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.