|Iranian celery stew (Khoresht Karafs) with rice|
Iran started their world cup campaign today against Nigeria. Sadly, it was the dreaded arrival of the first poor game of the tournament with the two sides doing very little to contribute to a "yawn-athon" of a match that - not surprisingly - finished goalless. Fortunately, Iranian/Persian food is far more interesting with the region's dishes typically offering fresh fruits and vegetables in abundance, meats such as lamb, goat, chicken and beef, as well as a wide variety of delicious herbs and spices that can take any meal to whole new levels of tastiness.
This recipe focuses largely on celery (as the name would suggest) and meat. It also regularly calls for the addition of mint as one of the herbs but I have deliberately omitted the mint, as I don't personally believe it is a herb which complements beef. If I were making this dish with lamb - or even goat - I would definitely add mint as well as the other herbs but this is all of course down to personal preference and the mint can be added if you wish, in similar quantities to the parsley and celery leaf.
|Shin of beef|
Ingredients (Serves One)
1/2 pound piece shin of beef
4 tablespoons vegetable oil (2 for sauteeing beef and 2 for celery)
1/2 small white onion, peeled and sliced
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon medium strength chilli powder
Salt and pepper
1 pint fresh beef stock
4 celery sticks
1 tablespoon roughly chopped celery leaf
1 tablespoon roughly chopped parsley (plus extra to garnish)
3 ounces basmati rice
Juice of half a lime
|Diced shin of beef|
Shin of beef is a cheaper cut of meat, simply because it is fatty and requires long, slow cooking. This puts a lot of people off buying it but I honestly can't understand why - give me shin of beef before fillet steak any day! It's far tastier and every bit as tender if cooked in the correct fashion.
The first mistake many make is in cutting off the fat before cooking. Don't do this. Fat is not only flavour, it keeps the meat moist during cooking and it will largely render down as the meat simmers. Instead, simply chop the shin of beef to approximate one inch cubes - fat and all - with a very sharp knife.
|Shin of beef, onion and spices ready for sauteeing|
Pour a couple of tablespoons of the vegtable oil in to a large stew pot. Add the shin of beef, the onion slices, the turmeric and the chilli powder. Season well with salt and particularly black pepper.
|Sauteeing shin of beef with onion and spices|
Sautee the beef, onion and spices for a couple or three minutes over a medium heat until the meat is well sealed. Add the beef stock, bring to a simmer, cover and simmer as gently as possible for two hours, stirring occasionally.
|Celery, celery leaves and parsley|
Wash the celery sticks and the herbs under running cold water in a colander. Trim the celery sticks and chop to approximately one inch pieces. Roughly chop the parsley and celery leaves.
|Sauteeing celery and herbs|
Pour two tablespoons of vegetable oil in to a saucepan and add the celery and herbs. Gently sautee for a couple of minutes.
|Sauteed celery is added to stewed beef|
Pour the celery mix in to the stewed beef and stir well. Continue to simmer uncovered for around twenty minutes until the remaining stock forms a thick, lush sauce. Squeeze in the lime juice, stir well, taste and adjust seasoning if required.
|Rice is washed before it is cooked|
Wash the rice in a sieve under running cold water. Add to a deep pot of salted water and simmer for ten minutes. Drain through the sieve.
|Rice bed for celery stew is formed|
Lay the rice in one half of a stone serving dish (if available). Pile it high at one side, gently sloping towards the middle of the dish.
|Celery stew is added to rice bed|
Spoon the celery and beef stew in to the empty half of the serving dish and garnish with the remaining chopped parsley.