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Friday 18 March 2011

Persepolis Sally's Khoresht-e-Holu (chillied peach stew)

A few days of sunshine and our thoughts are already turning to Spring. Friendly Persian shopkeeper, Sally (no, not a Persian name, she's from Essex), shared a recipe with the Domestic Sluts in honour of the Persian New Year. Nowrooz, as it is known, is celebrated at the precise moment of the Spring equinox: this year that is at 11.20pm (and 45 seconds) on Sunday 20th March. The year will be 1390, for you pub quiz trivia fans.

Iranians are famous for cooking with fruit. And for smuggling contrasting things into recipes. But weird though the ingredients sound, we can practically promise that this lovely, light, spring-like recipe will soon become a firm favourite in your culinary repertoire.

In downtown Tehran, this dish would usually be prepared with chicken, but this version is snucked out of a vegetarian cookbook, so no meat this time.

Chillied Peach Stew – Khoresht-e-Holu

Serves 4

You'll need:
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 red capsicum pepper, chopped
  • 100g butter for frying
  • 1 scotch bonnet chilli, chopped (or 2-3 green chillies)
  • 1cm knob of ginger, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons tomato paste
  • 250g Puy lentils, washed and picked through
  • 550ml water
  • 50ml white wine (optional – replace with water if you like)
  • juice of one lime
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • salt and pepper
  • 4-5 nice peaches (or nectarines, I guess)
  • 75g dried barberries, picked through and soaked for 10 minutes (use redcurrants or unsweetened cranberries if you can’t find barberries)
Make it!

Drooling already? Fry the onion and the pepper in about half of the butter (add a splash of oil to stop it burning), and as they start to soften, add the chilli, ginger and spices. Fry for a couple of minutes, and then add the tomato paste and the lentils, stirring well so that the latter get thoroughly coated with spiced butter. Add the water and the wine, bring to the boil and then set the pan to a jolly simmer. After around 35 minutes have a quick prod – you want the lentils cooked but not mushy: then add the lime juice and sugar and season to taste. Check the liquid levels too: the casserole should be quite saucy and not stiff with ingredients, so add a little more water if necessary.

Halve and stone the peaches and cut them into wedges; it’s also time to drain the barberries. Heat the rest of the butter in a little frying pan and toss in the fruit, poking it occasionally so it doesn’t stick. Fry for a couple of minutes, until the peaches are golden and the barberries plump, before spooning it into the casserole.

Stir gently and then spoon into your chichi-est serving bowl. Best accompanied by basmati rice, a lovely leafy salad, and some very cold rosé.

The recipe is taken from Veggiestan, Sally’s second book, which is due to be published in September. You can also buy her first book Persia in Peckham from Amazon for £14.39. You should follow her on Twitter too. In London? Head to Persepolis on Peckham High Street and say hi from us.


  1. This looks amazing. I love Persian food and look forward to attempting to recreate this in my kitchen soon!

  2. Peaches are so damn tasty. Miss Cay, will you make this for us when you come to stay?

  3. Yes! I'd love to! I'll also make you some Fesenjan which is a lamb stew made with pomegranate molasses and walnuts. It's ridiculously delicious.

  4. *Buys lamb and waits by the door*

  5. That actually sounds like I'm going to wallop you over the head with a leg of lamb. I'll wait until you get here.


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