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ISO Middle Eastern Meatball Recipies

I made Kofta Kebabs with ground turkey recently which were good albeit a bit dry. I have some ground beef that I want to turn into middle eastern meatballs to be served as an entrée. I can pan fry them or grill on a gas grill but I'm wondering if there are any preparations for browning and braising in a sauce like you would when making Italian meatballs? That might take care of the dryness. It does not necessarily have to be a tomato based sauce, in fact it might be nicer to have a "brown" sauce made with beef stock and soy, etc.. I am a total novice @ cooking middle eastern but I have accumulated a lot of spices & spice blends used in that part of the world. Thanks for sharing your knowledge!

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  1. Ottolenghi has a lot of meatball recipes. One that comes to mind is in a tahini sauce.

    If you use white meat turkey ground it will be too dry IMO. Dark meat works much bbetter

    5 Replies
    1. re: magiesmom

      Dark turkey still isn't going to be as moist as beef, or meat from most other 4-legged animals.

      1. re: greygarious

        That is not really true. It has to do with the Fat Content. If you have 10/90 ground Beef it will be dryer than most ground dark Meat Turkey.

        1. re: chefj

          If you are using 90/10 ground beef for meatballs, you have a lot to learn about cooking.

          1. re: greygarious

            Agreed but the blanket statement is wrong

            1. re: chefj

              Have it your way. IMO, turkey meatballs are invariably unappealing unless the turkey is mixed with a richer meat.

    2. Here's an Ottolenghi recipe from the book "Jerusalem"

      I'm sure all beef would be fine, though this calls for beef and lamb.
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8843... read this too!
      Here's another post that looks promising
      one more

        1. Generally speaking , koftas are usually just cooked in the pan, oven, under the grill or on the BBQ, rather than braised in a sauce. Then served with a sauce separately. The internet abounds with yoghurt or tahini based ones.

          I've never made anything other than lamb koftas but would guess beef may work OK. If ever doing the turkey ones again, it may be worth looking up a recipe for toum, which is a Lebanese garlic sauce similar to aioli. It's often served with chicken shish kebabs, so should work with another white meat. Almost needless to say that with koftas you need a goodly amount of fat in there to prevent it becoming dry which may be a problem with turkey and, depending on your mix, may also be an issue with beef.

          Of course, there's no reason why you couldnt braise the beef koftas in beef stock and soy , as suggested in the OP, but the flavours won't be middle eastern.

          1. There a a few from Morocco here is an adapted Paula Wolfert Recipe
            Lebanon, Egypt and Syria, Dawood Basha(spiced Tomato Sauce)
            Tunisia, T'fina Pkaila (in a thin Broth with Beans and Spinach
            )Turkey, Ekşili Köfte Çorbası(in Yogurt-Lemon Sauce), Sulu Köfte (in Tomato Sauce)
            India, Kaccha Kofta Curry, Lamb or Goat Meat balls in a Mughlai Sauce And many others

            2 Replies
            1. re: chefj

              Dawood Basha is the first meatball in sauce recipe I thought of as well given the OP's parameters.

              Turkey meatballs are prone to drying out so beef is likely going to be an improvement with or without the sauce. From there, most any kafta/kefta recipe can be used to make pan fried or baked meatballs, the OP need only ensure that there is enough fat in the meat mixture to keep the end product moist.

              1. re: chefj

                Thanks for linking to the adapted kefta tagine recipe. Making it tonight!

              2. Not meatballs but still....

                • 2 lbs lamb, ground (or beef or veal or a mix)
                • 2 tbsp parsley, chopped
                • 2 onions, chopped
                • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
                • ½ tsp cinnamon
                • ½ tsp salt
                • ¼ tsp pepper
                • 2 tbsp olive oil
                • 2 tbsp pine nuts
                • 1 cup tahini

                1. Preheat oven to 400F.
                2. In large bowl, combine meat, parsley, onion, garlic, cinnamon, salt and pepper. Mix with hands to form paste.
                3. Oil a 9 by 9 inch baking pan and spread the meat mixture evenly in pan.
                4. Saute pine nuts in 1 tbsp oil, stirring constantly, until lightly browned. Sprinkle nuts and oil over meat mixture.
                5. Bake for 30 minutes or until brown on top.
                6. Pour tahini evenly over meat and bake another 15 minutes until bubbling.
                Serve with rice and salad.

                1. Thanks for all your suggestions & recipes. I made beef meatballs with
                  beef, garlic, onion, carrot, ginger, jalapeno, whole wheat bread, egg, a little cream, cilantro all processed in a food processor then added ground coriander, cumin, turmeric, Baharat spice blend & salt & pepper. I pan fried the meatballs and made a sauce with crushed tomatoes, onions, garlic, soy sauce and many of the spices I used in the meatballs. The meatballs were very good, an 8 out of 10 but the sauce, while OK (7 out of 10), wasn't as complimentary as I would have liked. I won't make a tomato based sauce the next time. If I have some leftover brown sauce/meat gravy I'll start with that.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: zackly

                    An interesting and very eclectic mix of flavourings.

                  2. Scroll down in this WSJ link for Chef Ana Sortun's Lamb and Pistachio Kofte Kebabs With Cacik.


                    4 Replies
                    1. re: LindaWhit

                      Thanks! I like this recipe especially the Cacik Sauce. We love tzatziki and this seems like an amped up version of that sauce.

                      1. re: zackly

                        I liked it as well - I printed it out to make very soon!

                        Hope you printed it out the first time. The WSJ requires you to log-in or subscribe to get it a second time. Or you could clear your cache and it'll probably let you see the recipes again. :-)

                        1. re: LindaWhit

                          I wasn't able to access the recipe on the WSJ site without subscribing. I copied & pasted the recipe name in Google and it came up.

                        2. re: zackly

                          Cacik is the Turkish version of the Greek tzatziki. Or the Indian raita or Bulgarian tarator. Broadly speaking. Of course, there's no single recipe - and all are good with lamb.

                      2. I invented my own, not authentic for sure but they are good and they taste like things I like in ME restaurants. I mix ground beef or lamb with dill, mint, lemon juice, cinnamon, and salt. You could add egg and bread crumbs. I make the meat into balls and put them in a baking dish with tomato sauce, lemon juice, dill, mint, cinnamon, and salt. I add some chunks of onion and green pepper and zucchini and then I bake this and serve it with rice.