Today there is a Persian inspired dish on the menu. Exotic spices, pomegranate and comforting poppy seeds may seem weird at first glance, but work together perfectly. Give it a try, I am sure you will like it!
Persian food is somewhat special for me. It combines middle eastern flavours with the bold use of spices that I love in the Indian cuisine. Additionally, some ingredients are used, that I rarely would otherwise. Pomegranate in many different forms is a staple. The fresh pips are mostly for garnish, adding little rubies to the plate that explode as you bite into them. The deep red, almost purple juice is better suited for cooking, as is the syrup. I think you have to use both, as you need something sweet to balance the rather tart juice. Somehow I bought grape syrup for this recipe, which really wasn’t a problem, as it is equally fruity and sweet.
This isn’t a traditional recipe, but I figured that quinces should accompany this dish quite well, as they are widely popular in the middle east anyways. They are also much better suited for stewing than apples as they don’t turn into a mush as easyly. If you can’t find them, you could use butternut squash or even apples, but add them later to the stew to prevent them from falling apart. As we are talking about quinces, watch your fingers when cutting them! Get a sturdy chopping board and put a folded towel under it to prevent it from wobbling around. Use a big, sharp knife. You will most certainly have to use both hands on the knife to create enough force to cut through them. Always place your fingers in a way that it is impossible to cut them, even if you slip. Usually this is the top of the blade, rather far away from the point.
Crushed walnuts are the usual choice for any Persian dish, but Chantal bought a huge load of crushed poppy seeds (she is addicted to them) and I want to use them up. You can use whatever you like, the nuts, or seeds in this case, are mainly there to thicken the stew a little. Any nut would do the trick, but save the pistacchios for garnish, they are way too precious for stewing.
- 2kg Lean stewing beef
- 400g Onions
- 250g Red lentils
- 500g Quince
- 1,2kg Aubergine
- 80g Grape syrup
- 100g Crushed poppy seeds
- 1l Pomegranate juice
- 500ml Water
- 100g Parsley
- Spices: bay leaves, pepper, baharat, garlic
- Set your oven to 250°C. We start on a high temperature to get things going, then reduce it for maximum tenderness.
- Peel the onions and quarter them. Cut the quinces into mouth sized bites and remove the pips. Cut the aubergines into similar sized chunks. Slice the beef into small cubes.
- Put all the veggies, fruit, lentils, grape syrup, poppy seeds, pomegranate juice and water into a large stock pot.
- Season boldly with salt, pepper, baharat (or similar spices) and dried or fresh garlic. Stir, cover with a heavy lid and cook in the oven for about half an hour.
- Reduce the heat to 140°C and simmer for another 3-4 hours until the meat is falling apart.
- Finely chop the parsley (including the stems!) and add to the stew. Taste, season to perfection, adjust sweetness with sweetener or more syrup, and enjoy.
100g of the pomegranate beef stew have the following macros:
- 100 kcal
- 8,1g Protein
- 7,6g Carbs
- 3,8g Fat
In the picture above you can see that we had some papadam with it, which is an Indian chickpea flatbread. Usually you get it fried, which adds lots of calories, but you can crisp it up in your oven or even the microwave and save a ton of calories. If you are doing this in the oven, watch them like a hawk, as they turn quite fast from “not yet ready” to “piece of charcoal”.
If you like, you can sprinkle some fresh pomegranate pips over the dish. They look beautiful and provide a certain sweetness and freshness that is unique to them. Just make sure not to cook them as they lose those characteristics, which is rather sad.
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