Pistachio and Pomegranate Meatballs

Kufteh-ye pesteh-o anar


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Makes:



Appears in

Food of Life

By Najmieh Batmanglij

Published 2011

  • About
Preparation time: 30 minutes plus 30 minutes of refrigeration
Cooking time: 15 minutes



  • 1 medium onion, peeled and cut into 4
  • cups (180 g) raw pistachio kernels or hazelnuts, picked over
  • ¼ cup (15 g) bread crumbs
  • 3 cups (250 g) chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 cup (85 g) chopped fresh tarragon
  • 1 cup (85 g) chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 2 pounds (900 g) ground turkey or chicken thighs, or lamb, or boned and skinned ground fish fillets
  • 1 egg


  • ½ cup (120 ml) oil, (110 g) butter, or ghee*


  • ¾ cup (180 g) pomegranate molasses
  • ¼ cup (60 g) honey, grape or date molasses
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) pomegranate juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes


  • 2 tablespoons slivered pistachios
  • Sprigs of basil, sprouts, mint
  • 1 cup (150 g) fresh pomegranate arils


  1. To make the meatballs: Pulse all the ingredients, except the meat and egg, in a food processor until you have a grainy paste. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and add the meat and egg. Lightly knead with your hands for a few minutes (do not overmix). Cover and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes and up to 24 hours.
  2. Preheat the oven to 500°F (260°C). Generously oil a wide, nonreactive baking dish (wide enough to fit 24 meatballs, about 12x14 inches) and set aside.
  3. Remove the paste from the refrigerator and shape into bite-sized balls (about 1½ tablespoons each) using an ice cream scoop. Place the meatballs in the baking dish and brush well with oil. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl combine all the ingredients for the glaze.
  5. Reduce the oven to 400°F (200°C). Glaze the meatballs and bake for another 5 minutes to infuse them with the flavor of the pomegranate. Adjust seasoning to taste. If too sour add more honey; if too sweet add more pomegranate molasses. Keep warm in the oven until ready to serve.
  6. Place the meatballs, with the sauce in serving dish, garnish, and serve. Nush-e Jan!

Vegetarian Variation

In a saucepan, place 1½ cups (270g) bulgur and 3 cups (720ml) water, and bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Drain and allow to cool. Eliminate the meat and replace it with the cooked bulgur. Increase the eggs in step 1 to 4 eggs.