Kufteh (Herb Meatballs in Tomato-Plum Sauce)

  • Serves

    serves 4-6


These tender meatballs are simmered in a sweet-tart tomato and dried plum sauce. This recipe first appeared in our March 2012 issue, with Anissa Helou's story The Land of Bread and Spice.


  • 12 cup yellow split peas
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 cup cooked basmati rice
  • 12 cup finely chopped dill
  • 12 cup finely chopped tarragon
  • 14 cup finely chopped parsley
  • 14 cup finely chopped chives
  • 1 tbsp. ground turmeric
  • 12 tsp. crushed saffron
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 12 cup plus 7 dried sour plums
  • 14 cup olive oil
  • 2 medium yellow onions, sliced
  • 14 cup tomato paste
  • 2 plum tomatoes, cored, seeded, and roughly chopped


Step 1

Bring peas and 2 cups water to a boil in a 2-qt. saucepan over high heat; cook until tender, about 40 minutes. Drain; transfer to a bowl. Add beef, rice, dill, tarragon, parsley, chives, turmeric, saffron, egg, salt and pepper; mix. Place 1⁄3 cup meat mixture in your hand and place a dried plum in the center; form around plum into a 2″ ball. Repeat to make seven meatballs; chill.

Step 2

Heat oil in a 6-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions; cook until softened, about 15 minutes. Add tomato paste; cook until lightly caramelized, about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes; cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add remaining 1⁄2 cup dried plums and 3 cups water; boil. Add meatballs to sauce, reduce heat to medium-low; cook, covered, until cooked through, about 45 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

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