Ghormeh Sabzi with Saffron Rice & Tahdig (crispy rice)

Ghormeh sabzi with saffron rice & tahdig (crispy rice) is an Middle Eastern herb stew popular in Iran. It's made with parsley, fenugreek, dried limes, kidney beans and lamb and served over basmati rice.
Hi guys!  I have a special treat for you today.  I was able to sweet talk the Mr. into guest posting on The Road to Honey.  The Mr. is Persian and has many interesting stories to tell from his childhood growing up in Iran during the revolution.  On top of that, being Persian, he has many tasty dishes to tell us about that you may not be familiar with.

So here goes. . .

When you reflect back on your life, you can almost always break it down into chapters bookended by landmark moments. For me, I had two chapters in just the first nine years of my life.

I was born in Iran in 1971.  The first 6 years were pretty typical.  I was the youngest child of four in an upper-middle class Iranian family.  We lived in a comfortable house in the city of Tehran and, as a young child, one of my favorite pastimes was sitting by our kitchen window and looking onto the street in front of our house.  Since we lived in the city, the street was a busy thoroughfare with cars and buses whizzing by as they merged onto the roundabout.  Pedestrians scurried on both sides of the street to whatever businesses they needed to get to.

hooman horse

Hooman and Hooshang family pictures

One of my fondest memories was sitting in that kitchen watching the world rush by as my mother cooked my favorite dish of all, Ghormeh Sabzi (herb and vegetable stew) served over basmati rice.  I am not the only person of Persian decent who finds this to be their favorite dish. Ghormeh Sabzi and Chelo Kabob (grilled meat served over white rice) are the most favored dish and usually savored at special occasions. When done right, this dish is a concert of flavors from the herbs, dried lime, saffron, tender lamb, and fragrant basmati rice. Practice makes perfect when making this dish. You may not get it right the first time, but don’t give up. Perfecting this dish is worth the effort.

Ingredients for Ghormeh Sabzii

Dried limes for Gormeh Sabzi recipe

Cooking Gormeh Sabzi Recipe

Ghormeh sabzi with saffron rice & tahdig (crispy rice) is an Middle Eastern herb stew popular in Iran. It's made with parsley, fenugreek, dried limes, kidney beans and lamb and served over basmati rice.

The first chapter of my life ended on March 29th, 1977 and a new chapter began. On that day, looking out that same window, instead of the hurried but peaceful scene that I was used to, I saw chaos. Riots had broken out.  These were the prelude to a revolution. This revolution would have major consequences for me and my family. More importantly, this revolution would have consequences for the entire world. I was only a little older than 5 on that day, but I remember it vividly. Students, wild eyed, were marching past our house, holding signs and chanting at the top of their lungs. Sitting in front of that kitchen window, the noise was overwhelming. There were so many students marching that the crowd took up the entire four lane street and extended as far back as the eye could see. As they marched, I could feel the thunder of their steps in the pit of my stomach. As a 5 year old child, I just looked on transfixed at what was happening in front of me.

Hooman on an elephantThis chapter of my life was short in time, but long on events and memories. Between that spring day in 1977 and February 1979, many things changed. My two sisters and my brother were sent to the United States so they could continue their studies. The instability had either shut down or made schools unsafe to attend. I sat by the kitchen window and watched every day as the marches became more and more violent. The students frequently carried guns. Sometimes they even carryed dead bodies of fellow protesters who were shot by the police in an earlier incident. In those chaotic times, there was still solace in the days that my mother made Ghormeh Sabzi.

Family pictures

Everything boiled over on February 9, 1979, when I saw, looking out the kitchen window, virtually everyone on the street armed with machine guns. It was chaos I had never seen before and have not seen since. This day, my mother told me to get away from the window. In the ensuing days we lived through a revolution, a historic moment the magnitude of which I did not understand at the time. After a year following the revolution, the country became unstable. The government was even holding the staff of the United States Embassy as hostages. My father knew that we could no longer stay. He could not leave the country because of his previous position with the former government. So he arranged for my mother and me to leave for Italy and eventually join my brother and sisters in the United States. On that morning in the spring of 1980, my father drove my mother and me to the airport. I said good bye to my father on a cold spring morning on the steps of Mehrabad International Airport, not knowing whether I would see him again. As I hugged him for the last time, it would be the only time I would ever see a tear in his eye. That morning, closed the second chapter of my life.

It is with great pleasure that I share with you my mother’s recipe for Ghormeh Sabzi. I hope you enjoy making and eating it as much as I do.

Gormeh Sabzi Recipe, Persian Cooking

Gormeh Sabzi Recipe

Gormeh Sabzi Recipe, Persian cooking

Gormeh Sabzi Recipe, Persian cooking

Ghormeh sabzi with saffron rice & tahdig (crispy rice) is an Middle Eastern herb stew popular in Iran. It's made with parsley, fenugreek, dried limes, kidney beans and lamb and served over basmati rice.
Ghormeh Sabzi with Saffron Rice & Tahdig
Ghormeh sabzi with saffron rice & tahdig (crispy rice) is an herb stew popular in Iran. It's made with parsley, fenugreek, dried limes, kidney beans and lamb and served over basmati rice.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: middle Eastern
Servings: 8
  • 1/2 cup dry kidney beans
  • 3 teaspoons salt
  • 3 pounds lamb shank, cut in half through the bone
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 1 dash pepper
  • 3 dried Persian limes, (can be bought from any middle eastern grocery
  • 2 leeks
  • 4 bunches flat leaf parsley
  • 3 tbsp dried fenugreek
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 limes, the juice
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 4 cups Indian or Pakistani basmati rice
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp saffron
PRE-PREPARATION (8-10 hours before starting):
  1. Rinse the rice with cold water repeatedly until the water coming off the rice is clear. This can take up to 10 rinses. Note: Make sure you don’t short change this part or your rice will stick to itself when cooked. 

  2. Place the rice in a large bowl & add 1 tablespoon of salt & enough water to completely submerge the rice. Be sure your water level is 1-2 inches above the rice as the rice will expand. Let the rice sit covered for 8-10 hours. 

  3. Rinse the kidney beans carefully with cold water, then soak them in a cup of water and 1 teaspoon of salt for 8-10 hours.
  1. Trim the fat off the lamb shanks & add them to a pressure cooker.

  2. Cut the onion into 8 pieces & add to the pressure cooker.

  3. Add salt & pepper and mix contents of pressure cooker well.

  4. Place a loose lid on the pressure cooker & cook on low for 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes to insure the lamb & onion don't burn.

  5. After the 20 minutes, add just enough water to cover the lamb & onion. 

  6. Place the pressure cooker lid on & turn the heat to high.

  7. Continue to cook until the contents of the pressure cooker start to boil. 

  8. Reduce the heat to medium & cook for 20 additional minutes.

  9. While the lamb is cooking, use a fork to poke a few holes into the dried limes. Note: These can be purchased at Middle Eastern stores or online. 

  10. Chop the parsley & leeks very finely. Set aside.

  11. Soak the fenugreek in 1 cup of water. Set aside.

  12. Drain the kidney beans.

  13. Turn the heat off the pressure cooker & slowly release the steam.

  14. Add the dried limes & kidney beans.

  15. Place the lid back on the pressure cooker & bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat to medium & cook for 10 additional minutes.

  16. Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil to a large skillet & fry the parsley, leeks & drained fenugreek for 10 minutes or until their volume has reduced in half. 

  17. Add the herbs & turmeric to the contents of the pressure cooker.

  18. Replace the lid & bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat to medium & continue to cook for an additional 10 minutes. 

  19. Serve in individual bowls, topping each with 1 tablespoon of lime juice. Spoon the stew over Saffron rice with Tahdig (recipe follows).
  1.  Drain the rice & place it into a large pot. 

  2. Add 2 teaspoons salt & enough water to cover the rice. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat & continue to cook until the water on the top boils off. 

  3. Remove the rice from the heat & rinse under cold water to stop the cooking. Note: The rice will not be totally cooked at this point.
  4. Heat a separate pot over low heat for a few minutes.
  5. Add olive oil. Be sure the oil covers the entire bottom of the pot. 
  6. Spread half of the partially cooked rice evenly over the bottom of the pot, packing it down tightly.
  7. Loosely add the rest of the rice to the pot.
  8. Bring 1 cup of water to a boil.
  9. Grind the saffron with a mortar and pestle. Add 1/2 cup of boiling water to the saffron and stir well. Pour the saffron water over the rice.

  10. Using the handle of a spatula, poke 4 holes into the rice. Be sure that these holes go all the way down to the bottom of the pot as this will allow steam to escape

  11. Use the remaining 1/2 cup of boiling water to rinse any remaining saffron from the bowl & pour it over the rice.

  12. Divide the 2 tablespoons of butter into 4 pieces and place over top of the rice.
  13. Place paper towels over the top of the pot to catch the condensate, then place the cover tightly over the top of the pot. Simmer for 30 minutes.

  14. After 30 minutes, increase the heat to low & cook for 20 additional minutes. This will create the crunchy rice on the bottom of the pot (Tahdig). 

  15. Gently scoop the loose rice out of the pot.
  16.  Loosen the sides of the crunchy rice with a butter knife. Place a plate on top of the pot and flip the tahdig onto the plate. Serve the tahdig immediately with the Basmati rice and Ghormeh Sabzi.
Recipe Notes

Note: You will need to use a pressure cooker for this recipe. They are very useful for turning a day-long cooking event into just a few hours.


He’s such a little stinker, isn’t he?  He left us hanging on this riveting story.  The good news is he will be back in future posts to share more of this story and additional delicious Persian recipes.

Until next time.


Lynn & Hooman

P.S.  This recipe may look a little intimidating.  Feel free to send questions my way and I will pass them along to the Mr.

Ghormeh sabzi with saffron rice & tahdig (crispy rice) is an Middle Eastern herb stew popular in Iran. It's made with parsley, fenugreek, dried limes, kidney beans and lamb and served over basmati rice.

23 thoughts on “Ghormeh Sabzi with Saffron Rice & Tahdig (crispy rice)

  • February 23, 2015 at 3:20 am

    I love my middle eastern dishes, flavours and spices so this recipe is perfect for me. I never have tried Ghormeh Sabzi and definitely will have to now!

    • February 23, 2015 at 7:16 pm

      Thanks Thalia. I highly recommend you give it a try. It’s my personal favorite and it seems every Persian you meet (stranger or friend) always ends up talking about Ghormeh Sabzi. It truly is a beloved dish.

  • February 23, 2015 at 12:27 pm

    What an amazing story! This dish looks so flavorful and I am really intrigued by those dried limes. Love learning about different ingredients and ways of cooking.

    • February 23, 2015 at 7:14 pm

      The dried limes really add a nice flavor to this dish. Like you I’m always on the lookout for new ingredients.

    • February 23, 2015 at 7:13 pm

      Thanks Kelly. It is my favorite Persian dish. I hope you have the chance to try it some time in the future.

  • February 24, 2015 at 11:17 am

    This dish grabbed my interest as I have always been curious of the cuisine from that region. And right away, I love it, and I will definitely try it when time permits, maybe, when you & Mr. come over 🙂

    Please let Mr. know that I am touched by his story and I am so grateful that he shared his experience with all of us. It could not be easy to relive that moment again even though the time has passed for quite awhile. I would not dare to ask whether he had reunited with his dad, but I hope that he did.

    P.S. Even though I won’t post until April, I will still be on IG & FB. See you around, lady 🙂

  • February 24, 2015 at 10:32 pm

    This is a beautiful dish! The spices sound delicious, especially with the lamb. I almost always order a lamb dish when I’m at Middle Eastern restaurants, so this is perfect. Thanks for the story too!

    • February 28, 2015 at 4:41 pm

      Thanks Sarah. The lamb with the lime is an amazing flavor combination. You sound like the hubby. . .he always goes for lamb. . .we even served it at our wedding.

  • February 25, 2015 at 12:15 am

    This is such a beautiful recipe! I especially love it because it is authentic! So kind of your hubby to do a post for you Lynn! I am looking forward to getting around to making this yummy dish!

    • February 25, 2015 at 7:39 am

      I hope you like it as much as I do Mariah. Let me know if you have any questions about the recipe. . .it can be a little intimidating the first time through.

  • February 25, 2015 at 9:05 am

    What a lovely post!
    I love Middle Eastern food and we have an amazing restaurant near us that serves food like this. Their hummus is incredible.

  • February 25, 2015 at 9:34 am

    Girl so many memories came to my mind reading this! First of all your hubby did a great job and I am so glad you were able to convince him to post! Secondly, I spent almost 6 years of my life in Iran as my father went there for work. and after reading this so many good memories came to my mind. Even though there was so much tension when we were there, still it was a beautiful time for me! I love love this ghormeh sabzi. My mom used to make this a lot in Iran and I have been looking for a recipe that will match that taste! So saving this to try later!! 🙂

    • February 28, 2015 at 4:37 pm

      Wow! 6 years in Iran. . .that must have been an amazing experience for you. I’m glad Hooman’s tale was able to bring back good memories for you. I hope you get a chance to try this amazing recipe. It’s one of my favorites.

  • February 25, 2015 at 8:13 pm

    Wow. What an astonishing story. Such brave things parents do to protect their children.
    It feels a bit glib to comment on a recipe after that but this sounds absolutely marvellous. So fragrant and delicious.

    • February 28, 2015 at 4:39 pm

      Right? It is amazing how parents will risk their own lives for their children without a single thought. This is a marvellous dish and I hope you get the opportunity to experience sometime in your life (either in your own kitchen or at a Persian restaurant).

  • February 27, 2015 at 12:09 pm

    Oh my goodness! Yes, I am left hanging!!
    You always have the best stories and ethnic recipes, I love it!

    Pink Wings

    • February 28, 2015 at 4:35 pm

      Thanks Gina! It’s just like a televisions series. . .always leaving you hanging and wanting more. 🙂 Glad you find the tales entertaining at least.

  • August 1, 2015 at 11:21 am

    Question: when he mentions adding the butter, it says ‘over and over. ‘ I’m assuming it means to put the butter over the holes made in the rice, but wanted to double check. Thanks

    Amazing story of Mr.’s life. Although I didn’t grow up with this dish, once introduced to it, I fell in love with it. The layered flavors and time and care that go into making it add to the richness of this dish.

    Persian hospitality is such an art. I can hear it in his narrative and even in the directions to this recipe, with his cautioning the reader to let the pot cool so as not to burn the cook, and to use a knife rather than a food processor to maintain thd integrity of this beloved dish. Thank you for sharing this poignant story.

    • August 2, 2015 at 6:43 pm

      Hi Kathleen. Great question. It turns out you discovered a typo in the recipe. You are correct that you simply pour the butter over the rice. Thanks for catching this. . .I updated the recipe.

      As for the Ghormeh Sabzi, it is a pretty amazing dish and I too fell in love with it the moment I experienced it. The Mr. and I are glad you enjoyed the story and hope you enjoy his family recipe equally as well. Stay tuned for more Persian recipes in the near future.


Grab a slice of cake & let's chat. . .