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Cook1 hr 15 mins
This is one of my favorite recipes! It is a thick Persian stew (or aash) flavored with fresh herbs, tangy pomegranate syrup and tiny meatballs. You may want to prepare the aash a day in advance, it tastes even better the second day, after the flavors have melded. The meatballs may be omitted or substituted with vegetables such as mushrooms. I STRONGLY discourage substituting pomegranate juice for the paste, I can't imagine the flavor coming out properly. But who knows, it may work- so let me know if it does come out :) Pomegranate paste/molasses can be found at many ethnic groceries, and most Middle Eastern stores. My favorite brand is Cortas.
- 2 medium yellow onions
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1⁄2 cup brown lentils
- 1 cup rice
- 2 tablespoons olive oil or 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 1⁄2 teaspoons salt
- black pepper
- 1 1⁄2 teaspoons turmeric
- 2 cups cilantro
- 2 cups fresh parsley
- 1 cup fresh mint (or 3-4 tbs dried mint, rehydrated in a few tablespoons of warm water)
- 2 cups scallions or 2 cups chives
- 1⁄3 cup sugar
- 1 beet, peeled and roughly chopped
- 2⁄3 cup pomegranate syrup (or 2/3 cup pomegranate paste diluted in water)
- 8 -10 cups water
For the Meatballs
- 1⁄2 lb lean ground beef or 1⁄2 lb lamb or 1⁄2 lb turkey
- 1⁄2-1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 -3 tablespoons parsley, chopped
- 1 onion, grated
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Thinly slice the two onions into rings. In a large non-stick pot, brown the onions with the olive oil over medium heat. Add the lentils (or yellow split peas) and continue to cook for a couple minutes longer. Add 8 cups of water (do not add salt yet), bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover partially, and allow to simmer over medium heat for about 20 minutes.
- Wash and chop all the herb ingredients. Add 1 tsp salt, pepper, the turmeric, chopped beet and all the herbs to the pot. Cook for about 20 minutes longer, stirring occasionally to keep the lentils from sticking.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the grated onion with the meat, parsley and seasonings. Mix thoroughly, and form into small chestnut-sized balls. Add to the soup. Add the cup of rice as well, partially cover and simmer for 30 minutes longer (do not over-stir).
- Mix in the pomegranate syrup, paste or juice, and simmer over low heat for another 30 minutes. Afterwards, check to see that the meatballs are cooked thoroughly. If the soup is too thick, add a little warm water. Taste the soup, it should be a tangy sweet-and sour. Adjust the seasonings if needed.
- To Garnish (optional): Crush a couple cloves of garlic, chop and brown in a little olive oil. Add some crumbled dry or minced fresh mint, and ½ tsp turmeric. Add this, as well as a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds to garnish.