The Circus Gardener's Kitchen

seasonal vegetarian recipes with a side helping of food politics

Persian-style bean and herb stew

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This is my first post for several weeks because I have been ill with Covid-19. Despite having taken plenty of precautions, I succumbed to Covid just prior to Christmas, becoming sufficiently unwell by the new year to require a few days of hospital treatment. I am now in the process of recovery but I will be posting less frequently until I am fully back to normal.

During my period of illness I had wonderful support and encouragement from friends and family, as well as from Suma Wholefoods, with whom I am proud to enjoy an ongoing partnership.

This post, my only new recipe for January, represents the latest in my monthly series of recipes created in partnership with Suma. In each recipe, I use products from Suma’s extensive range of organic and ethically sourced products, and the recipes appear both here on my blog and on the Suma website.

Looking ahead, as the UK endures a third lockdown, of indeterminate length, I will aim to base my new recipes more around ingredients you may find in your fridge or store cupboard.

Having said that, my own store cupboard is probably untypical. I am ineluctably attracted to new and untried ingredients, and will often buy them and keep them in my cupboard until I can think what to cook with them.

This recipe is an example, making use of some dried limes I came across quite some time ago. You can find them in Asian food stores. If you cannot source them, it’s extremely difficult to replicate their distinct (and wonderful) flavour, but I would suggest stirring a little tamarind paste and/or fresh lime juice into the stew at the last minute. It won’t be quite the same but you will still end up with a richly, hearty and wonderful dish.

The recipe is loosely based on a popular Iranian and Iraqi dish called ghormeh sabzi, which roughly translates as “fried herbs”. I have taken a few liberties in producing this vegan version, but the end result is far more complex and delicious than the recipe’s simple title implies. A wonderful bowl of goodness that you can feel doing you good as it goes down.

Persian-style bean and herb stew


1 onion, chopped
600 g potato, peeled and chopped into 2-3 cm chunks
125 g savoy cabbage, thinly shredded
1 leek, sliced
8 spring onions, white and green parts, sliced
30 g fresh parsley, chopped
30 g fresh coriander, chopped
20 g fresh chives, chopped
2 tbsp dried fenugreek leaves
400 g can organic red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
4 dried limes, pierced with a skewer or sharp knife
3 tbsp tomato puree
750 ml vegetable stock
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp sea salt
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1. Pour the olive oil into a large casserole dish or pan. Place over a medium heat and, once the oil is hot, add the onion. Sauté until soft and translucent. Reduce the heat very slightly and add the leek, spring onion, parsley, coriander, chives and dried fenugreek leaves.

2. Stir-fry for 20 minutes, enjoying the wonderful aromas, after which time the herbs will have wilted and shrunk in volume.

3. Add the cabbage and potato and cook for two minutes, stirring well. Add the stock, along with the pierced dried limes, sea salt, turmeric and tomato puree and kidney beans. Stir to combine. Bring to a simmer then cover the pan with a lid and reduce the temperature to maintain a gentle simmer and cook for a further 25 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.

4. Serve hot, accompanied by some good quality bread.

Categories: dairy free, gluten free, vegan, vegetarian


22 replies

  1. Steve, it is so good you are relatively well. Here in Australia it seems unimaginable that any of us would know anyone who has had the virus but you in the UK have been very unlucky – I won’t go in to politics. The only people I know who have been affected are fellow bloggers. Except for one nurse who works in ICU in the Channel Islands. She is scared. All the time. And frustrated by the stupidity and selfishness of so many people. But that is beside the point. Thank you again for a recipe that I will add to my list.
    Kindest regards and hope for a complete recovery.

  2. Thank you so much John. It’s very difficult not to go into politics when talking about Covid. This awful virus took the world by surprise, and no government reacted perfectly. However, those countries that seem to have fared best are the ones led by governments that chose to put people, rather than business, first. Sadly, the UK is not amongst their number. Stay safe! Steve

  3. I love your wonderful recipes and the astute and insightful commentaries that accompany them. Pleased to hear you are recovering from this terrible virus. I am still shocked by Covid-19 striking and the suffering caused. Be well and stay safe.

    • I’m so sorry to hear you’ve been unwell and wish you all the best for your continued recovery. What a horrible virus it is.
      Thanks for this recipe, it looks wonderful and I adore Persian food. I’m very much relying on my extensive storage cupboard at the moment!

      • Thank you for your kind wishes, Delith. There’s such a lot of intriguing ingredients and flavour combinations in Persian cuisine, I’m sure this won’t be my last Persian-inspired recipe. Steve x

  4. Thank you so much. I’m getting stronger every day, and I’m looking forward to producing lots more recipes and polemical commentaries. Steve 😊

  5. Sorry to hear you have been ill with COVID Steve but glad you are recovering well. Loving your recipes
    best wishes
    Julie x

    • Hi Julie. Lovely to hear from you. It’s a horrible illness but I’m well on the mend now. I hope life is treating you well. Steve x

  6. Steve, I’m so glad that you have recovered from COVID. I love all your recipes and this one looks marvellous. No dried limes in the North Dorset countryside, but the internet is my friend and I might try drying my own. Stay well.

  7. I had wondered and worried about your silence. Very sorry to hear that Covid got to you, but relieved to know you are on the mend. Australia has been so fortunate. Tonight we could attend a cricket game with 75 per cent capacity. The recipe looks amazing. Wishing you improvement every day.

  8. I enjoy hearing I’m not the only cook with a pantry stuffed with things I’m not quite sure how I’ll use or exactly what it is for that matter. It isn’t always a success story as I’ve sent plenty of jars from the Asian market straight to the bin. On the other hand dried shiitakes and jarred roasted eggplant from the middle eastern market have become staples. Thanks for the recipe and a reason to buy some dried limes. Best wishes on your health.

  9. I’m so glad you are on the mend! Take care and continue to get better.

  10. I’m a huge fan of your recipes, and this soup looks so appetizing.
    Have a speedy recovery from Covid.

  11. Absolutely delicious!


  1. Persian-style bean and herb stew | Suma Wholefoods

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