These rice and beef meatballs are a real crowd-pleaser

No hedgehogs will be harmed during the preparation of these meatballs – we are not sending you to the backyard or the side of the road for ingredients. These get their name from their spiky appearance, and everything you need to make this delicious Persian dish can be found in a local supermarket.

Hedgehog Meatballs

Makes 12-14 meatballs

Ingredients

For the meatballs
400g minced beef
200g basmati rice, uncooked
2 onions, peeled (240g)
1 garlic clove, peeled
1 small bunch of parsley, top leafy part only (about 20g)
1 small bunch of mint, top leafy part only (about 20g)
1 small bunch of coriander, top leafy part only (about 20g)
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground turmeric, or grate 2cm fresh turmeric root
1 tbsp salt
a sprinkling of white pepper

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For the sauce
3 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, peeled and finely diced (120g)
1 leek, thinly sliced and washed
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
1 green chilli, thinly sliced
4 celery sticks, thinly sliced
1 tsp ground turmeric, or grate 2cm fresh turmeric root
2 dried Persian limes (or 3 wide strips of peel from 1 lemon)
2 bay leaves
juice of 1 lemon

Method
Place the minced beef and uncooked rice together in a large bowl.

Use a food processor to blitz the onions, garlic and fresh herbs together to a paste (or you can chop everything by hand very finely) and add to the meat and rice along with the ground coriander, turmeric, salt and pepper. Mix together until fully combined and then divide into 12-14 balls, each about 80-90g. Cover and store in the fridge until you are ready to cook.

To make the sauce, heat the olive oil in a shallow casserole that is large enough to contain all the meatballs in one layer. Add the onion, leek and garlic and cook on a medium heat until they soften, then add the chilli, celery, turmeric, Persian limes and bay leaves. Mix well and fry for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, then add 1 litre boiling water.

Bring the mixture to the boil and carefully add the meatballs to the liquid. Bring back to the boil and cook uncovered for 5 minutes. Turn the meatballs over in the liquid, then cover and reduce the heat to low.

Keep covered and cook for 30 minutes. Open the lid carefully, add the lemon juice, re-cover and cook for the final 10 minutes before serving.

 

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Extracted from Honey & Co: At Home by Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich (Pavilion Books, approx €30). Photograph by Patricia Niven.

 

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