When the Jacksons recorded ABC, were they singing about Persian Apple Stew? Probably. After all, the stew’s ingredients list covers the ABCs (and then some) of flavorful elements…apples, beef, cardamom, dried apricots…
They all come together to reward tasters with a medley of culinary experiences, some contrasting, all of them complimentary. The savory broth is rich with the beef’s essence and enlivened with garlic, onions and other spices that tenderize the meat and bring out its succulence.
As you would guess from apples’ and apricots’ prominence, contributions come from the sweet end of the spectrum too. Far from dominating the stew, though, the fruit adds a subtly unique taste which tames the broth’s assertiveness. The stew in turn infuses the apples and apricots with a savory profile which negates their sweetness. In fact, that trait is so pronounced, a dash of sugar is needed to enhance the soup.
Indeed, the flavors are balanced quite finely. Balanced, though far from muted. To the contrary, the tastes are nearly explosive in their boldness. The stew stacks up beyond its ingredients’ potential, which made the recipe so appealing when it was featured on the site named for the perfect intersection of color and taste, Turmeric & Saffron.
In Persian, the dish is named, Khoresh Sib o Gheysi, and it makes perfect use of that fruit available when the weather turns cooler, apples and apricots. Among the wealth of flavors making this warmly fortifying are rose petals, dried and ground. While this ingredient is fairly common is Near Eastern cuisines, it’s somewhat less so locally and had to be mail-ordered. It’s a fortunate addition, as the ethereal taste is undetectable overall. but instead amplifies the other ingredients.
It’s just one item among many in this stew, spanning the alphabet. The ingredients list may be a bit ambitious, but each flavor compliments its neighbors, and creates something that is a great dish to be savored on a cold day.
Khoresh Sib o Gheysi
(Persian Apple Stew with Dried Apricot)
- 2 pounds stew beef
- 5 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced
- 1 cup dried apricots
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped (*1)
- 1 medium ripe tomato, diced
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed rose petals (*2)
- 1/3 teaspoon crushed cardamom
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly-ground nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- salt and pepper, to taste
- oil (*3)
In a large bowl, combine the apple slices and the lime juice and set aside.
In a large pot, add 3 tablespoons of oil and place over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden-brown. Add the turmeric powder and stir well. Ad the minced garlic and saute for a couple minutes.
Add the beef cubes, rotating occasionally, until all sides are browned, Add the tomatoes, rose petals and cardamom. Salt and pepper to taste. Pour in enough hot water to submerge the other ingredients by 3 inches. Bring to a boil for five minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook for an hour.
Meanwhile, heat two tablespoons of oil in a large saucepan. Add the apples, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves and cook, stirring occasionally, until the apples are golden and softened. Turn off the heat and add the flour, stirring to blend.
Stir in the apples, apricots and sugar to the stew. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 20 minutes.
1 – As you know, I prefer shallots, and it was easy to substitute two large shallots.
2 – Rose petals are fairly unique, meaning there aren’t many practical substitutes. The small quantity involved permits you to skip the ingredient if its unavailable, but that would diminish the stew just a bit.
3 – I used two different types of oil: olive oil for the onions, and coconut oil for apples. Using olive oil for both would be fine.