Iraqi-Style Beef and Vegetable Stew
This hearty stew of fried and simmered beef and vegetables gets its distinct flavor from an aromatic spice mixture composed of cardamom, allspice, and cinnamon.
Yield: serves 6-8
For the Spice Mixture
- 1 1⁄2 tsp. black peppercorns
- 1⁄2 tsp. cumin seeds
- 1⁄2 tsp. coriander seeds
- 2 white or green cardamom pods
- 2 whole allspice berries
- 2 whole cloves
- 1 chile de árbol
- 3⁄4 tsp. dried rose petals (optional)
- 1⁄4 tsp. grated nutmeg
- 1⁄4 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1⁄8 tsp. ground ginger
- 1⁄8 tsp. ground turmeric
For the Stew
- Canola oil for frying
- 1 lb. Italian eggplant, peeled and cut into 3⁄4"-thick rounds
- 1 lb. waxy-style potatoes, peeled and cut into 1⁄2"-thick rounds
- 2 large beefsteak tomatoes, cored and cut into 1"-thick rounds
- 1 medium onion, sliced into 3⁄4"-thick rounds
- 1 green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and quartered
- 1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and quartered
- 1 lb. beef top round, trimmed and cut into 4" x 1⁄2" strips
- 1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
- 2⁄3 cup tomato paste
- 1 tbsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste
- Make the spice mixture: In a skillet, toast peppercorns, cumin, coriander, cardamom, allspice, and cloves over medium heat until fragrant, about 4 minutes. Let cool; grind to a powder in a spice grinder along with chile and rose petals. Transfer spices to a bowl; stir in nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, and turmeric. Set spice mixture aside.
- Make the stew: Pour oil into a 6-qt. pot to a depth of 2". Heat over high heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers 360°. Working in batches, fry eggplant and potatoes until golden, turning, about 2 minutes; transfer to plates. Fry 1 sliced tomato for 15 seconds; drain. Fry onion until golden, about 90 seconds; drain. Fry peppers for 1 minute. Fry beef in batches until browned, about 30 seconds; transfer to a bowl to capture juices.
- Transfer 3 tbsp. frying oil to a 2-qt. saucepan; place over medium-high heat. Add garlic; cook for 1 minute. Add tomato paste; cook until browned, 1–2 minutes. Stir in 1 cup water, salt, and reserved meat juices; set aside.
- Heat oven to 350°. Beginning with raw tomato, layer vegetables and beef in a 6-qt. pot. Season each layer with salt to taste and spice mixture. Pour in tomato sauce; slide a spatula around pot to disperse sauce. Bring to a simmer; bake, covered, for 1 hour. Let rest for 30 minutes. Serve with rice.