The meatballs are so fragrant with herbs and brightly flavored tomato-saffron broth. This recipe is a keeper all year round and elevates the meatball to a new status. Persian food is redolent with fresh, fresh, fresh ingredients. Each ingredient is aromatic and amazing on its own. When they come together it is pure harmony.
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 large onion, sliced
1/2 cup chopped savory
1/4 cup chopped tarragon
1 cup chopped fresh dill
1 lb ground beef or turkey
2 cups chopped fresh parsley
1 large onion, grated
2 teaspoons Persian Spice mix*
2 eggs, whisked
1 cup Basmati rice
1/2 cup yellow split peas
2 cups chopped scallions
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup tomato juice
1/4 cup olive oil
Optional for garnish: pomegranate, chopped mint and toasted pist
Pick over the rice and peas and rinse. Cook the rice and peas covered for 30 minutes until cooked thoroughly.
Place the eggs, spice mix, onion, ground meat, fresh herbs, and scallions in a large mixing bowl and mix with cooked peas and rice. Knead the mixture thoroughly until it resembles a smooth paste. You can do this by hand or with the aid of a mixer fitted with a paddle at low speed.
In a large sautee pan lightly coated with olive oil, add the sliced onion and garlic and sauté until lightly caramelized. Add the tomato juice, chicken stock, lime juice and saffron. Simmer for 15 minutes. Adjust seasoning.
Shape the meat mixture into meatballs and gently add them to the simmering sauce. Cook until the meatballs are cooked through (about 15 minutes).
Serve with fresh pita and plenty of sauce. Garnish with pomegranate, chopped mint and toasted pistachios.
*Persian Spice Mix (Advieh) is made from equal parts cinnamon, coriander, sesame seeds, cardamom, and cumin (all ground). If you can find pesticide free rose petals they should be added, if not use a drop of rose water in the sauce.
*Saffron adds a wonderful exotic flavor, it will still be delicious if you want to leave it out.