Bij Bij is not only a fun name for a dish, it is also a staple for Caspian Sea folks. People from Iran’s Mazandaran Province call this dish “Vavishka” (clearly a name that originated in Russia), but in Tehran, those who know of it call it Bij Bij. It is a comfort dish, made with ground meat, caramelized onions, and spices, all cooked in a rich tomato sauce, and with eggs poached right in the middle. An all-around simple and flavorful dish that can be prepared in about an hour, with very little effort.
This is one of my all-time favorite comfort foods. Even when I was a vegetarian, I would find a way to mimic the experience of eating Bij Bij. Be it crumbled up Tempeh (fermented soy patties) or Seitan (wheat protein) or purchased meat substitute products, I would find a way to make Bij Bij and serve it over a heaping mound of steamed basmati rice.
I continue to adapt this dish to suit my palate while integrating various vegetables. I have added mushrooms, carrots, cauliflower, and/or potatoes, and have played around with a medley of precious spices and herbs that my mom has brought from Iran.
Khoresh Bij Bij
- 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
- 4 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon turmeric, ground
- 1 lb ground meat
- 4 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 medium yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1 inch pieces, peeling is optional
- 4 medium tomatoes, diced
- 1 1/2 cups water, adjust as needed
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, adjust as needed
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, ground
- 2 tablespoons Ab Ghooreh (unripe sour grape juice), or fresh lemon juice
- 4-6 eggs
- In a large frying pan, saute the onions in oil over medium heat for about 10 minutes. Add garlic and turmeric and continue to saute for 2 additional minutes.
- Add the ground meat, breaking the chunks into smaller pieces and blending them into the sauted onions. Saute the meat and onion mixture for 5 minutes on medium-high heat. The meat should have turned light brown and no longer look raw.
- Add the tomato paste and continue to stir and saute for another 2 minutes to bring out the flavor of the tomato paste.
- Add the potatoes, tomatoes, water, salt, pepper and Ab Ghooreh or lemon juice and bring to a gentle boil. Once boiling, reduce heat, cover and cook for 40 minutes. Test to make sure the potatoes are sufficiently cooked and tender.
- Using a spoon, pull the meat back to make room for the eggs to get cracked into the pan. Crack the eggs into the meat sauce one at a time.
- Sprinkle a touch more salt and pepper on top of the eggs, cover, and cook on medium-low heat for about 5-6 minutes depending on how runny or cooked you prefer your eggs.
- Once the eggs are cooked to your liking, turn off the heat and allow the stew to sit for 5 minutes before serving.
- Bij Bij can be served with Persian flatbreads or with steamed basmati rice and a side of yogurt and fresh herbs.