A couple weeks ago, in early April, I spent the day at the beach with my friend, Anita. We spent the afternoon hanging and talking in between reading and grading midterm papers. It was surreal driving home and seeing no leaves on the trees after spending a beautiful, 85 degree, sunny day by the water. This week, the trees are greener, everything is in bloom, and it’s almost grape leaf season. But this week, in the meantime, it’s been pretty chilly and rainy, which is perfect weather for one last cozy stew, like kifteh’it gu shirwah.
While kift’it gu shirwah is more traditionally eaten in the fall, it is a lovely, warming dish to enjoy during these last few chilly days of spring. It’s got lots of bright vegetables and a lovely, light tomato broth. It doesn’t feel heavy like most winter stews, but it’s super filling and hearty, in a healthy way. The meatballs are made of ground beef and uncooked rice, which braise and steam as the stew cooks. The rice add a lovely texture to the meatballs and all of the flavors meld together as the dish cooks. Kift’it gu shirwah is really similar to kubbat shorba, but instead of wheat (bulgur or semolina), we use rice in the meatballs, so it’s a nice gluten-free alternative.Print
meatball stew | kift’it gu shirwah
- Prep Time: 25 minutes
- Total Time: 50 minutes
- Yield: about 6 servings
For the tomato sauce:
1 tablespoon unsalted butter *
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, medium diced
2 14-ounce cans diced tomatoes
Salt and pepper to taste
For the meatballs:
1 pound ground beef
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup minced light-green and white green onion parts (from about a bunch of green onions)
1/2 cup medium grain rice (e.g., Calrose)
1/2 cup packed minced parsley (from about 1/2 bunch)
To finish the stew:
3 tablespoons lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
2 cups boiling water
1 green bell pepper, large dice
2 small or 1 large unpeeled zucchini, large dice
- Make the tomato sauce: Place a 4 to 8 quart stockpot over medium-low heat. Melt the butter in the olive oil and add the diced onion. Cook the onions, stirring every minute or two, for about 8 minutes until they lightly brown.
- Add the diced tomatoes and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer, cover, reduce heat to low, and cook for about 12 minutes, until the tomatoes start to fall apart.
- Make the meatballs: While the tomatoes are cooking, prepare the meatballs: combine the ground beef, salt, pepper, minced green onions, short grain rice, and minced parsley. Shape the meatballs into about 25 small balls (about the size of ping pong balls).
- Finish the stew: Add the lemon juice to the diced tomatoes, return the heat to high, and simmer for 2 minutes.
- Add the meatballs to the tomatoes, top with the 2 cups of boiling water, cover and simmer for 2 minutes without stirring.
- Gently stir the meatballs, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Gently stir the meatballs, cover with the bell pepper and zucchini, reduce heat to low, and cook for another 15 minutes. The dish is done when the vegetables are soft and the meat and rice have cooked through to the center of the meatballs.
- Adjust the seasoning and serve. If you eat some left over the next day, you should stir about 2 to 3 tablespoons of additional water into each serving immediately before reheating (let it sit for about 2 minutes, stir, and then serve). The rice absorbs a lot of the moisture overnight.
* Substitute olive oil to make this dairy free.
Just have to say I love your website. I stumbled across it two months ago when I was dreraming of making kubba, it was a very hot summers day here in Sydney so it defritnetly wasn’t kubba shorba weather!
I have a Maltese background and my husband is Assyrian from Iraq (a typical Tiyare) we lived with my inlaws for about 14 yrs where my three boys and daughter were born and raised. Reading your stories when you post a recipe had brought back some funny memories (some sad too) my mother inlaw used to tell these stories about when they used to live in Iraq. We usually make kift’it tkhuma, when they lived in Baghbad and travelled back to the north to visit family, my father inlaws car had a flat tyre along the way. My husband was only 2 at the time and comaplined he was hungry, they were on the side of the road and a farm house was within walking distance my husbands aunty picked him up and said ‘It’s lunch time let’s see what these people have to eat’ his mother was embarrased but as she was older couldn’t say no. The Assyrian lady at the house had made kift’it tkhuma, of course she was happy to make a bowl for the hungry boy.
For some reason my daughter dosen’t like kift’it tkhuma so I made this last night to see if she wil try it. Obviously my husband and sons loved it, my daughter tried it and said it’s better than the ‘other one’ so it’s a start!
God Bless you,
That is such a sweet story of hospitality! And it warms my heart exactly the same that your family enjoyed this kift’it gu shirwah. Naneelokh! <3
Oh also, if you’re looking for a way to make kift’it tkhuma appeal to more American palates, my family eats ours with ketchup! Or, half of us do anyways (it’s a point of debate, haha). I have to say, kift’it tkhuma is so important to me, but if I had to pick which one I actually enjoy eating the most, I’ve got to side with your daughter 😉