August 08, 2020

Gheymeh Rizeh Nokhodchi - Chickpea Meatballs Braised in Tomato Sauce

Gheymeh Rizeh Nokhodchi

As is the case with many Iranians living abroad, trips to our home country tend to feel like an epic dream filled with nostalgia! Last year, three months after my trip to Iran with my daughters, I traveled to Iran again with my husband. We visited our families and traveled through Tehran, Isfahan, Shiraz, Yazd, and Kerman during our four-week stay. It was a memorable trip as I tried to capture the beauty of ancient Persian architecture, the vast landscapes, tucked away narrow alleyways, grand bazaars, and small craft shops. I also got to taste many of the dishes that I had dreamt of over the years while being away. I got to talk about food and recipes to anyone willing and interested to share their knowledge. One day during our stay in Isfahan,  I went out for some tea and sweets with my sister-in-law and her friend. My sister-in-law also shared her Isfahani-style pancake recipe with me and I wrote about it a while back. We went to a coffee shop inside the courtyard of a historic house.  As we were sipping tea we talked about traditional Isfahani dishes such as biriani, khoresh mast and gheymeh rizeh nokhodchi, which is the recipe that I'm sharing with you today. Below is the simple yet delicious recipe as was told to me by two lovely ladies on a memorable sunny afternoon in Isfahan.

Gheymeh Rizeh Nokhodchi

Serves 4

1 pound lean ground lamb or beef
2 medium-size onions, finely grated 
1 tablespoon dried mint 
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Tomato Sauce
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 large tomato, finely chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon dried mint
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
3 tablespoons vegetable oil or olive oil


  1. In a skillet, heat the oil over medium heat, add the sliced onion, cook until translucent. Add turmeric, stir. Add tomato paste, cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently. Add chopped tomatoes, dry mint, salt, pepper, and two cups of water, bring to a gentle boil. Simmer over low heat.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the ground beef, grated onion, chickpea flour, turmeric, dried mint, salt, and pepper, using your hand. Shape mixture into small meatballs.  
  3. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add meatballs, brown them well on all sides. 
  4. Gently drop the meatballs into the tomato sauce, cover, and braise them for 45-50 minutes over low heat. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
Serve with warm bread or rice and torshi.