Thursday 18 February 2010

Persian Lamb soup - Abgoosht Tehrani and The Language of Food

One of the first Persian foods that I learned to cook at the elbows of my lovely cuddly mother-in-law, who spoke very little English but communicated with me fluently through the language of food, is Abgoosht Desfuli. Closely followed by Abgoosht Tehrani. It's a really simple hearty comfort food, great for this time of year. Some people call it Dizz. My husband 'A' remembers as a small child going to collect it for family breakfast from a cafe where it was baked overnight in little clay pots....yum And as a student on a budget, sitting cheek to jowl with workmen happily gorging on it........He also has a really early memory of actually making a small clay pot and cooking his own batch of Abgoosht for his little sweet.... He decided to have a go at making it again this week. (The photo above isn't mine I pinched it off wikipedia)

It's a really tasty soup made with lamb and beans. 'Ab' is the farsi for water and 'goosht' meat. You can't get much simpler than that. It's got onion and chick peas and a few other ingredients. An inexpensive but well balanced meal. Once cooked cooked the main ingredients of the soup are taken out from the soup to make a kind of pate that's served with green salad and cucumber, onions etc on crusty bread or crackers. 

So it's two meals in one, soup and pate. Although the soup is lovely just as it comes with all the ingredients just left in place..... you will need:

. One cup of dried chick peas, or one can of ready cooked chick peas.
. One cup of dried butter beans, or one can of ready cooked beans.

. 1lb of lamb. Preferably with the bone on as it’s more flavourful. Ribs are great for this.
. One medium sized onion, peeled and chopped into chunks.
. Four medium sized potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks.
. Two to three fresh tomatoes, chopped into chunks.
. Two or three dried limes.
. Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
. Cold water.

Wash all the ingredients making sure there are no stones in the dried beans. You can substitute them with canned ones but add them during the first few minutes of cooking so they warm through but don’t get overcooked.

Roughly chop all the other ingredients. Put everything in a saucepan. A heavy cast iron one is best for this. Cover with cold water, season and then cook all the ingredients until they are tender and the meat dropping off the bone.

If you want to make pate, drain all the solid ingredients from the broth with a slotted spoon and place into a bowl.
Mash these until they have made a paste. This is the coarse pâté that is served separately with fresh green herbs like tarragon, Persian basil, and marjoram. This is known as Sabzi Khordan, literally ‘edible greens’ and also contains spring onions (scallions) and radishes. The pate is also served with Persian pickles or torshi. As with English pickles there are lots of different recipes, my favourite is hot spicy aubergine pickle.
I don’t usually eat red meat but can’t resist a little of the soup or pate which is full of lots of other healthy ingredients too.

1 comment:

  1. Do you know where I could find the little jars in which dizi/ ab gusht is traditionally cooked? I've been looking all over but haven't found them. Also I've been looking for the little masher that are supplied in Iranian tea houses for mashing up the dizi. I would appreciate any help you can give me.