My Global Food Challenge

Azerbaijan (2)

Meatballs in broth recipe (Кofta bozbash)

“Meatballs are popular across the Caucasus and Middle East.  The Azerbaijani variety, kofta bozbash, are large, hearty meatballs of minced lamb and rice with a zesty dried plum surprise in the middle. They are usually served in a meat-based stock with vegetables and chickpeas. The name kofta bozbash is a combination of Persian and Azerbaijani, kofta or kufte coming from the Persian for “pounding”, as traditionally the meat for the meatballs is pounded almost into a paste, and bozbash being an Azerbaijani name for bouillon or soup.”

Yield:  5-6 Servings


For the broth:

1 kg/2.2 lb lamb bones
2 or 3 threads of saffron soaked for at least 30 minutes in warm water
salt and pepper
75 g/3 oz chickpeas
1 medium-sized potato per person
2 onions
1 tbsp allspice (optional)

For the meatballs (1 to 2 meatballs per serving): (My recipe below)

500 g/1.1b lamb
75 g/ 3 oz sheep fat
1 medium onion
75 g/3 oz short grain rice
10 fresh or dried plums or greengages for the meatballs and a few more for the soup.
fresh coriander or dried mint
salt and pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground caraway seeds (optional)


Soak the dried chickpeas overnight in cold water. Rinse. Put in a pan of water, bring to the boil and simmer for 30 minutes. Don’t overcook as they will cook further in the bozbash.

If making a traditional broth as the basis for the bozbash, put the lamb bones in a saucepan and cover with water, 5 cm/2 inches above the level of the bones. Bring slowly to the boil and skim off the foam that forms on the surface. Add 1 tablespoon of allspice. Simmer over a low heat for 2 to 3 hours. Strain the broth. Remove any meat from the bones to go into the kofta before discarding the bones. As the broth cools, fat forms on top. This fat is not removed in traditional Azerbaijani cooking, but it can be skimmed off and thrown away for those who don’t like very fatty soups. (Broth can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator for up to five days.)

Kofta can also be served in a lighter vegetable broth, but the meat stock is more traditional.

Put a few threads of saffron in a cup and add boiling water. Cover and leave to infuse.

Mince the lamb for the meatballs, chop the onion finely and mix the two together. Add the lamb fat to help the meatballs stick together.  Add the uncooked rice, salt & pepper and ground caraway seeds and mix well.  Shape into meat balls (1-2 per serving) with 2 dried plums or greengages inside each ball

Chop the onions and fry in lamb fat until soft.

Put the chickpeas, potatoes, onions and additional dried plums into the broth and add the meat balls. Bring to the boil and simmer until you can see that the rice inside the kofta is swollen. Some 10-15 minutes before the broth is ready, add the saffron infusion and salt & pepper to taste.

Serve the bozbash with chopped coriander on top in summer or crumble dried mint over it in winter.

Link to My Post on Azerbaijan:

Cuisine:  Azerbaijani

Main Ingredient:  Apples/Veal

Kofta-Inspired Lamb Meatballs (Azerbaijan)


1 lb. ground lamb
1/2 cup cooked rice
1 small onion, finely minced
1/8 tsp turmeric
1/8 tsp allspice
1 tbsp fresh coriander, finely chopped
1/2 tsp caraway seeds, ground
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

(for meatballs not cooking in soup, add 1 egg and firm up with breadcrumbs)

© 2015 abettica – theworldfrommykitchen, All Rights Reserved.

Stuffed Apples – Dolma (Azerbaijan)

“The name comes from a Turkic verb meaning “to fill” or “stuff”, “dolmaq” in Azerbaijani. The most popular dolma in Azerbaijan are stuffed vine leaves, aubergines, tomatoes, peppers or cabbage leaves. Apple dolma make an unusual, tasty alternative, however, with a pleasing contrast between the sweet fruit and the savory filling.”

Serves: 4-6 Servings


For the filling:

200 g/8 oz lamb or veal or a combination of the two
1 medium-sized onion
25 g/1 oz melted butter or 1 tbsp of vegetable or olive oil (butter is traditional)
a handful of chestnuts
1 tsp of ground cinnamon
1 tsp of allspice
a pinch of turmeric (or a couple of strands of saffron)
salt and pepper

6 large apples (dessert or cooking apples can be used; in Azerbaijani cuisine only dessert apples are used as cooking apples are not grown here)
2 dessertspoons of sugar or honey (or slightly more if using cooking apples)
1 dessertspoon of lemon juice
1 glass (or more, depending on cooking time) of bouillon or hot water


If using saffron, put the threads in a cup and add 1 tablespoon of boiling water. Cover and leave to infuse.

Pierce the chestnuts. Cover with water in a pan and bring to the boil. Simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the water and shell. Don’t take all the chestnuts out of the water at once, as they are difficult to shell when dry. Roughly chop the shelled chestnuts.

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F

Put the minced meat, finely chopped onion, chopped chestnuts, spices, melted butter or oil and salt into a bowl and mix well with your hands.  Mix the honey and lemon juice in a saucer.

Wash the apples and pat dry with a cloth or kitchen paper.  Slice off the tops and set aside. Remove the cores and some of the flesh of the fruit to create a hollow for the stuffing.  Rub the inside of the apples with the honey and lemon juice mixture. This helps to prevent the apples from going too brown and to bring out the flavor.

Stuff the apples with the meat mixture, pressing the filling down hard. Put the tops back on the apples as lids.  Wrap each apple in foil (to help them keep their shape and moisture) and stand upright in a baking dish or ovenproof shallow pan.

Add half a glass of bouillon or hot water to the baking dish.  Place the dish in the hot oven and bake for 30 to 45 minutes until the meat is cooked.  Pour the cooking juice over each apple before serving.  Serve with fresh crusty bread and yoghurt (optional).

Link to My Post on Azerbaijan:

Cuisine:  Azerbaijani

Main Ingredient:  Apples/Veal

File:Azerbaijan in Asia (-mini map -rivers).svg

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