This type of spinach and lamb curry, called sabzi, is traditionally served with rice on Nowruz, the spring new year.
We make this dish in a pressure cooker to help tenderize the lamb. Pressure cookers are often used to help seal in flavor, create a uniform tenderness and substantially reduce the cooking time. If you don’t have a pressure cooker, use a heavy-based saucepan or Dutch oven to cook the lamb instead; however, you’ll need to add 2 cups (500 milliliters) more of water than the recipe states, and the cooking time will increase to about an hour or until there is approximately half of the liquid left.
Spinach and Lamb Curry (Sabzi)
1 cup (250 milliliters) sunflower oil
1 large yellow onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 fresh, long red chili, thinly sliced
1 kilogram (2¼ pounds) boneless lamb leg, cut into chunks
3 bunches (1 kilogram / 2¼ pounds) spinach, washed thoroughly, roots and stalks removed
½ cup (125 milliliters) boiling water
1 small bunch (80 grams / 2¾ ounces) cilantro, leaves and stalks finely chopped
1 small bunch (60 grams / 2¼ ounces) garlic chives, finely chopped
Pour half the oil into a pressure cooker pan over high heat, and fry the onion, garlic and chili, stirring regularly for 5 minutes or until golden brown. Add the lamb and sear until it has browned all over. Add 3 cups (750 milliliters) water and 2 tablespoons salt. Then close the lid of the pressure cooker. Bring up to high pressure, then reduce the heat to low and cook for 20 minutes. Remove the cooker from the heat, and set aside, allowing the pressure to release naturally.
Meanwhile, finely chop the spinach leaves. Place in a large saucepan with the boiling water, Cover and let cook, stirring occasionally over medium-high heat for about 20 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed.
Next, heat the remaining oil in a frying pan over medium heat, and fry the cilantro and garlic chives, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes to bring out the flavors.
Add the lamb to the spinach along with 1 cup (250 milliliters) of its cooking liquid and the fried herbs. Stir to combine well, then simmer for 15 minutes over low heat so that the flavors mingle.
Enjoy with rice and a dollop of yogurt alongside.
Reprinted with permission from
Parwana: Recipes and Stories From an Afghan Kitchen
Interlink Books, 2021.
Freelance food writer and restaurateur Durkhanai Ayubi is involved in day-to-day responsibilities of two family-run eateries in Adelaide, Australia: Parwana and Kutchi Deli Parwana. She has written for several international newspapers and websites. Daughter of Afghani refugees Zelmai and Farida Ayubi, she tells her family’s story from her own perspective while passing along memories and recipes from her parents. Parwana is her first book and won the 2021 Art of Eating Prize.