Recipe: Chaimen mutton stew

A danger of living near New York is the relative proximity of Kalustyan’s and its near-infinite array of spices. Last year on an impulse I bought a packet of dry chaimen spice mix (basically the dry ingredients from the paste recipe here) — it’s a mix of fenugreek, cumin, paprika, and garlic used in some Armenian dishes. Since I’m not really up for making bastirma or something fancy like that, I’ve been experimenting over the last year with ways of using it outside of making a dip. Here’s a recipe for a mutton curry (I used goat), but I’ve used an adapted procedure to make a bean and vegetable dish stew as well: squash, carrots, and white beans, for example.

a picture of the cooking, close to the end

a picture of the cooking, close to the end

Ingredients

  • 2 heaping tbsp chairmen mix
  • 1 6 oz can of tomato paste
  • 1 cup parsley, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, diced or crushed
  • 2-4 tbsp plain yogurt
  • 1 lb cubed goat (bone-in stew meat)
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • olive oil
  • 1/3 cup diced prunes

Instructions
Mix chaimen, 2-3 tbsp or so of tomato paste, garlic, 1/2 cup parsley, and enough yogurt to make a thick paste. If necessary add a little olive oil to thin it out. Coat/rub it into the goat, cover, and let it sit for at least an hour on the counter or possibly overnight in the fridge.

Heat oil with onions in a heavy pot/dutch oven and cook on low until the onions turn more translucent. Add in 1 clove of garlic sometime in that time, being careful not to burn. Add goat and marinade cook for a few minutes, turning over a few times. Add enough water to just cover the goat and bring the heat up until it hits boiling, then cover and turn heat to low and cook it on low heat slowly for at least an hour, preferably more. Uncover and cook for 15 minutes longer to reduce the liquid. By this point the meat should be falling off the bones pretty easily. if not, you can cook a bit longer. Add in prunes and additional tomato paste to thicken (as needed) and cook for 15-20 minutes, still on low, until prunes dissolve. Remove from heat and serve garnished with additional parsley.

Note: other adaptations could include adding potatoes or some other starch about 30 minutes before finishing, or other vegetables that you think might be good. If you make this with chicken adding some vegetables would be great. For a vegetarian version you can shorten the cooking time a bit since you will likely add less liquid. White beans, kidney beans, and fava all work pretty well (or a mix of them). It takes on a bit of a cassoulet-like consistency in that case then. Lots of places you can sub here, like raisins or apricots for prunes, probably.

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