19 April 2014 | 04:49
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Lamb or veal stew with chestnuts and dried fruit

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Lamb or veal stew with chestnuts and dried fruit is a very popular Azerbaijani dish, served with rice pilaf.
It is an Azerbaijani version of a sweet and sour dish, although the various names for the dish usually refer either to the sweet or sour element, but not both together. The basic ingredients of the stew are lamb or veal, onions and dried fruit. If a dried plum called albukhara, similar to a dried greengage, is used, the dish is called turshu plov (sour pilaf) or turshu qovurma (sour fried meat). Albukhara are a tangy dried fruit, hence the adjective "sour". When chestnuts, dried apricots and raisins are also used in the dish it can be called shirin qovurma (sweet fried meat). Shirin plov, however, usually refers to rice with dried fruit but without meat. A general name for the stew in some parts of Azerbaijan is ashin qarasi or black pilaf.Sweet and sour lamb or veal stew with chestnuts and dried fruit. We give below a recipe for the stew using albukhara, chestnuts, dried apricots and raisins. Either the apricots or the raisins can be omitted, if you want to reduce the sweetness of the stew. If you cannot get hold of albukhara or a zesty dried plum, use lemon juice instead.

Preparation time: 40-45 min
Cooking time: 45 min
Serves: 4

Ingredients
  • 500 g/1 lb 4 oz lamb or veal
  • 500 g/1lb 4 oz onion
  • 500 g/1lb 4 oz chestnuts (in their shells)
  • 200 g/8 oz of albukhara, a dried fruit similar to dried greengages or plums. Albukhara have a sharp, tangy flavour.
  • 300-500 g/12 oz - 1lb 4 oz dried apricots (optional)
  • 300-500 g/12 oz - 1lb 4 oz raisins (optional)a few threads of saffron or 1/2 tspn turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon of allspice
  • salt & pepper
  • lemon juice (if not using albukhara)
  • butter or any cooking oil other than olive oil
Preparation
  • Put a few threads of saffron in a cup and add boiling water. Cover and leave to infuse.
  • Chop the lamb or veal into chunks. Place in a pan of water and bring to the boil. Remove the scum that forms on top, then add 1 tablespoon of whole allspice granules. When the meat is soft, remove from the water.
  • Pierce the chestnuts. Cover with water in a pan and bring to the boil. Simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the water and shell. Don't take all the chestnuts out of the water at once, as they are difficult to shell when dry.  
  • Pour boiling water onto the dried fruit, soak for 3-4 minutes and drain.
  • Brown the softened meat in melted butter or oil (any cooking oil other than olive oil is suitable).
  • Cut the onion into rings and and fry in butter or oil. Add the meat and stir.
  • Add the chestnuts, dried fruit, turmeric (if not using saffron) and salt & pepper to the meat and onions and fry for 3 to 4 minutes. Add 3-4 tablespoons of the bouillon from the meat, the saffron infusion and a few drops of lemon juice (if not using albukhara). Simmer for 30 minutes or so. Do not cook for too long or the onions and chestnuts will lose their shape.
  • Serve with rice pilaf.


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