Saturday, March 17, 2012

Persian Braised Lamb with Green Beans

In preparation for my May cooking class at Buford Highway Farmers Market, featuring dishes from along the ancient Silk Road, I developed and tested a recipe for a lamb stew, essentially a "koresh."

Lamb is the favorite meat in that area of the world. Unfortunately it is now expensive here, indeed a luxury item. Apparently that is because of the large and growing population of Indians, Pakistanis, Iranians and Arabs in this country, who amplify the earlier demand for lamb of the Irish and Greek communities.

The dish I wanted to do had to have the fruity, sour overtones of pomegranate "molasses." Here's my effort, which will be one of the dishes at my May cooking class.

Pomegranate molasses is available at Middle Eastern and some Indian grocery stores plus at other gourmet and international stores.

The recipe serves four generously, along with a rice dish. Persian cuisine is not accompanied by alcohol, so I am not recommending any particular wine or beer with this one. Limeade or lemonade or iced mild tea would go well.

Persian Braised Lamb with Green Beans and Pomegranate Sauce

1 pound lean lamb from leg or shoulder, in 1-inch cubes
2 tablespoons clarified butter or 1 tablespoon each of butter and vegetable oil
1 medium onion onion, thinly sliced lengthwise
2 cloves garlic
4 whole cardamoms
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups water
1 pound green beans, tips removed, cut in 2-inch lengths
1 1/2 teaspoons salt, plus to taste
1 teaspoon pomegranate syrup ("molasses")

Fry cut lamb in the butter or butter and oil, turning frequently and allowing it to brown all over.

Add onion and stir and fry until onion has caramelized. Add garlic and cardamoms. Stir and fry gently 2 minutes. Stir in ground spices for 1 minute. Add water.

Simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until lamb is tender, 20 to 40 minutes depending on the cut. Add a little water as necessary to maintain some gravy.

Add green beans and salt. Simmer, covered, stirred occasionally, until beans are tender. Taste and add salt if necessary.

Stir in pomegranate molasses. Simmer 1 minute. Check salt one last time and add some if necessary.

Serve with rice pilaf or rice chelow. Accompany with yogurt.

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