I had no intention of making this dish, but when Beth and Sarene from Tasting Jerusalem sent me a lovely packet of Baharat, a delicious Middle Eastern spice mix, in the mail then steered me toward this recipe, I had no choice but to open up Jerusalem again and make another delicious classic. I adapted it slightly, subtituting lean turkey for the meats, edamame for fava beans, doubling the spice quantities and adding a few ingredients of my own.
The baharat really is the star of this dish. A subtle note of coriander elevates itself above the rest of the earthy spice mix, lending the dish an undercurrent of palate-cleansing freshness. This recipe also reminded me about the wonderful qualities of capers and how subtle additions (like the scallions) add to the flavor and detail in a way that can really make a dish.
All the ingredients here simmer together in one pot contributing to a timeless conversation about the endless varieties of meatballs across cultures and history.
- 4 ½ tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 cup beans (fresh or frozen)
- 4 whole thyme sprigs
- 6 garlic cloves, sliced
- 8 spring onions (scallions) cut into small segments
- 2 ½ tablespoons of lemon juice
- 1 cup of chicken stock
- 1 handful cilantro
- Salt & black pepper
For the meatballs
- 1 lb ground turkey
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 scant cup fresh breadcrumbs
- 2 tablespoons each of chopped flat leaf parsley, mint, dill and coriander plus about ½ tablespoon of each to finish the dish
- 2 large garlic cloves, crushed
- 2 tablespoons of baharat
- 2 tablespoons of ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons of chopped capers
- 1 egg, beaten
Place all the meatballs ingredients into a large bowl and add salt and pepper to taste and mix well with your hands. Form into small meatballs and sear them in batches with some of the olive oil until browned. Remove from pan and wipe the pan clean.
Heat the remaining oil in the pan you used previously and add the thyme, garlic and spring onions and sauté over a medium heat for about 3 minutes. Add the edamame, 1 ½ tablespoons of lemon juice,1/2 cup of stock, a little salt and plenty of black pepper. Cover the pan and cook on a low heat for about 10 minutes.
Now add the meatballs and remaining stock, cover and continue to simmer for about 25 minutes. This can be made ahead but as they cool, the meatballs will continue to absorb the stock. If necessary, add a little water when reheating. Before serving taste for seasoning, add the remaining herbs, lemon juice and the shelled beans. Delicious with rice.
Adapted from Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi