I always stole all the prunes from the pot and it still wasn’t enough,” says Shahin.“Now when I eat it, with every morsel I recall a memory from the past which enables me to connect to myself at a deeper level.
“The more you care for people you cook for, the better the food would taste. That’s why you always love your Mum’s food. She adds love as secret ingredient.”
Shahin says in a time when we are only a click away from takeaway food, it’s important to try cooking a new food every now and again to nourish the body and mind by tasting other cultures. Give this Persian dish a go!
500g lamb leg or shoulder
2 ¼ cups spinach
½ cup and 2 tbsp vegetable oil
10 golden sour prunes (aloo
Bokhara, available in specialty
1 large onion
3 cloves garlic
3 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp turmeric
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp black pepper
½ tsp salt or to taste
¼ tsp saffron
- Combine ¼ tsp of ground saffron or saffron strands with 1 tbsp of freshly boiled water. Set it aside for later, preferably in a warm place.
- Finely chop the onions and garlic. Cut the meat in 3cm large cubes.
- Heat ½ cup vegetable oil in a pan and fry the meat from all sides until golden brown. This should take about 15 minutes.
- Remove the meat from the pan and gently fry the onions in the same oil over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Then add the chopped garlic and fry both together for another 3 minutes.
- Transfer the meat back to the pan with the onions and garlic. Also add the golden sour prunes now. Boil 500ml of water in a kettle and add it to the pan. Season with turmeric, black pepper and salt. Bring the stew to boil, reduce the heat, put on the lid and let it simmer for 1 hour.
- Fry the spinach in 2 tbsp of vegetable oil for about 5 minutes.
- This step is optional but helps season your stew correctly and preserve the whole prunes — remove the meat chunks and prunes from the stew so they don’t get in the way or the prunes dissolve.
- Add the fried spinach to the stew, together with lemon juice, sugar and saffron water. If your stew is too dry, you may need to add a little more freshly boiled water. Combine everything well and return the meat and prunes to the stew. Simmer for another 20 minutes.
- Serve your Khoresh-e Aloo Esfenaj with aromatic Persian rice and fresh herbs and yoghurt or red onions if you like. Enjoy!