Chicken Soup #8, Persian Chickpea: Abgush-e-Gonde - meat

Posted by : Schelly Dardashti

Here is the recipe for Abgush-e-gonde, or chicken soup with chickpea 
meatballs:

The Jewish community calls these "gonde" (gond-dee), but the Persians 
call it "kufteh-ye ard-nokhodchi," nokhodchi are chickpeas or garbanzo 
beans.

In middle eastern stores there are two types of chickpea flour, or 
ard-e-nokhodchi. One is raw, one is roasted. For this you want the 
roasted kind, much more flavorful.

2 large onions
1 pound lean ground beef, veal (if you are into that) or even chicken
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper (or more, Persians like it peppery)
1 tsp turmeric (color and fragrance)
2 cups chick-pea flour
2 tablespoon vegetable oil or a parve margarine

Grate 1 1/2 onions, mix with ground beef, add salt, pepper, turmeric 
chick-pea flour. Work well with your hnds, adding a bit of water here and 
there until it is smooth and is not sticky. Shape into small balls, about 
the size of an apricot (in our family). Persian women use a unique 
flipping motion of one hand and wrist to make a perfectly smooth ball.

This can now be cooked in the chicken soup. Any recipe would be o.k. Mine 
is composed of the chicken (only breast for the chicken to be eaten, and 
a bunch of wings, for flavor), onion, and still true to my Ashkenazi 
tradition, carrots and celery -- not used by Persians, and a handful of 
chickpeas and several potatoes cut-up. This is cooked quite well, with 
water, of course, and becomes a flavorful, concentrated broth. The 
meatballs are added and cooked, takes about 1 hour simmering on stove.

Another method, which I never saw in Jewish homes but learned from 
non-Jewish cooks, is to take a few cups of the broth, add about 1/4 cup 
lime juice, 2 tsps sugar and 1/2 tsp saffron or turmeric. Saute the 
meatballs, then add the broth, juice, sugar and saffron or turmeric. and 
simmer the meatballs in this. The use of sugar marks it as not very 
Jewish. Persian Jewish food is not particularly sweet, and runs to sweet 
and sour, or sour.

Some of the meatballs are served as appetizers, with bread and "sabzi" 
(various herbs: mint, tarragon, basil, etc.), while people are sitting 
around before dinner, waiting for latecomers, etc.

To serve as a meal, pur the meatballs on a platter, put the chicken in 
another platter, serve the broth in a tureen, along with a huge platter 
of steamed white rice, or "chelo." One places rice in a large soup dish, 
followed by a ladle of broth with a piece of potato and chickpeas, takes 
some chicken and a gonde and digs in. Many people sprinkle ground dried 
limes, or limoo omani, onto their soup. It is an acquired taste. The 
whole dried limes as well as ground are found in middle eastern stores.

Of course, this would only be one dish served at the meal. Generally 
there will be two stews and a white rice, or a mixed rice (with 
vegetables and small pieces of meat or chicken). The number of dishes 
grows exponentially as more people are expected. For about 30-40 people 
there would 3 or 4  different stews, several mixed rices (polo) as well 
as white (chelo), perhaps a baked fish/turkey/chickens, as well as salad.

Sorry for the long post. Once I start thinking about this stuff, it is 
hard to let go.

Schelly Dardashti
dardasht@ix.netcom.com

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