This week I am sharing the recipe for a classic koofteh or meatball.

The name of this koofteh comes from the ancient city of Tabriz in North West Iran. It has some resemblance to Scotch Eggs but is especially wholesome because the outer coating contains rice and legumes in addition to meat. So this can be served as a main course without a side. The filling is typical of Irani, it uses a lot of dry fruits that are found in abundance locally. Unlike most Asian cuisines, Irani food contains very limited spices. The produce of the land is of high quality and makes up for the absence of these spices.


Makes:  6 portions (12 kooftehs)


For the Kooftehs

Rice: 100 gm

Chana dal: 150 gm

Lamb mince:  750 gm

Onions: 1 medium, chopped fine

Turmeric powder: 1 tsp

Red chilli powder: 1 tsp

Mint: 3 tbsp, chopped

Boiled eggs: 2    , chopped

Walnut: 75 gm, chopped

Apricot: 75 gm, chopped

Zereshk berries (Irani barberries): 50 gm

Eggs (for coating): 3, beaten

Oil: 500 ml

For the tomato gravy           

Oil: 2 tbsp

Ginger-garlic paste: 1 tbsp

Tomatoes: 500 gms, pureed

Mint: 3 tbsp, chopped

Thyme    : 1 tbsp

Sugar:    2 tsp

Red chilli powder: 1 tsp

Vinegar: 1 tbsp


Cook the rice and chana dal separately until done. Make sure both have a little bit of bite left in them.

Fry the onions in 2 tbsp oil till brown. Add the lamb mince, turmeric powder, red chilli powder and continue to sauté till the oil separates from the pan. Cool this mixture and strain out the excess oil/fat.

Add the cooled lamb mince mix to the rice and chana dal.  Adjust seasoning. Now add the chopped mint and mix well with your hands till slightly sticky and firm enough to make balls.


In a separate bowl make a mix of the chopped apricots, walnuts, and boiled eggs. Add the zereshk berries to this.

Take the rice mixture and divide into 12 portions. Form a hollow and stuff with the egg-dry fruit mix to make 12 kooftehs.

Heat balance oil, coat the kooftehs with egg and deep fry them.

In a separate pan, warm the oil and gently sauté the ginger-garlic paste.

Add the tomato puree along with the remaining ingredients and keep stirring till the gravy comes together. Adjust seasoning.

Serve the kofta with the tomato gravy on the side.


Note: You can substitute the zereshk berries with cranberries.


Photographs courtesy: Subhasree Basu

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