Naveed’s date-night Gheimeh stew

Naveed cooks Gheimeh for Valerie on their third date, and it does not end badly for him. Gheimeh demonstrates classic Persian flexibility—it’s been made with tomatoes, a South American native ingredient, for a long time now. This dish just keeps changing, as evidenced by modern-day addition of homemade french fries (from potatoes, another South American native), fast-food fries, or canned shoestring potatoes.

1/2 c. dried yellow split peas
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 lb. cubed stew meat, either beef or lamb
1 tbsp turmeric
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp salt
4 tomatoes, chopped (or 2 Tablespoons tomato paste)
3-4 dried Omani limes (from Persian or Middle Eastern market or by special order)
Pinch of saffron
Homemade french fries, fast-food fries, or canned string potatoes

Rinse the dried yellow split peas; soak in a small bowl of water.
Sauté the chopped onions in the oil, over medium heat until they become translucent and slightly golden. Turn the heat to medium-high and add the cubed beef or lamb. Continue to sauté until the meat has browned. Add turmeric, black pepper, and salt and sauté a minute more. Add chopped tomatoes or tomato paste. Continue to sauté the tomato paste with the other ingredients for two minutes. If using fresh chopped tomatoes, sauté until they have cooked down into a sauce.
Pierce the dried Omani limes with a sharp knife, but do not open them because if the seeds escape from the limes the stew will become bitter. Drop the whole, pierced Omani limes in the stew. Add four cups of water and cook over medium-low heat for 45 minutes, or until meat becomes tender.
Drain the rinsed yellow split peas and add to the stew. Add pinch of saffron. Cook for another 20-30 minutes or until yellow split peas are cooked. Taste and add more salt and pepper if desired.
Top the gheimeh stew with homemade french fries, fast-food fries, or canned shoestring potatoes. (Or you could do this like a Minnesota casserole and put potato chips on it.)

Serves 4

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