Cafe Drake's favorite Persian restaurant is nestled inside a shopping center on Roswell Road in Atlanta, and this stew is a fairly accurate recreation of a dish we sampled there. The dried lemons (black, husky, daunting looking things, reminding us of produce from Mars) can be found in most Middle Eastern and North African food markets; if you can't locate the Omani lemons however, just add a bit more lime juice and the zest of a full lime.
GHEIMEH (Persian Beef and Split Pea Stew)
4 medium onions, thinly sliced / 3 T. olive oil / 1 lb. beef stew chunks / 1/2 t. crumbled saffron threads / 1/4 t. turmeric / 4 cups water / 1 28-oz can of crushed tomatoes / 1/2 cup yellow split peas / 1/4 cup tomato paste / 2 dried Omani lemons (pierced all over with a sharp knife) / 1 t. cinnamon / 1/4 t. ground allspice
- Cook onions in oil for 15 minutes or until nicely browned.
- Toss cubes of beef with about a teaspoon of salt and add to onions. Add meat, saffron and turmeric and cook for 5 minutes on high heat.
- Stir in water and tomatoes and simmer for 1 hour.
- Stir in split peas, Omani lemons, cinnamon, allspice and about 1/2 t. of black pepper.
- Cook on very low for another 1 1/2 or so.
- Remove lemons and stir in the juice of 1 lime.
- Season to taste with more salt and pepper.
- Best served with basmati rice.