One thing I like to do is play with my food. I like to take a traditional recipe and do strange things to it. Last week I made an English shepherd’s pie, but I made it with an Indian flare. I was watching a show the other day about how every culture has its own version of meatballs, usually with a sauce. I though why not do Persian kūbide as a meatball with sauce?
When I started looking at kūbide recipes I did not find any that had a sauce like the one I had in mind. Kūbide was always served either plain with rice or with bread and a cucumber/yogurt dipping sauce. I did find numerous recipes, from many different countries, for kofta with sauces. However, looking closely at the recipes many were almost indistinguishable kūbide. One site suggested that it is mostly just a difference in translation and a spice or two. Looking at the recipes for each, I think it is more that kūbide is a specific kind of Persian kofta.
Kūbide is a Persian mixture of lamb and beef with sumac, either mixed into the meat or sprinkled on after cooking. It also usually has some onion and other spices and is then shaped into a long sausage, grilled and served plain. A kofta may or may not be grilled and may be shaped into either a sausage shape or a ball. In addition to the meat(s), it frequently includes some kind of extender; like bulgur, yellow peas, chick peas, and/or other vegetables. In Indian, there are even vegetarian kofta. Kofta are frequently served with, or even cooked in, some kind of sauce.
Note: There are many recipes on the internet calling themselves kūbide that have only beef and that do not include the spice sumac. Most of the recipes that are actually written by Iranians include lamb, beef and sumac. The authentic recipes also all seem to include onion, turmeric and egg, but few other spices.
My idea for a kūbide meatball in sauce should, therefore, more likely be classified as a kofte. One problem with my plan is that my son-in-law is still on his Ketogenic diet. Meatballs usually have bread crumbs to act as a binder. I would have to think of something as a substitute.
Last week, Jan made a Keto cake using ground almond meal. I decided that this ingredient might make a good substitute for bread crumbs. If I gave the mixture several hours for the ground nuts to absorb the moisture it might work. It would also give the meat an interesting nutty flavor.
The Wikipedia entry for kūbide suggested that you should only use only 20/80 beef and that you should grind the meat twice to give it a finer texture. The article suggested that single ground beef would make it indistinguishable from hamburger. This double mincing would make the kūbide texture more like that of a Swedish meatball.
I could not find any traditional sauces that fit the hole in my head. A yogurt sauce was too predictable and I am tired of tomato sauces at the moment (besides tomatoes are not native to the Old World). Roasted red peppers and onions came to mind. Something similar to a Spanish romesco sauce, but not.
Note: Two of the dishes I am making for this feast require doing some things “the day before.” This is one of them.
After Dinner Note: This was very popular tonight, especially the sauce. I have increased the number of red peppers because there was not quite enough sauce for the number of meatballs the recipe produced (30 golf ball sized).
Karl’s Kūbide (Kofta) Meatballs in Red Pepper Sauce
1 small onion
3 cloves garlic
1 lb. ground lamb
1 lb. 80/20 ground beef
¼ cup almond flour
2 Tbs. parsley, minced fine
1 Tbs. sumac
1 tsp. black pepper
½ tsp. turmeric
½ tsp. salt
4-5 medium roasted red peppers, well-drained
20 cloves garlic
1 small red onion
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup almond flour
¼ tsp. Indian chili power
2 Tbs. lemon juice
1 Tbs. sumac
½ tsp. advieh
1. The day before the meal, grate the onion and garlic into a non-reactive bowl and add a pinch of salt. Stir well and let the vegetables sit for at least 20 minutes.
2. Squeeze as much liquid as possible out of the vegetables. Reserve the liquid for use in the sauce.
3. Add the rest of the kūbide ingredients to the bowl and mix well.
4. Once the meat is fairly well mixed, run the mixture through a meat grinder.
Tip: You may use a food processor, but do not over process the meat. You are looking for a fine grind, not a meat paste. If you do not have a meat grinder or food processor, you could use a pastry cutter to finely chop the meat together.
5. Cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight.
Tip: If you do not have a bowl that has an airtight seal, you may put the meat in a sealable plastic bag.
6. Three hours before the meal, remove the meat from the refrigerator. Set it on the counter and let the mixture come to room temperature for about one hour.
7. Wash the red peppers and place them on a lipped baking sheet. Broil them 3-4 inches away from the heating element. Turn them about every five minutes until they are well charred on all sides.
8. At the same time, place the garlic in a small, covered, oven-proof baking dish and drizzle them with a teaspoon of olive oil. Toss to coat and place them in the oven with the peppers.
9. When the peppers are blackened on all sides, remove them from the oven and put them in a plastic bag until they are cool enough to handle.
Tip: The plastic bag continues to steam the peppers and makes it easier to remove the tough skins.
10. Switch the oven to bake and reduce the oven temperature to 450° F. Continue baking the garlic for 15-20 minutes more, until completely soft and starting to brown. Remove and reserve when done.
11. Skin and seed the peppers and chop them coarsely, reserve.
12. Wet your hands and scoop out two tablespoons of the meat mixture. Roll the meat into a ball and place it in a Pam-ed large, shallow baking pan.
Tip: Do not over pack the meatballs, they should not be touching. If necessary use a second pan.
13. Set the rack to the middle of the oven and broil the meatballs for 15-20 minutes, until the surfaces are crusty brown and the meat is just cooked through.
Tip: At the 15 minute mark take a ball from the middles of the pan and cut it in half. If the center is just a little pink, remove the pan from the oven. If there is still raw meat in the center of the ball, return the meat to the pan and continue cooking as needed.
14. Remove the pan from the oven and tent with foil while you finish making the sauce.
Tip: Drain the pan juices and let them settle. Skim off most of the fat and add the pan juices to the sauce.
15. Slice the red onion, pole to pole, into thin slices.
16. Sauté the onions in 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat in a large pan until just soft.
17. Add about a third of the chopped red peppers and stir to combine.
18. Place the roasted garlic and the rest of the red peppers in a standing blender and process until smooth.
19. Pour the blended peppers into the pan and add the almond meal, reserved onion juice, and Indian chili power.
Tip: Indian chili power is ground whole chilies, seeds and all. You may replace them with red chili flakes.
20. Simmer the sauce for 15 to 20 minutes, until it starts to thicken.
21. Stir in the lemon juice and sumac.
22. Add the meatballs and any meat juices that have collected in the pan. Toss to coat the meatball with the sauce.
23. Half cover the pan and continue simmering for five more minutes, carefully stir the sauce occasionally.
Tip: Gently fold the meatballs into the sauce, because you do not want to break them up.
24. Transfer the meatballs and sauce to a serving platter dust with advieh, and serve with Persian rice.