Beef Korma with Sumac Pilaf

The inspiration for this dish is ultimately Greek, strongly influenced by Ottoman Turkish cuisine. Kofta, the traditional Turkish meatballs or patties, are properly made with minced lamb, but beef works almost as well and these days is usually a lot cheaper. Much of the following is owed to the culinary genius of Nadia Lim and was inspired by a recipe published in the Christchurch Mail of 27th August 2015 [see]. There may seem to be a lot of moving parts, and four lists of ingredients does look a bit daunting, but it is really quite easy once you get into it, and it all means that it can be largely prepared well beforehand if you mean to have guests for dinner.

Ingredients 1: Spice mix.
2 tsp cumin.
2 tsp coriander.
2 tsp paprika.
1 tsp cinnamon.
¼ tsp cayenne pepper.

Ingredients 2: Meatballs.
2 slices stale white bread, crumbed.
250g beef mince.
1 ½ tsp Kofta spice mix.
Salt to taste.
1 onion, very finely chopped.
2 cloves garlic, very finely chopped.
½ cup celery leaves, finely chopped.
1 egg.

Ingredients 3: Yoghurt dressing.
1 cup fresh yoghurt.
Juice and zest of 1 small lemonc.
¼ cup chopped fresh mint leaves.
1 tsp sumac.

Ingredients 4: Pilaf.
¼ cup olive oil.
1 onion finely chopped.
1 tsp sumac.
Salt to taste.
1 cup jasmine rice.
1 400g can cherry tomatoes, drained, liquid reserved.
1 ½ cups Chicken stock.

Prepare the spice mix and pour into a sealed container. You will need 1 ½ teaspoons of it, and the rest should be labelled and kept in the spice drawer for later use. Place all the meatball ingredients in a bowl, mix thoroughly with a fork and form into a ball. Cover and keep in a cool place for at least an hour to allow the flavours to combine. Mix all the dressing ingredients together in a bowl and keep in a cool place for at least an hour to allow the flavours to combine.

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Smear a little olive on an oven tray and, using wet hands, form the meat mixture into small balls – this quantity should yield 20-24. Place the tray in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Heat ¼ cup olive oil in a pan over a hot flame. Fry the onion until soft, but do not allow to brown. Add the salt and the sumac, stir fry for half a minute, then add the rice and the tomatoes. Gently stir though to mix everything well but taking care to avoid breaking the tomatoes.

Bring to the boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, cover tightly and cook for 20 minutes. Remove from the hob without removing the lid and allow to steam for another 10 minutes. Fluff the pilaf up with a fork and share evenly into 2 deep plates. Place the meatballs on top and add a dob of yoghurt. Serve immediately with the rest of the yoghurt on the side.

Serves: 2.

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