Traditional foods of Tabriz
Among the Tabrizi foods, Koofteh Tabrizi is the first suggestion to eat. The city of Tabriz has historical and diverse attractions, but these are not the only attractions that tell the city’s civilization. In addition to historical antiquity, traditional foods also play an important role in displaying the culture of this city. The traditional foods of Tabriz have a unique aroma, and no doubt, nothing can make traveling enjoyable as much as trying the food of any city. The people of Tabriz prepare the food with enough patience that, in the end, it tastes delicious and heavenly.
Koofteh Tabrizi (Persian Meatballs)
Koofteh is one of the famous old Persian dishes. The history of Koofteh has travelled from one side to the Indian subcontinent and on the other side to the Caucasus and Asia Minor, East and North Africa, and southern Europe. The preparation of this food has different ways, but the best type is specifically for the city of Tabriz in Iran.
This dish has been nationally registered as one of the intangible works of Iran and has a special place on the table of Iranian families. People in South Asia and the Middle East cook meatballs with beef, sheep, or chicken. But in Greece, Cyprus, and the Balkans, pork or various combinations of animal meat are used. Also, in some regions of the world, vegetable meatballs such as Indian vegetable meatballs and Japanese rice meatballs are cooked. Koofteh Tabrizi is like other meatballs in the preparation and the ingredients used. But the taste and the cooking method of Koofteh Tabrizi distinguish it from others. Koofteh has a high nutritional value due to its high-calorie and nourishing ingredients.
How to Prepare Koofteh Tabrizi
The raw materials for preparing Koofteh Tabrizi include aromatic vegetables such as satureja and leek, split pea, rice, minced meat, chickpea flour, raw eggs, boiled eggs, onions, walnuts, barberry, plums, and various spices (oil, salt, pepper, turmeric). It takes about 2 hours to prepare the ingredients and cook the dish. At first glance, it seems very easy to prepare the Koofteh, but if you do not have enough skills, your Koofteh will quickly fall apart and will not stay round. Note that the Koofteh has a natural taste and colour, so you do not use additives, colorants, or many spices.
To prepare Koofteh Tabrizi, cook the split pea and rice in separate containers with water. Then, drain the rice, neither too raw nor too cooked, but the longer the split peas are cooked, the better. Meanwhile, grate an onion, mix it with minced meat, then knead it by hand. In the past, Tabrizi women pounded meat used for the dish with a wooden mortar handle in a stone mortar, but nowadays, they use minced meat in the food. After cooking the rice and split peas, pound them well and add them to the meat-onion mixture. In the next step, add spices (pepper and salt) and aromatic herbs to your ingredients and mix well to distribute the spices evenly in all the ingredients.
If your Koofteh becomes watery, you can use chickpea flour to stiffen the ingredients. When you finish the preparation steps of the Koofteh components, it is time to prepare the inner ingredients of it. Take a whole boiled egg and put elements such as walnuts, fried barberry, and soaked plums in the meat and wrap the meat ingredients around it until you make a large round ball (usually the size of a fisted hand). Then put the Koofteh in a special sauce to cook. To prepare the delicious sauce, you need fried onions, tomato paste, saffron, barberry, salt, and pepper. When you mix these ingredients, add a few glasses of water to these ingredients and wait for them to boil. You can put some plums in the sauce to give your Koofteh a good taste.
How to Serve Koofteh Tabrizi
The serving method of Koofteh Tabrizi is according to an individual’s tastes. You can place Koofteh and sauce on a plate or put them separately on the table. Besides Koofteh Tabrizi, you can have fresh Sangak bread, vegetables, yogurt, buttermilk, and some local seasonings. Some people like to serve potatoes along with Koofteh Tabrizi.
Dolmeh means Filled in Turkish, so have caused many people in the cultural and historical fields to attribute the preparation of the first dolmeh to the Turkish-speaking regions. Even though many countries tried for years to attribute the invention of the food to their country using historical evidence, it was finally in 2017 that the Republic of Azerbaijan registered the dish in its name in the list of the intangible cultural heritage of UNESCO.
However, there are still debates on this issue, and history tells different stories. For example, around the 17th century, the chef of Naser al-Din Shah, the fourth Qajar king, stuffed eggplant, potatoes, and vegetables with rice and served it with a special sauce. There is another story saying the recipe for cooking dolmeh came from Turkey through the borders of Azerbaijan to Iran and found its way to the rest of the country. Some people believe that the ancient Greeks and Persians prepared food for the first time.
In this way, they filled the inside of the grape leaves with meat and rice and ate them as food. In Azeri, Dolmeh Barg-e Mo is called Yarpaq Dolmasi, and Yarpaq means Filling. The food is usually cooked in spring since you can find the best grape leaves in the season. Cabbage dolmeh, eggplant dolmeh, bell pepper dolmeh, and grape leave dolmeh are different types of dolmeh. To prepare the Dolmeh Barg-e Mo, the most delicious kind of dolmeh, various ingredients, such as grape leaves, rice, split pea, minced meat (optional), and dolmeh vegetables (coriander, tarragon, mint, leek), and spices (pepper, salt, and turmeric).
How to prepare Dolmeh Barg-e Mo (Persian stuffed grape leaves)
First, you should soak the split pea and rice in water for two hours, then boil the split pea with water for half an hour. Then put the fried onion and minced meat in a pan and fry them until their colour change. Then chop the dolmeh vegetables and mix them with meat to prepare your dolmeh ingredients.
Boil the grape leaves in boiling water for a few minutes, and when it cools down a bit, open it in your palm, pour a small spoonful of ingredients in the middle and wrap it, then put it around the pot. The smaller the size of your dolmeh, the more formal and attractive it looks. If there are small stems at the base of the leaves, remove them. The dolmeh sauce has different types, and you can prepare it according to the person’s taste. In some cities, they add sugar and vinegar to the food. Also, some people add water and lemon juice to the inside ingredients. Adding these ingredients to the food is entirely tasteful. Dolmeh Barg-e Mo is also eaten cold, but the way of serving the dish is hot. Tabrizi people have the Dolmeh Barg-e Mo with shallot yogurt and fresh Sangak.