October 07, 2011

Morgh-e Torsh - Sour Chicken Stew with Fresh Herbs and Yellow Split Peas

I've been wanting to make مرغ ترش morgh-e torsh for quite some time but somehow I never got around to it. However, I recently received a very kind email from a reader asking for this recipe along with a couple of other dishes from the northern province of Gilan and I was inspired to write a post about it. This is a relatively easy dish to make but the taste is just superb and every bite is so full of flavor. Food from shomal (northern Iran) has its own distinct flavor with its local vegetables that's hard to find anywhere else. Northern Iran is also known for its rice fields, tea plantations and the caviar from Darya-ye Khazar (Caspian sea).

This morgh-e torsh recipe was given to me by a very dear friend of mine of many years. My good friend Maryam is from the city of Rasht and currently lives in Toronto with her loving family. I met Maryam in college here in New York and we instantly became friends. We hung out together, laughed and complained of homesickness. After graduation she moved away, we may lose contact briefly and periodically but throughout the years we have remained friends for life. Thanks to Maryam I get to write about this amazing Gilani recipe.

I changed a couple of minor things here and there in the recipe. Maryam's recipe calls for one whole chicken, I used four pieces of boneless and skinless chicken breasts which I cut into small pieces (about two pounds) and the second change is adding turmeric to the recipe. I just couldn't resist and I added a pinch of turmeric powder while frying the chicken. 

Sour Chicken Stew with Fresh Herbs and Yellow Split Peas

Serves 4-6

1 whole chicken, cut into pieces
1/2 cup yellow split peas
2 bunches of coriander, finely chopped
1 bunch of parsley, finely chopped
1 bunch of fresh mint, finely chopped
1 large onion, peeled and diced
4-5 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
Juice of  1-2  narenj (Seville orange/bitter orange) or juice of 1-2 lemon/lime, (the amount  may be adjusted to your taste and preferences)
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Clean and wash all fresh vegetables, remove the stems and chop finely.
  2. In a skillet add 2-3 tablespoons of vegetable oil, saute the chopped onion, minced garlic and the chopped vegetables on medium-low heat until soft and tender.
  3. Cook the yellow split peas in 2 cups of water with a dash of salt for about 30 minutes or until they become soft. Discard the water.
  4. Lightly fry the chicken pieces in a couple of tablespoons of oil in a frying pan on medium heat until they are no longer pink, add salt and pepper to taste. As I mentioned, I added a pinch of turmeric as well.
  5. In a saucepan combine all the ingredients, the sauteed vegetable mixture, chicken pieces and the yellow split peas. Add enough water to cover all the ingredients. Bring to a boil on medium-high heat. Reduce heat, add salt and pepper and the juice of Seville orange or lemon juice to your liking. Cover and cook on medium-low heat for about an hour until all the flavors come together, stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
Transfer the stew in a large serving bowl. Serve with kateh or polow, zeytoon parvardeh and pickled garlic.
For a complete Gilani lunch or dinner you may want to add mirza ghasemi to the menu as a side dish.


  1. My gosh those flavors look awesome - with that bed of basmati rice!

  2. Ill try this later this weekend. Will let you know how it was.

  3. Looks very unique - chicken, peas and lots of herbs in one dish. I would love to try this

  4. My mother-in-low makes morgh-e torsh with rob-eh narenj and hers is quite different. I'm going to have her try this version, too. Yours looks beautiful!

  5. Can't wait to try this dish Azita; I am surprised too at the similarities as in Lebanese cuisine we also cook with bitter oranges.

  6. OMG I just stumbled on this site, and I am SO excited I've found it. I'm persian (Gilani) and always forget where I put all the recipes my mom gives me. This site is a life saver! Thank you xoxoxox :)

  7. I make something similar. Chicken with split peas and greens is such a beautiful combination and yours is incredible!!

  8. My mum is from Gilan, and also called Maryam! She ALWAYS cooks with turmeric, without fail. Even in this dish I believe...

  9. Wow,you amazing cooki just found this blog,can,t wait to try some of your recipe tomorrow xx

  10. What an interesting, warm, hearty and beautiful blog :) Congratulations!

    Few days ago I have discovered your blog and did already this chicken stew and chia seeds drink. We loved it.
    However, the only tiny problem is that the dish reheated on the second day doesn't taste so good like the fresh prepared - so it is better to eat it all after cooking.

    I am Polish, living at the moment in Brazil and until now I haven't cooked anything Persian. It will definitely changed. Thank you very much.

    Just small remark to your blog.
    It would be great if you could tagged your recipes and introduced the English names to the recipes' index. As I, probably lots of people too, know almost nothing about Persian kitchen and especially about the names, it would make easier to navigate in your blog and for sure readers would appreciate it. I would :)

  11. Hi

    I'm wondering if this stew can be frozen? I'm going into labour soon and want to freeze a couple of meals but not sure if it will taste good if I do freeze them :(

    1. Yes, you can freeze this stew successfully. Congrats and good luck!

  12. Cooking Split Peas for 30min on high is a bit much. I'm going to go with 15 min. Also I always thought morghe torsh was just chicken w/ broth, and potatoes, onions, and optionally mushrooms...lime juice, tumeric and garlic to taste...is that a different morghe torsh?

    1. Yes, your recipe is the classic morghe torsh recipe and this is just another version of morghe torsh!

  13. Thank you for your beautiful blog! I had never made or eaten Persian food before until I made this, and it was so wonderful! I'm going to make lots of Persian recipes now!

  14. This is my absolute favorite recipe - my boyfriend's mother made it for me for the first time a couple of months ago, it was absolutely delicious! I've been thinking how was I ever going to be able to make it and just found this recipe. I'm going to try to make this tomorrow for his birthday & hopefully it turns out just as good! Thank you for all these amazing recipes, your the best!! Would you please find more recipes from the north of iran-cities like Rasht!!
    Merciii :)

  15. I was looking for the recipe ,and I was not satisfied with the recipes ,and finally I found the best and easy one ,thank you so much for sharing your art .

  16. I love the recipe ,God willing I will make it tomorrow .

    1. Farie jan, if you try it, let me know how it turns out! Thank you so much for your kind words.

  17. I love this recipe, thanks for sharing. I use limoo amani instead of lemon/orange juice and it works well. Best, Nico