My mom makes Koufteh every other week - sometimes like this, and sometimes in a tomato sauce. If we make it this often, you know it's an absolute winner of a recipe. Both versions are delicious, but this one is my favorite. The blend of simple flavors in the broth is comforting, aromatic, and just wonderful all round.
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Why this Recipe Works
The beauty of Koufteh is in its combination of spices and herbs to create a flavorful soup broth. The simple broth comes together quickly and easily – it's actually a plain vegetable broth that you can spruce up with bouillon or beef broth.
The fresh parsley, cilantro, and bay leaves smell incredible and make the broth so fragrant and tasty. No matter whether you cook the dumplings in broth or the tomato sauce version, both are equally mouthwatering.
I think ground lamb is the best meat for the dumplings, as it adds a rich flavor to an already delicious dish. Having said this, you can also make this recipe with ground beef (what my mom uses), turkey, or chicken.
Ingredients & Substitutions
beef bouillon - this is my preference if I'm adding extra flavor to the broth, but sometimes I leave it out because that's what I feel like. You can also use better than bouillon, or vegetable broth.
basmati rice - long grain white basmati rice is preferred for this recipe, but you can substitute with other rice as long as it isn't a par-boiled quick cooking rice.
oil - any flavorless oil works great in this recipe like canola, sunflower seed, or avocado seed.
turmeric - this recipe uses dry, ground turmeric, not fresh.
fresh herbs - you can use parsley, cilantro, tarragon, and basil. A great shortcut is to purchase sabzi koufteh, an herb mix especially for making koufteh.
How to Make this Recipe
Bring 2-3 quarts of water to boil with 1 quartered onion, 1 quartered tomato, 3 stalks of celery chopped into 3-inch sections, 2 carrots, 2 bay leaves, optional beef bouillon, ½ teaspoon pepper, & ½ teaspoon salt.
Note: You can either use 1 beef bouillon cube or or use 1-2 cups beef broth in place of 1-2 cups water. I have made this recipe many times using neither, and loading it up with veggies instead - it is watery, but still delicious if the soup is seasoned properly with salt & pepper. I have had mixed reviews about serving it this way, so choose your own adventure.
Mix together 1 pound of ground lamb or beef, one grated onion, 5 cloves of minced garlic, ½ teaspoon turmeric, ½ cup of basmati rice, ½ cup of finely chopped parsley, ¼ cup of finely chopped cilantro, ¼ cup of oil, 1 teaspoon salt, & ½ teaspoon pepper in a bowl. Set aside.
Once the water is boiling, roll the beef mixture into 2-inch diameter balls and drop into the boiling soup. Bring back to boil, reduce to simmer, cover, and cook for 45 minutes.
My two top tips for keeping your meatballs together are to chop the herbs very finely, and also firmly form the dumplings in your hand (don't be afraid to press hard!) This keeps them together without having to use an egg to bind them.
Koufteh are round meatballs, whereas Kofta are elongated kebabs where the ground meat is shaped into a longer cylinder around a stick for grilling. The names sound similar though, so may be sometimes mistaken for one another.
Koufteh is traditionally made with ground beef, mixed together with rice and other ingredients to form the meatballs. They are traditionally served in a tomato-base or broth.
I was lucky enough to grow up eating Persian food and getting to learn how to cook from my mom, so you can find many Persian recipes on the blog. Here are some recipes I think you'll love if you love this koufteh.
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Koufteh - Persian Meat & Rice Dumpling Soup
- 1 lb. ground lamb beef, turkey, or chicken
- 2 yellow onions 1 grated, 1 quartered
- 2 carrots chopped into 3-inch long pieces
- 1 tomato quartered
- 3 stalks celery chopped into 3-inch long pieces
- 1 beef bouillon or use 1-2 cups beef broth in place of 1-2 cups water
- 2-3 quarts water
- 5 cloves garlic minced
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- ½ cup basmati rice
- ½ cup parsley finely chopped
- ¼ cup cilantro finely chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- ¼ cup oil canola or other flavorless oil
- salt & pepper
- Bring 2-3 quarts of water to boil with 1 quartered onion, tomato, celery, carrots, bay leaves, beef bouillon*, ½ teaspoon pepper, & ½ teaspoon salt.
- Mix the ground lamb, one grated onion, garlic, turmeric, basmati rice, parsley, cilantro, oil, 1 teaspoon salt, & ½ teaspoon pepper in a bowl. Set aside.
- Once the water is boiling, roll the beef mixture into 2-inch diameter balls and drop into the boiling soup. Bring back to boil, reduce to simmer, cover, and cook for 45 minutes.