Lamb and Celery Stew

Known as koreshteh karafs, this Iranian spring stew by Ariana Bundy is a true taste sensation
Lamb and Celery Stew by Ariana Bundy
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Lamb and Celery Stew by Ariana Bundy
March 08, 2019
Level Advanced
Preparation Time 10 minutes
Cooking Time 1-1½ hours
Serves 4-6

Iranian-American chef, cookbook author and global TV personality Ariana Bundy grew up in New York and London and has lived in France, Italy, Switzerland, California and Dubai. She inherited her love of food from her restaurateur father, her grandparents – who grew fruit and vegetables on their own land in Iran – and her mother, whose authentic cuisine takes Ariana ‘home’. In celebration of Persian New Year this March, Ariana has chosen a lamb and celery stew known as koreshteh karafs. Although not the traditional dish of rice and fish served on this day, it’s a spring stew nonetheless.

PHOTO BY Rajesh Raghav
RECIPE BY Ariana Bundy


1 large onion
1 celery stalk, cubed + 750g cut diagonally into 5cm pieces
500g de-boned leg of lamb or stewing beef, cut into 4-5 cm cubes or 1kg chicken, breast pieces on the bones
2 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves
2 tbsp butter
½ tsp spinnesyFOOD Fine Turmeric
1 tsp brown sugar
Zest and juice of ½ lemon
½ tsp spinneysFOOD Salt
½ tsp spinneysFOOD White Pepper
25g spinneysFOOD Fresh Mint, finely chopped
150g spinneysFOOD Fresh Parsley, roughly chopped
750ml unsalted chicken stock or hot water
13 tsp dried mint
½ tsp saffron threads, pounded then dissolved in 2-3 tbsp hot water


  • 1

    Chop the onion and celery into small cubes or mirepoix

  • 2

    In a heavy frying pan over a medium-high heat, brown the mirepoix and the meat in olive oil until the vegetables are golden and the meat is seared, about 10 minutes

  • 3

    Stirring frequently, add the garlic, butter, turmeric, sugar, lemon zest and salt and pepper

  • 4

    Stir in the fresh herbs. Cook for about 5 minutes

  • 5

    Add the stock or water and the dried mint. Cover and simmer on the lowest setting for about an hour

  • 6

    Check and gently stir the stew 2-3 times during the cooking process

  • 7

    Add the 5cm celery pieces, lemon juice and saffron liquid, cover again and let it cook for another 20-30 minutes – without stirring too much

  • 8

    Check the seasoning and adjust the taste with some sugar and lemon juice to your liking


“This easy dish can be cooked in an hour. I like to serve it with rice cooked with saffron, butter, oil and salt. And I’ve experimented with crispy mint leaves as a garnish this time. When rhubarb is in season, use this instead of celery to make another stew called koreshteh rivas (you just need to add sugar and lemon juice). It sums up how the Persian way of cooking balances sweet and sour flavours.” - Ariana Bundy