20 April 2014

Persian-Mexican fusion kufteh (Persian rice, herb and meat ball)

Kufteh is yet another Persian favorite from the north west Azari region of the country. These aromatic rice-herb-meat balls are head and shoulder above their other Middle Eastern cousins like Indian Kofta or Turkish köfte . Foremost, the unique characteristic of  Persian  Kufteh is using plenty of fresh aromatic herbs  such as savory, tarragon, basil and dill.  The binding starch could be rice, split pea puree or gram flour depending on the region and bread is rarely used.
 Kufteh-berenji (Rice Kufteh)  is my most favorite so here I make it with Mexican spices and herbs. Instead of aromatic herbs, I use cilantro and as it is the right season, I use fresh green garlic (used in Persian cuisine when in season). If you can’t get ahold of green garlic, ramps are the best substitute otherwise a mixture of  green onion and garlic is just fine.

Kufteh is traditionally poached in tomato sauce. Here I bake the balls instead and serve them with nacho green chili cheese sauce.

Ingredients: (yields 18)
rice mixture(recipe follows)
meat mixture(recipe follows)
50 gr sharp cheddar
cheese sauce(recipe follows)

Rice mixture:
1 cup uncooked rice
2 cups water
1 TSP salt
(Alternatively, 2 cups cooked left-over rice)

Meat mixture:
1 medium white onion, finely chopped 
3 springs  green garlic(substitute with ramp or green onion), finely chopped(should be around a cup)
1 large Poblano, finely chopped

3 TBSP vegetable oil
1 TSP cumin powder
½  TSP coriander  powder
½ TSP Cayenne powder
1 TBS dried marjoram
1 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
2 TBSP fresh lime juice
2 lb 20-80 ground chuck

 Green chili nacho sauce:
1 TBSP vegetable oil
1 TBSP flour
1 TBSP garlic, grated
100 gr green chili puree(New Mexico chill preferably)
½ cup whole milk
100 gr Velveeta

Cook the rice with water and salt. Add the oil to the hot pan and sauté onion, green garlic and poblano till translucent. Add all the spices.

Combine the mixture with rice, chopped cilantro and fresh lime juice. Spread on a sheet pan and freeze for 10 minutes to cool.

When the rice mixture is completely cool, mix in the cold beef. Do not over mix otherwise the balls won’t be as soft as they should be.

Form 18 balls. I used 1/2 recipe here.

Pre-heat the oven on 400 F (205C). Cook for 30 minutes.  Sprinkle the cheese on top after 25 minutes and cook for more 5 minutes. 

For sauce, make a blonde roux with oil and flour. Add garlic and green chili and heat for 1 minute. Add the milk and lower the heat.

Add Velveeta and keep stirring until the desired consistency is reached.

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