What Is Gheimeh?

Angie Bates

Gheimeh is a type of Iranian split pea stew that often includes lamb or beef. Usually served with plain white rice, gheimeh is garnished with homemade French fries as well. Also referred to as khoresht gheimeh, this stew is considered a popular dish in Persian cuisine.

French fries, which are often served with gheimeh.
French fries, which are often served with gheimeh.

Yellow split peas are always included in gheimeh. The peas are soaked for a few hours before cooking. Additionally, lamb is the usual meat added to this stew, though beef can be used as well. Veal is also a meat option but is rarely added. Alternatively, the meat element can be omitted altogether.

Some versions of gheimeh are only spiced with salt, pepper and turmeric.
Some versions of gheimeh are only spiced with salt, pepper and turmeric.

Dried limes are almost always included in gheimeh. Lime juice can be substituted if no dried limes are available, but the authentic dish will include the actual limes. Occasionally, recipes may suggest using dried lemons instead.

Onions, potatoes, and tomato paste are also essential ingredients. The potatoes are cut into long, thin strips and deep fried to make French fries. Puréed or crushed tomatoes may be substituted for the paste.

Relatively few spices are added to gheimeh. Turmeric, in addition to salt and pepper, may be the only spice included in some versions. Paprika or cinnamon is sometimes added as well. Occasionally, saffron might be used instead of turmeric.

To make gheimeh, onions are fried in oil, and then the meat, cut into pieces, is browned in the same pan. Afterward, water is added and the meat is allowed to simmer for about an hour. Once the simmering is complete, the limes, peas, and tomato paste are added, along with any spices. If lime juice is used instead of limes, it is included at the end of the cooking process. Some recipes will add the dried limes, or lemons, at the end as well.

Alternately, the peas may be cooked before being added to the stew. To cook separately, the peas are boiled in water until they begin to get soft. When the peas are cooked first, they are added only near the end of the cooking process, after the meat is tender. The stew is then cooked long enough to thicken.

Creating the homemade French fries is a fairly simple process. The potatoes are peeled and then thinly sliced before they are added to a large pot filled with hot cooking oil. Once golden and crispy, the fries are removed from the oil and allowed to drain on a paper towel. Once the stew is complete and spooned into individual bowls, the fries are placed on top for garnish.

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