Kufte-ye Anar-o Pesteh (Pomegranate & Pistachio Meatballs)
Anar, pronounced A-naar, (pomegranate) is native to Persia (modern Iran) and was considered a source of indestructible strength in Persian mythology, collected in the 16th century Shahnameh Ferdowsi. These tales, which involve supernatural beings, feature confrontation of good and evil and draws heavily from Zoroastrianism, an ancient religious philosophy. Here is a picture of Rostam slaying a div (white beast).
Interesting enough, in Ayurveda (traditional Indian medicine), pomegranate is used as a blood builder and a tonic for the heart, as well as, a healthful counterbalance to a diet high in sweet-fatty (kapha or earth) components. So ancient rumors about the benefits of pomegranate may not be far from truth
Today in Iran, pomegranate is a symbol of fertility and love, and is enjoyed fresh as a snack. Pomegranate syrup is used in many dishes, including meatballs, to impart the infamous sweet and tangy essence, unique to Persian cooking. Koofteh-ye Anar-0 Pesteh is Persian pomegranate meatballs with chunks of pistachio (Pesteh) and has won a few hearts in Montana. I may have found a novel way of making friends here.
Ingredients (makes 21- 24 sml meatballs):
- 1 small onion, peeled & diced
- 1 cup pistachios (or hazel nuts), shelled
- 1/4 cup bread crumbs or 1/4 cup rolled oats ( for gluten free version, pulverize in mini chopper)
- 2 cups fresh parsley- chopped
- 1 cup fresh tarragon-chopped (may substitute 1/3 volume dried)
- 1 cup fresh cilantro- chopped
- 1 TBS fresh lime juice
- 1 TBS ground cumin
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tsp sea salt
- 2 pounds ground meat ( lamb, beef, turkey or chicken)
- 1 egg
- 3/4 cup pomegranate molasses
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1.5 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1.5 tsp red pepper flakes
Time~ Prep: 30min refrigeration: 30 min. Cook: 15 min
- Pulse all the ingredients (except the meat, the egg and the pistachios) in a food processor until you have a grainy paste.
- Pulse the pistachios a few times separately and take care not to grind to powder.
- Transfer everything to a large mixing bowl and add the meat and egg. Lightly knead with your hands for a few minutes. Cover and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
- Remove the paste from the refrigerator and shape into bite-sized balls (about 1.5 TBS each). Place the meatballs in a wide oiled baking dish and brush well with oil.
- Bake in the top shelf of the oven for 10 minutes at 500 degrees Fahrenheit (260 Celsius).
- Glaze: Meanwhile, in a small bowl mix all the ingredients for the glaze. Add in increments and taste to be sure the sweet and sour balance is to your preference.
- Reduce the oven to 400˚F (200˚C). Take the meatballs out and glaze the them with half the sauce and bake for another 5 minutes to infuse with the pomegranate flavor. Drizzle the rest of the sauce over meatballs while serving.
Goes over plain polow (cooked Basmati rice) or naan. Garnish with pomegranate arils, pistachio slivers or fresh basil.
The paste can be kept in the fridge for up to 24 hrs.
Don’t substitute sugar for honey, as it won’t melt easily in the pomegranate paste.