Friday, January 4, 2013

Persian Version: Vegan Persian Food (Khoresht eh Gheymeh) & Persian Pop Culture

I have a Confession: I'm persian. You all may or may not have known this, but it is indeed true. I was born in Los Angeles, but both my parents were born in Iran, and I have been brought up with a lot of persian cultural traditions. Los Angeles has a very large and noticeable persian population, and it is definitely true that the "Los Angeles Persian" is a unique and not uncommon type of persian; it may be a stereotype, but stereotypes come from somewhere........

Lilly (aka my persian idol) is on the far right. 
Persian Pop Culture: Anywhoooo, there are a lot of things about persians I find annoying, but in the end I do love being persian and all of the things that come along with it. I have found myself pulled into watching Bravo's "Shahs of Sunset" which in case you don't know is a reality show about "typical" Los Angeles persians. While the show itself is full of drama and pretty entertaining, it is pretty far from an accurate representation of persians in LA. The people on the show are actually a really random bunch of persians for the most part, and they are not representative of a majority of Los Angeles persians. While I do resent the show for some of the stereotypes it perpetuates, I still find my self strangely drawn into watching it. Oh, and I adore Lilly, the newest addition to the cast this season!

Fun Fact: Freddie Mercury, the amazing lead singer of Queen and one of my favorite musicians and performers of all time was Persian. WHAT now?

Vegan Khoresht eh Gheymeh Recipe
Inspiration for this Recipe: Watching all of this persian reality TV has left me seriously craving persian food, but it is hard to find a vegan version of my favorite persian stew which is Khoresht eh Gheymeh. This is a yellow split pea and tomato stew that usually has pieces of veal chuck in it, and is typically served with white basmatti rice. I veganized it by getting rid of the meat, and upping the split pea content to keep it hearty and thick. The key to the stew is patience, it takes only a half hour of active work, but needs to be stewed for a minimun of two hours before being ready to eat.
What the onions should like like JUST before you add
the spices
Nutrition Note: This stew is not only made with whole, plant based foods, but it is also a great balanced source of protein and carbs. It is typically eaten with a side of steamed rice......and as we all know legumes (split peas) + a grain (rice) = a complete(ly delicious) protein. 
- 2 cups diced white onions
- 1 tbsp turmeric
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 28 oz canned diced tomatoes in their juice
- 3-4 cups water
- 2 cups dry yellow split peas
- 3 dried lemons pierced with a fork a few times (also called limooh amahny, you may need to go to a specialty middle eastern or persian market for these)
- 1/2 tsp saffron water (optional)
- 3-4 tbsp tomato paste
What the stew looks like AFTER 2+ hours. 
1. On medium high heat in a large non-stick pot, sauté onions until golden and softer. This should be about five minutes. You can add water as needed to keep them from sticking.
2. Add all of the spices including the salt and continue to sauté for another five minutes; adding water as needed to keep from sticking.
3. Add in all of the remaining ingredients and stir well. You can use 3 tbsp tomato paste for a slightly less thick stew, or 4 tbsp for a thicker stew. Continue to stir periodically for the next 10 minutes.
4. Once the stew is bubbling, reduce to low heat, put the lid on, and let simmer for a minimum of two hours. 
5. Serve with rice or any other grain of your preference.  I personally like brown basmatti rice, but my dad and brother prefer white basmatti rice. It also goes well with quinoa in my opinion. 
Ready to Eat!


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  2. Thank you for a great vegan recipe! I am a vegetarian and Persian as well and I was looking for vegetarian version of this recipe!

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  4. Hi, I'm desperately looking for a recipe that I tried a few months ago. I'm also in the LA area. I ate a vegan artichoke stew (Khoresht Kangar) at a restaurant in the valley and fell in love with it, and have desperately tried searching for a close recipe but I'm having trouble finding one. Most of the recipes I've seen call for meat or don't even include artichokes. From what I could tell, it was mainly artichokes hearts, parsley, mint, and some lemon, with broth and other flavorings. I'm hoping you please help me out, does this sound like a recipe you're familiar with?

  5. I make this all the time now. Thank you!