February 06, 2010

Khoresh-e Kadoo - Gray Squash Lamb Stew

In the Persian cuisine there are a number of tasty, slow cooked stews (khoresh/khoresht) that combine the seasonal vegetables with either meat or chicken. Iranian food is not heavily spiced and in order to achieve the optimal taste, some patience, time and planning is required. I usually buy the needed ingredients a day in advance and take care of some of the things that could be done ahead of time without jeopardizing the freshness of the food. There are those that have their onions thinly sliced (an essential part of Iranian cooking), fried, packed, sealed and frozen for when it's needed. Same goes with fried eggplants and herbs. And there are those that even have a  herb and bean stew (ghormeh sabzi) ready to be served in their freezer for that guest that might drop by unexpectedly! We grew up where going to a family member or friend's house didn't require an invitation or a prior notice, even a phone call wasn't necessary.

Gray Squash
This dish خورش کدو khoresh-e Kadoo is usually made with the summer squash called zucchini/courgette, the long and green zucchini which tastes wonderful. Yet, since I've discovered the gray squash in my local Italian vegetable store, which is a town over, I've made the switch at least for now. I find this kind of squash to be more firm and tastier and they are the perfect size also, just cut them in half, lengthwise. This dish can also be made without meat.

Khoresh Kadoo Sabz- Gray Squash Lamb Stew

Serves 4-6

1 1/2 pounds meat (lamb or beef), wash, cut in cubes
7 gray squash or zucchini, wash, peel, cut in half, you may leave the skin on
2 large tomatoes, remove skin and finely chop/or use a can of crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 large onion, peeled, thinly sliced
2-3 cloves of garlic, peeled, finely chopped
1/3 teaspoon turmeric
3-4 crushed or whole dried lemons (limoo amani) or juice of 1-2 lemons depending on your taste
1/3 teaspoon cinnamon  
Salt and pepper to taste
Vegetable oil

  1. Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a frying pan, fry the squash slices over medium heat until golden brown on both sides. Set aside.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a pan, saute sliced onions over medium heat until translucent, add the turmeric powder and garlic, stir and saute for another 2-3 minutes. 
  3. Add the meat, brown on all sides, add cinnamon, salt and pepper. 
  4. Add the tomato paste, cook for five minutes, add the crushed tomatoes. 
  5. Add water to cover the ingredients by a couple of inches and add limoo amani. Bring to a rapid boil, lower the heat to medium low, cover and cook for an hour or until meat is tender. 
  6. Add water if needed. If you are using lemon juice, add it after the meat becomes tender.
  7. In an oven-proof dish, place half of the meat sauce and add a layer of the fried squash, repeat. Taste and adjust the seasoning, cover with a foil and cook for 40 minutes in the 350 degrees Fahrenheit preheated oven.  
Serve warm with some white basmati rice, yogurt, salad and herbs.



  1. I don't remember green zucchinis in Iran at all. I only remember seeing the gray squash variety. Green zucchinis were a vegetable I discovered once I moved away... I'll have to look up Ms Rosa Montazami cookbook, here I was all along thinking persian kadoo was the same as the mexican/italian/gray squash...

  2. oh wow this looks wonderful great for winter

  3. I love lamb, that looks soo yummm, great recipe

  4. azita jan, it is so difficult to photograph a stew, they always come out brown and uninspiring- but yours is gorgeous- bravo for a beautiful photo! i love khoreshts. yours is a recipe for the binder. x shayma

  5. Dear Azita
    This khoresh looks so good; I know there is a reason why I fell in love with Persian food when I discovered it in California. The spices are so well balanced and that rice! it is the rice I love most of all.
    Not sure about these grey zucchini. ?

  6. Anonymous, you may be right. I remember them as being green, but my husband who's from Tehran says they are banana yellow. I'll ask family members in Iran. I guess back then I didn't pay much attention to the type and the color of squash in the vegetable stores, as much as I did to the finished product! I just posted the question on my Facebook page. I'd love to know the answer. Thanks for the question. By the way I tried to look up Ms. Rosa Montazami's cookbook online, haven't found it yet.

    Chow and Chatter, thank you and it is great for winter!
    Peanutts, thanks!

    Shayma, thanks Shayma jan, that's very kind of you!

    Taste of Beirut, I'm glad you like Persian food and you must have had great Persian friends in California

  7. Agree with Shayma, your photo has a lovely warm and rich color. Way to go! It's perfect that you you posted this when you did, because I was just looking for a lamb stew to make. As forture would have it, I have all of the ingredients at home. So excited to make this!

  8. A scrumptious stew! So flavorful!



  9. I have to prepare a school project on Persian dishes with tomatoes as the main ingredient. Can someone please give me some recipes with pictures or suggest where can I look for them?

  10. Anonymous, tomatoes are widely used in Persian cooking. Tomato sauce is the foundation for many stews (khoreshes). It's used in salads, grilled and cooked. As for the pictures, you may want to Google the image of the specific dish you have in mind.
    Good luck!

  11. I've had this bookmarked for over a year, it's been on my mind lately! I look forward to making this asap. Every recipe I've made from your site has turned out beautifully. =)

  12. I made this tonight, and it was wonderful. I will be making this again for sure. Thank you!