. Either way, it’s an incredibly delicious stew that is a favorite amongst lifelong Persian food eaters and first time Persian cuisine explorers alike.
The Main Ingredients
In our blog post on ideas as to how to turn your meat-based Persian classics into vegetarian masterpieces, we recommend using diced, sauteed mushrooms as an ingredient in lieu of meat chunks. As we described in our blog post on the history of gheymeh, the stew gets its name from the diced meat chunks that are found in the stew. Gheymeh, in Farsi, translates to any meat that is cut into cubes. Therefore, our take on gheymeh isn’t technically allowed to be called gheymeh given the absence of meat. However, we’ve found that our diced, sauteed mushrooms do just the job! Sauteed to perfection, these diced white or cremini mushrooms provide a very comparable texture to that of the diced meat. Additionally, given the split peas that are found in the stew, it’s still possible to get a great serving of protein with every portion. Our crispy tahdig rice cups topped with gheymeh, or the ‘Shroom Baaz as we like to refer to it as, is the perfect vegetarian substitute for this traditionally meat-based Persian classic.
In addition to gheymeh’s diced mushrooms, the two other featured ingredients are slow-cooked split peas and tomato paste. As previously mentioned in our detailed blog post on gheymeh, “the yellow split peas used in this recipe are called ‘dir paz,’ which, from Farsi, translates to ‘longer cooking’ or ‘late cooking.” As such, in order to get your gheymeh to turn out just right, you need to allow your stew to simmer on medium heat for 3 - 4 hours! This allows the split peas to soften over time, as well as for the rich tomato paste to simmer. These types of split peas are not commonly found in mainstream grocery stores, and may require a trip out to your local ethnic or Persian grocery store.
Like ghormeh sabzi, gheymeh also has limoo omani, or sun-dried limes. While the strength of this ingredient is not as noticeable in gheymeh, it does add a nice acidity to the stew that complements the rich tomato paste perfectly. At Persian restaurants, you’ll often see that dried lemon powder is served alongside the dish to be sprinkled on top of the stew.
Vegetarian Gheymeh Persian Stew Recipe
Fortunately for you, we’ve also outlined the steps necessary to make this vegan stew masterpiece all on your own! While the stew’s preparation is quite time intensive, we commend you for giving Persian food a shot in your own kitchen. But remember, we’re always there for you with the ‘Shroom Baaz if you need.
Time: About 3 hours
- Begin by dicing white or cremini mushrooms into finely diced pieces
- Sautée the mushrooms until they reach a dark brown color
- Separately, dice an onion and sautée the diced onion pieces along with some turmeric
- While the mushrooms and onions are heating up, begin rinsing a bag of slow-cooked split peas
- Pour the rinsed split peas into the pot of sautéed onions
- Stir the ingredients together while pouring water
- Once the water has come to boil, add a jar of tomato paste to the pot
- Next, add the sautéed mushrooms and stir thoroughly
- Crack 5 - 6 limoo omani, or sun-dried limes, and drop them inside the stew
- Allow the stew to simmer on medium heat for 3 hours
As you know, we always love to hear how your Persian masterpieces turn out. If you’re giving this recipe a shot, be sure to let us know how it turned out! And if you’re interested in trying out other Persian recipes, be sure to check out our full collection of authentic Persian recipes here, which includes other classics like ghormeh sabzi and fesenjan as well as all-time favorites such as kuku sabzi.