This is a marvelous, savory soup/stew from Georgia, recipe courtesy of Bob Beer.
1. In heavy casserole, cover beef with 2 qts water. Bring to boil over high heat and skim. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer till meat is tender, about 2 hours.
- 3 1/2 pounds trimmed beef short ribs, or 1 1/2-2 lbs round steak or lamb cut into 1-in pieces
- 1/2 teaspoon ground fenugreek seed
- 3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 2 large garlic cloves, smashed
- 1/8 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon dried fenugreek leaves (methi in Indian stores, shenbalile in persian)
- 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon savory
- 2 pinches turmeric
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/2 pound plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded, chopped
- 1 cup walnuts (I'd use 1 1/2 cups myself)
- 3 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (or more to taste)
- 1/4 cup mixed chopped fresh cilantro, celery leaves, and italian parsley
2. Meanwhile, place ground fenugreek seed in mortar. Add red pepper and pound well. Add garlic, sugar, and salt; pound to a paste. Stir in the ground coriander, fenugreek leaves, paprika, black pepper, savory, and turmeric, set aside.
3. In a medium skillet, heat oil over low heat. Add onion and bay leaves, cover and cook, stirring frequently, till onion is very soft, about 10 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and pounded spices, and cook, stirring, for 10 minutes. Remove from heat.
4. Remove meat from the casserole and strain soup through a colandar into a large bowl. Skim fat from the liquid. Remove and discard bones, gristle, and hard pieces of fat from the beef. Cut the meat into 1-inch pieces. Return the meat and strained liquid to the casserole (you can omit this step if using boneless meat of course; just skim the fat).
5. In a food processor, puree the walnuts to a smooth paste. Add 1/2 c of the beef cooking liquid and process till creamy and smooth. Add to casserole along with the onion-tomato mixture and bring to a boil over moderately high heat. Cook till the soup thickens slightly, about 5 minutes. Add lemon juice, and season with salt, black pepper, and crushed red pepper to taste. Sprinkle with the chopped herbs, cover and let stand for 5 minutes before serving.
Note from Bob: Having eaten some Circassian (expelled Georgians) and Georgian food in Turkey, I'd say this was a bit "watered down" a recipe. I usually add quite a bit more red pepper and lemon juice, as well as coriander and fenugreek leaves and black pepper. The combination of the lemon and the warmth of the black pepper really make this dish for me. I have also played with it a little in adding up to 2 cups of walnuts, making it a little more like a stew, a la Iranian fesenjan though nowhere as thick as that.
Anyway, I am sure you will love this dish! Enjoy. :-)
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Chuck Taggart (e-mail chuck)