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Ingredients

for the meatballs:

  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef *
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
  • 1 small jalapeño, seeded, pith removed (keep some pith in if you want more heat), and finely minced
  • 1/3 packed cup finely minced parsley leaves
  • 1/3 cup finely minced onion (from about 1/2 1 small onion)
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed with a garlic press
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 2 teaspoons baharat **

for the stew:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup small diced onion (from the rest of the onion)
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed through a press
  • 1 teaspoon baharat **
  • 2/3 cup water or stock
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
  • 28 ounce can of diced tomato
  • Salt to taste
  • 10 ounces of medium-diced yukon gold potatoes (about 2 small potatoes)
  • for serving: samoon, or another bread
  • (optional) additional minced parsley for garnish

Instructions

  1. Shape the meatballs: Combine the ground beef, pomegranate molasses, minced jalapeño, minced parsley, minced onion, salt, and baharat. Stop mixing once it’s well-combined.
  2. Shape into very small meatballs, about a heaping teaspoon (not tablespoon) each. To shape them, squeeze one in the palm of your hand, and then use both of your palms to gently roll the ball around to smooth it out.
  3. Make the stew: Preheat a stockpot or dutch oven over medium heat for a couple minutes. Swirl the tablespoon of olive oil around in the bottom of the pot, followed immediately by the onion and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes, just until they soften a bit. Add the baharat and cook, stirring constantly for 30 seconds. Immediately add the water/stock, followed by the lemon juice, pomegranate molasses, and diced tomato. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer.
  4. Once it comes to a simmer, taste it and adjust the seasoning (it will depend a lot on how salty your tomatoes and/or stock were). Turn off the heat momentarily, and add the potatoes. Use a wooden spoon to distribute them into an even layer on the bottom of the pot. Carefully add the meatballs. The first layer of meatballs will be mostly covered by the liquid. the second layer will poke out a bit. Nest them in as well as you can.
  5. Bring back to a simmer over medium-high heat. Once a few bubbles break the surface, cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook undisturbed for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, use a large wooden spoon to carefully mix everything together with a folding motion (the meatballs will be fragile, but much less fragile than when they’re raw). Cover and continue simmering for about 8 to 10 more minutes (13 to 14 total). The stew is done once the meatballs and potatoes are cooked through and the flavors have melded. Serve with bread and garnish with parsley.

Notes

* Choose a higher fat ground beef—if it’s a leaner blend, add some softened butter into the meatball mix.** If you don’t have a baharat blend and don’t feel like making one, feel free to use the following: For the meatballs: 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, 1/2 teaspoon coriander, 1/2 teaspoon paprika, a pinch of cinnamon, and a pinch of cardamom. For the stew: 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, 1/4 teaspoon cumin, 1/4 teaspoon coriander, 1/4 teaspoon paprika, a pinch of cinnamon, and a pinch of cardamom.