World Food Challenge

Day 182: Turkmenistan and Sabzi Govurma

Good evening, Raffies!

Today we are going to Turkmenistan, a country I know very little about, apart from the fact that it is famous for its legendary melons. As a matter of fact, there are over 400 different varieties of melons growing in Turkmenistan! Cool, right?

It used to be the biggest exporter of melons during the USSR, but nowadays it lost a bit of its importance. However, I know all this, because I first saw the amazing Turkmen melons on a market in Riga and I was instantly dumbstruck.

Anyways, back to our dinner. To be honest, Turkmenistan is famous for its Plov rice, its Shashlik, fermented camel milk, dumplings and a lot of dishes similar to Russia, like Pelmeni. The Russian influence is very strong, due to the Soviet Union, this is why today’s dish is not exactly a pure Turkmen dish. We are making a Herbed Lamb stew, Sabzi Govurma, that you can mostly find in Azerbaijan and all over Central Asia. We are obviously pairing our mutton with some nice Plov!

The dish takes some time to get ready, but the result will be totally worth it! Here is the recipe I followed:

300 g lamb, from the shoulder, cut in small cubes
1 onion, roughly chopped
4-5 threads of saffron
125 g butter
6 c garlic chives (also Chinese chives or Nira. In the worst case scenario, julienned leek also works)
1 bunch parsley, leaves
3 tbsp estragon (tarragon)
1 lemon, juice

Start by rubbing the lamb with salt. Put the lamb and the onion into a casserole and cover with water (if you are in a hurry, you can use a pressure pot. In that case it will only take 20-25 minutes). Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat and let it cook on low heat for about 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Now remove the lamb and the onions. Set aside 1 1/2 c broth. Mix in the saffron and estragon.
With the remaining broth, you can make a nice soup. Don’t just throw it away!

Heat the butter in a large frying pan. Once it starts bubbling and foaming, add the parsley and chives. Salt well and stir frequently to prevent from burning. Cook until it gets soft and dark green – about 5 minutes.

Place the greens into a bowl. Add some more butter to the frying pan and fry the lamb, until slightly brown. Season with pepper

Add the broth to the lamb, followed by the greens and the lemon juice. Mix well and simmer on low heat for about 20 minutes. Enjoy!

To be honest, I thought the picture on the recipe looked tasty, but the real deal was great! The meat was so tender that it melted on your tongue, The slightly lemony greens were lovely and the Plov worked awesomely with the whole dish!



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