Spinach with chicken-and-orange koofteh

Spinach with chicken-and-orange koofteh

Khoresht-e esfenaj

Mark Roper

Spinach is one of my favourite vegetables and it cooks down to a most satisfying thick green sauce, the ideal vehicle for meatballs! These koofteh are mild and orangey, which complements the strong, vital earthiness of spinach. Serve on Saffron chelow rice.


Quantity Ingredient
3 tablespoons olive oil
12 shallots, peeled
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
250ml good-quality chicken stock
2 oranges, juiced
1/2 lime, juiced
1 tablespoon rice flour
1 long strip dried orange peel
500g spinach leaves, very finely chopped
100ml vegetable oil
1/2 cup flaked almonds
2 tablespoons Saffron liquid

Chicken-and-orange koofteh

Quantity Ingredient
300g minced chicken, (preferably leg meat)
1 large shallot, finely diced
1 small clove garlic, grated
1 orange, zest finely grated
1/3 cup shredded coriander leaves
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon sea salt


  1. To make the koofteh, combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and knead thoroughly for at least a minute. When everything is well combined, cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  2. Use wet hands to roll the cold koofteh mixture into smooth, even dumplings, about the size of a small walnut. You should get 24 koofteh from the mixture.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a very large, heavy-based saucepan or casserole dish over a medium heat. Add the shallots and toss gently until they start to colour. Stir in the garlic and spices and fry for another couple of minutes. Add the stock and saffron liquid and bring to a boil. Whisk the citrus juices with the rice flour, then add to the stock with the dried orange peel. Return to a boil, then add the koofteh to the pan. Lower the heat, cover the pan and simmer gently for 45 minutes.
  4. Add the spinach to the pan and simmer for a further 15 minutes until reduced to form a thick sauce.
  5. Meanwhile, heat the vegetable oil in a small frying pan over a medium heat. Add the almonds and stir briskly until they start to colour. Tip into a sieve and discard the oil, then drain the almonds on paper towels.
  6. Taste the spinach sauce and adjust the seasoning to your liking. Serve the sauce and koofteh topped with a sprinkling of golden flaked almonds
Middle Eastern
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