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Azerbaijani Baked Meat Balls - Tava Kebabi

What's the big idea?

Kebabs of various sorts are really popular in Azerbaijan, usually cooked on an open fire, barbecue, or traditional clay oven. This recipe - which they refer to as kebabs - is different, in that the minced meat balls are briefly fried, and then baked in the oven in a tomato-based sauce. In theory the meat balls can be shaped any way you want them - spherical, sausage-shaped or burger-like. We like them somewhere in-between, in the shape of very short sausages, but it's entirely up to you. If anyone can confirm what the traditional Azerbaijani shape should be, please do get in touch and let us know.

Shopping List

Here's the list of what you need:

  • 4 medium onions, peeled
  • 800g lamb, roughly cubed
  • Salt & pepper
  • 100g butter
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 200g fresh tomatoes, finely chopped
  • Plenty of fresh coriander (cilantro) and dill

What To Do

  • Roughly chop 3 of the onions, and mince together with the lamb. Season well with salt and pepper and mix well by hand
  • Shape the mince into small meat balls, roughly the size of golf balls
  • Melt the butter in a large frying pan, and fry the meat balls until they start to turn crisp on the outside. Remove from the pan and set aside
  • Finely chop the remaining onion and fry in the butter until soft
  • Add the chopped tomatoes to the fried onions. Add the beaten eggs and finely chopped herbs to the sauce and mix well
  • Place the meat balls in an ovenproof dish and cover with the sauce
  • Bake in a medium hot oven for 20 minutes or until cooked through
  • Sprinkle with chopped herbs to serve

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