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Herbed Meatballs with Rice – Kufteh Berenji


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Herbed Meatballs with Rice - Kufteh Berenji


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Herbed Meatballs with Rice – Kufteh Berenji

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.


  • Prep Time : 15 minutes min
  • Cook Time : 45 minutes min
  • Ready Time : 1 hour


6-8 servings


  • 1/2 cup yellow split peas
  • 1 cup Basmati rice
  • 2 eggs, whisked
  • 2 teaspoons Persian Spice mix*
  • 1 large onion, grated
  • 1 pound ground beef or turkey
  • 2 cups chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 cup chopped fresh dill
  • 1/2 cup chopped savory
  • 1/4 cup chopped tarragon
  • 2 cups chopped scallions
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 2 Cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup tomato juice
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads


  1. Pick over the rice and peas and rinse.
  2. Cook the rice and peas covered for 30 minutes until cooked thoroughly.
  3. 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.
  4. In a large sauté 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.
  5. Shape the meat mixture into meatballs and gently add them to the simmering sauce. Cook until the meatballs are cooked through (about 15 minutes).
  6. Serve with fresh pita and plenty of sauce. Garnish with pomegranate, chopped mint and toasted pistachios.

*Saffron adds a wonderful exotic flavor, it will still be delicious if you want to leave it out.

*Persian Spice Mix (Advieh) is made from equal parts equal parts of cinnamon, coriander, sesame seeds, cardamom and cumin (all ground). If you can find organic or pesticide free rose petals they should be added, otherwise add rose-water to the sauce.

About Chef Laura Frankel


I am a chef, restauranteur, cookbook author and mother, you can find out more about me on my blog: ChefLaurasKosher.com




3 Responses to Herbed Meatballs with Rice – Kufteh Berenji

  1. avatar says: llangevi

    Ok, I tried this – took about 90 minutes before I gave up and turned the result into an interesting meat loaf!

    Some problems:
    1) You mention 2 eggs for ingrediants, but never say what to do with them. I assume to mix it with the meat.
    2) You mention 1 large onion for grating as an ingrediant and chopped scallions. But you never mention the scallions again, so I assumed it was to cook into the sauce when you said “sliced onion”, which was not in the ingrediant or preparation list. But then, you can’t really carmelize scallions. Next time I’ll use normal onions.
    3) You mention “Persioan Spice Mix” with an asterick, but you never mention what it is. I was expecting you to explain it somewhere, since there is no single standard (I googled to find many complicated ones).

    You say this serves 6-8 people as an appetizer. With 1 pound of meat and the rice, and the peas (1.5 cups pre-boiled), and everything else (all of that bulk), I ended up with 10 cups of product! If each person is expected to have a dozen meatballs, that would have worked out. More like serves 12-14.

    After taking cooked rice and split peas (I’d recommend soaking them before hand) and raw chapped vegetables, you say to mix it into a smooth mixture. Unless someone is going to have a meat mixer to really puree this, it’s never going to get all that smooth, and I really tried.

    There was also nothing to hold the meatballs together. Typically, for a normal meatball recipe, I use some flour to hold it before cokking them. These just came apart. Ande 3 cups of liquid to cook 10 cups of product results in running out of liquid (plus taking a lot of shifts at cooking in the same pan.

    The result – I put the remaining meat (after the firstr 24 meatballs crumbled into mush – even after 20 minutes of cooking, trying to turn them over was a disaster) into a baking dish (put some tomatoe juice on the bottom and poured the remaining souce over the top) and it is currently baking. I’m glad I experimented

  2. Hmmmmm, well, looks like this reviewer got a bit rushed and perhaps she didn’t read her directions fully, for me it’s a good idea to read everything more than once even before I start to get prepped. I see the “eggs” ingredient at the beginning of Step 3 so that’s that issue and, at least on my computer, towards the end of the 2nd line, again in Step 3, the scallions are mentioned as being added to the meat mixture along with the eggs and herbs. I bet this reviewer just got frustrated and then things went South from there – happens to all of us at one time or other. Hopefully she will give this dish another try. On another note, I am wondering if the chef would recommend leaving out the peas and rice? I’m more a fan of not stretching the meat to go that far (since there are just two of us) although I do understand the initial idea, but could this dish be as or nearly as successful without the grains and peas? Or is there another “stretcher” ingredient she would recommend? Also, I realize that the quantities for the sauce and other component parts might need to be reduced to allow for less volume of meatballs. Other than that it sounds wonderful. Oh, also, on my computer I DO see the full ingredients list for the ‘Persian Spice Mix” – you just have to scroll down a bit – it’s just a few lines under the comment about leaving the saffron out – hope the reviewer tries again. Many thanks for an amazing website!

  3. most meatballs and meat loaves, and meat pates have a PANADE in them. a panade is not meant to ‘stretch” the meat but is meant to bind the mix and to hold moisture.
    meat that is rolled into a ball or packed into a terrine will squeeze together as the amino acids in the protein contact. just like burgers on a grill dripping all that juice!
    the panade holds moisture and keeps the meat from squeezing itself into a complete dry mess!

    this recipe works perfectly and i am often frustrated when folks dont read the directions completely!




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