Despite a history as rich as its tomato paste stew, the specific spelling of this deliciously savory vegetarian Persian stew is still up for debate. Some go with gheymeh, others go with cheymeh, and some even go with gheimeh. For simplicity sake, we go with ‘Shroom Baaz. While gheymeh is traditionally prepared with meat chunks, Baaz Bites’ vegetarian take on this Persian classic uses diced sauteed mushrooms in lieu of meat. And yet, we’re able to maintain all the flavor, all the savoriness, and all the craving-satisfyingness (that’s a thing, right?), in this incredible vegetarian Persian stew.
What It Means
Technically, our version of gheymeh isn’t really allowed to be called gheymeh. This is because the word gheymeh refers to any meat that is cut into cubes. Often, you’ll see it written out as khoresht-e-gheymeh, which translates to meat-based meal. Whatever you call it, one thing is for certain...it’s delicious.
Other Gheymeh Fun Facts
Gheymeh, like ghormeh sabzi, is also prepared using hints of sun-dried lime. The slight acidity pairs perfectly with the richness of the tomato paste that forms the base of the stew. Additionally, gheymeh is usually served with potato crisps on top. This is to give the otherwise soft stew a bit of a crispy texture. However, if you were to top the gheymeh on tadig, or on a Baaz Bite, the potato crisps are not as necessary.
Are Those Really Lentils?
If you’re asking yourself whether those are lentils that you see in that picture of gheymeh, you’re not alone. Gheymeh’s split peas are often mistaken with lentils. However, these aren’t just any kind of split peas. The yellow split peas used in this recipe are called “dir paz,” which, from Farsi, translates to “longer cooking” or “late cooking.” Whereas this variety of split peas looks awfully similar to a regular split pea, they are a firmer variety that hold their shape in prolonged periods of heat, as this vegetarian Persian stew is one that requires a good amount of cooking time. Unlike other split peas, which would often break apart or dissolve into the tomato paste, this variety of split pea is able to withstand the heat. If you’re looking to make the dish on your own, “dir paz” split peas can be found in Middle Eastern markets. Just ask for “lapeh dir paz.” And yes, you did guess correctly. Lapeh means split pea. Look at you learning Farsi!
Gheymeh’s Significance in Persian Muslim Festivities
As mentioned, gheymeh is known for its beef cubes, which is what gives the stew its name. As the Old Testament mentions, Abraham was directed to sacrifice his son, Isaac, on top of Mount Moriah. Just as he was about to complete the act, God spared him, and a ram was sent to be used as sacrifice instead. As a result, to this day, Muslims all around the world prepare a beef or lamb-based dish to mark the occasion. Gheymeh is one of the most popular dishes used to mark the occasion. Unfortunately, our vegetarian version of gheymeh won’t fit the occasion, but if you are looking for a delicious Persian dish to impress your friends and family, then our ‘Shroom Baaz will definitely fit the bill.
The gheymeh / gheimeh recipe is one that requires a good amount of time, as the lapeh dir paz requires prolonged and sustained heat to soften up in the stew. However, it’s ingredient list is not very long, as the main ingredients are tomato paste, split peas, dried limes, sauteed onions and a meat of your choice (or in our case, delicious mushrooms!). Over time, people have started creating their own versions of gheymeh, working slight differences into the classic gheymeh recipe. For example, some now use white meat and pieces of chicken instead of the traditional 1 inch cubed pieces of meat.
Farmers Market Feedback
Gheymeh, or the ‘Shroom Baaz, was had a strong core following at the Brentwood Farmers Market. In fact, it was our best-selling take-home vegetarian Persian stew option, as people thought it paired terrifically well on top of a bed of plain white basmati rice. The following is the list of top adjectives ‘Shroom Baaz’s fan club used to describe this unique dish:
Although you may have been raised eating gheymeh as a family meal, our vegetarian version on the Persian classic is sure to be a pleasant surprise. And if this is your first time learning about the Persian stew, it’s a great introduction to what Persian food is all about, as it’s not as tremendously different as ghormeh sabzi and fesenjan. It’ll be more familiar to tastes and textures you’ve likely experienced in the past, but will still be emblematic of what Persian cuisine is all about. Most importantly, our vegetarian take on gheymeh pairs perfectly with our crispy and golden basmati rice tadig cups, on a plain bed of basmati rice, or on their own. It’s still packed with a great amount of protein thanks to the split peas, and is as delicious as the original recipe. Check out all that we have to offer here!