Persian Carrot and Prune Stew

When I starting diving in to the world of Persian food, I wanted to learn all of Alex’s favorite dishes. However, over the years, I’ve started to add in dishes even he has never even heard of. A few months into dating, his mother shipped me a copy of The Food of Life, which is one of the most comprehensive Persian cookbooks on the market. Since then, I use it as a reference with the internet before developing my own recipes for Persian classics. With a few pounds of beef chuck sitting in my fridge, I knew I wanted to make a khoresh (the term for stew), but needed direction. Next thing I knew, I discovered khoresh-e havij-o alu, a sweet and sour stew of carrots and prunes. 

When Alex came home from work, the apartment was perfumed with cardamom and cinnamon. The carrots lend sweetness with the prunes, breaking down to thicken the braise. Then, lime juice and pomegranate molasses add the perfect tang to cut through the richness of the beef. All in all, it was a hit and made for great leftovers throughout the week. Like most stews, it was even better the next day, especially with tons of tahdig.


Persian Carrot and Prune Stew

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 2 hours and 25 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours and 45 minutes


Ingredients

1/4 cup vegetable oil

3 pounds beef chuck, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces

Kosher salt, to taste

2 pounds carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces

4 scallions, thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, chopped 

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

1 teaspoon ground cardamom 

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground turmeric 

4 cups beef stock

1 cup prunes, halved

1/4 cup lime juice

2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses

Directions

  1. In a large Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Season the beef with salt, then working in 2 batches, sear, turning as needed, until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes per batch. Transfer to a bowl.
  2. Add the carrots to the pot and cook until the carrots are golden, but not tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to another bowl.
  3. Add the scallions, garlic and onion to the pot and cook, scraping up any fond on the bottom of the pan, until softened and just starting to brown at the edges, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the cardamom, cinnamon and turmeric and sauté until fragrant, 1 minute.
  4. Add back the seared beef and pour in the beef stock, then bring to a simmer. Cook, covered with the lid opened very slightly, for 1 hour. Add in the reserved carrots with the prunes, lime juice and pomegranate molasses. Cover and simmer until the beef and carrots are tender, and the broth is thickened, 1 hour more. Adjust the seasoning with salt, then serve.