Koofteh Berenji is a classic Persian dish. A hearty meatball with split peas and rice, delicately and elegantly flavored with lots of herbs. Also they are stuffed with fruits, nuts and fried onions. Delicious!
Koofteh Berenji Recipe-
- 1-1/2 cups rice
- 2/3 cup yellow split peas
- 1 lb. lean ground lamb (you can substitute beef, but lamb is the more authentic traditional choice)
- 3 large eggs
- 1 large onion, peeled and sliced thinly
- 4 large cloves garlic, peeled and chopped fine
- 1 cup finely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
- 1 bunch fresh dill weed, chopped fine
- 1 bunch fresh chives or scallions, chopped fine (use the green parts only)
- 1 bunch fresh tarragon, chopped fine
- 2 tbsp. chickpea flour
- 1 tbsp. tomato paste
- 1-1/2 teaspoon freshly grated turmeric root
- 1/4 tsp. powdered saffron, dissolved in 2-3 tablespoons of hot water
- salt and pepper, to taste
- olive oil
For the Filling-
- barberries, walnuts, fried onion, and raisins
- Bring 4 cups of water to boil in a large pot; add in the rice and 2 tablespoons of salt and boil for about 6-7 minutes. Drain and set aside for now.
- In another pot, place the yellow split peas and pour in 4 cups of water; bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat to a lively simmer. Gently cook for about 30 minutes. Any liquid left should be drained off. Set the peas aside for now to cool.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked peas and rice, chopped vegetables, ground meat, chickpea flour, saffron, grated turmeric, salt and pepper to taste.
- In another, smaller mixing bowl, whisk the eggs until frothy, and then blend them in together with the rest of the ingredients.
- Take a handful (about 1/4 cup of the mixture) and form it into a ball. Poke a hole in the center of the ball and insert your filling – a mixture of barberries, raisins, walnuts and fried onions. Repeat this procedure until you have shaped all the meatball mixture into balls and stuffed each of them. Be sure to pinch the hole closed and firmly shut after stuffing.
- In a large cooking pot, sauté the sliced onions in 3 tablespoons of olive oil. When the onions are fragrant and translucent, add 1/2 teaspoon each of turmeric and minced garlic, and sauté for another 2-3 minutes. Add in the tomato paste at this point, and stir everything together well.
- Now pour 5 cups of water into the pot, bring everything to a gentle boil and, one by one, place each koofteh into the pot. Cook for about 50-60 minutes on medium-low heat. Leave the lid slightly ajar. You could even place a colander upside down over the top. Taste and adjust the seasonings after about 30 minutes, and add more water if necessary.
- Serve your Koofteh Berenji in a deep platter with yogurt, pickles, sabzi khordan (fresh herbs) and bread.
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