So as promised in my earlier rhubarb post, I’m writing about a rhubarb meat stew, a traditional Middle Eastern use for rhubarb. I found a Persian version which was delicate, delicious and very special. The tart rhubarb lends a wonderful and unusual taste to the aromatic beef stew.
I’m quoting from A Book of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Roden (Vintage, 1974) about Persian khoreshtha or stews served over rice:
Of all the dishes of Persian cooking, the most common are the khoreshtha . . . They are common only insofar as they are eaten daily or sometimes twice a day. Otherwise they deserve all the culinary superlatives. It is in these dishes, most of all, that the refined knowledge and experience of centuries have crystallized to give the exquisite Persian combinations of meat and poultry with vegetables, fruits, nuts, herbs and spices; combinations which are never overpowering, but in which all the ingredients retain their dignity, enhanced and complemented by each other.
Here is Roden’s recipe for Rhubarb Khoresh, a meat stew with rhubarb served over rice.
1 onion finely chopped
1 lb. lean stew beef, cubed
salt and pepper to taste
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 lb. fresh rhubarb stalks
juice of 1/2 lemon
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large saucepan and saute the onions until soft. Add the meat and saute until well browned. Cover with water, season with salt and pepper and add the cinnamon and allspice. Bring to a boil and simmer for 2 hours, checking frequently so the meat stays covered in water.
Trim the rhubarb stalks [ONLY] and cut them into 2 inch pieces. Saute in butter/oil for a few minutes, then sprinkle with lemon juice and cook a few minutes longer.
When the meat is cooked and the water is a lovely, thick gravy, add the meat sauce to the rhubarb and simmer for 10 minutes. Serve over rice, traditionally plain white.