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Vegetarian Khoresht Beh (Quince Stew)

Prep time: 10 min
Cook time:  50 min
Ready in: 1 hour
Yields: 4 to 6 serving


6 tablespoons regular olive oil (divided)
1 medium onion chopped
½ cup yellow split peas
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon cinnamon powder
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cups hot water
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon ground saffron (optional)
2 large quinces


Heat 4 tablespoons of oil in a medium pot. Add chopped onions. Cook over medium-high heat for about 7 minutes or until slightly golden, stirring occasionally to keep from burning. Add split peas, salt, turmeric, cinnamon powder, pepper and water. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes or until split peas are tender. Split peas used in this recipe are the “slow cook” type available at Middle Eastern markets or online. Regular split peas, found at most supermarkets, tend to cook faster and fall apart in Persian dishes. If using “regular” split peas adjust the cooking time.

Half way through cooking, peel the quinces, cut into quarters and remove their cores. Chop the quarters into 1-inch cubes. Quince turns brown quickly if not used right after cutting. To prevent oxidization, keep them in a bowl of water mixed with lemon juice, ¼ cup lemon juice to 1 quart of cold water.

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a skillet. Add chopped quinces and cook over medium-high heat for about 5 to 7 minutes or until slightly golden.

Add lemon juice, saffron and chopped quinces to the pot. Cover and simmer over low heat for about 20 minutes or until the quinces are cooked through.

Some varieties of quince are very sour unlike the ones used in this recipe. Taste the sauce before adding lemon juice. If the sauce is too sour omit the lemon juice and if needed add a little sugar to balance the flavors.

Adjust the seasoning and serve with basmati rice.