10/25/2012 12:10:00 PM

Best Thing We Ate in DC: Persian Pistachio and Pomegranate Meatballs

Pistachio and pomegranate meatballs
When we heard that Persian food authority and author Najmieh Batmanglij was demonstrating cooking techniques and serving tastings as part of the DC Library series “DC Reads,” we seized the opportunity. Najmieh’s native cuisine is subtly spiced, with unexpected, flavor juxtapositions. Fruits, flowers and vegetables are major components of her authentic dishes.

The pistachio and pomegranate meatballs that she prepared for the tasting are a delicious example. The ground chicken (or meat or fish) is blended with chopped nuts, aromatic spices, parsley and cilantro and then baked for a crispy crust. Then she tops them with a saucelike glaze. Pomegranate molasses gives the glaze a haunting, sweet-and-sour taste, while the fruit’s seedlike arils add “pop” to the bite. There's a touch of red pepper for zing.

The recipe can be found in her mouth-wateringly illustrated cookbook: Food of Life: Ancient Persian and Modern Iranian Cooking and Ceremonies, Mage Publishers, and can be downloaded from her website.

For a taste of Persian food in the DC Metro area, head to Shamshiry or Yas Cafe and Restaurant.

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