Lunch at my Grandpa's (Nahar Khooneh Agha-Bozorgh)
I remember going to visit my grandparents with my mom and anticipating what they will be making for lunch. I can't recall the proximity of distance from our house to my grandparents but I remember us walking through the busy streets of Tehran and zig-zagging through several street allyes (kooche pas kooche).
My mom held my hand tightly and at times squeezed it. She used to murmur to herself quite a bit and every now and then I would get my tiny hand crushed in her squeezes LOL. I did not seem to care and it did not hurt - but somehow it just stayed with me. I would hop and skip along to keep up with her pace as she was a fast walker.
Finally, we would arrive at a turquoise-blue wooden door and use the antique door knocker to announce we have arrived. When magically the door would open as if controlled by a high-security system - except it was none but my grandfathers' ingenious craftsmanship of tying a rope from his window seat on the second floor all the way to the door handle which he would pull to open when the door was knocked.
Then make our way up to the second floor through the narrow staircase and arrive at their home which was a big studio-like flat. Lunch would be Abgoosht which we would enjoy sitting at the sofre (table cloth spread on the floor which used to be a traditional way for families to eat together).
Abgoosht or Abgusht is a one-pot stew with wholesome ingredients. This traditional stew has been enjoyed over the centuries and still remains one of the most popular meals among Iranians. Abgoosht means “meat broth” and is a delightful combination of tenderly cooked meat (traditionally lamb), potatoes, and chickpea combination. Then there is the broth mixed with pieces of sangak or lavash bread; that is the best part of the dish in my opinion.
To eat Abgoosht, you should start by separating the broth, also known as “Tilleet”, from the ingredients. Then, you break pieces of crisped bread into the broth and have it like soup. Then, the main ingredients are mashed together incorporating all flavors together and enjoyed along with torshi and sabzi (herbs). My grandfather (agha bozorgh) would fill up his bowl of broth with the tilleet and then eat that with bread. :)
This dish is also popular as “Dizi“, referring to the traditional stone or clay pot the dish is cooked and served in. The short video is me making an attempt at making abgoosht in the clay pots which turned out ever so delicious and just like lunch at agha bozorghs. I even ate my tileet with bread just like how he used to.
Using the following easy directions make this dish and you will soon want to have lunch at 'Agha Bozorg' too.
- 1lb Shanks (Beef/Bison/lamb)
- 1 large or 2 medium onions – quartered
- 1 tbsp. turmeric
- 2-3 tbsp. tomatoes past
- 4-5 chopped tomatoes (1 can diced)
- 3 lg white potatoes – peeled/cut in quarters
- 2-3 dried lemons (limo Amani)
- 2 can chickpeas drained/rinsed (can do a mix of chickpeas & white beans)
- salt/pepper to taste
- water 1 -2 cups
- 1/4 cup Vegetable oil (I use grapeseed)
Add the prepared pieces of the shank to the pot, and add the quartered onions, turmeric, and enough water to cover the meat.
Bring to a boil and clear foam from the top if any. Continue cooking until half meat can be pierced with a fork.
In a frying pan, heat oil and add tomato paste and fry a little - then add half a cup of hot water to make it into a thick sauce and then add to the pot; add in the tomatoes, and the potatoes, and continue cooking until meat and potatoes are cooked. If water is low add a bit more hot water as the finished dish should have broth to be served.
Add chickpeas or chickpea/bean combination, and add in salt/pepper.
Continue to cook on simmer until the broth is thickened and all ingredients are tender.
Serve and enjoy.