RICE DUMPLINGS STUFFED WITH LAMB, ALMOND AND SULTANAS
This week, I worked a set of nights in the A&E department. Any doctor will be able to tell you that when you’re on nights, you flip into survival mode: suddenly all that matters is that you’re getting enough sleep in the day, and that you’re eating enough good food when you can, so you can make safe decisions at 3am when you’re utterly exhausted. On completion of your nights you get the reward of being allowed to re-enter back into civilisation with a sense of accomplishment. This week I had the added reward of knowing that the day after my last night shift was Nowruz, AKA Kurdish/Iranian New Year, AKA an opportunity for mum and I to hang out while cooking my favourite meal of all time: Kifta.
Kifta has a soft outer shell that acts as a parcel, holding in the fruity lamb filling which is gently spiced with cumin and jewelled with almonds and sultanas. The kifta are then cooked in a soup that’s bursting with the sweet warmth of beetroot. This is by no means a ‘quick dish’, and if I were to rank its skill level I would have to go with ‘difficult’, though complexity aside this dish is a triumph. It is the ultimate display of Kurdish flavour and technique, and it would undoubtedly make an impressive showstopper at any dinner party.
1kg short grain pudding rice
750g minced lamb (20% fat)
4 tsp ground cumin
3 tsp salt
1 tsp ground pepper
750g minced lamb (20% fat)
1 ½ large red onions
150g tomato purée
80g (1 cup) toasted flaked almonds
80g (½ cup) sultanas
50g parsley, finely chopped
1 tbsp ground cumin
2 tbsp sunflower oil
2 tsp salt
Both recipes are vegan and taste incredible on their own, but with the kifta they taste exceptional. The quantities of both recipes are enough to cook 4 kifta balls, which serves 2 to 4 people for dinner, depending on hunger levels.
Note: If you go for the beetroot and spinach soup base, I tend to omit the spiced chickpeas from the recipe, otherwise the whole dish gets a bit too cluttered with the kifta. Also, add the spinach to the soup a few minutes before serving, so as not to overcook, and to keep the vibrant green colour.
Preparation time: 40 minutes (plus soaking the rice)
Cooking time: 1hr 20 minutes
Makes:14 kifta balls. One kifta with a serving of soup is a good-sized portion for one adult, but you may want to throw a few more kiftas into the pot for your hungrier guests.
Make ahead:This can be made ahead and frozen for up to 6 months
1. Soak the pudding rice overnight (or for a minimum of 4 hours) in cool water.
2. To make the outer casing mix,
4. Now for the actual assembly of the
5. There will probably be some lamb mixture left over once you’ve made all the
6. Make the soup. Once it’s ready, make sure its bubbling and drop 4
7. Freeze the remaining
8. Serve each