One of my best friends and former college roommate is from Azerbaijan. I, honestly, had never even heard of the country until I met her, but fell in love with all the ethnic food from that region of the world that she introduced me to.
This friend is, seriously, like a sister to me. I guess she actually is a sister... Since we were in the same sorority.... But I always think of her as a friend and roommate first before sorority sister because I didn't join the chapter until after she had graduated.
ANYWAYS... Because I think of her as a sister, her family is like extended family to me. Her mom used to visit us all the time while we were in school and I feel like she is in aunt to me. She is such an awesome, successful, and friendly person - and a great cook! She would always stock us up on Russian and/or Eastern European pastries, stock up our fridge with homemade food, and make us "family" dinners.
For one of our dinners, she made these amazing lamb meatballs with a yogurt dipping sauce. This was probably 3 years ago and I still remembered how delicious they were. I had asked her how she makes them a few weeks after our dinner and, until recently, had never made them! I don't know why!!! Because they are awesome and so easy.
Unfortunately, she doesn't use recipes, so she wasn't able to tell me exactly how she makes them. She said she mostly eyeballs the ingredients and she will also switch up some ingredients depending on what she has already. I'm OK with this because I don't use recipes either. It's more fun that way - you get to experiment and "play" with your food!
|Putting this guy to work! He's obviously excited to help because we're cooking meat - a rare occasion.|
I started by soaking some uncooked brown rice in a little bit of warm water with saffron threads - to try to infuse some of the saffron flavor in to the rice. I soaked for about 20 minutes.
I used half ground lamb and half ground beef, as she suggested. I went for grass-fed beef because the flavor is better and it is leaner than regular beef. Lamb is also pretty lean, so it sounds like a healthy, lean combo for red meats!
I mixed the beef and lamb with the soaked rice and the water it was soaking in. I also mixed in onion, garlic, cilantro, pomegranate seeds, and chopped dried tart cherries. Rolled them in to balls then boiled them in water with a few more saffron threads. Boiling the meatballs rather than frying them or baking them is healthier because you don't add any additional oils, the fat cooks out, and it makes a super moist meatball!
I copied my friend's mom by making a garlic yogurt to dip the meatballs - seriously this stuff is amazing and the perfect accompaniment to these meatballs. We had our meatballs with some roasted eggplant and zucchini and a salad with some baby kale, pomegranate vinegar, pistachio oil, and pomegranate seeds - some feta on this salad would have been perfect if we had some in the fridge!
Yummy dinner. Both Rommel and I are looking forward to making this again!