meatballs with saffron rice

colorful and delicious grandmother's meatballs atop saffron rice

prep: 10'
cook: 30'
20-25 meatballs

Persian-style meatballs and saffron rice is a delectable combination to entertain a hungry bunch over the weekend or any occasion. Prepare some Shirazi salad and cucumber and yoghurt dip and maybe some naan lavash and call it the Persian feast.

ingredients for meatballs

  • 500g (1 lb) minced veal, or a mix of lamb and beef
  • 1 large onion, grated or finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh mint leaves, chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh coriander chopped
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • salt and pepper
  • some pomegranate seeds for garnish


ingredients for sauce

  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp coriander, chopped
  • 1 tbsp parsley, chopped
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 500ml (2 cups) hot water
  • salt and pepper


ingredients for saffron rice

  • 400 g (2 cups) basmati rice
  • 50 g (175 oz) butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron
  • water

preparation of meatballs

  • combine all the ingredients in a bowl
  • mix well until completely combined, then shape into meatballs
  • heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat
  • fry the onion until lightly browned
  • add the turmeric, tomato paste, salt and pepper
  • stir a bit and then place the meatballs in
  • once one side is slightly coloured, turn them and fry the other side
  • add the hot water and scatter the chopped coriander and parsley and put the lid on
  • cook for 15 minutes
  • the best way to get the most flavour and colour out of the saffron is to steep it
  • to do this, grind 2 teaspoons of saffron pistils to a fine powder using a pestle and mortar
  • add 30ml (2 tbsp) of boiling hot water and set aside to soak for 5 to 10 minutes
  • add four spoons of rice to the saffron juice and mix until all the rice is coloured


preparation of rice

  • soak the rice in a pot of hot salted water, cover and set aside to soften
  • after 10 minutes, strain and add enough fresh water to cook, about a knuckleā€™s distance above the rice
  • simmer until the extra water has evaporated then cover
  • cook for another 10 minutes
  • turn off the heat, add the butter on top and let it seep through before serving

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