The persian stew Ab Gusht (Taste of Beirut photo)

Joumana Accad’s Lamb and Bean Soup (Ab Gusht)


BEIRUT — “My Lebanese heritage taught me that good taste is easy to achieve by using just a few fresh, simple ingredients. There is no need for costly and numerous ingredients. Good cooking is not about impressing people, it is about knowing how to season and balance ingredients, and keeping it simple is best,” says Lebanese food blogger, cookbook author and stylist Joumana Accad at Taste of Beirut. Taste of Beirut began in 2009 and its main goal is to share Joumana’s beloved Lebanese heritage with the world through her many recipes, anecdotes, cultural history, and travels.

“This ancient stew is popular in Iran (from where it originated) as well as in Iraq,” says Joumana. “Iran’s most beloved and ubiquitous peasant dish, ab gusht (abgoosht) (or ‘meat water’) is made with inexpensive, bony cuts of meat, which take a back seat to the broth and the sheer ceremony involved in serving it all. In Iran, people like to gather the solid ingredients, drain them a bit and mash them, and then eat them in a wonderful flatbread called sangak with pickles, onions, radishes, and herbs. Some describe it as a ‘hearty mutton Persian soup thickened with chickpeas.’” A similar dish in Armenia is also called abgoosht. The difference is that in Armenia beef rather than lamb is used.

“Sangak or nân-e sangak is a plain, rectangular, or triangular Iranian whole wheat leavened flatbread. It is usually made from wheat flour or a variation of three parts whole wheat flour with one part white flour. The dough is considered to be a mild sourdough. The sangak bread is so good, I brought some back with me to Beirut and ate it for several days (it was at least 2 feet long),” she adds.

Sangak bread from Iran (Taste of Beirut photo)

“In Persian ‘sangak’ means little stone. The bread is baked on a bed of small river stones in an oven. There are usually two varieties of this bread offered at Iranian bakeries: the generic one which has no toppings; and the more expensive variety which is topped with poppy seeds and/or sesame seeds. Sangak is said to be one of the most prized Iranian breads.”*


1 1/2 lb. lamb shanks

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1/4 cup olive oil or ghee

1 16-oz. can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed

1 16-oz. can navy beans (or red kidney beans or yellow split peas), rinsed

2 large onions, peeled and roughly chopped

2 dried limes, poked with a hole in two or three places

1 small can tomato paste

1/4 cup rice (or coarse bulgur or quinoa)

2 large potatoes, peeled, cut in chunks, soaked in water

Salt, black pepper, ground cinnamon (1 teaspoon), turmeric (1 teaspoon), cayenne pepper (1 teaspoon or to taste)

1 beef stock cube

1/2 cup fresh chopped parsley, to taste

Optional: a pinch of saffron, bloomed in 1/4 cup of warm water (previously powdered in a mortar with a dash of salt or sugar)

Serves 4-6.


Wash and pat dry the meat, then season with salt and pepper.

In a large soup pot, heat the oil or ghee and fry the meat and onions for about 10 minutes over medium heat, or until the meat is browned.

Add the tomato paste and pour about 6 cups of water (or stock); add the dried limes and season with cinnamon, turmeric, and cayenne pepper. Wait until the stew is ready to add salt after tasting. Simmer for about 1 hour or until the meat is tender. At this point, add the potatoes, rice, and beans and simmer for 30 minutes; adjust seasonings at the end. Discard the lamb bones, and squeeze the dried limes to extract every possible flavor.

Taste for extra seasoning.

Ab gusht and fixings (Taste of Beirut photo)

To make Gushte Kubideh:

Using a strainer, lift all the solid ingredients from the stew (meat, beans, rice, potatoes) and mash until you obtain a thick coarse purée like mashed potatoes, adding a little more broth if necessary. Keep the broth warm. Serve the broth in bowls and the gushte kubideh with sangak bread or any flatbread like lavash, saj or markouk, and some raw radishes, herbs and green onions. Joumana says: “I like to add some chili sauce to this dish.

The traditional Iranian dish contains yellow split peas and rice. It’s easier to poke holes within the dried limes if they’re softened in hot water.”

Sangak bread in Shiraz (Iran)

For this recipe, go to:

For information and more recipes:

For Joumana’s YouTube videos, go to:

For Joumana’s Baklava in 10 Minutes, go to:

For Joumana’s Kibbeh stuffed with shredded beef, go to

For Joumana’s Iranian cabbage and rice pilaf (Kalam Polo) recipe, go to:

For Joumana’s Red Lentil Kibbeh, see:

Also see the Authentic Abgoosht recipe at Taste Atlas:


Abgoosht or dizi is one of the most famous and popular dishes in Iran. Courtesy

Joumana has worked in the United States and in Lebanon, and has a large inventory of styled, copyrighted food images available if needed. She is interested in styling food for corporate clients and in brand sponsorships. Contact her by e-mail at or on social media. Subscribe to her food blog and receive notifications of new posts by e-mail:


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