Meat and potatoes are a popular pairing. Almost every country has a variation of these two ingredients together, today we are going to be exploring the dish Dawoud Basha. This dish consists mainly of potatoes and meatballs, but what makes it special is the tangy tomato sauce it is cooked in, that is spiced with cinnamon and the signature Middle Eastern seven-spice and has pomegranate molasses, which gives both a tangy and sweet taste, making the result irresistible. We already know that so many Middle Eastern dishes have a story behind their name, and this is the case with Dawoud Basha. It is said that this dish was being made for an Ottoman nobleman, Dawoud Pasha (or Basha as we Arabs say), but the cook forgot one of the ingredients and he was punished, so the dish was linked to the nobleman from then on. I have no idea how true this story is, but it is always fun to hear these little stories, and regardless of where the name of the dish came from, rest assured it is absolutely delicious!
The meatballs are the traditional meatballs made across the Middle East, always with parsley, onions and seven-spice. I like to add cinnamon to dishes with minced meat because it takes away any gaminess and gives a nice warmth. After we form our meatballs, we want to make sure we brown them on all sides to keep in the juices and make sure they do not crumble in our sauce. It isn't important that they cook on the inside, as we are going to leave them to cook in the sauce.
When making our tomato sauce, or juice (for lack of a better word), we don't need to peel them because the peel will be blended with the flesh. Make sure you add a bit of water to get these going in the blender. The amount of water will depend on how juicy your tomatoes are. This dish is really easy and comes together fairly quickly, but in order to get the best flavour, you want to leave it to simmer for at least 20 minutes so that the sauce reduces and thickens, and the flavours intensify. The best part about this dish is that, like many other stews, it tastes better the longer it sits, so it is perfect for meal prepping!
A sprinkling of toasted pine nuts or almonds are the perfect addition to this. Serve with vermicelli rice or dunk some bread in it and enjoy this ultimate comfort food.
600 g minced meat (beef or lamb)
2 tbsp parsley, chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp mixed spice
Salt and pepper to taste
Frying oil, to fry potatoes
2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into large cubes
2 tbsp olive oil
3 large onions, sliced into crescents
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp tomato paste
6 large tomatoes, blended into a liquid with a bit of water
2 tbsp pomegranate molasses
2 tsp cinnamon
½ tbsp mixed spice
Salt and pepper
- Heat your frying oil and once hot, fry your potato cubes until golden brown. You may need to fry them in batches, depending on the size of your pan.
- While your potatoes are frying, mix all of the meatball ingredients together in a bowl and knead well. Then form your meatballs, they should be slightly bigger than a walnut. Set aside.
- Once your potatoes are ready, place them on a paper towel to remove excess oil.
- In a large pot, heat the olive oil and brown the meatballs on all sides. Don't worry about them being cooked through, as they will continue to cook in the stew. Once they are ready, place on kitchen towel with the potatoes and set aside.
- In the same pot you used for the meatballs, add in your sliced onions with a bit of salt and cook down until softened. Add your garlic and continue to cook until your onions are cooked down and golden.
- Add in the tomato paste and cook for about a minute, then add the spices, followed by the blended tomatoes and pomegranate molasses. Mix well and add a bit of water to loosen up the sauce.
- Once the sauce comes to the boil, taste for seasoning and adjust if needed. Make sure the consistency of the sauce is slightly thinner than you'd like, as it will continue to reduce as it cooks.
- Place the potatoes and meatballs in the sauce, lower the heat, cover the pot and leave to simmer 20-30 minutes.
- Serve alongside vermicelli rice or bread. I like to top mine with some pine nuts for an extra crunch and enjoy!