Growing up in Afghanistan, in the summer we always had fresh apricots, green grapes, sweet cherries and watermelon as dessert. When my sister Nabila shared this sweet and savory— Qorma e Zardaloo, Apricot Stew—recipe it was the beginning of summer but by the tim I got around to testing the recipe, last Sunday, fresh apricots were nowhere to be found.
Rather than waiting for next summer, I substituted organic dried Turkish apricots instead. Clearly using in season ingredients guarantees best flavors but for this recipe we can make an exception since dried apricots are reliably delicious and accessible at most grocery stores all year around.
This recipe is vegetarian, vegan and gluten free but it it's lemony sweet flavors go well with lamb kebab, steak or chicken dish. On Sunday I served it with Chapli kebab and Afghan challaw rice. I hope you have a chance to try this unusual recipe.
Qorma e Zardaloo
Lemony Apricot Stew
2 cups dried apricot soaked in hot water for 2 hours or three cups fresh apricots, pitted 1/4 cup olive oil
1 large onion finely chopped, 2 cups
2 tablespoons fresh cumin, peeled and finely chopped or one tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon fresh ginger finely chopped
1 cup chopped celery
3 cloves garlic finely chopped
2 cups water or vegetable broth 1 cup finely chopped cilantro Jalapeno pepper seeded and cut in quarters 2 lemons squeezed, 1/4 cup lemon juice
Heat olive oil in a lidded, heavy pot on medium high heat. Add onions, sauté until golden brown, around twenty minutes. Add broth/water, cumin, ginger, garlic, and celery to the pot—simmer with the lid on for fifteen to twenty minutes until the celery is al dente.
Drain apricots in a colander, transfer to the pot along with the cilantro, jalapeno pepper and lemon juice, reduce temperature to medium-low, add quarter cup of additional water or broth if needed, place lid on the pot and simmer until the sauce thickens, around 20-25 minutes.
Garnish with chopped cilantro, and serve with Afghan white rice, challaw and a fresh salad.