Qofte Fërguara ~ Meat Balls from Albania
For the final day of the marathon, we are going to Albania. Qofte Ferguara ~ Fried Meatballs is the nation dish of Albania. Albania’s national dish is not listed on Wiki but there are couple of sites that claim these meatballs as the National Dish of the country. Albanian cuisine is influenced by Greek, Turkish and Italian cuisines. Qofte were introduced to the Albanians by the Turks, which the Albanians have adapted and made it their dish.
Each cuisine has its version of meat balls. The most popular meatballs are from Italy but even Indian cuisine has its version of meatball or kebabs. Meatballs always remind me of khyma or kheema vundalu / meatballs. These use to be a must on every New Year’s Eve when we were growing up. Ground meat use to be cooked with ginger garlic and spices, coarsely ground, binded with egg and daliya/putnalu/fried gram powder, made into small balls and deep fried. The qofte from Albania are not as laborious as the kheema vundalu and also use very few spices. Ground meat is seasoned with black pepper, herbs, feta cheese and bread is used for binding the meat together. Meat mixture is shaped into round balls or into small sausages and deep fried but I chose to shallow fry.
- 1 lb. Ground Lamb
- ½ tsp. Black Peppercorns, powdered or 1 tsp. Black Pepper Powder
- 1 tsp. Salt
- 1 – 2 tbsp. chopped Mint Leaves
- 1 small Onion chopped or ½ cup chopped Onion (Onion can also be grated)
- 1 tbsp. crushed Garlic
- 1 Bread Slice (I used fresh bread but stale bread also works)
- 4 tbsp. Feta Cheese
- ¼ cup Flour for dusting the qofte
- Oil for shallow or deep frying
- Remove edges of the bread, soak in water for few seconds, squeeze as much water as possible and put it in a bowl.
- Take all the ingredients except oil and flour in the bread bowl. Mix well to evenly blend all the ingredients. If time permits, marinate for an hour. I marinated it only for 15 minutes. I would have marinated longer, if I had more time on hand.
- Take some mixture into hand and shape it into small sausages. I got 24 qofte.
- Roll each qofte in the flour and dust it.
- Heat oil in a pan for frying the qoftes. I took about ½ – ¾” oil and kind of shallow fried the qofte. Qofte can be deep fried too.
- Fry the qofte for 5 -6 minutes on medium flame until qofte are brown on all sides and are well cooked inside. I fried the qofte in 3 batches. The size of the qofte will decrease in size, once fried.
- Remove from the pan and drain on paper towels.
- Serve hot with rice or pilaf or with some green salad.
- I chopped the onion and when frying the qofte, few onion pieces fell off. Next time I would grate the onion instead.
- I used bread slice but bread crumbs can also be used.
- I usually buy goat meat from the Pakasthani store. They trim the fat and then minced the meat. For this preparation, I bought lamb from Whole Foods. It had 23 or 27% fat in it. Usually the lamb from American stores is smelly due to the high fat content in it but the qofte were not smelly at all.
- The mail reason I opted not to fry qofte was the fat in the lamb. I usually discard or use the deep fried oil in stir fries or dry curries but since the lamb had some fat in it, my intent was to discard the oil after frying. Hence used less oil. I did not deep fry but it wasn’t exactly a shallow fry either.
This day in 2011:Spicy Sauteed Sausages
Recipes I posted this month in 2009, in 2010, in 2011 and in 2012.
Blogging Marathon: Checkout what my fellow bloggers are doing this week on blogging marathon page.
Events: This goes to Fabulous Feast Friday # 3 hosted by me.