Durkhanai Ayubi's Sabzi (Afghan spinach and lamb curry)
Prep 20 mins
Cook 50 mins
“Sabzi is a type of spinach and lamb curry that is traditionally served on Nowroz alongside a rice dish called challaw. At Parwana, we make this dish in a pressure cooker, to help tenderise the lamb,” says Durkhanai Ayubi. “Pressure cookers are often used to help seal in flavour, create a uniform tenderness and substantially reduce cooking times. If you don’t have one, use a heavy-based saucepan or flameproof casserole to cook the lamb instead; however, you’ll need to add 500ml more water than the recipe states and the cooking time will increase to about an hour, or until there is approximately 250 ml liquid left. Note that for vegetarian and vegan diets, sabzi can be made without the lamb, or with kidney beans alongside the spinach instead.
250 ml (1 cup) sunflower oil
1 large brown onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 fresh, long red chilli, thinly sliced
1 kg boneless lamb leg, coarsely diced into chunks
1½ tbsp salt
1 kg English spinach, washed thoroughly, roots and stalks removed
80g coriander, leaves and stalks finely chopped
60g garlic chives, finely chopped
Challaw, and yoghurt, to serve
1. Pour half the oil into a pressure cooker pan over high heat and fry the onion, garlic and chilli, stirring regularly for 5 minutes, or until golden brown. Add the lamb and fry until it is sealed and browned all over. Add 750ml water and the salt, then close the lid of the pressure cooker. Bring up to high pressure, then reduce the heat to low and cook for 20 minutes. Remove the cooker from the heat and set aside, allowing the pressure to release naturally.
2. Meanwhile, finely chop the spinach leaves. Place in a large saucepan with 125ml boiling water, cover the pan with a lid and cook, stirring occasionally, over medium-high heat for about 20 minutes, or until all the liquid has been absorbed.
3. Next, add the remaining oil to a frying pan and fry the coriander and garlic chives, stirring occasionally, over medium heat for 5 minutes, to bring out the flavours.
Add the lamb to the spinach along with 250 ml of its cooking liquid and the fried herbs. Stir to combine well, then simmer for 15 minutes over low heat for the flavours to mingle. Sabzi is traditionally enjoyed with a plate of challaw and a dollop of yoghurt alongside.
Extracted with permission from the book Parwana by Durkhanai Ayubi. Recipes by Farida Ayubi with assistance from Fatema Ayubi. Buy the book here.