Ash-e-Mast (Hot Yogurt Soup)

1/2 lb. ground meat
3 large onions
1/2 cup yellow split peas, washed and soaked 1 hour
1 1/2 cup rice, washed
3 cups plain yogurt
1/2 cup liquid shortening
1 lb. spinach, parsley, green onion tops, finely chopped
2 teaspoons dried coriander (cilantro)
2 teaspoons garlic puree
1 1/2 teaspoons tumeric
1 tablespoon dried mint
salt, black pepper

In a large pot bring 5 cups of water to a boil.  Add the vegetables, 1 finely chopped onion, the ground meat, the yellow split peas, 1 teaspoon tumeric, coriander and salt and pepper to taste.  Cover and simmer over a medium low fire for about a half hour.
While the ash is cooking, fry the garlic in 3 tablespoons shortening.  As soon as it starts to take color add the mint and fry 5 minutes longer.  Set aside.
In another frying pan put 2 chopped onions and sprinkle them with 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Fry them over a medium fire stirring frequently.  As soon as the onion juices fry out and the onions begin to stick to the bottom of the pan, add the rest of the shortening and 1/2 teaspoon tumeric.  Fry until golden-brown and transparent.  Set aside.
After the ash has cooked a 1/2 hour, add the rice, fried onions and fried garlic and cook for another half hour.  Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.  The ash should be thick by now.  Add the yogurt and let it heat thoroughly but do not boil.  Adjust seasoning and serve with crusty French bread or Iranian bread.


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