Late 2010 I got the opportunity to travel to Iran for work. Yeah really: Iran! What a fantastic experience; incredibly hospitable people, dangerous traffic in Tehran, quiet and beautiful mountains, a typical wedding but especially the food.
Mezze and flatbread
I tasted the most delicious rice ever, had fresh flatbread for breakfast, ate table full of mezze, enjoyed kebabs on a sword of nearly a meter, have never seen such a big and tasty bride buffet, and drank pomegranate juice with salt and pistachio because “it’s good for digestion”. After a week I left with 14 kilos of extra luggage, my bags were stuffed with saffron, dried fruit, nuts and pomegranates.
Persian stew dizi abgusht
A typical Iranian dish that I always remembered, and was high on my food bucket list, is dizi abgoosht. On Friday we queued up with families at restaurant Dizi. Once inside, we only had to sit down and enjoy, no menu was available. Within minutes our table was full of salads, fresh herbs, crispy flatbread, onions, olives and a minty yogurt drink. You get a soup plate and a stone pot (dizi) with a wooden pestle (goosht-Koob). Abgoosht is eaten in two parts: the broth from the stone pot is poured into the soup plate and eaten with pieces of flatbread. Those flavours! Then the wooden pestle is used to the mash up the meat in the dizi, along with potatoes, tomatoes, chickpeas and beans.
This is a very tasty dish, a bit time consuming maybe but made with very little effort at the same time. A perfect meal for a lazy Sunday at home.
Iranian stew dizi abgoosht
- 750g lamb or beef shank
- 1 small can of chickpeas
- 1 small can of white beans
- 1 large onion, peeled and cut in quarters
- 1 tsp turmeric
- pinch of cinnamon
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 3 tomatoes, quartered
- 4 medium potatoes, peeled and halved
- salt and pepper
- Put the meat in a large pan (with a lid), add 1l water and bring to a boil. Remove foam with a spoon if necessary
- Add the chickpeas, beans, onion, turmeric and cinnamon. Season with salt and pepper and simmer for an hour on low heat, with the lid on the pan
- Briefly cook the tomato puree in a little oil
- Add the tomato paste, tomatoes and potatoes to the meat. Let simmer for about an hour, until potatoes are cooked and the meat falls off the bone
- Pour through a sieve to separate the broth
- Remove the bone from the meat, put the meat back in the pan and mash the vegetables, potatoes and meat
- Heat flatbread in a dry frying pan. Serve the broth and “mash” with yoghurt, coriander, flatbread, salad and possibly pickled onions