Almond and Barberry Stew (khoresht-e-khalal-badam) (خورشت خلال بادام)

The first time I tried this dish at a restaurant I fell in love with the complex flavours and textures and was set to cook it at home. This stew is a traditional dish from “Kermanshah” province located in the mid-western part of Iran. The traditional recipe uses black barberries (zereshk) which is common in that region and are smaller and slightly more sour than red barberries. But since it’s not easy to find black barberries here I substituted red barberries instead.


2 pounds lean lamb or beef cut into 1 inch cubes (I use grass-fed leg of lamb)
1 large onion (finely diced)
1 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup dried barberries (picked over and rinsed)
4 limoo-amani (Iranian dried limes)
3 Tbsp. tomato paste (I used home-made tomato paste)
1 Tsp. turmeric
10 cm piece of cinnamon stick
1/2 Tsp. crushed saffron dissolved in 1/4 cup of of hot water
2 tablespoons rose-water
3 Tbsp. ghee
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups bone broth (optional)
Boiling water


  1. Add the almond slivers to a bowl and combine with 1 Tbsp of saffron-water and the rose-water. Mix and set aside.
  2. Add a tablespoon of ghee to a small frying pan, add the washed and drained barberries and gently fry the barberries on low heat for a few minutes. Be careful not to burn the barberries, you just want to intensify their red colour. Turn off the heat and set aside.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons of ghee in a large pot, saute the onion over medium-high heat until golden. Then add the turmeric, salt and pepper and stir well and fry for another couple of minutes until fragrant.
  4. Add the meat and brown on all sides. Once the meat is browned,  add the tomato paste, stir well and cook for another couple of minutes.
  5. Now add the cinnamon stick, dried limes and bone broth (if using) to the pot and add enough boiling water to cover the meat (don’t add too much liquid, you just want to cover the meat).
  6. Cover the pot and gently simmer the meat for at least one hour (I use grass-fed meat which needs more time to become tender) on low heat.
  7. Once the meat is almost tender, add the almond sliver mixture, mix well. Add more boiling water if needed, cover and cook for another hour.
  8. Add barberries and the rest of saffron water, stir well, taste and adjust the seasoning. Cook for another 20-30 minutes until meat is tender and the flavors are well blended.

Serve hot with Basmati rice and some yogurt. Enjoy! 🙂

Serves 6-10 (depending on portion size).

2 thoughts on “Almond and Barberry Stew (khoresht-e-khalal-badam) (خورشت خلال بادام)

    • Ghee is clarified butter with milk solids, moisture and sugars removed and so better tolerated by those with dairy sensitivities, also the taste is quite different (more intense) that butter. We call it “Roghan Kermanshahi” ( روغن کرمانشاهی) in Farsi. Also, like coconut oil, it tolerates the heat of cooking better than butter. You can use butter instead of ghee but keep in mind that butter can burn quite easily, that’s why I don’t often use it for frying, you can also use refined coconut oil if you like.
      As why I do use ghee (and coconut oil), there are two main reasons: 1. taste (ghee adds a rich taste to stews and rice dishes), 2. I think it’s a very good cooking oil. Of course there is a lot of debate on good vs bad fats, but based on my research and readings I never use cooking oil like canola, corn, safflower, soybean, etc.

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