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The Hirshon Lebanese Meatballs in Tomato Pomegranate Sauce - داود باشا

The Hirshon Lebanese Meatballs in Tomato Pomegranate Sauce – داود باشا


  • 450 g (1 lb) kofta meat – mix 1 pound lean minced beef with ½ an onion, ¼ cup of pine nuts, 2 tablespoons raisins, 3 tablespoons fresh mint(finely chopped), 1 teaspoon Aleppo chili flakes, 1 teaspoon ground black pepper, ¼ teaspoon allspice powder, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 2 egg yolks and a small bunch of fresh parsley leaves in a food processor; add salt and pepper to taste and grind to a paste
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 (400-g (14-oz)) can chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp pomegranate syrup
  • 240 ml (8 fl. oz) chicken stock
  • ***
  • ½ Tbsp. Bharat spice, made from:
  • 2 Tbsp. ground black peppercorns
  • 2 Tbsp. hot paprika
  • 1 Tbsp. ground coriander seeds
  • 1 Tbsp. ground cumin
  • ½ Tbsp. ground cloves
  • ½ Tbsp. ground cardamom
  • 1 Tbsp. ground mint
  • 2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. ground rose petals
  • a few threads of Saffron, ground up
  • ***
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • ⅓ cup pine nuts (not from China, they can cause ‘pine nut mouth’)
  • ***
  • 2 ½ cups Basmati rice
  • ½ cup chicken stock
  • 3 tbsp. of butter (for the rice)
  • za’atar blend for finishing (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 200˚C (400˚F / Gas mark 6).
  2. Divide kofta meat into 20 small balls. Put on a nonstick rimmed baking tray and bake for 30 minutes. Flip meatballs every 10 minutes for even cooking. Remove and set aside.
  3. In a large pot, heat oil, add onion and fry until lightly browned. Add garlic and fry gently for 2 more minutes. Add tomatoes, pomegranate syrup and stock and stir together.
  4. Gently cook for 10 minutes, then carefully add the meatballs and remaining ingredients. Bring to the boil. Cover and cook over low heat for a further 20 minutes or until mixture thickens.
  5. Pan-fry some pine nuts in a little butter and add to the meatballs at the end.
  6. Drain the rice and boil in several cups of water till tender. Drain and rinse the rice. Place 3 tablespoons of butter in the pan and let the butter melt, add ½ cup of stock to the butter.
  7. Place the rice over the butter and stock and with the handle of a wooden spoon, dig holes in the rice in 3 places; cover the pan and let the rice steam for 30 minutes, first on medium-high heat, then on very low heat.
  8. Uncover after 30 minutes to check and add more butter to the rice if desired. Serve with the meatballs and add a dusting of za’atar to the dish before serving, if so desired.
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