ĀB-ḠŪRA (or ĀB-E ḠŪRA), the juice of ḡūra, i.e. unripe grapes. (The term is applied secondarily to other unripe fruit. For examples of the term ḡūra in literature, see Dehḵodā, fasc. no. 74, pp. 361-62.) Such juice, sour and highly acidic, is used in Persian cuisine both for its own sake and as a substitute for lemon juice.
In commercial processing the unripe grapes, after being picked, are placed in large mills and mashed to a pulp. The juice thus squeezed is separated from the seeds and skins, collected in large vats, and put up in sterilized bottles. As an alternative to the purchase of āb-ḡūra in the marketplace, many Persian housewives prefer to prepare and bottle their own at home. Great care is taken to ensure that the bottles are filled to the very brim, leaving no air space at the top where mold might form.
Āb-ḡūra is used in various Persian dishes. For example, it is an ingredient in āš-e sāq, a soup prepared with spinach, leeks, yellow split peas, and seasonings; and it is used to simmer dolma-ye kadū, stuffed summer squash. Āb-ḡūra flavors several types of ḵoreš (stewed meat dishes served with rice—e.g., ḵoreš-e esfenaǰ o ālū (stewed lamb with spinach and prunes), ḵoreš-e havīǰ (stewed lamb with carrots), and ḵoreš-e čaḡāla-bādām (stewed lamb with fresh, unripe almonds). Unripe grapes are used whole in some dishes, such as ḵoreš-e ḡūra (lamb stew with sour grapes). Āb-ḡūra was frequently used until not too long ago also as a souring agent for a number of pickles, dried pickles, and spices (āčārs; see Sofra-ye Aṭʿama, pp. 70-71). As a spice, ḡūra powder (gard-e ḡūra was sometimes reinforced by āb-ḡūra and then dried (ibid., p. 72).
See description of the dishes in which āb-ḡūra is used in Sofra-ye Aṭʿama, index, and in N. Ramazani, Persian Cooking, New York, 1974, pp. 23, 49-50, 141-42, 152-53, 146.
Originally Published: December 15, 1982
Last Updated: December 15, 1982
This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 1 pp. 46-47
N. Ramazani, “ĀB-ḠŪRA,” Encyclopaedia Iranica, I/1, pp. 46-47, available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/ab-gura.