celery stew (ersatz4 khoresh)

For many years we enjoyed regular home-cooked Persian food, courtesy of our good friend Nadereh. There were certain dishes that were really special, but seemed to require obscure ethnic ingredients that invariably were found in D.C. where there is a concentration of Iranians to buy them. bob's interest in these dishes even led him to buy two cookbooks by one of the most visible Iranian cuisine cookbook authors writing in English, who also lives in D.C. Which found a comfortable home on the shelf in the cooking library, but did not see any use. Until  Nadereh moved to D.C. for a job opportunity. And only months later for the same reason, even Afsaneh moved away, who had at least presented hope of producing Iranian meals for us, although they had only materialized during her infrequent mom's visits. While we were happy that these moves meant positive changes in their lives, they left a big hole in our hearts ... and in our stomachs.

One evening quite by accident, we stumbled into action. Ani had tried to make basmati rice the night before, with potato slices on the bottom, and some saffron on hand thanks to a few packages of Italian saffron that we had reserved from the many hundreds we had imported for Nadereh over the years as a much cheaper alternative to US sources of the spice. All the while bob was complaining since he did not understand why rice almost by itself was worth putting on the plate. Prejudiced by his heavy risotto habit.

So the next night we had no clear plan of action for dinner or once-mobile entree ingredient, but  the leftover rice and lots of newly acquired vegetables, some of which were for a Martha Stewart red lentil chestnut soup recipe that she refused to publish on the web like all the other TV cooks (but that is another story). Which is how the key ingredient, celery, happened to be on hand. And this sparked Ani's memory for the celery stew recipe in one of the cookbooks: celery and mint khoresh. The once-mobile ingredient (chicken or meat) had to be substituted; cooked favas stepped up to the plate. With some chopped artichoke hearts and carrots thrown in for good measure.


sauté stuff
2 T olive oil
5 small celery stalks, chopped about 1 in long
4 small carrots, peeled and chopped about 1/2 in long
1 onion, coursely chopped
2 T dried parsley (1/2 c fresh preferred, coarsely chopped)
2 T dried mint (1/2 c fresh preferred, coarsely chopped)
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 12.5mg packages of saffron powder
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 lime, juice of
1/2 c water
1 15oz can turnip greens
1 15 oz can cooked fava beans
1 15oz jar artichoke hearts


  1. Clean the celery, carrots and onion and chop them as directed.
  2. Sauté the sauté stuff until softened/browned a bit in the bottom of a pressure cooker.
  3. Stir in the spices, and garlic (so it does not get burned if you had added it earlier), lime juice and the can/jar contents, including liquids unless too objectionable, in which case they should be replaced  by a bit of water, just enough so the pressure cooking works.
  4. Pressure cook 10 minutes at full steam.
  5. Serve over saffron rice of some kind.


  1. We were pretty impressed with this accidental but very successful first exercise in almost Persian cooking.
  2. Bob took one bite and decided to immortalize the dish with a photo.
  3. Thanks for the inspiration,  Najmieh Batmanglij. A Taste of Persia, p.122.
  4. Ersatz (adjective): "replacement; substitute or synthetic; the word usually suggests inferior quality." Oops, well, "usually" is not "always". But since khoresh as explained by Najmieh seems to be a stew that requires a once-mobile (i.e., dead animal) ingredient, this adjective is appropriate for our vegetarian version here.
celstew.htm: 13-dec-2002 [what, ME cook? © 1984 dr bob enterprises]