Puttering around my home kitchen today with a pot of this lamb and spinach qorma bubbling away on the stove, it struck me how fortunate I am to prepare such a dish for my family. Consider the typical woman in my same position in Afghanistan: a mother just like me, no less determined to nurture her children with wholesome food. But the probability that she’d have the means to serve lamb for a casual weekday meal? Not likely.
The average family in Afghanistan subsists on rice and nan; beans, legumes and vegetables round out the rest of the diet. Cooking is often done over a primitive, wood-burning set-up of some kind. Most everyday dishes are vegetarian. This lamb qorma here is as Afghan as it gets, it’s just that meat in any substantial quantity is usually reserved for special occasions.
We published the vegetarian version of this dish, qorma e sabzi, a good while back. It’s one of my favorites. When a reader recently requested the variation made with lamb, we thought it would be a perfect opportunity to share the recipe. The meat adds richness and a layer of flavor and texture that is truly delicious. When I serve it for dinner tonight, along with a bowlful of Greek yogurt and warm nan for scooping, I will think of my Afghan counterpart on the other side of the globe feeding her family just as I feed mine.
Lamb and Spinach Stew
Sabzi e Goshte
3 tbsp. olive oil
2 large yellow onions, finely chopped
1 ½ lbs. boneless lamb stew, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tsp. Kosher salt, divided
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. tomato paste
½ cup water
1 tsp. ground turmeric
2 tsp. ground coriander
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
2 lbs. frozen, chopped spinach (not defrosted)
1 tsp. ground fenugreek (optional)
1 tbsp. dried dill
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 ½ cups plain Greek-style yogurt
Heat the oil in a large pan over medium-high heat and add the onions. Saute until golden brown, stirring occasionally (10 to 15 minutes). While the onions are cooking, season the lamb with1 tsp. of the salt and the black pepper. Once the onions are browned, add the lamb to the pan and continue to cook until the onions and meat melt together and the meat just begins to color on the outside, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic, tomato paste, water, turmeric, coriander, and cumin to the pan. Cover with a lid or aluminum foil, turn down the heat until the liquid simmers and cook for 20 minutes, stirring from time to time. If the sauce begins to dry up, add another ¼ cup of water.
Add the frozen spinach to the lamb and continue to cook over medium-high heat, stirring regularly, until it defrosts and the liquid comes to a boil. If the pan looks dry after the spinach has defrosted, add a few tablespoons of water. Once the spinach boils, add the fenugreek, dill, cilantro and lemon juice. Stir thoroughly, cover and cook for another 30 minutes or so until the lamb is tender. Keep an eye on the pan so it doesn't dry out.If it does, just add little water.
Serve with plain yogurt and warm nan or pita bread.
Serves 4 - 6
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