Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Kipteh- Iraqi Meatballs

Ramadan Mubarak to everyone who is observing the holy month!

During Ramadan the most wonderful creations are prepared for Iftar. Even the simplest of dishes are expertly prepared and presented.  Tables are adorned with simple and complex dishes.  Plates filled with dates stuffed with toasted almonds and labneh (yogurt), sit along side freshly cooked kibbeh, flafel, and bourek next to that is plate filled with Rice and Lamb, and at the end of the table is an array of baklawa, desserts and fruits.  It's a feast to the eyes and a reminder to be grateful for all the na'mas (blessings) in our lives.

As I've mentioned before I was a foodie even at young age.  I knew who prepared the best dishes and which of our friends and family members prepared amazing food.  One of my father's close friends was married to talented cook.  Everything she served was delicious - perfect seasoning, perfect temperature, and perfectly balanced.  I used to day dream about her dolma -- yes folks, it's true - I love good food.  On one occasion she challenged my taste buds with a Kipteh meatball dish which she called aeen el bakara (eye of the cow).  I wasn't worried since they looked like meatballs to me.  I cut into the meatballs and they were filled with a whole boiled egg.  What the...!  The meat mixture was delicious, but the egg seemed out of place.

Something made me think of this dish recently.  I searched the internet to see the many versions of this dish.  From what I can tell this was an Assyrian dish that is widely popular through out Iraq.  The version I liked best was prepared by an Iraqi/Assyrian women, Mabel.  You should check out her videos, she's gregarious and fun to watch  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sXl_rn-qwoo . Her recipe does NOT include the boiled egg which made it the winner. I adapted her recipe to use what I had on hand.  A combination of ground turkey and beef  mixed with shallots and spring onions.  The meatballs were then simmered in a simple tomato sauce.

Grandma McCoy made a similar dish she called porcupine meatballs, but made with creamed tomato soup.  This is a meal that your kids will love. It's simple, tasty and full of familiar flavors.  

Remember, as with all recipes, this is a method of cooking so feel free to change the spices and measurements to suit your taste

Iraqi Style Meatballs
Makes  8-10 servings


3/4 lb. ground turkey
1/4 lb. ground chuck
3 shallots, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 white onion, minced
3 spring onions, chopped
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 Tbsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1 cup white or basmati rice that has been soaked for an hour or more, then drained


1/2 white onion, sliced
1 tsp. Indian Paprika (this is slightly hot paprika) you may use chipotle, smoked or sweet papriak
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 14.5 can of tomatoes (tomato sauce, diced, pureed whatever you have)
4 cans water


Combine meat, garlic, onions, shallots, rice and seasoning.  Dip your fingers in cold water prior to working with this mixture as the  mixture can be sticky.  Roll mixture into meatballs.  Set aside to allow the flavors to meld.

In a large, heavy bottomed pot heat one tablespoon of olive oil.  Saute the onions and paprika for a few minutes or until the onions have softened.  Add one can of tomato, then fill that can with water 4 times, this will help loosen any bit of tomato stuck in the can.  Bring the mixture to a boil.  Once the sauce is boiling, slowly drop in the meatballs, reduce to medium heat and then simmer, partially covered for 25 minutes.  Remove from heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Serve with pita bread, rice, or sauteed Swiss chard.