With the arrival of spring, Iranians hit their local markets and eagerly look forward to finding unripe sour plums (Gojeh Sabz), unripe almonds (Chaghaleh Badom), and unripe sour grapes (Ghooreh). I find Iranians’ love of sour and unripe fruits to be incredibly unique and endearing.
Gojeh Sabz, Persian green unripe plums, are a seasonal delicacy loved by Iranians and showcased in many different forms in our cuisine. Harvested before they’re fully mature, they deliver a crispy crunch and a refreshing range of flavors.
Gojeh Sabz are often served raw with a sprinkle of salt to bring out a mouth-puckering burst of flavor that is mildly sweet, a whole lot of sour, and with a salty finish. They are also featured in pickles, soups, and stews like Hali Ghuroo.
There are many different variations of this stew. Some are cooked with an abundance of fresh herbs, and may or may not have beef or chicken added. This version is from the Mazandaran region by the Caspian Sea which has an affinity toward more vegetarian-friendly dishes. The name Hali Ghuroo is the local name for this dish.
In Babol, a city in Mazandaran province, you will find many dishes that are mostly vegetables, with simple spices and locally available herbs, that are supplemented with poached or fried eggs.
Making this dish for the first time, I found myself feeling a wide range of emotions and thoughts. The scent of plums cooking transported me instantly to another land and another time in my life, so long ago. With the first bite of the stew, I remembered the flavor as if I had just had it last week. There is something so extraordinary about a scent or a sight that can bring up memories with such deep feelings and nostalgia.
Though I was born and raised in Tehran and have lived most of my life in the US, I have a deep primal connection and a sense of identity associated with the Caspian Sea and the city of Babol where my parents are from. In Farsi we would proudly announce to one another that we are “Bacheh Baboli”, a kid from Babol.
- 1 onion, thinly sliced
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon turmeric, ground
- 4 cups Gojeh sabz, Persian sour plums
- 1/2 cup water, adjust up to 1 cup
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, ground
- 1 tablespoon dried mint
- 6-8 eggs
- In a large frying pan saute the onion with olive oil over medium heat until it turns lightly browned, about 10 minutes.
- Add turmeric and continue to saute for another couple of minutes.
- Add the sour plums to the pan, toss around to blend in with the onions before adding 1/2 cup of water.
- Cover and cook on low heat until the plums have softened, about 15-30 minutes. Depending on the size and how unripe the sour plums are, you will need to adjust the cooking time and possibly add more water to help soften the plums.
- Once the plums are softened, sprinkle the dried mint on top and gently stir the mint into the stew. Take extra care to not stir the softened plums too much.
- Using a spoon, pull the plums back to make room for the eggs to get cracked into the pan. Crack the eggs into the stew one at a time. I like to sprinkle a touch more salt and pepper on top of the eggs.
- Cover and cook on medium-low heat for about 5-7 minutes depending on how runny or hard 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.
- This stew is traditionally served with steamed Persian basmati rice along with a platter of fresh herbs and yogurt.