Recipe: VEGAN Persian Gheimeh Bademjoon (Split Pea Eggplant Stew)

I have made it my life's goal to "veganize" all my favorite traditional Persian recipes.  We started a cookbook years ago, and just never finished it.  Maybe someday...

Now, this recipe sounds crazy impossible.  It's best to think about it not in steps, but in, say, a timeline.  Persian food is an art, not a science, so if you're used to linear recipes, this may freak you out.  But it's WELL worth it.  Just because it's a bit tricky to make, I'm allowing for leftovers (serves 10).  Be sure to read the ENTIRE recipe BEFORE you get started.  It's just about non-stop cooking for two hours, so we only make Persian food about once a week.  My mother in law has it down to a science where she's making several dishes at once!  Just take a deep breath -- after all, saffron is a proven anti-depressant!

 Ingredients you will need:

  • 1.5 cups yellow split peas
  • 4 cups long grain brown or white basmati rice (this is important -- you can use other kinds, but it's just not the same)
  • 4 medium potatoes
  • 6-7 dried limes (found at Persian food stores; if you can't find them, use 1/8 cup lime juice)
  • 3-4 Japanese eggplant (optional: this recipe works just as well without the eggplant)
  • 1 tsp Persian saffron (Spanish saffron has an entirely different flavor)
  • 1 glass jar, 1 glass tea cup  (don't worry, you don't have to eat them)
  • Deep fryer (healthier option: bake the fries until crispy)
  • 2 medium white onions
  • Grapeseed oil (you'll need quite a bit, so I've left off amounts)
  • 1/2 cup vegan butter (I used Earth Balance)
  • 3 oz tomato paste (half of a can)
  • 1 15 oz tomato sauce
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 container veggie broth (or 3 veggie bouillons)
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • salt to taste (we used 3 tsp)
  • Unsweetened soy yogurt (optional)

I soaked the rice in the butter, water, and oil just to save time.


  1. Soak split peas in water for two hours
  2. Prepare rice in rice cooker but don't turn it on (it needs to soak, too):
    • 4 cups rice
    • 5 cups water
    • 1/2 cup butter
    • 1/4 cup oil
    • 2-3 tbsp salt
  3. Soak dried limes in water for two hours
  4. Prepare eggplant (optional):

    Soaking the dried lemons.

    • Wash, peel and cut eggplants in half, place on baking sheet
    • Coat both sides with oil and sprinkle with salt
    • Bake in 375* oven until brown, flipping once (about 15 mins each side)
  5. Prepare potatoes:
    • Wash and peel
    • Slice most with mandolin on julienne setting, set about 3/4 of a potato aside
    • Slice remaining potato into large slices, about 1/4" thick -- this will cover the bottom of the rice cooker and form "tahdeeg" (means: "bottom of the pan")
    • Soak in water for 2 hours -- this prevents the potatoes from becoming orange


  1. Chop onions very finely -- cut each in fourths, then slice them into radii -- if you get this wrong, don't worry, just know the thinner the better.

    Slicing the onions finely adds to a smoother texture.

  2. Sauté onions in grapeseed oil (enough to cover the pan) until they're brown and even a little burnt. This will take a while, so in the meantime...

    See how the onions get crispy and a tad burnt?

  3. Prepare saffron --  Crush in mortar and pestle and place in glass jar
    • Add 1/2 cup boiling water and stir
    • Set aside on a warmer (if possible)
  4. Boil 3 cups of water.
  5. Once the onions are ready, add the tomato paste and sauté until the onions are covered. Reduce heat.
  6. Add 1 tsp turmeric, tomato sauce, boiling water, 1 tsp. black pepper, and veggie broth. This is now your stew.
  7. Drain split peas, and add to stew.
  8. Start rice in the rice cooker -- on highest setting.
  9. Bring stew to a boil, reduce heat and cook for 30 minutes.
  10. Drain julienned potatoes, deep fry them and set aside on a paper towel to drain the oil. (I know, YUCK, but I wanted it to be authentic)
  11. To the stew: add salt to taste, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, and HALF of the saffron liquid.
  12. When rice is halfway ready (the water is all evaporated), prepare the tahdeeg:
    • Remove rice and place in a bowl
    • Add oil to the bottom of the rice cooker
    • Layer drained, sliced potatoes
    • Replace rice
    • Pour remaining saffron (1/4 cup) into a glass tea cup and nestle it in the rice
    • Replace lid and allow to finish cooking
  13. Cover stew with the eggplant, cook for 20 more minutes.
  14. To the stew: add drained dried lemons (or lemon juice), cook for 10 more minutes (or until split peas are tender). NOTE: You don't actually eat the dried lemons, they just flavor the dish. Some people love to eat them, but they're SUPER sour.
  15. Place rice in a serving dish, drizzle the saffron over the rice, top with tahdeeg.
  16. Pour stew into a serving dish, sprinkle fries over the stew.
  17. Serve stew over saffron-drizzled rice and unsweetened soy yogurt.  Serve the tahdeeg on the side (it's like crispy fried potatoes).

*Short on time? Leave out eggplant, buy prepackaged fries (the thinner the better), prepare the rice the day before.*


Nestling the saffron in the rice cooker enhances the aroma of the rice.


I used an old baby food jar for preparing my saffron.


This veggie stock has no MSG and is unsalted.


Traditionally, the potatoes are deep fried. You can bake yours if you like.


Serving suggestion.


Preparing the "tahdeeg."


One Response to Recipe: VEGAN Persian Gheimeh Bademjoon (Split Pea Eggplant Stew)

  1. FruityGirl says:

    Sounds fantastic!!!!! 🙂

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