Koofteh Berenji ~ Persian Meatballs with Rice
Some call them Koftah, others call them Keftah, but we, Persians, call them Koofteh! Today’s recipe indeed is for Koofteh Berenji, which is meatballs with rice and split peas. These are seriously yummy and were enjoyed in our house for quite a few days!
It was fun experimenting with recipes where I could use the abundance of Gojeh Sabz that I had sitting in my fridge. To be exact this is the second recipe that I made during my cooking marathon along Khoresht Gojeh Sabz.
These take a little bit of time as far as preparation goes, but they are well worth it!
1lb of ground meat ~ I used extra lean 15%
2 large onions, one graded and the other sliced length wise
1/2 cup of split peas
3/4 cup of rice
1 bunch of parsley
1/2 bunch of dill
1 bunch of green onions
2 branches of tarragon
3 cloves of garlic, diced
1 tsp turmeric
3 tsp advieh
2 tbsp tomato paste
3 cups of broth or 3 bouillon
1 cup of gojeh sabz
salt & pepper
Let’s get started!
First things first: wash split peas and rice, add 2 cups of water, a dash of salt and cook for 30 minutes.
Clean and wash the herbs. Notice that fresh tarragon is missing here. My local Persian store was all out. I was rather disappointed because tarragon happens to be one of my favorite herbs. But have no fears, I have a substitute coming right up! Also chop the green onions and place them aside.
I am partially clever and partially lazy so I thought I could use our food processor to grade the onion. Frankly speaking I was not in a mood to shed some tears. Somehow grading onions is our food processor is not a good option. After seeing the results I might have used two explicit words to unload some of the frustration I felt after the failed attempt. Anyway, I don’t care how you do it, just grade your onion please.
Then throw in the herbs and pulse a couple of times for a nice chop chop. The smell of the chopped herbs should make its way up to your nose any minute now! By the way, this is a nice and quick way to chop a large amount of herbs together. I love the food processor for precisely this reason. It might fail its purpose for grading onions, but he is my bestest friend when it comes to chopping herbs, and grading cheese, to think of it!
Once the rice and split peas are done, place them in a colander to drain the juices. Save the juice as it will be used as part of the broth. You should be left with about 1 cup of water.
Now gather all of the following ingredients as seen in the picture: rice, split peas, graded onion, chopped herbs, ground beef, advieh, and eggs. You will be mixing all these ingredients together in a bowl. If you are going to use a mixer like I did, once again, clever/lazy way, I have found that it is best to beat the eggs and advieh in a small separate bowl first. Regardless of whether you are making this in a bowl or mixer, I have found that it is much easier to first combine the herbs, spices, seasoning, with the egg, and then once these are nicely incorporated add the meat.
So moving right along, place the eggs and chopped herbs in the mixer. Add some salt and pepper to taste.
Give it a nice mix so that they are incorporated.
Add the green onions. Remember how I said that I didn’t have fresh tarragon? Add 1 tbsp of dry tarragon. It is not the same as fresh, but it will do. Give it a mix.
Then add the ground beef, split peas, and rice.
Mix for about 5 minutes, starting on a slow speed and gradually going higher. If you are overzealous, like I can sometimes be, and go to a fast speed right away, then you will find your counter to mirror mine, where things just flew everywhere.
While you are mixing, stop half way through to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Also you might want to scrape the bottom of the bowl as sometimes things just stick to the bottom. Once your mixture is nicely incorporated, make the meatballs, about the size of a small orange. I don’t have a picture of this process as I was home alone and it is a bit hard to make meatballs and photograph yourself at the same time.
Sauté the onion and garlic in oil until translucent.
This is an extra step that I did because I didn’t have broth and used 3 bouillon. Place 3 cups of water and 3 bouillons in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil. Add the 2 tbsp of tomato paste and mix until both the paste and bouillons are dissolved. One thing that is very important to do is dissolve the tomato paste in either warm water or warm broth. This is something that I learned from my grandma and it is seem to be universal in Persian cooking.
Place the broth with tomato paste along with the rice and peas broth over the onions. Check the seasoning of your broth now and make sure that it is just right. Add gojeh sabz and slowly place each meatball in the pot.
I should have used a bigger pot, I know! but anyway, partially cover and cook for one hour on medium heat. In the mean time make sure that you baste the meatballs that are exposed on top or gently turned them over half way through. Uncover the pot and cook for another half hour.