The name kufta or kofte comes from the Persian for “pounding”, as the fish is pounded almost into a paste to make a fish cake. Baliq kuftasi are made from any of the four varieties of Caspian sturgeon, which is a “meaty” fish with a thick texture. Other white fish can be used but their thinner texture will make the kufte more likely to dissolve in the broth. Like their meaty cousins, baliq kuftasi usually contain a zesty dried plum surprise in the middle. Fish kufta are served in a clear broth.
Preparation time: 40 min
Cooking time: 70 minutes
- For the kufta
- 400 g/1 lb sturgeon
- 50 g/2 oz short grain rice
- 2 medium onions
- 12 fresh or dried plums or greengages (1 for each fish balls and a few more for the broth)
- salt & pepper
- For the broth
- 50 g/2 oz chickpeas
- 3 onions
- a few threads of saffron
- salt & pepper
- a handful of fresh or dried mint
- Soak the dried chickpeas overnight in cold water. Rinse.
- Put a few threads of saffron in a cup and add boiling water. Cover and leave to infuse for at least 30 minutes.
- Skin and fillet the sturgeon.
- Rinse any traces of blood from the fish skin and bones and put all the trimmings into a pan. Cover with plenty of cold water and bring to the boil. Add 2 whole onions, whole peppercorns, and salt and simmer for 20 minutes, skimming off the foam that forms on top of the pan.
- Strain the broth and return the liquid to the pan. Add the drained chickpeas and simmer for another 30 minutes.
- Bring a pan of water to the boil and add the rice. Cook at a rolling boil for 10 minutes or so. Drain the rice before it is fully cooked through.
- Cut the fish into pieces and put through a mincer.
- Add the finely chopped onion, parboiled rice, salt & pepper to the mixture and mix well.
- Shape the fish mixture into 8 balls with 1 greengage at the centre of each ball.
- Slice the onion and fry in butter or vegetable oil. Add the cooked onion, saffron and saffron infusion, extra greengages or dried plums and the fish balls to the broth.
- Simmer for another 20 minutes or so until all the ingredients are cooked.
- Scatter fresh chopped mint leaves or crushed dried mint on top to serve.