Mutton, barberry and almond stew

Serves 4
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Indy Lifestyle Online

This is a traditional Persian wedding dish from Kermanshah in western Iran – the idea being that the sweet and sour character of this dish is a poignant reminder to the newly-weds that life is filled with both sadness and happiness. Barberries are small wild cranberry-like fruits that you can find in Middle Eastern foodstores. They're hard to find fresh, so buy dried ones and soak them a little before using.

700-800g neck of mutton fillet, cut into rough 2cm chunks
Olive oil for frying
2 medium onions, peeled and finely chopped
1 litre chicken stock
60g almond slithers
60g pistachio slithers
60g dried barberries
2tbsp pomegranate molasses or 50g sugar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
A good pinch of saffron strands

Heat a tablespoon of the olive oil in a frying pan, season the mutton and fry on a high heat for a few minutes, turning every so often until nicely coloured. Then remove and drain. Meanwhile gently cook the onions in another tablespoon of olive oil for 2-3 minutes until softened. Add the drained meat and stock, bring to the boil and simmer for about 30 minutes. Put the almonds and pistachio in a pan of water, bring to the boil and drain, then add to the stew and continue simmering for another 30 minutes.

Add the barberries and pomegranate molasses and continue to simmer for another 20 minutes or so until the meat is tender (you may need to add a little water if the stew is a bit dry). Stir in the saffron and leave to infuse for a few minutes before serving.

Serve with rice.

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