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Yotam Ottolenghi’s Iranian Vegetable Stew with Dried Limes

Dried limes and a medley of fresh herbs imbue this Iranian-inspired vegetarian stew from Yotam Ottolenghi with a truly heavenly aroma.

From the book

Yotam Ottolenghi


Small dried limes (or lemons) are a regular feature in Iranian cooking, adding a sharp tang and sweetish aroma to marinades, stews and salads. They are rock hard and not easy to grind (although you can do so, in a coffee or spice grinder) so puncture them a couple of times and then put them in whole. You can also buy them in powdered form although this isn’t as pungent. Sumac or grated lemon zest can be used as an alternative but if you are passing a Middle Eastern grocer’s or if you shop online, they are well worth seeking out. Serve this sweet and sharp stew with steamed rice – that’s all.

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50g clarified butter
1 large onion, finely diced (220g)
½ tsp ground turmeric
1½ tsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp tomato purée
20g coriander
10g tarragon
10g dill
1kg Charlotte potatoes (or another waxy variety), peeled and chopped into 4cm chunks
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and chopped into 4cm chunks (760g)
3 Iranian limes, pierced 2–3 times
1 green chilli, slit on one side from stem to tip
4 medium tomatoes, quartered (400g)
150g spinach leaves
15g barberries
300g Greek yoghurt (optional)

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Preheat the oven to 200ºC/180ºC Fan/Gas Mark 6.

Place a large casserole on a medium heat and sauté the butter, onion, turmeric and cumin for 10 minutes. Add the tomato purée and cook, stirring, for another 2 minutes. Bundle the herbs together and use some string to tie them into a bunch. Add these to the dish along with the potatoes, squash, limes, chilli, 1½ teaspoons of salt and 1 litre of water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and boil gently for 15 minutes, until the potatoes are semi-cooked. Stir through the tomatoes, spinach and barberries, crushing the limes gently to release some of the juice inside, and transfer everything to a large roasting tray. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened a little and the vegetables are soft. Remove from the oven and allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving with a dollop of yoghurt on the side, if you choose.

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