Lamb with Rhubarb and Mint – Khoresht-e Reevaas
In ancient Persian mythology the human race is said to have sprung from the seeds of a rhubarb plant – a story I always loved as a child as it imparts some seriously ethereal qualities to this humble winter fruits. This slow-cooked sweet and sour lamb stew is a perfect weekend dish for this time of year. Simply let it bubble away in the background, filling your kitchen with it’s fragrant scent. Iranians love sour food and this dish definitely veers to the sharper end of the spectrum so feel free to adjust the sugar levels to your taste. I find lamb shoulder on the bone the best cut for this dish and recommend buying your meat from a good butcher and getting them to cut it into approximately 1 inch square chunks. Serve with Persian rice and a green salad.
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
800g lamb on the bone, cut into approximately 1 inch sq pieces
½ tsp turmeric
100g fresh parsley, finely chopped
35g fresh mint, finely chopped
1 tbsp dried mint
1 tbsp cornstarch
2 tablespoons sugar
200g rhubarb – cut on the diagonal in 2 cm long pieces
Salt and black pepper
Heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large saucepan and fry the onions for around 10 minutes until soft. Add the garlic, lamb, turmeric and a generous grind of black pepper and turn up the heat, browning the meat on all sides. Add enough cold water to cover the meat and leave to simmer, with the lid on, for 45 minutes
Put aside 2 tablespoons of parsley and 1 tablespoon of the chopped mint to use later and place the rest of the herbs in a large frying pan. Dry fry the herbs over low for 5 minutes until they start to darken in colour, stirring frequently so they don’t stick and burn. Take off the heat and set aside.
After the meat has cooked for 45 minutes, add the cooked herbs, the dried mint and 1.5 teaspoons of salt. Simmer over a low heat for a further 30 minutes, or until the meat is completely tender.
Finally, stir in the cornstarch and sugar and then add the sliced rhubarb. Cook, uncovered, for 10 minutes or until the rhubarb is just cooked through. Keep an eye on it as you don’t want the rhubarb to completely dissolve! When the fruit is soft, spoon out a few of the pink pieces to use as garnish and then stir through the chopped parsley and mint you set aside earlier. The fruit should melt around the meat. Taste to adjust the seasoning adding a bit more sugar, dried mint or salt and pepper to your taste. Before serving, place the tender pink rhubarb slices on top of your serving dish for garnish.