Kufteh are stuffed meatballs popular in Middle Eastern cuisine. Some historians believe kufteh is the original meatball and that, through time, different cultures made adjustments to the recipe to accommodate regional tastes. In addition to the obvious seasoned ground meat, other ingredients commonly included in kufteh are split yellow peas, fresh herbs, and basmati rice. Kufteh are larger than average meatballs because they typically contain a dried plum or date in the center. The meatballs are cooked in a spiced gravy or curry and are sometimes simmered with hard-boiled eggs.
Recipe Servings: 3
- ½ cup dry yellow split peas
- 5 cups water, divided
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 cup basmati rice, cooked
- ½ cup fresh dill, finely chopped
- ½ cup fresh tarragon, finely chopped
- ¼ cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
- ¼ cup chives, finely chopped
- 1 Tbsp ground turmeric
- ½ tsp saffron, crushed
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- Kosher salt, to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- ½ cup plus 6 dried sour plums, divided
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 medium yellow onions, sliced
- ¼ cup tomato paste
- 2 plum tomatoes, cored, deseeded, and roughly chopped
- Bring peas and 2 cups water to a boil in a small saucepan over high heat and cook until tender, about 40 minutes.
- Drain and transfer the peas to a bowl.
- Add beef, rice, dill, tarragon, parsley, chives, turmeric, saffron, egg, salt and black pepper, stirring to mix.
- Divide the meat mixture into six equal portions.
- Place a dried plum in the center of each portion, forming the meat into a ball around the plum. Chill the meatballs in the refrigerator until ready to cook.
- Heat oil in a large saucepan set over medium-high heat.
- Add onions and cook until softened, about 10–12 minutes.
- Add tomato paste and cook until lightly caramelized, about 2 minutes.
- Add plum tomatoes and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.
- Add remaining ½ cup dried plums and 3 cups water and bring it to a boil.
- Add meatballs and reduce heat to medium-low.
- Simmer, covered, until cooked through, about 45 minutes.
- Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary before serving.
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