Persian food is not very vegetarian friendly. Though if you take the meat out of the equation it is quite vegan friendly, as we don’t use a lot of dairy, cheese or eggs in our main dishes. So veganizing Persian food is sometimes very easy. Case in point being one of my favourites which is called Abgoosht. However, it has a pretty non-vegan name, which literally translates to water of meat. Eww! I know…and even though my entire family doesn’t eat meat anymore we still call this dish Abgoosht. In all honesty, I think the literal translation has lost it’s meaning in our household and now ‘Abgoosht’ is synonymous with yummy delicious vegetable stew. The best way I can describe it is to call it vegan Middle Eastern stew. Ooo I think I just figured out the English name for this dish and the title of this post!
1 medium onion, chopped (I prefer white or red onions)
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tbsp Olive Oil
1/2 tsp tumeric
1/2 tsp curry
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp saffron* (optional) diluted in 2 tbsp boiling water
1 tsp salt
pepper to taste
5 potatoes medium sized, cut up into small pieces (I like Yukon gold)
28 oz caned tomatoes (I used organic whole stewed tomatoes)
1 1/2 cup vegetable broth
19 oz can chickpeas
1 lime juiced
Sauté the onions in olive oil until wilted, about 5-10 minutes, then add the garlic and sauté some more..about 3-5 minutes more. Add the spices and incorporate it into the onion/garlic mixture. Add the rest of the ingredients, except for the lime juice and bring to a boil. You want the water level to cover up all the ingredients. If it doesn’t, add some water until it does. Once the stew has started to boil, cover and reduce heat and let it simmer for about 45 – 60 minutes or until the potatoes are tender and cooked. Add the lime juice just before taking it off the heat.
* Saffron is a pretty expensive spice and it only adds a very mild aroma to your dishes, but the aroma is quite intoxicating and in my opinion worth the money. But in this dish it doesn’t really add that much, so you can skip it. You can get it cheaper at Middle Eastern or any Asian stores, but be aware that they do sell fake ones. If the price is too good to be true, then it’s probably not real! The best way to dilute it in water is to crush it up between your fingers and pour boiling water on it and just mix it with a fork. The mixture will be yellow, and the strands won’t dissolve all the way. If it’s redish in colour then you have the fake one unfortunately.
I still eat this dish the way I used to as a kid in my grandma’s house, which was to eat the broth first with torn pieces of pita bread in it (tilit in Farsi) and then I eat the stew, sans broth, all mashed up..somewhat like mashed potatoes (koobideh in Farsi) with some more pita bread. Of course you can just eat it as a stew, which probably is more appetising for western cultures. Like any other stew, left overs are the best part, and this one doesn’t disappoint. At least the koobideh version doesn’t! The best part about having this Middle Eastern Stew was having it as the filling in your sandwich the next day for lunch at school! Oh yum! Brings back memories. Well at least in this case good memories! 🙂 The koobideh version is also really yummy cold with hot pita bread, which is pretty much the only way I eat it as left overs. Well, if I haven’t won you over, I don’t think the next picture is going to help either. I didn’t dish the stew as is to take a photo, but at the last minute I thought I should photograph it to show you what it looks like in it’s chunky non-koobideh form. So be honest…which one looks better?