As an Italian and an ethnic food loving connoisseur, meatballs are definitely on the menu when it comes to Italian cooking at my house. However, I have never completely fallen head over heals in love with the oversized balls of meat that accompany many pasta dishes. So, when my friend Ameneh, who is originally from Iran, served Persian meatballs called Koofteh, at a dinner party, I was curious to see what the difference might be. As they say in Italian, “Sacri Fumi!” better known as, “Holy Smokes!” they were Magnifico!
Made with a zesty tomato sauce and infused with a variety of spices and herbs, Ameneh’s Koofteh recipe will make the toughest meatball critique fall in love all over again. Only this time it will be Persian style love.
Koofteh in Persian means “pounded or ground” because many years ago in Iran, Koofteh was pounded with a large pestle and mortar to give the meat a sticky texture that held it together when cooked. Many cultures around the world have their version of Koofteh made with a variety of spices, herbs, and other ingredients that make the meatballs culturally unique from one another. One of the ingredients that makes this recipe so amazing are the barberries. You can order them here since they are hard to find at local grocery stores. You can also use the barberries for my Garlic Green Beans with Shallots & Barberries recipe.
The following are a few examples of how other cultures spell and say Koofteh in different regions of the Middle East. No matter how you like your meatballs, Koofteh is a definite must for your next meal. “Nush-e Jan” (“Bon appetite!”)
Greece: κεφτές (keftés)
Israel: כופתה (kufta)
India: कोफ़्ता (kofta)
Iran: کوفته (kufte)
Pakistan: كوفته (kofta)
Assyrian Neo-Aramaic: kipti
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