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Shared by Robina Shapiro

Khoresh e Karafs (Sweet and Sour Beef Stew With Celery)

Yield: 6 servingsTime: 3h

Khoresh e Karafs (Sweet and Sour Beef Stew With Celery)

Yield: 6 servingsTime: 3h

Family Journey

Basra, IraqIranIsrael
New York City

This recipe was shared by Robina Shapiro. Read more about her family in "The Ashkenazi Protector of a Family’s Iraqi Jewish Recipes" and try her recipe for polo with tahdig (crispy Persian rice) and Turkish eggplant dolma.


  • ¼ cup, plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 3 pounds beef chuck, cut into 1½-inch pieces
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 2 medium yellow onions, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 4 cups beef stock
  • 1 head (2 pounds) celery, trimmed and washed, leaves removed and reserved
  • 2 teaspoons ground dried Persian limes*
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar, plus more to taste**
Soups & StewsMeat Kosher for PassoverGluten FreeMiddle East


  • Step 1

    In a large Dutch oven, heat ¼ cup of the oil over medium-high heat. Season the beef with salt, then working in 2 batches, sear, turning as needed, until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes per batch. Transfer to a bowl.

  • Step 2

    Add the onion to the pot and cook, scraping up any fond on the bottom of the pan, until softened and just starting to brown at the edges, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the cumin and sauté until fragrant, 1 minute.

  • Step 3

    Add back the seared beef and pour in the beef stock, then bring to a simmer. Cook, covered until the beef is tender, and the broth is thickened, 2 hours.

  • Step 4

    Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat. Add the celery and cook until lightly golden and crisp-tender, 5 to 6 minutes. Remove from the heat and season with the crushed dried lime and salt.

  • Step 5

    Once the beef is tender, add the celery mixture and brown sugar to the pot and stir to incorporate. Simmer for another 15 minutes to meld the flavors. Adjust seasoning with salt and brown sugar. Garnish with celery leaves, then serve.

*Most Middle Eastern shops sell ground dried Persian limes, but you could also grind whole dried limes yourself, just first crack them open to remove any seeds.
**While traditionally white sugar is used, Robina likes to use brown sugar. One of her aunts even uses chopped prunes to add sweetness to the stew.