Yields: Six 4-inch Koofteh (giant meatballs)
You will need a meat grinder or a food processor for this recipe
Part of the koofeth ingredients are mixed and refrigerated overnight, and then the rest of the ingredients are mixed in the next day
A 10 ounce bowl is used as a scoop for making the Koofteh(s)
Recipe type: Koofteh
Cuisine: Persian/Azeri
  • 2 ¼ pounds ground beef (about 85% lean)
  • ½ cup yellow split peas (slow cooking peas preferred), cooked with water and ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 cup Calrose short grain rice and ½ cup bulgur (cooked with 1 cup water, ¼ tsp turmeric, ¼ tsp salt, 1 TBSP butter)
  • 2 medium yellow onions (about ¾ pounds), cut each into 8 pieces
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 ¼ tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 ¼ cups thinly sliced garlic chives (tareh), or green part of scallions
  • 1 ½ TBSP crushed dried summer savory (marzeh), if unable to find it just leave it out.
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp saffron powder
  • A small bowl of water, will be used in half tablespoons for shaping the koofteh
  • 2 large yellow onions, thinly sliced and fried to golden brown preferably in butter (about 10 ounces fried onions, divided)
  • 2 ounces of the fried onions that you've already made
  • 1 TBSP tomato paste (to be mixed with friend onion)
  • ⅓ cup barberries (zereshk)
  • 18 walnut halves
  • 12 small apricots
  • (Per Koofteh)- 1 TBSP each of: Dried cherries, cranberries, albaloo (sour cherry)
  • 4 ounces of the fried onions that you have already made
  • 2 TBSP tomato paste
  • 1 TBSP butter
  • ⅛ tsp saffron
  • 2 ¾ cups hot water
  • ¾ tsp kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp freshly cracked black pepper
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • A light sprinkle of ground cinnamon
  • A dash of saffron
  • Zereshk (Barberry) and fried onion mixture (use some of the fried onions that you've already made and mix it with about ¼ cup zereshk)
  • THE THIN SAUCE FOR TILIT (this is for 3 koofteh)
  • 3 TBSP fried onions
  • 1 TBSP butter
  • 1 TBSP tomato paste
  • 3 cups boiling
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ⅛ tsp saffron powder
  1. Day 1: Cook the yellow peas in a small saucepan with enough water to cover the peas by one inch. Add ¼ tsp kosher salt and cook uncovered until very tender. Drain and set aside.
  2. Meat Grinder Method: The ground beef, onions and cooked split peas will be grinded together to get a uniform mixture. I had to grind the mixture twice to get it all uniform. I have used the meat grinder attachment on my Kitchen Aid (OR),
  3. Food Processor Method: Depending on the size of your food processor you might have to do this in two portions. Divide the ground beef, cut up onions and cooked split peas in half. For each portion, use on/off switch chop the onions very small (do not puree). Then add ground beef and cooked split peas just until you get a uniform paste-like consistency. Do not over process.
  4. Cook the rice and bulgur in a 2-Qt saucepan with 1 cup water, 1 tablespoons butter, ¼ tsp salt and ¼ tsp turmeric over medium low heat until most of the liquid is cooked off and the grains are half cooked (tender but still hard inside)
  5. Add the meat mixture to a large bowl. Add the cooked rice and bulgur, 2 eggs and the spices (do not add the salt and herbs yet).
  6. Use your fingers to kneading the mixture until you have a uniform mixture. Cover the bowl tightly with a plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or up to 2 days.
  7. Day 2: Peel and thinly slice 2 large onions and fry them in butter until golden brown and set aside. You will be using this fried onion divided for different parts of this recipe.
  8. Get all the ingredients that you like to use as filling. What you decide to stuff the koofteh with is pretty much up to your preference, I have only mentioned a few to give you an idea. But I find it is helpful to make a handful of filling for each koofteh and set them on a plate so you will have it ready.
  9. Then get the sauce ready: Add the fried onions, butter and tomato paste to a 12-inch diameter large stockpot that will fit 6 koofteh, or divide the ingredients and make the sauce in two 10-inch diameter stockpots. Sauté until aromatic. Add saffron, hot water, salt, freshly cracked black pepper and ground cinnamon. Bring the sauce to a low boil. Turn the heat off. You will bring the sauce back to a simmer when the koofteh are stuffed and ready.
  10. To make the koofteh: Add salt, sliced tareh and crushed dried summer savory and saffron. Mix well to blend. Then pick up handfuls of the mixture and drop it back into the bowl. Keep doing this several times until the mixture is very uniform and sticks together very well when you press it into a ball.
  11. Fill up a small bowl with some water and set it aside near your work station.
  12. Use a 10 ounce bowl to scoop the koofteh mixture and make 6 balls and set them aside on a tray. You will be using the same small bowl to make the stuffed koofteh.
  13. Add ½ tablespoon water to the small koofteh bowl. Divide one meatball in half and place it in the bowl. Use your finger tips to spread the mixture all over the bottom and up the sides of the bowl.
  14. Fill it with the handful of filling ingredients that you have prepared ahead of time. Place the other half of the meat ball on top and press it with your fingertips so everything sticks together.
  15. Invert the bowl and tap it on the palm of your other hand until it releases. This might take a second and it might seem stock but with a little tapping and shaking it will release.
  16. Keep passing the stuffed meat ball from hand to hand 5-6 times until there is no visible seam between the two halves of the meat. Place the koofteh on a platter and repeat with the rest of the meat mixture and filling until all 6 koofteh are stuffed.
  17. Heat up the sauce that you made earlier over medium low until it comes to a low boil. Gently lift each koofteh with both hands and slide it into the sauce. Repeat with the rest of the koofteh; there will not be much space between the Koofteh(s) and this is fine. Do Not move or turn the koofteh(s) after you put them in the sauce.
  18. Without covering the pot, continue cooking over medium low for 30 minutes maintaining a slow boil, this will keep the koofteh from falling apart. After this time, the top of the koofteh will change color and will feel firmer to touch.
  19. Reduce heat to low, cover the pot and simmer for 1 hour and half. Baste the koofteh tops with some of the broth a few times during this simmering period.
  20. At the end of this cooking time the broth will start looking clear and the oil will rise to the surface (this is called be roghan oftadan and it means the koofteh(s) are cooked).
  21. Turn the heat off and let koofteh rest for about 10 minutes. Most of the remaining broth will be absorbed into the koofteh and there will be about one cup of thick sauce in the bottom.
  22. Transfer the koofteh to a platter and the thick sauce to a bowl.
  23. NOTE: I usually serve 3 of the koofteh(s) and freeze the rest. I divided the thick sauce in half and freeze it with 3 (cooled) koofteh(s) in a freezer safe container for up to a month.
  24. To make the thin sauce for Tilit (for 3 koofteh): In a 6-Qt stockpot add 3 TBSP fried onions, 1 TBSP butter, and 1 TBSP tomato paste. Saute over medium low heat until butter melts and the tomato paste becomes aromatic. Add 3 cups of boiling water, ½ tsp kosher salt, ½ tsp cinnamon, ⅛ tsp saffron. Bring the sauce to a boil then stir half of the reserved thick sauce and bring to a boil over medium low and simmer for about 5 minutes. Add 3 koofteh to the pot and simmer for another 10 minutes until heated through. Garnish the top of each koofteh with a pinch of saffron powder and some ground cinnamon.
  25. Sprinkle some barberry and fried onion mixture to the very top of the dome.
  26. Serve the koofteh on a platter and the broth in a bowl. Add some bite size pieces of warm Sangak, lavash or pita to the broth and stir to coat.
  27. As usual no meal would be complete without some Sabzi Khorda, Torshi or Torshi Sir. Enjoy Koofteh Tabrizi that is named after my hometown,Tabriz.
To reheat the previously frozen koofteh: Defrost the koofteh in the refrigerator a day in advance. The next day prepare the sauce for "Tilit" according to the instructions. With the sauce in slow simmer, add the koofteh(s), cover the pot and simmer for 30-40 minutes, or until heated through completely.
Recipe by Persian Mama at https://persianmama.com/koofteh-tabrizi/