Braised Meatballs

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Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Makes about


Appears in

Tasting Georgia: A Food and Wine Journey in the Caucasus

Tasting Georgia

By Carla Capalbo

Published 2017

  • About

These substantial meatballs, from Grand Hotel Ushba, are perfect for a cold winter’s day in the mountains (or the city). They’re the size of a small apple, so two make a good-sized main course. Serve in small bowls with their cooking liquid and some of the cabbage. At a supra one per person should be plenty.

Preparation 35 minutes
Cook 75 minutes


  • 100 g / oz / ½ cup uncooked white rice or 1 cup cooked rice
  • 150 g / 5 oz / 1 cup roughly chopped onion
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds, crushed
  • ½ tsp ground fenugreek
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 450 g / 1 lb ground beef
  • 450 g / 1 lb ground pork
  • 1 small head of white, green or spring cabbage
  • 1 440 g / 14 oz can tomato passata or crushed tomatoes
  • 1 lt / 1 qt / 4 cups beef, chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 20 g / oz / ½ cup coarsely chopped fresh coriander / cilantro
  • 1 tsp salt


Cook the rice according to package instructions. While the rice is cooking, prepare the other ingredients. Cool the rice before adding it.

In a food processor, process the onion and eggs with the spices until smooth. Add the rice and process again. Add half of each type of meat and process again. The mixture will be thick. If your processor is big enough, add the rest of the meat and process. If not, turn the mixture into a large mixing bowl and add the remaining meats by hand. Mix well. Preheat the oven to 180°C / 350°F / Gas 4.

Form the meat into about 15 balls 6 cm / inches in diameter. Line a deep, heavy casserole/Dutch oven with one layer of cabbage leaves. Add a layer of the balls, placing them carefully to keep them separate from each other. Cover each ball with a piece of cabbage (use the cabbage to keep the balls from touching each other). Make a second layer of meatballs and cover with cabbage leaves. Tuck the bay leaves into opposite sides of the pan.

Heat the tomato passata with a generous half of the stock until simmering. Pour it carefully into the casserole. The liquid should just cover the meatballs. If you need more, add the rest of the stock with more water as necessary. Cover the casserole and place in the centre of the preheated oven. Bake for 1 hour (about halfway through, check that the meatballs are submerged. If they aren’t, add more liquid or put a dish over the meatballs inside the casserole to keep them down). Serve hot, with or without the cabbage.