Abgusht (Ox Tail Stew)

1½ cups garbanzo beans (chick peas)
3 cups white beans
1½ lbs. ox tails (or fatty lamb/beef, cut into medium size chunks)
5 medium onions, chopped fine
5 dried lemons or 4 tablespoons powdered dried lemons
6 heaping tablespoons tomato paste
5 tomatoes, chopped (optional)
5 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered
4 teaspoons turmeric
salt, black pepper, sumac (season to taste)

See NOTE 1 and 2.
Clean and wash the beans. Boil them until they are tender, about 2 hours.
While the beans are cooking, place the meat, bones, fat, chopped onions, dried lemons, turmeric and 1 teaspoon black pepper in a large pot. Add enough water to fill the pot three-quarters full. Bring this to a boil then cover the pot and lower the fire enough so that the abgusht steadily simmers but doesn’t boil.
Whenever the beans are tender, add them to the abgusht and continue to simmer. Stir the abgusht once in a while and check that there is enough water. When the abgusht has cooked about a total of 4 hours, add the tomato paste and the fresh tomatoes if you are using them. Continue simmering another hour. The meat should be beginning to fall apart and the fat should be so soft that you can mash it. Remove all fat and mash it by gently beating it with the back of a cooking spoon. (If you are not gentle, both you and the kitchen will end up covered in fat.) Return the fat to the Abgusht. If you used whole dried lemons, cut into the dried lemons with your spoon. Add the potatoes and salt (to taste) and continue cooking about a half hour more until the potatoes are tender. Adjust seasonings and serve with crusty bread, quartered raw onions, sumac and Torshe Bademjan.
Kubideh: Using a slotted spoon, scoop out 4 spoonfuls of the Abgusht and place in a large bowl. Add 2 cups of French bread that has been torn into small pieces. Pour 1 cooking spoonful of the soup water over all and mash it into a paste. Serve as a side dish with the abgusht.
NOTE 1: The secret to a good Abgusht is plenty of onions and long cooking. It should cook long enough that the onions dissolve.
NOTE 2: When the Abgusht is to be served at noontime, it should be started and cooked for about 2 hours the night before. Then continue cooking early the next morning. If using a slow cooker, let it cook all night on the low setting.

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