In the U.S., you would probably take a homemade casserole to help out a distressed or overwhelmed neighbor. In Iran, or among Iranians in diaspora, you would show up at a stressed-out neighbor or friend’s doorstep bearing some type of food like koofteh or kookoo or shami. (In exceptional cases, if you are a fabulous someone and you know who you are, you may even show up with a divinely delicious polo-khoresh’eh ghormeh sabzi ! Wow!) Same thoughtful and fine human impulse, different culinary expression.
Fig & Quince‘s debut recipe, koofteh berenji, was one of these types of good-will offerings. A yummy classic for sure, but somewhat of a laborious creation. Kwickie Koofteh (not to be confused with the latest Kardashian) is Maman’s recipe for a far simpler but also yummy type of koofteh that can be made with mostly staple ingredients and without excessive toil.
Moist and flavorful, this is a crowd-pleasing comfort food that pairs well with bread and salad. Iranians love to eat this type of dish with sabzi khordan (a platter of mixed fresh herbs and veggies such as mint, tarragon, radishes, green onion, etc., customarily served with almost every sit-down meal) along with a side dish of either torshi (generic term for various types of Persian pickles) or yogurt. Speaking of yogurt, the mint & cucumber yogurt (mast’o khiar) we covered in the last post would pair fabulously (and I mean fabulously) with this koofteh dish.
Go ahead and give it a whirl! Maybe make some for a friend?
- 1/2 lb lean ground meat
- 1 medium onion, grated
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley (fresh or frozen)
- 1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste in 1/2 cup of water
- a touch of minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon grated ginger (optional)
- 1 tablespoon turmeric
- small pinch cumin and corriander powder (optional)
- salt & pepper to taste
For the sauce:
- 8 ounces mushrooms (more or less – up to you)
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste dissolved in 1/2 cup of water
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 1 carrot, sliced
- 1 celery stalk, sliced
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Line an oven tray with parchment paper or aluminum foil, drizzle and spread some olive oil on the parchment.
- Dissolve 2 tablespoons tomato paste in 1/2 cup of warm-to-hot water. Mix this well with the bread crumbs to moisten it.
- In a bowl add the moistened bread crumbs, ground meat, grated onion, minced ginger, parsley, garlic, turmeric, cumin and corriander powder. Crack an egg into mixture. Season with salt & pepper. Knead all together – making sure to combine well and uniformly.
- Scoop a lemon-sized portion of mixture and flatten between palms to make a patty. Place patty on parchment-lined oven tray and dent a hole in its center with your index finger. Repeat step with the remaining meat mixture. (Alternatively you can scoop a walnut-sized portion and make a meatball. Or make a combo of patty and meatball.)
- Place in the preheated oven and cook for 15-20 minutes.
- Wash & drain mushrooms, cut into quarters. Heat a tablespoon of oil and some butter in a pan. When sizzling hot, add mushrooms, season with salt, and saute for 5 minutes. Set aside for now.
- Dissolve another tablespoon of tomato paste in 1/2 cup of warm-to-hot water.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet, add sliced carrots and celery, saute for 5 minutes. Add the dissolved tomato paste and also the lemon juice. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, cover with lid ajar and cook over low flame for 5 more minutes.
- Remove koofteh from oven and add it to the sauce in the skillet, then gently boil for another 10 minutes – till the koofteh patties absorb most of the liquid. In the last 5 minutes, add the mushrooms.
Serve in platter along with the sauce. Garnish with anything from sliced radishes, fresh parsely or mint, to green onions or watercress
You could serve this with any or many of the following: french fries, scalloped potatoes, salad, grilled or cooked vegetables, and of course bread.
As mentioned above: Iranians love to eat this dish with sabzi khordan (a platter of mixed fresh herbs) along with either torshi (pickle) or yogurt.
This koofteh dish can be refrigerated for 2 days. You cold also freeze it, once it’s completely cold after you take it out of the oven, ideally in an airtight glass container, to be thawed and re-heated at a later time.