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Split Pea Patties (Shami-e lapeh)


  • 1 pound boned leg of lamb (beef, veal, or turkey) cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 pound split peas, picked over and rinsed
  • 1 teaspoon baking solds 1/2 teaspoon ground saffron dissolved in 2 tablespoons hot water
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups canola oil (or more), for frying
  • Greenleaf lettuce, washed and patted dry
  • Fresh basil, mint, cilantro, tarragon, spring onions, and lavash bread
  • 1/4 pound Quince paste


  • 1. In a medium sauce pan combine the meat, onion, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, pepper, turmeric, and 2 cups water; cover and cook over medium heat for 45 minutes or until tender. Remove from heatand drain (reserve the juice to use later on if the meat is too dry). Puree the meat in the food processor and transfer to a large mixing bowl.
  • 2. Meanwhile, in another medium-sized saucepan, combine the split peas with 4 cups water and a 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, cover, and cook for 30 minutes or until tender. Drain and reserve the juice. In the food processor puree the split peas and transfer to the mixing bowl with the meat.
  • 3. When the meat mixture is cool, add the baking soda, saffron, and the eggs one by one, and knead for a few minutes until a soft paste is created. If it is too dry, add some of the reserved juices. Cover and refrigerate for 2 to 24 hours.
  • 4. Place a bowl of warm water next to your cooking pan. Scoop the meat paste (use an ice cream scoop) into lumps the size of walnuts. Moisten your hands and flatten each lump between your damp palms into a round shape and press a hole in the center with your finger; this helps to cook the inside of the patties.
  • 5. In a wide skillet, heat 1/4 cup of oil over medium-low heat until hot (but not smoking). Fry the patties on each side for about 5 minutes or until golden brown, adding more oil if necessary. There should be enough oil so the patties are half submerged in oil. Remove the patties gently with a slotted spatula and place in a wide container lined with parchment paper. Continue for remaining patties, separating each layer with parchment paper. Allow to cool. If not used immediately, cover and keep in the refrigerator for later use (up to 3 days).
  • 6. Serve wrapped in greenleaf lettuce together with fresh hers and a slice of quince paste, or replace the quince paste with a traditional sweet and sour sauce. These patties are also good with bread.
  • Variation: Sweet and Sour Sauce
  • These patties are traditionally served with a sweet and sour sauce. In a wide skillet, fry 1 chopped onion in 3 tablespoons oil. Add 1 teaspoon turmeric, 1 teaspoon dry mint, stir-fry for 20 seconds, add 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup vinegar, and 1/2 cup grape molasses. Bring to a boil. Just before serving, gently arrange the patties in the sauce and let simmer for 3 minutes. Serve hot.