Koofteh are hearty and flavorful Persian meatballs mixed with loads of aromatic herbs, split peas and rice that are then simmered in a turmeric tomato broth.
A while back my friend gifted me with a can of Sabzi koofteh. large can of the most aromatic dried herb blend that permeated the entire kitchen as soon as I snapped the top off. A whiff of tarragon and onion were strong and intoxicating. And when blended into comforting meatballs that are simmered in the most glorious turmeric broth, all the flavors are just out of this world.
Persian Meatballs aka Koofteh
Persian meatballs are full of bold flavors thanks to loads of aromatic herbs. The texture of the meatballs are wholesome and hearty offered from the par-cooked rice and lentils that give the meatballs great texture.
Go generous on the size of these koofte, Persian meatballs are meant to be eaten as a complete meal so roll them to a large palm size meatball.
Sabzi (Persian Herb Blend)
Sabzi translates to vegetable greens or herbs in Persian and for this recipe, we are using a dried herb blend specifically used for Sabzi Koufteh (Persian meatballs).
Sabzi comes in various blends for many different recipes. There is Sabzi Polo, which has dried dill and leek for rice dishes, and Sabzi Ghormeh, which is used in hearty stews.
You can find sabzi at many Mediterranean stores and online and it gives the meatballs fantastic flavor, not to mention less expensive than bunches of fresh herbs.
Koofteh Herb Blend
For use of fresh herbs, these are the main components in the blend. Use a bunch of each and chop away. Of course a small chopper or food processor will do the trick as well.
- Chives or Green Onions
Other Favorite Persian Recipes
Persian Meatballs in Turmeric Broth (Koofteh)
- 1 cup Sabzi Koufteh dried herb blend soaked in water (*Fresh herb option will be in notes)
- ½ cup yellow split peas
- ¾ cup basmati rice
- 2 cups water or stock
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 whole onion grated
- 1 whole egg
- 1 tablespoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
For the Sauce
- Olive oil for drizzling
- 1 large onion sliced thin
- 2 garlic cloves chopped
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 3 cups of chicken stock low-sodium preferred
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Fresh parsley leaves chopped for garnish
- If using the dried herb blend, add herbs to a bowl and cover with enough water to cover the herbs and soak for about 20 minutes.
- Next, par-cook the split peas and rice in 2 cups of water for about ten minutes until the lentils are just tender. Once done, remove and drain.
- In another large bowl, add the beef, grated onion, dehydrated herbs (or chopped fresh herbs if using), egg, rice, split peas and spices. Mix thoroughly until well blended, then cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator to marinate for at least 20 minutes.
- Form mixture into large meatballs, it will make about 8 very large meatballs.
- In a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat, drizzle olive oil and add sliced onion and saute until translucent and softened but not browned, about 5-7 minutes.
- Add garlic and saute for another minute, then add the turmeric and tomato paste and stir everything together for another minute.
- Pour in chicken stock and gently add the meatballs. Cover the pot and cook for about 45 minutes, turning them about halfway through until meatballs are cooked all the way through.
- Once done, serve meatballs in shallow bowls and ladle broth with onions around. Garnish with fresh parsley and serve.
if using fresh herbs, chop 1 bunch of the listed herbs below and add that to the meatball mixture.
- Chives or Green Onions
Jolynn Becker says
The ingredients do not list lentils yet the directions say to par cook the lentils. I am confused.
Hi Jolynn! That was a typo on my part. The ingredients say yellow split peas and I wrote "lentils" in the instructions, but meant split peas! Sorry for the confusion.