Lamb and split pea stew

Lamb and split pea stew

Khoresht-e gheimeh

Mark Roper

This is one of Lucy’s favourite khoresht dishes, and not just because of the crunchy matchstick potatoes that are an essential garnish! We ate this dish several times in Iran, and it has to be said that a few restaurants used the kind of potato straws that come in a packet. If you must, you must, but the kind made at home using real potatoes are so much better.

The lamb and split peas cook down to a lovely earthy braise that is absolutely delicious with orange-scented, sweetly-spiced shirin polow; this is the way they serve it in Shiraz.

The spice mix given here makes twice as much as you need, but it’s a really good all-purpose khoresht mix that you could, in fact, use to add a touch of Oriental magic to any lamb casserole.


Quantity Ingredient
3 tablespoons olive oil
600g lamb, cut into 2 cm cubes, (from the shoulder)
2 onions, diced
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
3 tablespoons tomato paste
200g yellow split peas
2 dried limes, lightly cracked
2 bay leaves
8 sprigs thyme
1 litre good-quality chicken stock or water
1 lime, juiced
1 1/2-2 teaspoons sea salt
Sweet rice with saffron, nuts and orange zest, to serve

Khoresht spice mix

Quantity Ingredient
1 teaspoon ground dried rose petals, (optional)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Potato straws

Quantity Ingredient
vegetable oil, for deep-frying
3 starchy potatoes, peeled and cut into matchsticks
sea salt


  1. To make the spice mix, combine all the ingredients thoroughly in a bowl, then transfer to an airtight jar.
  2. Heat the oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan or casserole dish over a medium–high heat. Brown the lamb in batches, turning to colour it evenly, then remove from the pan.
  3. Add the onion, 3 teaspoons of the spice mix and the turmeric to the pan and fry for a couple of minutes until the onion softens. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for a minute, then return the browned meat to the pan. Add the split peas, dried limes, bay leaves and thyme, then pour on the stock and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and cook, covered, for 1½ hours, or until the split peas and lamb are very tender. As the limes soften, squeeze them against the side of the pan to extract the juice. Add the fresh lime juice and season to taste with salt.
  4. About 20 minutes before the end of the cooking time, prepare the potato straws. Heat a reasonable amount of oil in a deep saucepan and deep-fry the potato straws in batches until crisp and golden. Drain them on paper towels and season lightly with salt.
  5. Serve the khoresht with a sprinkle of potato straws and shirin polow.
Middle Eastern
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