Persian Meatballs (Koofteh) Recipe

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 add cold water to completely cover the eggs and place on high heat PERSIAN MEATBALLS (KOOFTEH) Recipe

PREP TIME 30 mins
COOK TIME 60 mins
TOTAL TIME 1 hour 30 mins

Author: Honest and Tasty
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Persian
Serves: 5


6 Eggs, divided
¼ cup Yellow Split Peas, rinsed
¼ cup Basmati Rice, rinsed until water runs a bit clearer
1 handful Cilantro, rinsed and largest stems cut off
1 handful Parsley, rinsed and largest stems cut off
1 handful Green Onion, rinsed and cut into thirds
1 and ½ large Onions, divided (1 onion is to be chopped and the other ½ onion is to be grated)
5 tablespoons Olive Oil
1 ½ pounds Ground Sirloin Beef (90% lean)
1 teaspoon Turmeric Powder, divided
3 ½ teaspoons Sea Salt, divided
1 ½ teaspoons Black Pepper, divided
1 teaspoon Dried Savory (Marzeh in Farsi), divided
2 teaspoons Dried Mint, divided
5 Dates, pitted
5 ounces Dried & Pitted Plums (approximately 20), divided
4 heaping tablespoons Tomato Paste
2 Russet Potatoes, cut into approximately 2-inch square chunks (or cut into 6ths)
3 med-large Tomatoes, cut into fourths
1 handful Fresh Mint Leaves, roughly chopped or torn
Warm Pita bread for serving
Optional: Fresh Herbs for serving (e.g. cilantro, mint, radish, basil, green onion)


For the Hard-Boiled Eggs:

  1. Hard boil 5 eggs by placing them in a large pot, add cold water to completely cover the eggs and place on high heat.
  2. Once it’s at a rolling boil, remove pot from heat and cover for 8 min.
  3. Rinse with cold water, peel, and cut in half.
  4. These will be served with the meatballs.

For the Yellow-Split Peas and Rice Mixture:

  1. Put yellow split peas into a small rice cooker or small pot.
  2. Add enough water to cover the yellow split peas to an inch over the peas.
  3. Add ½ teaspoon salt, mix, and turn on rice cooker (or cook on med-high heat if using a small pot) for about 15 minutes or until just barely cooked. If you’re worried about the yellow split peas boiling over, place a wooden spatula over the top of the pot. This will ensure that it won’t boil over. Skim off any released foam from the top of the water.
  4. Add the rice when yellow split peas are just barely cooked.
  5. Cook the rice for about 15 minutes or until the water is all soaked up and the rice is tender.

For the Herb Mixture:

  1. Put cilantro, parsley, and green onion into a food processor. Chop finely in the food processor. It should amount to about ½ cup of chopped herbs.

Koofteh (Meatballs):

  1. Fry the chopped onion in a large pot on med-high heat in about 5 tablespoons of olive oil, mixing occasionally to keep the onion from burning.
  2. Once fried (it’ll take about 10 minutes), remove pot from heat, move onions to one side of the pot, and tilt the pot to drain the excess oil. You can get rid of this excess oil, leaving the onions in the pot.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, add the beef, grated onion, ½ teaspoon turmeric, 2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoons pepper, ½ teaspoon dried savory, 1 teaspoon dried mint, and the chopped herb mixture (cilantro, parsley, and green onion), the yellow split pea and rice mixture (add enough to equal half of the amount of beef, and no more), and 1 raw egg.
  4. Use a fork to first whisk the egg a bit before using your hands to mix everything together. You need to really mix everything well, working the mixture with your hands for a few minutes until it starts to stick to your hands. This helps the meatball keep its shape during the cooking process.
  5. Make compact baseball-sized meatballs and place 2 dates/plums in the middle of each. This should make about 5 meatballs.
  6. Add 3 cups of water to the large pot containing the fried onion.
  7. Mix in tomato paste, ½ teaspoon turmeric, 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper, 1 teaspoon dried mint, and ½ teaspoon dried savory.
  8. Carefully add in the meatballs. The broth should come up about ⅓ of the way up the meatballs.
  9. Cover the pot and cook on med-low heat until cooked through (about 30 minutes) and don’t open the cover until the 30 minutes point in order to keep in the heat and prevent evaporation.
  10. Then remove the cover and add in tomatoes, potatoes, and remainder of dried plums.
  11. Add more water to come up to ¾ the height of the meatballs.
  12. Simmer for about 20-25 minutes on medium/med-low (or until potatoes are soft) before serving.
  13. The broth is traditionally served first, like a soup. It’s topped with torn, fresh mint and torn, warm bread. Then the meatballs are served with the potato, tomato, and egg, and eaten with bread and perhaps even some fresh herbs. Enjoy!
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