Azmin Ghahreman’s dishes are a delectable marriage of aroma, flavor and texture. Often his unique spice blends play an irresistible role, adding a just-right amount of taste-bud bling.

He was born in Iran and raised in Switzerland. His Harira, a Middle Eastern soup with garbanzo beans, lamb and angel-hair pasta, reflects some of the alluring spices savored in his youth. The soup offers cozy comfort edged with the innovative excitement that saffron, pepper, fresh ginger and cilantro bring to the bowl.

Prior to establishing his own restaurant, Laguna Sapphire in Laguna Beach, he was the executive chef at St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort & Spa in Dana Point. But that’s just the tip of his well-sharpened chef knife. He’s cooked at the Four Seasons Hotels in Wailea and Maui, Hawaii, and Singapore, as well as the Halekulani in Honolulu. He’s served as executive chef at The Regent in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and Sydney, Australia.

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Harira
(Middle Eastern Garbanzo Beans and Lamb Soup)
Yield: 10 servings
1 cup dried garbanzo beans, soaked overnight in water to cover along with 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
10 ounces lean lamb or beef, cut into small dice
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley
2 pinches saffron threads
1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup coarsely chopped Roma tomatoes
3 quarts water
2 tablespoons unsalted cold butter
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 cup broken angel-hair pasta or fideo
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
Juice of 1 lemon, or more to taste
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 cup water
Kosher salt to taste
Ground white pepper to taste

Procedure:

1. Drain and rinse the garbanzo beans. Next, spread them evenly on a clean terry cloth

towel, covering the top with another cloth. With a rolling pin, crush them

lightly to crack them and loosen their skins. Place in a bowl of water and stir until the outer skin drifts to the top. Skim off skins. Repeat until most of the skins from garbanzos are removed.

2. In a large pot, heat oil on medium-high heat. Add garbanzo beans, lamb pieces, onion, parsley, spices, and chopped tomatoes. Cook 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 3 quarts of cold water. Bring to boil on high heat. Add butter and reduce heat to medium or medium-low; simmer 45 minutes or until lamb is fork tender.

3. Stir in tomato paste, broken angel hair pasta, cilantro, and juice of lemon. Reduce heat on medium-low heat until pasta is al dente.

4. In a small bowl, mix together the flour and 3/4 cup of water; drizzle mixture into soup, stirring constantly to prevent lumps. Cook about 3 minutes. The soup should be of velvety consistency. Add salt and white pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.

Source: Executive Chef Azmin Ghahreman, Laguna Sapphire, Laguna Beach