4.5 from 2 votes

Eggplant Sumac Meatballs with Saffron Rice

Comfort food, Persian style. Eggplant Sumac Meatballs with Saffron Rice is perfect for a simple dinner that doesn't require a lot of effort yet is full of flavor. The tanginess of sumac and the aroma of saffron make this dish very special.

Course Main Course
Cuisine Persian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 6 servings
Calories 350 kcal
Author Shadi HasanzadeNemati



  • 1 large eggplant
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb ground beef 85 - 90 % lean
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 1/2 tbsp sumac
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • Olive oil to cook the meatballs about 2 tbsp


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tbsp pomegranate molasses
  • 1 cup water

Saffron rice

  • 1 1/2 cup basmati rice
  • water
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp bloomed saffron



  1. Preheat the oven to 375F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat with non stick spray.
  2. cut the eggplant into half lengthwise and rub olive oil on the cuts. Place the halves on the baking sheet cut side down and bake for 25-30 minutes until the flesh is cooked and soft.
  3. Meanwhile grate the onion, squeeze it and discard the excess water. Place it in a large bowl.
  4. Once the eggplant is cooked, turn the oven off and let the eggplant cool.
  5. Once cooled, scoop out the flesh and add it to the onion.
  6. Add beef, paprika, cumin, turmeric, sumac, salt, pepper and flour. Mix well until all the ingredients are incorporated.
  7. Make meatballs the size of a walnut. Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Cook meatballs until they're brown on all sides.
  8. Meanwhile, make the sauce:
  9. Heat olive oil in a sauce pan. Saute onion until golden brown. Add tomato paste, salt and pepper. Cook for a minute. Add in pomegranate molasses and water. Bring to boil and simmer for 5-8 minutes.
  10. Add the sauce to the meatballs that are brown now and cook for about 20-25 minutes until the meatballs are completely cooked.

Saffron Rice:

  1. Wash the rice 3 times and place it in a small pot. Add water until it reaches 1/2 inch above the rice. Put the pot over medium heat and cook uncovered until it starts boiling. Once the water is almost evaporated, cover the lid with a kitchen towel and place it on the pot. Cook for another 10 minutes until the rice is fully cooked.
  2. Add the bloomed saffron to the rice and mix using a fork. Serve with the meatballs.