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Rosh Hashanah Pilaf with Beets, Chard, and Beef from Iraqi Kurdistan

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"This is a Jewish recipe for New Year's, Rosh Hashanah, from Iraqi Kurdistan. The sweet beets contrast with the earthy chard, salty beef, and sour lemon for a wonderfully complex taste in every bite. While the rice needs to soak for 1 hour, the prep and cooking is easy for the beautiful and elaborate dish it creates."
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2 h 50 m servings 311
Original recipe yields 6 servings


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  1. Wash rice repeatedly in a large bowl of water until the water runs clear. Cover rice with fresh water and soak for 1 hour.
  2. Drain rice and mix with shredded beets, garlic, 2 teaspoons sugar, 1/2 of the lemon juice, dill, tarragon, and 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt.
  3. Heat oil in a 6-quart stock pot over medium heat. Add beef and remaining salt. Cook and stir until beef is browned, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove browned beef from the pot with a slotted spoon, leaving the oil behind. Add onion; cook and stir until browned, 5 to 10 minutes. Add cubed beets and saute for another 5 minutes. Remove onion and beets from the pot and mix with the beef.
  4. Combine water, remaining lemon juice, and remaining sugar in a bowl to create sweet and sour water.
  5. Place 1 layer of chard leaves on the bottom of the pot. Add 1/2 of the rice mixture, followed by a second layer of chard leaves. Add 1/2 of the beef mixture, followed by a layer of chard leaves, and the remaining rice mixture. Add another layer of chard leaves, the remaining beef mixture, and a final topping of chard leaves. Pierce the chard leaf layers with a long and thin knife all the way to the bottom a few times so steam can escape. Pour the sweet and sour water over the top.
  6. Bring the pilaf to a gentle simmer over medium heat. Turn the heat to very low, cover, and cook for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to rest for 15 minutes before serving.


  • Cook's Notes:
  • You can use ground lamb instead of beef as well and any long grain rice instead of basmati.
  • Dried basil can be substituted for the dried tarragon.
  • If using table salt, use less than the amount given for kosher salt.

Nutrition Facts

Per Serving: 311 calories; 12.1 33.6 19.2 50 754 Full nutrition

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