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Fierce Foodie: Celery Finally Gets Some Respect


a blogumn by Roya Hamadani

Photo Credit: Gregory James Walsh

Photo Credit: Gregory James Walsh

Growing up I ate one of four types of koresh, a Persian meat and vegetable stew, at least three nights a week.  There are of course many more varieties, but my father has his favorites, with the result that my mother can now make any of these dishes while blindfolded and with an arm tied behind her back.  One of these family favorites is a flavorful, slightly sour stew that renders celery delicious even to those who abhor the much maligned, pale green veggie.

In the United States the bare celery stalk perfectly embodies suffering and self-denial.  Sometimes it finds its way into becoming a glorified garnish for hot wings and the occasional Bloody Mary.  It’s rarely eaten cooked outside of soup or stuffing, where it’s hidden rather than celebrated, diced and pureed to insignificant specks.

In Iran, however, celery has been eaten since ancient times, when it was believed it had medicinal powers to calm nerves and cure constipation among other things.  I can’t guarantee any curative powers for this stew, but I can tell you it is very yummy.  Make sure you have leftovers; it’s even better on the second day.

Koresh de Karafs (Persian Meat and Celery Stew)


1 bunch celery

1 large onion chopped

1 tsp turmeric

1-2 pounds stew beef cut into chunks

1 bunch fresh mint leaves or ¼ cup dried mint

½ dried lemon or juice of one lemon

Oil for sautéing

Salt and pepper

Cut up celery into one-inch chunks.  Keep the leaves.  Sauté in oil until fragrant.  Remove from pan and put aside.

Brown meat in large pot or Dutch oven.  Add onion and sauté until translucent.

Add turmeric and stir.

Add the celery, mint (dried or fresh), and dried lemon if using.

Add enough water to cover the ingredients in the pot.

Simmer covered, but do not boil, until meat is tender.  Do not let go dry!

Add lemon juice if using, salt and pepper to taste.

Serve over white rice.  Persians typically serve thick (Greek-style), plain yogurt and a plate of pickles along with khoresh dishes.