What looks like a soup or a stew, but is neither? It is Aash!
Aash is a slow-cooked Persian dish that combines a variety of beans, grains, sometimes noodles, herbs, spices, and meat. Its texture most resembles a thick soup.
Aash is quite versatile and has many variations. It can be a comfort food, but it can also be served “majlesie style” – meaning the kind of meal you’d serve at a fancy dinner party. It can be the main course or be served in small quantities as part of a family-style spread. Aash has its roots in traditional Iranian holidays such as Nowruz, the Persian New Year.
This version of Aash is quite hearty, and a favorite amongst Iranians. As with most such dishes, it is garnished with caramelized onions and topped with a flavor-packed mint and garlic sauce. Aash is often served with a piece of Persian flatbread, which makes it both satisfying and complete.
While the recipe that follows uses an immersion blender, it is traditional in Iran to use a “Gusht Koob”, which is a wooden implement something like a cross between a potato masher and a meat tenderizer.
To make matters even more interesting, it is also quite common to have a hot bowl of Aash for breakfast!
Aash-e Sholeh Ghalamkar
- 1/2 cup mung beans
- 1/4 cup lentils
- 1/4 cup chickpeas, soaked overnight
- 1/4 cup pinto beans, soaked overnight
- 1/4 cup red kidney beans, soaked overnight
- 1/4 cup black eyed peas, soaked overnight
- 1 onion, quartered
- 1 1/2 pounds beef ribs
- 1-2 teaspoons salt, divided. Adjust to your taste
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper, ground
- 2 teaspoons turmeric, ground
- 1/2 cup rice
- 4 pieces green onions, finely chopped
- 2 cups fresh dill, finely chopped
- 1 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh tarragon, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh summer savory, finely chopped. Or 2 tablespoons dried savory
- 6 tablespoons olive oil or ghee, divided
- 2 onions, thinly sliced
- 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons dried mint, or 4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint leaves
- Place all the beans in a large pot and add enough water to leave about 3 inches of water over the top of the beans.
- Bring to a gentle boil and remove any foam that may form on top. Reduce heat, cover and cook for 45 minutes.
- Add the rice and 1 teaspoon of salt to the beans mixture, and stir.
- Continue to cook until the beans are soft (about 30 minutes).
- As soon as the beans have started cooking, place the quartered onion and beef ribs in a separate large pot. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt, pepper, turmeric and 4 cups of water.
- Bring to a gentle boil, reduce heat, cover and cook for 60-90 minutes. The meat should be completely tender and falling off the bones.
- While the beans and the meat are cooking, prepare the topping.
- In a large frying pan, using 4 tablespoons of olive oil, saute the onions over medium heat for 15-20 minutes until they have turned golden brown. Set aside.
- To the same pan, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and saute the garlic over medium heat for 4-5 minutes.
- Add the dried mint and saute for 1 additional minute. Remove from the pan and set aside.
- One the meat is properly cooked, remove it from the pan, reserving the broth in the pan. Using two forks, shred the meat, roughly chop it, and set aside.
- Add the green onions and herbs to the pan with the leftover meat broth. Cover and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes.
- Using an immersion blender, coarsely blend the bean and rice mixture, making sure to retain some of the beans' texture.
- Add the shredded meat and the herb broth to the beans and stir.
- Continue to cook the blended Aash over medium-low heat for 10 minutes. Take extra care and stir frequently to prevent the thick Aash from burning and crusting on the bottom.
- Serve the Aash in a deep serving bowl, garnished with the caramelized onions and the garlic mint sauce.
- Aash is best served with a slice of Persian flatbread.