The extravagance of early Persian banquets is legendary and their mastery of herbs and spices is known to have impressed many visitors and invaders alike. It is said that when the Macedonians conquered Persia, they were especially impressed by how delicately they stuffed and cooked their vegetables, poultry and lamb. These stuffed dishes, known as dolmeh, remain popular, especially during celebrations. Traditionally filled with veal, chicken or beef, and spiced with saffron and cinnamon, these stuffed apples (dolmeh sib) exemplify the subtle blending of sweet and savoury flavours for which Persian cuisine is renowned – often combining meat, fruit, herbs and spices, such as cinnamon.
- 80 g yellow split peas, rinsed
- 80 ml olive oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 400 g lean minced beef
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1.8 kg (about 12) granny smith or golden delicious apples, tops sliced off and reserved
- 500 ml (2 cups) beef stock
Sweet and sour sauce
- 80 ml white vinegar
- 75 g sugar
- 30 g butter
- 1 pinch saffron threads
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
This dish is designed to be part of a shared meal.
Drink 2010 Logan Apple Tree Flat Shiraz, Mudgee ($12)
Preheat oven to 200°C. Place split peas in a small saucepan, cover with water and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium. Cook, skimming any impurities that rise to the surface, for 35 minutes or until soft. Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, heat 2 tbsp oil in a frying pan over medium heat, add onion and cook for 3 minutes or until soft. Transfer to a bowl and reserve. Increase heat to high, add 1 tbsp oil then add the beef. Cook, stirring, for 4 minutes or until the meat has browned. Remove and stir into the reserved onions, then add the drained split peas, cinnamon and ¼ tsp salt. Set aside to cool.
Core apples and trim bases slightly so the apples stand up straight. Using a small, sharp knife and a spoon, scoop out the apple flesh, leaving a 1 cm wall. Coarsely chop removed flesh and set aside.
Spoon the meat mixture into the cored apples and replace their reserved tops. Place into a lightly greased ovenproof baking dish, large enough to fit all the apples. Place reserved chopped apple flesh in the dish around the apples, then pour stock and 125 ml water around the apples. Drizzle remaining 1 tbsp oil over the apples. Cover the dish with baking paper and then foil and bake for 30 minutes or until apples are soft. Remove baking paper and foil, and cook for a further 15 minutes or until apples are browned.
Meanwhile, to make the sauce, place all ingredients and 2 tbsp water in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes or until the sugar dissolves.
Remove apples from the oven and pour over the sweet and sour sauce, to serve.
As seen in Feast magazine, Issue 11, pg64.
Photography by Derek Swalwell.