Khoresh Rivas is yet another Persian stew that celebrates the abundance of fresh herbs and Iranians’ never ending love affair with sour flavors. In the rest of the world rhubarb’s sourness is almost always moderated with sugar or strawberries, but Iranians use rhubarb in savory dishes precisely because of its sour flavor.
Rhubarb vs. Celery
Khoresh Rivas is actually quite similar to Khoresh Karafs (celery stew) in composition. Rhubarb, however, has a significantly different texture than celery and will lose its cellular structure when cooked. Therefore, to preserve its integrity and the final dish’s presentation, it is added only in the last 15 minutes of the cooking process.
Also, given rhubarb’s unique tartness, I have never found a need to add additional souring ingredients, whereas in Khoresh Karafs these are necessary and expected. That said, there are those die-hard sour flavor lovers who would add lemon or lime juice or Ab Ghooreh to their Khoresh Rivas.
Spring brings with it the promise of warmer weather and the prospect of new, fresh vegetables in the Pacific Northwest. Two of the vegetables that I most eagerly anticipate in early spring are asparagus and rhubarb, which grow remarkably well in the temperate climate here.
For the record, not only do I not have any issue with sweetened rhubarb, I actually make a mean rhubarb ginger pie. Maybe one day I will improvise and Persian-ize a rhubarb pie with orange blossom water and pistachios!
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, thinly sliced
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric, ground
- 1 pound beef, cut into 1 inch pieces
- 2 1/2 cups water, adjust as needed
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, ground
- 3 stems rhubarb, cut into 1 inch slices
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 cups fresh parsley, finely chopped (only the tough part of the stem removed)
- 1 cup fresh mint, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon dried mint
- In a large pot, heat the olive oil and saute the onions on medium heat for about 10 minutes.
- Add the turmeric and toss around for a couple of minutes before adding the beef pieces. Continue to stir over medium heat for about 5 minutes until the meat has picked up some color and no longer looks raw.
- Add water, bring to a gentle boil, cover and simmer over low heat for 60 minutes.
- In a large frying pan add the olive oil and saute the chopped fresh parsley and mint over medium heat for 10 minutes. Lower the heat towards the end to prevent the herbs from burning.
- Mix the dried mint into the herbs, then remove from the heat and set aside.
- After the beef has cooked for 60 minutes, add the salt, pepper and sauteed herbs. Cover and continue to cook for 30 minutes over low heat.
- The stew should be very fragrant with the herbs and the meat fork tender.
- Add the rhubarb pieces to the stew, gently mix, cover and cook until the rhubarb has softened, about 15 minutes. Take extra care not to over-mix as rhubarb can fall apart easily.
- The stew should be dense with herbs and not at all watery.
- Serve with Persian saffron basmati rice and a side of plain yogurt or Maast-khiar (yogurt, cucumber, mint and rose petals).