Persian herb, red bean & lamb stew

Try Leyli Homayoonfar’s spiced lamb stew inspired by the Persian food she grew up with. Serve with sliced red onion and steamed rice

  • Prep:30 mins
    Cook:3 hrs 30 mins
    plus 1 hr soaking
  • Serves 4
  • More effort

Nutrition per serving

  • kcal 627
  • fat 29g
  • saturates 8g
  • carbs 28g
  • sugars 0g
  • fibre 26g
  • protein 50g
  • salt 0.4g


  • 100g dried red kidney beans
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 4 lamb shoulder shanks (roughly 900g)
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 6 Persian dried limes (available in some supermarkets and online)
  • 100g coriander
  • 400g parsley
  • 1 leek, trimmed and finely chopped
  • 1 ½ tbsp dried fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi)
  • 100g chives, finely sliced
  • squeeze of lime juice, to taste (optional)


  1. Put the dried red kidney beans in a heatproof bowl, cover with boiling water and leave to soak for 1 hr.

  2. Heat a flameproof casserole over a medium-low heat for a few minutes before adding 2 tbsp oil. Season the lamb and sear on all sides until golden brown, then remove to a plate. Fry the onions over a low heat for 8-10 mins until soft and translucent.

  3. Drain and rinse the soaked kidney beans, then add them to the onions along with the turmeric and dried limes. Stir to coat in the spiced oil, then return the lamb to the casserole. Pour over 1 litre water, or enough to cover the lamb, and bring to the boil. Cover with a lid, then turn down to a simmer. Leave the lamb to gently braise for 1 hr.

  4. Put the coriander and parsley in a food processor and blitz to chop finely (you can also do this by hand, but the finer the herbs, the better the stew’s flavour and consistency).

  5. In a separate frying pan over a medium heat, fry the leeks in the remaining 1 tbsp oil for 6-8 mins until softened. Stir in the fenugreek leaves, blitzed herbs and chives – it is sometimes easier to add these in batches. Fry for 5 mins until the herbs are dark green (this removes moisture and deepens the flavour).

  6. Once the lamb has braised for 1 hr, add the leek and herb mixture along with 250-500ml hot water to loosen, stirring well. Braise for a further 2 hrs, or until the lamb is completely tender and falling off the bone. Add a dash of hot water to loosen if the sauce has thickened too much – I prefer it to be almost broth-like, but that is personal preference. Season to taste (a good pinch or two of sea salt is essential) and, depending on the acidity from the dried limes, add a squeeze of lime juice for a fresh finish.

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