Kermani-Style Pistachio and Dill Braise By Najmieh Batmanglij

6 servings.

3 cups raw pistachio kernels (almost 1 pound)
3 tablespoons oil, butter, or ghee*
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
1 pound boneless leg of lamb, or chicken thighs, cut into 2-inch pieces
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 cup verjuice (unripe grape juice), or ¼ cup fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon ground saffron dissolved in 2 tablespoons rose water
1 cup chopped fresh dill weed


Soak the pistachios in a container of cold water for 24 hours in the refrigerator, changing the water twice. Drain, spread on a clean kitchen towel, pat dry, and remove any skin that remains stuck to the kernels. In a Dutch oven, heat 3 tablespoons oil over medium heat and brown the onions and meat. Add the salt, pepper, and turmeric. Sauté for 2 minutes. Pour in water—3 cups for lamb and 2 1/2 cups for chicken—and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat—1 1/2 hours for lamb and 30 minutes for chicken—stirring occasionally. Add the verjuice, saffron-rose water, and pistachios, and bring back to boil. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Transfer the braise to a deep, ovenproof casserole, cover, and place in the middle rack of the oven. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes until the lamb is tender.
Just before serving, adjust seasoning to taste, adding more verjuice or salt. Add the dill. Serve with steamed rice and a fresh herb platter on the side.

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fun facts

Pistachios, when eaten with high-carbohydrate foods, may result in lower than expected blood sugar levels, an important factor in reducing risk of diabetes.

According to a Penn State University study, it is suggested that pistachios reduce the body's biological response to stress.

One serving of pistachios has as much potassium (300mg, 8%) as an orange (250mg, 7%).

Pistachios are high in phytosterols which may lower cholesterol levels and decrease the risk of heart disease. In animal studies phytosterols have been shown to potentially have anti-cancer properties.

One serving of pistachios is 49 nuts, more than any other tree nut.

Forty-nine pistachios serve up to 20 percent of your Daily Value of B6, about the same as half an avocado.

You can obtain more dietary fiber from a serving of pistachios (3g) than a 1/2 cup of cooked broccoli, and the same amount of dietary fiber as an orange or an apple — approximately 10 percent of the Daily Value.

Just a single serving of pistachios provides you with the same amount of protein in a one-ounce serving of soybeans and can serve as a protein alternative to meat, poultry or beans according to the USDA Food Guide Pyramid.

Pistachios are a naturally cholesterol-free snack and contain just 1.5 grams of saturated fat.

Celebrate the greatness of nuts! October 22 is National Nut Day and February 26 is National Pistachio Day!