If you happen to visit the Turkish Food Centre at Ridley Road market, and feel like Iran’s national dish for dinner, then pick up a couple of tins of Gormeh Sabzi. It costs £1.49, and is a mixture of herbs, oil, dried lime and kidney beans. This is the basis for a typical Persian dish that provides comfort and nourishment in the way of a bowl of really good spaghetti or a roast chicken. According to one article, it’s traditionally served when family members return home from a journey (proper Journeys, I would imagine, not just a package holiday in Lanzarote).
I was introduced to this dish by an Iranian family friend who now drives a taxi in Berlin and loves to cook. He assured me that although you can cook it from scratch, using fresh herbs, it’s also OK to use the tinned stuff. Here’s how you do it:
Once you’ve got your 2 tins from TFC (in the tinned tomato aisle up the back, near the baklava stall), cook an onion in some oil, then sprinkle over about a teaspoon of turmeric. Add about 500g of diced lamb (TFC also sells good-quality lamb, so you can buy it here, along with some yogurt (full fat, push the boat out and go for the 10% stuff), and a bag of basmati rice. Add water to cover the lamb and simmer for an hour or so, then open the tins of ghormeh sabzi and stir in. Season to taste (although it’s already pretty salty) and simmer for 20 mins or so while your rice cooks. Serve with rice and a dollop of yogurt.
It’s an odd sort of a flavour – sour limes, earthy herbs, sweet lamb, fragrant rice and tangy yogurt, but really, really good.