August 21, 2010

Khoresh-e Khalal Badam & Zereshk - Slivered Almonds & Barberry Stew

I've been wanting to make this nutty and tangy saffron flavored lamb stew for a long time. You must try this gorgeous, flavorful and aromatic stew -- you will be very pleased with the taste. I generally use barberries to make the rice with barberries dish (zereshk polow), which has been a staple in our family, but another great use is to make this delicious stew with it. Barberries/Berberis (Zereshk) is widely grown in the north eastern part of Iran, in the region of Khorasan.

I like خورش خلال بادام khalal badam stew to be filled with slivered almonds and barberries. The more common version of  this stew is usually made without any yellow split peas but I like the addition of its flavor. If you prefer a thinner khoresh you may omit or the yellow split peas. 

Khoresh-e Khalal Badam- Slivered Almonds & Barberry Stew

Serves 4-6

1 1/2 pound meat (lamb, beef ), washed and cubed
1 cup slivered almonds, lightly toasted
1 cup dried barberries, picked over, rinsed, can be found in most Persian grocery stores
1 cup yellow split peas, picked over, rinsed *optional
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/3 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 teaspoon crushed saffron dissolved in 2 tablespoons of hot water
1-2 tablespoons rose water (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Lightly toast the almond slivers in a dry pan for 3-5 minutes over medium to low heat. Set aside
  2. In a small frying pan lightly saute the barberries in 1-2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat for a few minutes. Set aside.
  3. In a small pan saute the tomato paste in a tablespoon of oil for 2-3 minutes over medium heat. Set aside. This step is optional but it improves the taste of the stew.
  4. Heat 2-3 tablespoons of oil in a large pot, saute the sliced onion over medium heat until translucent, add the garlic and saute for another 2-3 minutes then add the turmeric. Stir well to blend every bit of onion and garlic with turmeric powder.
  5. Add the meat and brown on all sides. Add cinnamon, salt and pepper to taste, blend well.  
  6. Make some room in the center of the pot by pushing the meat and onion mixture to the side of the pot and place the split peas in the center and fry them for a few minutes. This will harden the peas and gets rid of their raw smell. You may also cook the split peas separately with two cups of water and add them to the stew half way through cooking if you prefer. 
  7. Scoop in the tomato paste and pour in enough water to cover meat and to come about two inches above. 
  8. Cover and cook for 30 minutes on medium to low heat, add the almond slivers, mix well, cook and cover for another 20 minutes. Add water if needed.
  9. Add barberries and saffron, stir well, taste and adjust seasoning. Cook for another 20-30 minutes until meat is tender and the flavors are well blended. Pour rose water in the last 10 minutes of cooking. 
Serve warm with rice, pickles (torshi), fresh herbs and yogurt.



  1. yumm , looks good, what can I use instead of barberry, not sure if I can find any here

  2. Peanutts, dried cranberries are a good substitute for barberries.

  3. yummy, Azita Joon. I like how you add lentils. x shayma

  4. I can't find barberries too, but I will try with cramberries, it seems too delicious...I will try a vegetarian version, it will be not exactly the same but it will be however good...I'm sure

  5. Sounds so delicious Azita. I never tried to cook with barberry myself. Although, I have tried this berry on rice.

  6. A super delicious stew! I love the slivered almonds in it!

  7. Azita...I never seen barberries...the stew sure looks delicious...and I sure would love the Persian rice with it :-)

  8. I love Iranian barberries that I discovered with some Persian friends years ago in L.A; I love all Iranian cuisine; I am not familiar with this dish though; would love to try it.

  9. I bought dried barberries a while ago at the market. I tried rice with barberries as I had a recipe for it and I loved it: this stew sounds even more intriguing! I can't wait to try it. I also love the yellow split peas addition.

  10. This stew sounds simply amazing. I love barberries well I love everything in this recipe. I cannot wait to sample.

  11. I love that photo of the barberry bush! I have cooked with barberries a few times after meeting my Persian friends and falling head over heel for Persian cuisine; never saw what the bush looked like until today. Beautiful and tasty stew~

  12. Thanks for sharing this recipe. This is actually a Kurdish dish, mainly Kermanshah province, and it's a staple dish served in important events (weddings, funerals, etc) The original recipe is with beef (top round sirloin), and doesn't involve split peas, rose water, nor garlic. It's also usually made with 'black barberries', which are hard to find these days

  13. I loved this dish! Made it exactly as written. Just to note however, that there are a couple of different types of yellow split peas out there- the ones you usually get in Indian stores (which I used) will fall apart if added at the point which the recipe states. The yellow split peas you get in Persian stores are slightly more oblong and they keep their shape more. I didn't mind that the "Indian" split peas fell apart- it thickened the stew nicely. Some of them kept their shape too so it was a nice mix, and it did taste great, and added nutrition, so I will use them again! Thank you for posting this recipe- it was fabulous.

  14. Yes anonymous is right. This is not a persian dish but a kurdish one from Kermanshah. So it's an Iranian dish actually :)

  15. Hi
    I am from kermanshah,This is the formal dish that is served in formal occasions in kermanshah especially in memorial services, it is incredibly delicious and nutritious, to me , this food is yummy and at the same time bring back some sad memories.

  16. This is amazing! My husband is from Kermanshah. I made it this evening it is Now Rooz, I am going to suprise him tonight ;-) Thank you for this recepi.

  17. If you can find black barberries (loco to kermanshah) rather than the red ones (better with chiken) even better

  18. Ps looking forward to to trying it with split lentils, never had it like that before ☺️

  19. I wonder if this recipe could be done in slow cooker?

    1. Yes, just follow steps 1-6 and transfer all ingredients including the almonds, barberries and saffron into a slow cooker and wait for it to cook.