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Post-feminist koofteh
Order pizza

By Ashpaz Baashi
May 2, 2001
The Iranian

I got this question from a reader:

Salaam aziz. koofteh tabrizi baladi? man har chi dorost mikonam khoob dar nemiaad. Let's see your recipe .tnx.

Koofteh tabrizi??? You've got to be kidding. I mean, I know when I'm being tested. He went on:

aashpaz cheh chofteh tabrizi balad nabaashi aashpaz nesty (lajeh turchi)

Shookhi or no shookhi, I had to meet the challenge. Or at least do some research, because, to be honest, my one previous attempt at koofteh tabrizi was not a brilliant success. The research was daunting. I found a recipe that told me to put a whole roast chicken inside of one giant meatball.

Not in this lifetime, thank you.

Then serendipity struck. At an Italian party in San Francisco I just happened to meet an honest-to-goodness Tabrizi who had all the answers. She knew the pitfalls, the secret lore, and she shared it all with me. But implementation was another matter.

Do I have time for this? No. So I did some experiments, cut some corners, and I offer you now, guaranteed to succeed

A Post-Feminist Koofteh Tabrizi

1. Choose your own time and reason to begin. Do it for professional pride, self-indulgence, or love. Don't do it just because Iranian.com has a deadline, and for god's sake don't do it to impress your mother-in-law, because then for sure it won't work.

2. Do the preliminaries on separate occasions while you're waiting for the coffee to reheat in the microwave:

Boil 1/2 cup yellow split peas (lappeh) until soft, about 20 minutes. Hard-boil 5 eggs and peel them, or soak 5-6 dried plums or 1/4 cup barberries (zereshk) in water. Cook up 1/2 cup of short-grain rice, or better, find 1 cup of left-over rice from the Chinese take-away in the back of the fridge.

3. Pour yourself a glass of wine. Slice 2-3 onions and fry till brown in a large pot. Add 2-3 cloves of garlic (chopped), 2-3 tablespoons tomato paste, 1 teaspoon turmuric, juice of one lemon, salt and pepper, 3 cups water and 3 cups beef broth. Bring it to a boil, then turn the heat down until it is simmering very gently.

4. Mix together the split peas, rice, 1 lb. of ground lamb (or beef, but not too lean), and 2 raw eggs. Add salt and pepper. If you feel the urge, add a handful of chopped tarragon (tarkhoon).

5. Throw the meat mixture in a food processor and zap it till the peas are unrecognizable but you can still see a few grains of rice here and there.

6. Consider the possibility of ordering pizza for dinner and eating the koofteh cold for lunch tomorrow. Dinner won't be ready for another hour and a quarter. Either way, continue.

7. Wash your hands. You will already have done this about 10 times without my telling you, what with the mess of meat in the food processor and all over the table, but do it again. This time, don't dry them.

8. Grab a large fistful of the meat mixture and poke one of the hard-boiled eggs (or a plum, or a spoonful of the zereshk) into the center of it. Cover it up with another dollop of the meat.

Toss the big ball from hand to hand a few times, enjoying the squishy feeling and how it doesn't quite fall apart even though it looks like it should. When you've had enough of that, drop the ball gently into the simmering broth.

9. Wash your hands again and make another ball. And so on.

10. Wash your hands again and find the cash for the pizza man. Or, if you've opted for a late dinner, go and check your email. Pour another glass of wine. Write a poem. Balance your checkbook. Write a letter to Iranian.com. Send email to your mother-in-law and casually mention what's for dinner.

11. When you're absolutely sure that an hour has passed, pour another glass of wine and dish up the koofteh.

12. Get somebody else to wash the dishes.

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