To make the Qeema:
Slice the halved onions lengthwise into thin strips. On an angle, slice them horizontally so you are left with thin slivers, about one inch in length.
In a large pot, add the onions and a drizzle of oil. Sauté the onions over low heat until they are translucent. They should not get caramelized or brown and no salt should be added.
As the onions are cooking, slice the beef and lamb with the grain in large four- to five-inch pieces.
When the onions have softened, add the chunks of meat and the turmeric. Sauté until the meat is no longer red, and everything has a soft yellow hue.
Add the chickpeas to the pot and toss to combine everything. Add enough cold water to cover the stew by six inches. In a large pot, this will be about one or two inches away from the top.
Bring the stew to a boil. Reduce the heat to very low, cover with a lid slightly ajar and allow the stew to simmer for six to seven hours, or overnight.
Remove the stew from the heat.
In a separate pot, using a slotted spoon, add a few spoonfuls of the meat and chickpea mixture to the new pot (the broth will remain in the original pot.)
At this point, using the bottom of an old wine bottle or the bottom of a mug, start to mash the meat and chickpeas. The mashing should be a motion of pushing down and sliding out. It should not be a pounding motion.
Try to mash as well as you can. A part of the unique texture of this dish is the thin threads of meat in a thick and smooth chickpea broth.
Remove the mashed meat and chickpeas to a separate bowl and repeat with remaining chickpeas and meat from the broth.
When you are all done mashing, add the mashed meat and chickpeas back into the pot of broth. Bring to a simmer. The mixture should be the consistency of loose hummus. Add more water if you think it is too thick.
Add the can of tomato paste and whisk to combine completely. Add the spices, the ground black lime (I used a nutribullet to turn them into a powder, but a food processor or mortar and pestle would work as well) and finally, plenty of salt.
Wafaa’s note: you can alter the amount of the five spices to taste. For example, you can add a bit more or less of the cinnamon, cardamom, or cumin.
Simmer the mixture, stirring often for another two hours over low heat. The mixture should be a dark caramel brown, and nice and thick.
Wafaa’s note: I make a big batch and freeze any leftovers. That way, I have it ready whenever I get a craving for Najafi Qeema. I prepare the basmati rice while it is defrosting.