Growing up in southern California, food was always a multi-cultural experience. My best friend in elementary school was Persian, in fact, many of our family friends were, and I fell instantly in love with the fresh, vibrant flavors of their cuisine. This Persian beef and celery stew—khoresht karafs—is one of my favorites—fragrant, fresh and slightly tart from the addition of lemon juice. And while it may veer slightly from the traditional ingredients I've seen in many recipes, it brings me right back to my friend's kitchen all those years ago. —Merav
Melt 4 tablespoons of butter over medium heat in a large saucepan or dutch oven, and add the onion. Sweat the onion until is translucent, and then raise the heat to medium high. Add the beef, and sear on all sides until evenly browned. Next, add the spices and salt, and stir to evenly coat all the beef. Cook for one minute, until fragrant, and then add the water. Stir the mixture well, and bring to a boil. Partially cover and lower the heat to a simmer. Allow the beef to simmer for an hour.
Meanwhile, in a large saute pan, heat the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Add the celery and parsley, and cook stirring often, until slightly softened and translucent, about 10 minutes. Set aside until ready to use.
After simmering the beef for one hour, add the celery and parsley mixture to the pot, along with the lemon juice and dried mint. Allow the mixture to simmer for 30 minutes, or more, until the beef is fully tender. Check for seasoning, adding more salt and pepper if necessary. Serve with traditional Persian basmati rice, with its golden brown tadig for added texture and tradition.