Koresht–i-Karafs (Iranian celery and beef stew)

Wow. I had no idea celery could taste this amazing. The recipe comes from my friend Lorna - it's a family recipe from her former mother-in-law, Sharzad Mohit. I think the key here is cooking the celery very, very gently. With the fresh mint and parsley it is absolutely spectacular! It should be served with saffron rice.

Vegetable oil
3-4 medium onions, diced
1 ½ lbs beef stew meat, cut into 1/2” pieces
4 cups water
2 bunches celery, cut into ½” pieces
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp turmeric
2 bunches parsley, finely chopped
1 bunch mint (or 2 Tbs dry, finely chopped)
Garlic (as much as you like, finely chopped)
Juice of 1 lemon

In a large stew pot, fry onions until golden brown. Remove the onions from pan and sear the meat. Add water and onion to the pot and simmer until meat is tender (this depends entirely on the cut of meat you use).

In a large pan, gently fry celery in oil, 20-30 minutes. Do not crowd the celery or let it brown, and do not let it shrivel much. During the last 10 minutes of cooking add paprika and turmeric. It should be soft, as if it had been steamed.

Add celery, herbs, garlic and lemon juice to the pot and cook about 5 minutes more, on moderate heat (light simmer, no boiling). Add salt and pepper to taste.

Saffron rice
A pinch of saffron, crumbled
2 cups boiling water
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup uncooked long-grain white rice, not rinsed
1 teaspoon salt 

Steep the saffron the boiling water. In a skillet that can be tightly covered, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the rice and cook, stirring constantly, until the rice begins to absorb the butter and becomes opaque (don't let it brown). Add the saffron water and cover immediately. Reduce heat to low and cook 20 minutes, or until all of the liquid is absorbed.


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