When you live abroad you kind of start appreciating the homeland cuisine even more than before and in case there are no restaurants or places that cook this kind of cuisine, you start appreciating the cuisine of the other neighbouring countries and getting ideas from there.
Thus I learned how Turkish cuisine is incredibly close to the Bulgarian, and the little differences make the dishes even more interesting.
So in case you're looking for an inspiration and a new way to cook, look at the cuisine of your neighbours.
I had the idea of these meatballs after a visit to a Turkish restaurant where we had lamb and bulgur kofte meatballs in a tomato sauce style dish which is called gyuvech (гювеч in Bulgarian) I believe throughout the Balkans. Unfortunately I couldn't remember the name and probably need to go back to the restaurant in the future to find it out :)
But -yes, I decided I need to have this at home too, it was very good! .
In Bulgaria we've got a kind of similar dish which is called Chirpan-style meatballs and consists of meatballs made with rice in tomato-based sauce. The ones with bulgur were very tasty too.
For one reason or another, I turned out to have some couscous in the cupboard and no bulgur at all.
So couscous and lamb kofte be it! I decided hard-headedly to replace the bulgur with couscous.
The meatballs turned out very delicate and so delicious mainly because of all the green herbs inside.
For the sauce I used fried aubergines in tomato sauce, which were later pureed.
It was fantastic!
Let's proceed to the recipe:
500 gr lamb mince (mine was 20% fat) +1/2 cup water
1/2 cup couscous + 1 cup water
1 cup fresh mint - chopped
- 1 cup parsley - chopped
- 2/3 cup dill - chopped
- salt, freshly ground black pepper
- 2 eggs
- 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 onion diced
2 cloves garlic - minced
7- medium sized tomatoes - chopped
2 large aubergines - washed, chopped and soaked in salted water for 1 hour, then rinsed
100 ml olive oil
500 ml boiling water
1/2 cup parsley
2 medium sized floury potatoes like Maris Piper
salt, pepper to taste
Soak the couscous in 1 cup cold water for 15 minutes.
In a deep bowl place the mince, chopped herbs, garlic, salt and pepper. Drain the excessive water from the couscous and add it to the mix. Start kneading until homogeneous and add the eggs. Continue to mix, add the half cup of water, homogenise everything making sure the ingredients are evenly distributed.
Make small balls.
Bring 2 l of water to the boil and boil the ready made meatballs in it for 20 minutes.
Drain and transfer to a lined baking sheet, add a little bit of vegetable oil and bake the balls for 20-30 minutes on 180 C.
In the meantime make the sauce:
Heat the oil and add the onion for 2-3 minutes until golden. Add the aubergines with a little bit of salt. Cover with a lid and reduce the heat and leave until the aubergines are soft and mushy.
Add the chopped tomatoes, cover with the lid and leave to simmer until the tomatoes are soft. Add the boiling water and the potatoes and simmer more until the tomatoes have reached the sauce consistency and the potatoes are cooked. Stir during the process. Add the parsley 5 minutes before removing from heat.
Remove half of the sauce including the potatoes and process through a blender. Return to the rest of the sauce. Mix well, heat through and you can add the meatballs in.
Serve and enjoy!