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Koofteh Tabrizi, The Complex Persian Meatball

Koofteh Tabrizi is one of the most difficult, yet delicious foods of Persian Cuisine. The preparation takes time, the stuffings vary, and you need to practice the professional skill of making huge meatballs. The tomato sauce plays a crucial role in Koofteh Tabrizi and needs sensitive taste buds to perfect. You also need to know your way around rice and ground meat, and fresh or dried vegetables.
Prep Time2 hrs
Cook Time3 hrs
Total Time5 hrs
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Persian
Keyword: Koofteh Tabrizi
Servings: 6 persons
Calories: 300kcal
Author: Shahab Shabani


  • Ground lamb/beef 50/50 1 kg /1800 cal
  • Cooked and ground split peas 300 gr/ 889 cal
  • Chives dills, and savory 500 gr /150 cal
  • Cooked and pureed potato one large /283 cal
  • Diced tomatoes 500 gr/ 90 cal
  • Raw onion one large /60 cal
  • Crispy fried onion 1-2 tbsp/ 10 cal
  • Chickpea powder 1 tbsp/ 10 cal
  • Skinned hard-boiled egg 1/ 78 cal
  • Raw egg 1/ 72 cal
  • Date 5-6/ 100 cal
  • Rice 2 cups /432
  • Walnuts 5-6 /185
  • Unripe grapes or Verjuice ½ cup /20 cal
  • Caraway 1 tsp
  • Tomato paste 1 tbsp /13 cal
  • Vegetable oil 2 tbsp/ 228 cal
  • Salt pepper, and saffron based on your taste
  • We use a rather large pot to make our sauce and will add meatballs to this mixture eventually.
  • The stuffing will get ready in a pan and we need a large bowl to combine and knead our mixture. Now let's take a look at each process separately.


  • The Sauce
  • First, we add diced tomatoes and oil to the pot on medium heat and saute to let the tomatoes release their tasty essence. Add the tomato paste and 4-5 cups of water and let it boil. You can also add fried onions and dried fruits to the sauce. The sauce also needs unripe grapes, but we only add those at the end of the cooking process.
  • Finally, make the sauce tasty by adding your desired amount of salt, pepper, caraway, and saffron.
  • The Stuffing
  • The stuffing should be a fiesta of different tastes and textures. Dried plums, barberries, tomato paste, and unripe grapes are sour elements of the filling. Dates, dried apricots, and raisins are going to be the sweet factors, and walnuts are in charge of the crunchiness.
  • Mix tomato paste into the mentioned ingredients above (whichever you prefer or have) and saute for 5 minutes with low heat. If your tomato paste is not salty, you can add some salt to it.
  • Note: you should soak the dried fruits for at least a half-hour before adding to the mixture.
  • The Koofteh Mixture
  • In a big bowl, start kneading the ground meat until it gets sticky and thick. Then mix the ground meat with soaked rice, cooked and ground split peas, cooked and pureed potatoes, chives, dills, and savory, crispy fried onion, chickpea powder, hard-boiled ground egg, and a raw egg.
  • Add saffron, salt, and pepper to the mixture.
  • Forming Meatballs
  • Now we need to choose our method. The more comfortable, less risky, and logical move is to make 5-6 meatballs the size of large grapefruits, or small melons. Take a generous amount of the mixture, form it into a thick disk, place a handful of stuffing in the middle of it, and try to make a meatball.
  • Move your meatballs into the main pot and notice that the sauce should rise enough to cover half of the meatballs. It should cook for at least 2 hours, and hold its shape.
  • The professional method, on the other hand, is to make a massive meatball. You need to be an experienced and skillful Persian grandmother or have a lot of courage and desire.
  • If you are a risk-taker, continue reading.
  • You need a fabric thick enough so that it can contain the meatballs without leaking, but thin enough to let the sauce do its magic. Put half of the Koofteh mixture inside this fabric and form a semi-sphere. Place your stuffing in the middle of that, and put the other half on top to create a full sphere.
  • Move this carefully into the pot.