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Nargisi Koftay

I'll admit it's not unusual for me to create a dinner to match a cocktail. Remember the Cuban dinner because I wanted to make mojitos? Or the South African soiree because I had found a bottle of marula liqueur?!? But what I have never been able to say is that I cooked a meal to match my tablecloth. Until today, that is.

When I met a friend for lunch this week, she brought me a gorgeous tablecloth from Dubai. But the cloth itself hailed from Iran. So, I set out to find an Iranian recipe that I could cook with what I had on-hand and serve it on my tablecloth.

I chose nagisi koftay because, to be completely candid, I liked that the name of the dish comes from the resemblance to the narcissus flower when the ball is cut open. Okay, I don't really see the flower resemblance, but it is pretty - a meatball wrapped around a hardboiled egg, simmered in a fragrantly spiced tomato-based sauce. I took some liberties on the the traditional spices since I didn't have turmeric, mace, or garam masala in my cupboard.

But I used a combination of spices that should be equally playful on the palette.

hard-boiled eggs (peeled)
ground beef
garlic, minced
ginger, minced
salt to taste
ground cumin
ground cardamom
tomato sauce

Season the ground beef with the spices and wrap a layer around each egg. Quickly brown the meatball on all sides. In a large saucepan bring the tomato sauce - seasoned with the same spices you mixed into the ground beef - to a simmer. Add the partially cooked meatballs. Splash with red wine and cover. Simmer till cooked through. Add plain yogurt to the sauce and simmer until thickened. Serve with flatbread.

Thanks for the tablecloth, Ms. Z!!!!


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