Recipe contributed by Anahita Ghista
A Banker by profession, Anahita is a foodie at heart. Cooking is a stress-buster for her after a day at work. On the Weekends she loves to spend more time in kitchen than the sofa whipping up extras, with some baking thrown in.
As a kid, I awoke to a myriad of kitchen flavours every morning. My mom was a bustling kitchen person and everyone who came across her cooking were sent back licking their fingers. Thus, my introduction into the world of cooking. I continued my keen interest for cooking, and with the web at my feet (fingers!!) the world of food has been thrown open to me.
The first time I tasted the Osh-e-Meer was at a friend’s place, almost 30 years ago. The taste lingered on and the recipe was tucked away somewhere safe but I never ended up making it. The traditional Persian name for this dish is Asheh Reshteh. In Farsi, Asheh means soup and Reshtey translates to noodles.
Traditionally served at Navroze and other such happy occasions, Osh-e-Meer is a delicious heavy soup that is made with an assortment of lentils, greens and noodles (meer). Osh-E-Meer is very special for the Iranis because while sprinkling the Meer , a prayer is said and according to legend that wish will then get fulfilled. The noodles in the soup symbolise good fortune and success in the path ahead. I don’t know how true the legend is but if you wished for a tasty meal, then I can guarantee that atleast that wish will most certainly come true.
Osh-E-Meer is a winner if you have vegetarian or even vegan guests and want to make them something special (Yes, just imagine! An almost Parsi vegetarian dish featuring no potato or egg) . However, if you can’t get through a meal without meat, then feel free to add in some mutton on the bone along with the stock and just watch the flavours come alive.
As with most soup, Osh-e-Meer tastes best when its prepared in advance and had after a few hours (or even the day after) as that allows for the flavours to mingle and develop.
Recently, my friend Parwan Vakshoor, posted the recipe on a food forum and this gave me the opportunity to try out the Osh-e-Meer years later and I fell in love. I’ve since made this dish again and again and now I hope you too will make it for your family.
- 0.5 cup spinach leaves, chopped
- 0.5 cup amaranth leaves (chawli), chopped
- 0.5 cup red kidney beans (rajma)
- 0.5 cup chickpeas (kabuli chana)
- 0.5 cup black lentils (masoor)
- 1 medium onion
- 1 tbsp garlic-cumin-green chillies paste
- 0.25 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp red chilli powder
- 1 tsp black pepper powder
- 1 small ball of tamarind
- 5 stalks of mint
For the Meer
- 1 cup plain flour (maida)
- Wheat Flour for dusting
- Salt to taste
- 1 big beetroot
- 0.25 cup orange masoor dal
- 0.25 cup chana dal
- 1 Big handful big fenugreek leaves (big methi)
- Few sprigs of dill
To make it Meaty
- 500 gram mutton on the bone
- 1 tsp ginger-garlic paste
- 1 tsp salt
- Stock used to cook the mutton
- Few dollops of Hung Curd or Sour Cream
- Fried Onions
- Chopped coriander
- Soak the red beans and chickpeas in water overnight. Next day, soak the black lentils for 1/2 hour and then combine all the lentils together. If you like, you can also add in some orange masoor dal as well as chana dal.
- Cook all the soaked lentils in a pressure cooker for about 2 whistles and 10 minutes on slow until they are almost cooked. Do not overcook as they will still cook when the other ingredients are being incorporated and you risk making them mushy.
- Soak the tamarind ball in hot water and squeeze out all the pulp
- Separately, fry the finely chopped onions until light brown. Add the garlic-cumin-green chillies paste, turmeric powder, black pepper powder, red chilli powder, sambhar masala and salt as per taste. Fry the masala well and then add finely chopped mint. Stir fry for a minute and leave aside.
- In a deep saucepan, bring the lentils to a slow boil, and add the spinach, amaranth (chawli) and dill. If you like, add the fenugreek (methi) now as well.
- Once the leaves start softening add the tamarind pulp and the fried onion spice mix. Add water (or stock), if required, and bring to a boil.
- Once the whole mixture comes to a boil, sprinkle chopped Meer which is cut in shape of noodles.
- Keep stirring the Osh while sprinkling the meer to avoid it being sucked to the bottom of the vessel.
- Keep stirring with a gentle hand till the Meer is cooked (around 5-7 min).
- Tasty yummy Osh-e-Meer is ready. Garnish with the hung curd, fried onion and coriander if you wish to. Serve hot with crusty bread in deep plates.
For Home-made Meer
- Prepare a dough of plain flour by adding little salt. Leave it aside for ½ hour.
- Make a few round thin chapattis depending on the quantity of dough. Sprinkle wheat flour liberally to dust the chapattis and, to ensure they do not stick together when stacked.
- Using a dough cutter (or a butter knife or any such) cut thin strips from the rolled- out dough to resemble noodles when cut. This is the Meer
- Instead of spinach, you can also use baby spinach leaves and then you would not need to chop these.
- If you're going the meaty route, also separately pressure cook the mutton (3 whistles and 20 mins on slow is what works for me) and set aside along with the stock. Add this to the soup when adding the water/stock.
- If you are adding the beetroots, cut them into long french-fry type strips and cook separately and set it aside. Add them into the soup after the greens have cooked.
- You can replace the home-made Meer with dried Fettuccine. This will cook in the soup itself and you must not cook it separately or it will all turn to mush.
This post is part of my ongoing series on the blog, the A to Z of Parsi Food which has been curated in collaboration with Parsi food enthusiasts globally. For more interesting recipes follow the hashtag #AtoZChallenge mentioned below.