Koofteh Baghali | Persian Meatballs


Here's another Persian dish to keep you cozy this cold Xmas season. Step aside spaghetti and meatballs, or any other meatballs, cos this Persian meatballs is on another level of awesomeness! I am serious. These meatballs are very flavorful pack with layers of umami funk and the stew that goes along with it just makes everything almost flawless.

This isn't your regular greasy meaty meatballs that you would find in an Italian restaurant; this is a combination of ground meat, rice, peas, herbs and spices. If that isn't enuff, the meatballs are stuffed with dates, plums and they come in sizes of a baseball. Mindblowing right? That's my reaction when I came to learn about this amazing dish.

It indeed took quite a bit of effort, but at the end, it makes it all worthwhile. I am using ground chicken. You can use any other cut of meat if desire. I had a hard time locating some of the ingredients, especially dried savory and Persian plums. I had to order them online tho. If you can't get your hands on dried savory, dried thyme would be a great substitute. As for the Persian plums, you can replace it with any dried golden plums. Dried prunes might even do the trick too. This dish is usually served separately, but I decided to serve them all in 1 plate. Perhaps I can make my own Persian pasta and meatballs. What do you think? Anyway, let's get started with the recipe.

Ingredients:

(Serve 6)

  • Meatballs:

  • Yellow Split Peas, 1/4 Cup

  • Basmati Rice, 1/4 Cup

  • Ground Chicken, 750g

  • Yellow Onion Grated, 1

  • Turmeric Powder, 1/2 TSP

  • Sea Salt, 2 TSP

  • White Pepper, 1 TSP

  • Dried Savory / Thyme, 1/2 TSP

  • Coriander Finely Chopped, A Handful

  • Parsley Finely Chopped, A Handful

  • Scallions / Green Onion Finely Chopped, A Handful

  • Mint Finely Chopped, A Handful

  • Egg Lightly Beaten, 1

  • Dates Pitted, 6

  • Dried Persian Plums Pitted, 6

  • Stew:

  • Olive Oil, 5 TBSP

  • Yellow Onion Thinly Sliced, 1

  • Vegetable Stock, 3 Cups or More

  • Tomatoes Puree, 4 TBSP

  • Turmeric Powder, 1/2 TSP

  • Sea Salt, 1 TSP

  • White Pepper, 1/2 TSP

  • Dried Savory / Thyme, 1/2 TSP

  • Dried Mint, 1 TSP

  • Russet Potatoes Peeled Finely Diced, 2

  • Fresh Tomatoes Wedged, 4

  • Dried Persian Plums Pitted, 12

  • Fresh Mint Julienned, A Handful

  • Hard Boiled Eggs, 6

Equipment:

  • Heavy Sauce Pot

  • Rice Cooker

Directions:

  1. Wash and rinse yellow split peas.

  2. Transfer into rice cooker.

  3. Add water to about 1 inch over the peas.

  4. Cook the peas for about 15 mins

  5. Wash and rinse basmati rice until water becomes clear.

  6. Add the rice into the rice cooker together with the peas.

  7. Lightly season with salt and pepper.

  8. Stir to combine well.

  9. Add some more water to about 1 inch over the mixture.

  10. Cook the rice and peas thru for about 15 mins or per rice cooker's manufacturer's instructions.

  11. Remove from cooker and set aside to cool.

  12. In a shallow bowl, add chicken, onion, turmeric, salt, pepper, savory, coriander, parsley, green onion and mint.

  13. *You should have about 1/2 cup worth of chopped fresh herbs.*

  14. Mix to combine well.

  15. *Ensure that the rice mixture is the same ratio as the chicken mixture.

  16. If you have excess rice mixture, remove and set aside.

  17. If the rice mixture ratio is more than the chicken mixture, the meatballs will be very tough.*

  18. Add the rice mixture into the chicken mixture.

  19. Add in egg.

  20. Mix to combine well.

  21. Cover with cling film and set aside in the fridge for 1 to 4 hrs.

  22. Remove from fridge and divide into 6 equal portions using a weighing scale.

  23. *It is best to grease your hands with some olive oil.*

  24. Form 1 portion into a ball.

  25. It should be the size of a baseball.

  26. Stuff the meatball with 1 date and 1 plum.

  27. Seal the stuffing probably and form into a ball again.

  28. Repeat the steps for the remaining meatballs.

  29. Lightly cover with cling film and set aside in the fridge until ready to use.

  30. In a sauce pot over medium heat, add oil.

  31. Once the oil is heated up, add in onion.

  32. Saute until caramelized, for about 15 mins.

  33. Deglaze the pot with vegetable stock.

  34. Add in tomato puree, turmeric, salt, pepper, savory and mint.

  35. Stir to combine well.

  36. Bring it up to a simmer.

  37. Add in meatballs.

  38. The amount of stock mixture should reach about 1/3 height of the meatballs.

  39. If the stock is too much, simmer further before adding the meatballs.

  40. If the stock is too little, add in more vegetable stock.

  41. Bring the stew up to a simmer again.

  42. Turn the heat down to low.

  43. Cover and cook for about 30 mins.

  44. *Do not open the cover. This is to prevent evaporation.*

  45. After 30 mins, add in potatoes, tomatoes and plums.

  46. Add in more vegetable stock until it is 3/4 height of the meatballs.

  47. Cover and cook for another 25 mins or until the potatoes are fork tender.

  48. Add in fresh mint.

  49. Taste and adjust for final seasoning with salt and pepper.

  50. Give it a final stir.

  51. Remove from heat.

  52. Transfer onto serving plate.

  53. Serve immediately with more fresh mint and a hard boiled egg.

  54. *To make hard boiled eggs, in a sauce pot, add eggs.

  55. Fill the pot with water.

  56. Put in 1 finger on top of 1 egg, the water should fill up to your 1st knuckle.

  57. Bring the water up to a boil.

  58. Let the water boil for 1 min.

  59. Cover the pot for 15 mins.

  60. Spoon out the eggs into a bowl of cold water.

  61. Lightly crack the eggs and let it sit in the water so that the egg shells could be easily peeled off.*

#meatballs #persian #kooftehbaghali #chicken

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