Khoresh Rivas (خورش ریواس) is a delicious Persian Rhubarb Stew. Soft and succulent rhubarb with meltingly tender meat, sitting in a sweet, sour and herby sauce, this is a stew that screams spring, with in-season rhubarb, lamb and lots of parsley and mint.
The word khoresh is a general term that refers to stews of all kinds in Persian cuisine. It comes from the Farsi (Persian language) word khordan which means to eat.
Khoresh Rivas is usually eaten with rice (polo/polow). However, a little bit of bread to soak up that tangy, mouthwatering sauce, is never a bad idea.
Just like the Lamb Shank and Rhubarb Tagine above, our Khoresh Rivas is very simply flavoured, relying on a few choice ingredients to come together to make a bold statement. The main players here are the rhubarb, the meat and the 2 herbs. Let’s take a quick look at the ingredients used and how you can play around with them.
How to Make Khoresh Rivas
There’s no getting away from it, it’s a rhubarb stew, so ya gotta have rhubarb! If you haven’t got rhubarb, you’ll have to make another sour Persian stew, like Khoresh Bademjan, below, which is an Eggplant and Meat Stew:
Here in the UK, rhubarb starts appearing on our shelves in January, with forced rhubarb that’s been grown indoors and well, forced. These rhubarb are just as delicious as their outdoor counterparts, but tend to be less red and are a little more sour. By around late April though, we start getting the pinker and slightly more sweet summer rhubarb.
Many Persian stews have a tangy nature, relying on various souring agents to achieve that tart quality, like sour grape juice (verjus) and dried limes. In our rhubarb stew, naturally, it is the rhubarb that does that, but we add sugar to the stew to give it some balance. How much sugar you add will be a matter of preference, and you taste the stew right at the end and adjust accordingly. The sweet should be a bit player.
Traditionally, and certainly, the first few times I tasted this recipe, the khoresh rhubarb was made with double the weight of rhubarb to the meat. I found it a little too sour and sweet for my taste, so over the years, have reduced the amount of rhubarb to be equal or almost equal in weight to that of the meat. Experiment and live a little, when you make it.
Lamb is the traditional meat used in this, as it’s synonymous with spring. But I just as often use beef, and have also used chicken in it. I tend to buy ready cubed meat for this stew, and, sometimes, like in Khoresh Bademjan, also use meatballs. Use meat with a little fat on it, and your stew will thank you for it, as it will be richer.
Vegan Khoresh Rivas
You can enjoy a vegan Persian Rhubarb Stew by omitting the meat altogether, and using chickpeas, the obvious choice, or any other pulses like fava beans, kidney beans and lentils. Courgettes (zucchinis) and eggplants are great in this too. And some vegetable stock for depth.
Water or Stock
My family finds this stew a little light on flavour when I make it with just water. When one is used to robust Western stews and Asian curries, Middle Eastern stews and tagines can be a little wanting in depth. It’s all a matter of taste and perception. However, these days, more often than not, I use chicken stock, whatever meat I’m using, as I find lamb stock too overpowering. Even my Persian friends prefer the version with stock.
You can use vegetable, chicken or meat stock, whatever you prefer. If you make your own stock, great, if not, use a good shop bought stockpot or cube, no artificial anything. We tend to have frozen homemade stock at home, but there are always some stockpots handy for when we run out, and because they are also very convenient. These are the ones I use.
One stockpot or stock cube is usually for 500ml (2 cups) of water. However, the stock is only supporting the other flavours, so I suggest half strength. So, for the amount of liquid here, 1 stock cube or pot is perfect.
Frying the Herbs and Rhubarb
Traditionally, the herbs are sautéed in a little oil before being added to the stew. I skip this part, and just do it with the rhubarb, which adds a little hint of caramelisation. If you do want to fry the herbs, just heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan on medium heat, fry the herbs for 2-3 minutes until they’ve softened and wilted, then tip into the stew 30 minutes before the end.
That’s it, let’s get cooking! Are you a fan of Persian food?
If you fancy anymore Persian recipes, head on over to the Middle Eastern and North African page, for favourites like:
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