Unless I drop everything that I am doing and immerse myself in Persian food, cooking, and history, for several years, will I ever learn everything there is to know and experience with Persian food?
My friend Vida Schuman traveled to Iran recently to visit her parents, and Oh boy did she come back with something fantastic! Besides the lovely box of Gaz candy and saffron she brought back for me from Iran, she brought back a tale of a beautiful dish she had while there called “Halim Badamjoon.”
From other friends I have heard from about this dish, it’s my understanding that Halim Badamjoon is a very popular dish year round with people in Iran. Everyone eats it! The hurdle on my end was finding a recipe for this wonderful dish.
I asked my father and some other Persian foodies about how it’s made, and they all gave me basic ideas but no real consensus. The recipes I found on YouTube were pretty much the same and unfortunately mostly in “Farsi” which I do not speak… so working my through them was just like reading a book with only pictures.
I knew I had to make this dish, had a general idea of how it was going to go down, and like we say here in Oklahoma, “I got after it!”. What turned out was something magical and slightly familiar. My father makes something similar with white beans and short ribs. Like I chose to do for my Halim, Pops uses a pressure cooker and seasons bit of cinnamon and turmeric. Cooking the meat and beans until tender then blending with a hand mixer to almost paste consistency, he would serve it with Persian dill rice. We lovingly called this dish “Mushy Beans and Rice” not knowing the real name and for many years thinking Pops just made this dish up.
Halim Badamjoon has a bit of the same flavors and consistency …. Mushy beans and meat consistency. With the bonus of creamy eggplant, the tart creaminess of Kashk (dried yogurt or sour milk), and flavorful grilled shallots and mint on top, combined makes a hearty and tasty dish!
So try my version and let me know what you think. If any of you are familiar with Halim Badamjoon and have recommendations or a simple “You nailed it, Scotty Joon!” I will take that too. Otherwise, this is one of my new favorite Persian dishes… and I’m sticking to it!
Halim Badamjoon serves 6
1.5-2 pounds beef chuck
1-2 large eggplants (You will need 5 to 6 1/2” thick cut slabs)
2 medium onions
1 cup dry lentils
In the Kitchen With Scotty “Cook’s Line Seasoning” or Kosher Salt and Fresh cracked black pepper
1 tablespoon Persian Advieh seasoning* (may substitute with one teaspoon ground cinnamon)
1/2 teaspoon crushed saffron + 4 tablespoons hot water to steep the saffron
Kashk (may substitute with sour cream with a little red wine vinegar mixed in)
2 large shallots
1 teaspoon dried mint
First the lentils: Wash and pick through your lentils to remove any grit and or “duds” that may be in these dried legumes. Place the lentil in a medium saucepan with three cups of water, a bay leaf, and one rough, chopped onion. Add salt to flavor. Bring to boil then reduce the heat to simmer. Cook covered with a lid until the water has absorbed and the lentils are “a dente.” Remove from the heat and set aside.
For the beef: Trim and remove any excess fat, along with any silvers or “gristle”. Cut the chuck roast down into equal parts for uniform cooking, and season well with the Cook’s Line Seasoning or kosher salt and cracked black pepper. In a heavy bottom skillet or cast iron pan, begin heating 1/8-1/4” of olive oil. Once the oil starts to shiver gently lay in the seasoned chuck roast pieces. Brown the pieces on all sides to a nice caramelized crust. Remove the chuck to a platter.
For the eggplant (Badamjoon): Peel the eggplant and remove the stem end. Slice the eggplant lengthways into 1/2” slabs and season with Cook’s Line or Salt and pepper. Using the same skillet, you browned the meat begin heating the same oil. You may need more oil to the pan because fresh eggplant soaks up the oil. Heat the oil until shimmering and gently lay down the eggplant slabs to brown. Brown the eggplant on both sides, remove from the pan and continue with any remaining eggplant.
For the Instapot or your pressure cooker: Heat a little oil on the bottom. If using an Instapot, set to “sauté.” Dice your last remaining onion and add to the pot to sauté. Cook until the onions are lightly caramelized. Add the Advieh seasoning or ground cinnamon and cook with the onions.
To the Instapot or pressure cooker, add the browned beef chuck. Next, add the cooked lentils along with the fried eggplant. Pour in the saffron and water mixture on top plus an additional 1 cup of hot water. Cover the Instapot or pressure cooker, securing the lid down in place. For the Instapot, cook on “High Pressure” for one hour. For the pressure cooker cook according to manufacturers directions on medium heat for one hour.
While your Halim Badamjoon is cooking, prepare the topping. In a small sauté pan add a few tablespoons of olive oil and heat gently. Once hot add the sliced shallot rings and cook until caramelized and crips. Halfway through cooking, add the dried mint and a pinch or two of the Cook’s Line Seasoning or kosher salt to taste. Once caramelized and crisp, remove the shallots to a paper towel to soak up any excess oil.
After 1 hour release the pressure, then carefully remove the lid. With a hand blender, or with a potato masher, carefully (it’s hot!) mash, shred, and blend the contents into a “dip” like texture. It’s okay to have shreds of meat, you don’t want large clumps of meat. You should have thick textured and almost smooth consistency.
To serve spoon out the Halim Badamjoon into a large serving bowl. Dot with dollops of Kashk and top with the fried shallots. Serve with hot Sangak bread or pita for dipping.
1 tablespoon ground Rose Petal (Whole dried eatable petals can be found at many Mediterranean markets or online. I grind in a coffee grinder that I specifically use for whole spice and herb grinding.)
1 large Bay Leaf
1 tablespoon Ground Cinnamon
1 tablespoon Ground Coriander Seed
1 tablespoon Ground Cardamom
1 tablespoon Nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoon ground Cumin
Blend all the spices together in a “spice only” coffee grinder, and store in an airtight container.