Today I’m sharing a delicious recipe for Persian Meatballs (Koofteh Rizeh, or Kufteh Rizeh in Farsi, and Riza Kufta in Azeri). Koofteh means meatball and Rizeh is small in Farsi.
Rizeh Koofteh can very well be an everyday meal served with bread, but it is also a wonderful finger food for entertaining a hungry bunch over the weekend or any occasion. The meatballs can be made ahead of time and warmed up. These meatballs taste wonderful with saffron potatoes and sumac-coated red onion topping. You may also fry the saffron potatoes ahead and when it is time to serve just warm them up over low heat on a large skillet without adding any extra oil.
Add all of the ingredients for the meatballs, except for the oil, to a bowl and mix well with a spoon
Knead with your fingers for several minutes until the mixture can hold its shape when you squeeze it together in the palm of your hand.
I like to use a 1-TBSP scooper for its convenience. A measuring tablespoon will work too.
Roll the meatballs in the palms of your hands a few times,
then brown them on all sides in a large skillet. Next, prepare the tomato saffron sauce and simmer the browned meatballs over low heat, stirring several times to coat them nicely in the sauce.
To prepare the saffron potatoes, add the potato wedges to a medium bowl and sprinkle with a very little amount of saffron powder and toss to coat all the potato wedges.
Fry the potatoes to a golden brown, then transfer them to a paper towel covered plate and sprinkle very lightly with kosher salt to taste.
Serve the Koofteh Rizeh, or Persian Meatballs with sumac coated red onions, saffron potatoes, assortment of pickles and lettuce, and toasted flat bread.
- FOR THE MEATBALLS
- 1 ¼ pounds lean ground beef
- ½ cup minced shallots (about 2 medium)
- ⅓ cup coarse bulgur (soaked in hot water)
- 2 large eggs
- 2 TBSP fine cracker crumbs
- 1 tsp crushed dried oregano leaves
- 1 tsp curry powder
- ¾ tsp kosher salt
- ½ tsp freshly cracked black pepper
- ½ tsp turmeric powder
- ¼ tsp ground cumin
- ⅛ tsp chipotle chile pepper (or ground cayenne pepper)
- 3-4 TBSP vegetable oil for frying the meatballs, more if needed
- FOR THE SAUCE
- One large onion, diced medium
- 3 TBSP vegetable oil for frying the onions
- 1 TBSP tomato paste
- 1 TBSP lemon juice
- ¼ tsp kosher salt
- ¼ tsp freshly cracked black pepper
- ⅛ tsp saffron powder (optional)
- 1 cup boiling hot water
- FOR THE SAFFRON FRIES
- 5 small white potatoes, peeled and cut into ½ -inch thick wedges
- Pinch of saffron powder
- ¼ cup vegetable oil for frying
- Pinch of kosher salt sprinkled over fried potatoes
- FOR THE SUMAC COATED ONIONS
- ½ cup small diced red onions
- ½ cup fine chopped fresh parsley
- 1 TBSP sumac
- FOR THE MEATBALLS
- Add the bulgur to a small bowl and add enough boiling water just to cover the bulgur. Cover the bowl for about 20 minutes, or until the bulgur is soft and all of the water has been absorbed. Drain any water that is left in the bowl.
- Add the bulgur, ground beef, minced shallots, spices, eggs and cracker crumbs to a medium bowl. Use a large spoon to mix well then knead with your fingers until uniformly blended and holds its shape when rolled into a ball.
- Use a 1-TBSP scooper or a measuring tablespoon and roll the mixture into small balls.
- Heat 3 TBSP vegetable oil over medium heat in a large nonstick skillet. Brown the meatballs on all sides. Remove them from the skillet and set aside.
- Meanwhile in another skillet fry the diced onions in 3 TBSP vegetable oil until golden brown. Add 1 TBSP tomato paste to the onions and saute until fragrant. Add 1 cup boiling water, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, salt, pepper and optional saffron. Bring the sauce to a boil. Reduce the heat and add the meatballs and simmer over low heat for about 35 minutes, or until most of liquid has been cooked off and the sauce has thickened. Use a spatula to carefully toss the meatballs in the sauce several times during this cooking time.
- FOR THE SAFFRON POTATOES
- Add the prepared potato wedges to a medium bowl. Sprinkle with just a pinch of saffron and toss carefully to cover all of the potato wedges. Heat ¼ cup oil in a large skillet over medium low heat and fry the potatoes until golden brown and fully cooked when tested, about 15 minutes. Transfer the potatoes to a paper towel covered platter and sprinkle with a pinch of kosher salt.
- FOR THE SUMAC COVERED ONIONS
- Add the diced red onions and finely chopped fresh parsley to a small bowl. Add sumac and toss to coat.
- Add the meatballs to small plates with some of the saffron potatoes and a small amount of onion mixture sprinkled on top. Serve with an assortment of pickles, lettuce, and toasted flat bread.
Fae's Twist & Tango says
Very delectable combination of the meatballs and the saffron potatoes! Your guests at the Super Bowl would be so~ happy!
Persian Mama says
Thank you dearest Fae. Your nice comments always put a smile on my face!
what is bulgur and is it necessary to add?
Persian Mama says
Hi Jean, Thank you for visiting my blog! Bulgur is parboiled wheat berries that is then broken into pieces. It can be purchased in most natural food stores, some supermarkets, and Middle Eastern markets. It has been used for its flavor and texture in this recipe. however, if you don’t wish to use it, reduce the number of eggs to 1 and see if the mixture holds its shape when pressed into a ball. If it does not, peel and grate one raw small potato and add it to the mixture, still using only one egg. Let me know how this works for you!
This looks delicious! So much goes into making these.Thank you for sharing. Also, your photographs are so professional looking and the presentation is lovely!
Persian Mama says
Thank you so much Maria! Welcome to my blog! I really enjoy what I’m doing and love sharing my work with food lovers like yourself. The comments from my readers help me get a better understanding of how well my recipes are working for them. I hope you try them and let me know what you think.
Made these for the first time. They are delicious and were gone in no time.
Thank you Persian mama for your precise and easy to follow recipes and photos. They truly make cooking and baking simpler for me.
I love that my recipes and pictures have been helpful to you. Reading your kind words of encouragement makes me feel good about what I’m doing. Thank you!
The koofteh rizeh is SO tasty!! They were also delightfully easy to make, and everyone loved them!
Thank you Sarah; I’m very happy you liked the recipe, and that everyone enjoyed them!
Hi, In the ingredient list for the sauce, there is 1 tbsp lemon juice listed. That seems bit odd in this dish. And nowhere in the directions does it say to add it (unless I’m utterly blind!) Is it perhaps a typo? Thanks!
Dear Carol, the 1 tbsp lemon juice gives a good flavor to the sauce, but you may leave it out if you like. It was accidentally left out in the directions, and I just fixed it. Thank you very much for pointing it out and enjoy.
Hi, looks and sounds delicious! But when you say this recipe serves 36, what exactly does that mean? Is that as an appetizer or as a dinner? How many meatballs does it make?
Hi Bracha, thanks for pointing it out; it should be, yields 36 meatballs; I just fixed it 😉 this can be served as appetizer or dinner.
Thank you for your quick reply. I made them for my family on sunday with a whole persona inspired meal (also made your golden chicken soup). They were polished off . everyone went back for seconds. Thank you!
Bracha, thanks for writing back! That is wonderful, so glad everyone liked the recipes.
Ron Hampton says
Live in North Carolina can’t find dehydrated ” Sabzi Koofteh” What are the ingredients in it. Also could I use fresh ones and chop them? Thanks Ron Hampton
Hi Ron; yes, you could use fresh herbs in koofteh sabzi, and the usual herbs are: parsley, green parts of the green onions or chives, sliced very thin, cilantro, summer savory and tarragon.
I have never wanted to make this recipe since the combination of oregano and curry powder seems so weird. And bulgar AND cracker crumbs?? But I steeled myself and made this exactly as written except I baked my potatoes. Delicious!! Toddler loved it too.
Good to hear from you Allison. It’s so nice to know that you have enough confidence in my recipes to give them a try in spite of what seems like unusual ingredients to you lol 😉 I’m so pleased that you’ve enjoyed this recipe! Hugs and kisses to my ever so loyal little taster who always makes me happy with her approval! Thanks so much for your comment my friend.
After several years of being discouraged about cooking (boredom), I volunteered to take someone else’s turn hosting book group, and suddenly I had to make something good.. We were reading “Disoriental” a novel by Iranian author Négar Djavadi and I had the idea to make something Persian. Thanks to Google I ended up here. It looked doable, so I made a batch of 36 meatballs, enough for the book group and sharing a few with my husband and a friend. It was absolutely delicious, got raves all around. So now I plan to make them for several more summer occasions. The confidence it has given me that I can make something so satisfying but relatively simple has made a big difference in how I feel about hosting occasions — now I look forward to sharing this food, no stress!
I do have one question — can these be made ahead up to, not including, the step of simmering in sauce? If so, then I can make several batches and save myself a lot of work later. Thanks!
Dear Kate; welcome and thank you for taking the time to share your lovely experience with everyone. I’m delighted that you are enjoying and sharing my recipes with your family and friends; I wish you many happy occasions and fun gatherings.
To answer your question, yes; these meatballs can be browned up to 3 days in advance, chilled in an airtight container and then simmered in the sauce. They also may be frozen for up to 2 months. Have a great week and keep in touch!