May 21, 2009

Herbed Koofteh

Iranian Herbed Koofteh/Kufteh

I make کوفته koofteh (kufteh) Iranian meatballs several times a year. Making koofeh is easy and delicious. These rice and beef meatballs are loaded with fresh aromatic herbs, stuffed with walnuts and raisins, simmered in a simple and tasty tomato sauce is an excellent main dish or a flavorful appetizer.

Iranian koofteh (Meatballs)

Herbed Koofteh


1 pound ground meat (beef, lamb, or turkey)
1 cup rice, rinsed
2 large eggs
2 medium onions (one finely diced for frying and one grated to be used in the rice/meat mixture)
2 cloves of garlic
1 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 cup chopped fresh dill
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
A few sprigs of fresh mint, tarragon, and basil, washed and finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
Vegetable oil

For the Sauce:

1 can of tomato sauce (16 ounces)
1 can of crushed tomatoes (16 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
Salt and pepper to taste

For filling:

Chopped walnut, raisins, barberries (zereshk), or prunes


  1. Place the rice in a medium-size pot, add 2 cups of water, a tablespoon of oil, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt, cover and cook 10-15 minutes or until the water is absorbed. Remove from heat, set aside. 
  2. In a large pan saute onions in 3 tablespoons of oil until golden, add garlic and turmeric. Stir and saute for another couple of minutes. 
  3. Pour both cans of tomato sauce into the pot, add 2-3 cups of water. add salt and pepper. Cover and simmer on low heat while you make the meat mixture.
  4. In a large bowl, add rice, ground beef, grated onion, eggs, chopped herbs, salt, pepper, turmeric, mix thoroughly. All the ingredients should be well distributed. 
  5. Using a scoop take about 1/3 of a cup of the mixture, round it into a ball, poke a hole in it to stuff the fillings in, close the gap, and one by one, slowly place into the gently boiling sauce. 
  6. Place an upside-down colander on the pot to let the steam out. 
  7. Cook on medium to low heat for an hour. Adjust seasoning and add more water if needed. 
Serve with yogurt, pickles (torshi), and warm bread.



  1. Yummy, your blog looks so tasty.

  2. how much saffron would I have to use to get 1/4 a teaspoon of liquid saffron?

  3. Hi Helen,
    Thanks for the question; it gives me a chance to explain this liquid saffron. What I mean is ¼ of the teaspoon ground saffron dissolved in about one table spoon of hot water. I’d suggest adding the hot water gradually and stirring to bring about the color and aroma. Sometimes, before adding it to the food I put it in the microwave for only ten seconds. A little bit of saffron goes a long way, especially if it is of a good quality. There are different varieties of saffron in Persian supermarkets or Middle Eastern specialty stores. The best saffron would have a deep red color, great aroma and enhances the flavor. Although it is a bit too expensive though, therefore I use a little bit of it each time. I buy them as threads in small packages or airtight containers and I ground them myself using a mortar and pestle.

  4. Do the turmeric and saffron go in the sauce or the koofteh? They're listed in the sauce ingredients, but the instructions list it in the meat mixture....

    1. Deena, I made the necessary changes. Thanks for bringing this to my attention.

  5. I'm confused what mixture to u add a a fillings

    1. You would place a teaspoon of the nuts and raisins filling into the center of each rice, meat and herb kofta.

  6. I have made this a few times and I love it. Thank you