To go with the cheese pilaf, I decided to make a vegetable stew. The recipe that caught my fancy, and suited all the ingredients with the ones I had at home was the Iranian Vegetable stew. But it uses a white sauce base with flour and I am not a huge fan of anything white with flour in it. So I tweaked the same recipe to be made with red sauce. As my cooked dubbed it, this regular rajma but without the rajma masala, and with Dill in it.
The only flavours you will notice when you take your first spoonful of this stew are the freshness and the tartness of the tomato puree , the crispness of the spinach and the flavour of Dill and garlic.
Iranian Vegetable Stew (with red sauce, serves 3)
A mix of chickpeas & kidney beans – 1 C, soaked overnight and pressure cooked
Tomato puree – 1 C (I make this at home)
Onion – one medium sized, sliced very thin
Spinach leaves – 1 bunch, chopped coarsely
Garlic cloves – 6-8, crushed in a mortal-pestle
Dried Dill – 2 tbsp
Black pepper – 2 tbsp, crushed
Sea salt – to taste
Red paprika powder – if required
Juice from half lemon – if required
Olive oil – 1 tbsp
Coriander leaves – 1/2 cup, chopped fine
Heat the olive oil in a pan, and sauté the onions and garlic in it. Add half the quantity of the dill and black pepper and sauté these together. Add the cooked peas-beans mixture to this and mix.
Now add the tomato puree , spinach leaves, salt and red paprika powder. Cook on medium flame for 10 mins.
Add water if required, to dilute the stew.
Once the stew is cooked, remove from heat.
Stir in lemon juice if the stew requires any more tartness.
Garnish with coriander leaves and serve with the pilaf.
Garlic Yogurt sauce is another favourite in the house, mostly because of the inclusion of garlic into everyday boring Raita, and the usage of spring onions in it. Not only for soothing the spice in anything Middle-Eastern, you can also use this as a Raita for the regular Parathas and Biryanis.
Garlic Yogurt Sauce
Fresh Yogurt – 1 C, beaten smooth
Garlic cloves – 4-6 , chopped into very small pieces
Spring onions – a bunch, chopped very small, including the green stalks
Sea Salt – To taste
Za’atar spice – 1 tsp
Toasted sesame seeds – 1 tsp
Coriander leaves – a small bunch, chopped fine
Mix the first four ingredients well in a bowl, garnish with the last three ingredients and serve along with pilaf.