I am a pretty determined cook. I mean, if I get it into my head that I absolutely have to make something, I usually have to do it. But that kind of determination is a double-edged sword: if I am not feeling it, and I make myself make it, chances are, it will not turn out good. My father always said that you have to cook with love, and put your heart into it no matter what. If you don’t, it will be felt. And he is right. Not in the cheesy, food-is-love kind of way, but in a very logical way. When you put your love into it, it will be obvious and the lack of enthusiasm will be reflected in your dish.
So one very lazy Saturday afternoon, I was doing nothing at all. And I mean nothing. Sitting on the couch watching Netflix all day kind of day. It wasn’t particularly great weather outside and nothing fun was going on. So I was determined to stay in. My husband was upstairs, working on his stuff. All of a sudden I remembered that I needed to make dinner…stat…it was getting closer to lunch/dinner time and I knew my husband would definitely be getting hungry soon.
Now, I’ve made a promise to myself to make more of the traditional dishes, and was saved by the fact that I had a meal planned already: Kufte Bozbash (or meatball soup). A note I should make about all Azeri meat dishes is they taste best if the meat is lamb and super fresh. Unfortunately, it cannot always be the case (because lamb is expensive, not available everywhere for me and my husband would prefer beef), so I make do with beef.
This dish is not a favorite by any means, but it is hearty and was perfect on a cold weather. It’s relatively easy to make, if you are not making the broth from scratch, or in my case, just using water. My meat came out a little bit dry, but it was ok, because the way to eat this soup, is to crush the meatballs, and pieced of bread and eat it like one mushy mixture (doesn’t sound appetizing, but it is ).
2 LB Ground beef or a combination of Lamb and Beef
1tbsp white rice, washed
Salt (to taste)
Pepper (to taste)
¼ cup dried mint
Dried sour plums (same number as you will have the meatballs)
2 medium potatoes, cut up
1 can Chickpeas
For the broth:
10 Cups water, boiled
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp tomato paste, mixed with water and added to the broth
Mix the salt, pepper, dried mint and rice in with the meat. Combine well. Form meatballs about a size of a small apple. As you are forming the balls, put 1 dried plum into each meatball. Set them aside.
Meanwhile, mix the tomato paste with water, in a small bowl and add it to the 10 cups of water on the stove. Add salt and pepper and bring to boil.
Once the broth has boiled, add the meatballs, potatoes and keep everything on medium low heat until the meatballs and potatoes are cooked. Towards the end, add the chickpeas. Sprinkle more dried meat on top when serving.