Recipe & pairing | Rumi meatballs by Joseph Abboud

By Vinomofo
about 2 months ago
6 min read

Rumi’s meatballs are a signature favourite with regulars at the Brunswick East restaurant - with chef & proprietor Joseph Abboud being generous enough to share his secret recipe in his debut cookbook, available now. This is one to cook for those you love… and to have with a glass of something you’ll love too. 

Pairing tip: Whenever I see meat in a rich tomato sauce, my heart (and my stomach) instantly shouts for chianti or a sangiovese - bringing those succulent cherries, dried herbs and spices to create all those great complimentary and contrasting flavour combos. Plus a really refreshing line of acid that’ll help cut through the succulence on offer here. A Provence style rosé or a pinot noir is a good shout if you’re after something lighter - and I wouldn’t say no to a GSM or Barossa shiraz if I’m in the mood for something on the heavier side either. - Nick

Try this with:

Casaponte Chianti DOCG 2022

We’ve found you a Chianti that won’t break the bank, and promises not to break your heart. Bright and crunchy, this is the cheeky upstart Chianti that could. Loads of red cherry and plum, juicy and lifted. This is on the lighter side for a Chianti, and sings all the right tunes: a little chalkiness, fruit fullness and the right amount of indifferent, upstart attitude.

Cave de Cairanne Grande Reserve Grenache Blend 2020

This is impressive wine that straddles rugged rusticity with poise and purpose. Concentrated, dense red and black fruit cake the mouth in a pleasing, friendly and full way - the wine’s quite broad on the palate. The fruits in a developed space - think very ripe or dried rather than jammy and unctuous. Grippy tannins and bright acidity grapple the gums giving it structure and shape. Fruit leather and berry seeds mix with black currant and cassis. This is a classic Rhone blend, each varietal influencing the wine purposefully. Harmonious and well balanced. The finish is lasting and complete - stunning wine.


Rumi meatballs

These meatballs have been on the menu since the day we opened and are inspired by the Persian recipe kofte tabrizi, which is a giant meatball that is stuffed with eggs, onions and dried fruit. This version takes inspiration from the meat/rice combination that makes the meatballs beautifully delicate. They are great for kids, too, as my son Patrick will attest by eating a whole serve to himself and then his brother’s leftovers.

Serves 6–8, or makes 18 meatballs



  • 110 g (½ cup) medium-grain rice 

  • 1 small onion, grated or minced in a food processor

  • 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) minced (ground) lamb 

  • 1 egg

  • ½ bunch of at-leaf parsley, finely chopped

  • 1 teaspoon Advieh (see below)

  • 2 teaspoons salt

  • 1 teaspoon Saffron water (see below)


  • 1 onion, finely diced

  • 100 ml (31⁄2 fl oz) extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 kg (2 lb 4 oz) tinned chopped tomatoes

  • 2 teaspoons salt

Bring the rice to the boil in a saucepan of water set over a high heat and boil until only just cooked. Drain, then chill. (This can be done the day before.) 

To make the meatballs, place all the ingredients in a large bowl, ensuring that your rice is also cold, and mix vigorously until well combined.

Divide the mixture into pieces approximately 50 g (1 ¾ oz) each. Roll into neat balls and refrigerate until the sauce is ready.

Now, make the sauce in a wide-based pan large enough to eventually accommodate the meatballs in one to two layers.

Sweat the onion in the olive oil for about 10 minutes over a low heat. This is a very important step as you want to draw the sweetness out of the onion. The onion should be translucent.

Add the tomatoes, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to medium–low and cook for a further 30 minutes. Stir in the salt, then add 125 ml (1/2 cup) water and bring back to a simmer.

Gently drop the meatballs into the sauce, ensuring they all sink down well, and monitor until it returns to the boil. Turn the heat down to a very low simmer and cook for another 30 minutes.


Advieh is Iran’s version of India’s garam masala or Morocco’s ras el hanout. It’s a spice mix that differs from place to place depending on the use and region. It contains many of the usual suspects, such as cumin, cinnamon and nutmeg, as well as the dried rose and dried lime that are more unique to Persian cuisine. I don’t know where this recipe began, but I have made adjustments along the way to make it my own. It is used in our meatballs and on our slow-roasted lamb shoulder but occasionally it finds its way into a Khoresht or as a marinade for barbecued fish.

Makes 250 g (9 oz) 


  • 10 g (1⁄4 oz) dried rose powder

  • 15 g (1⁄2 oz) golpar powder

  • 15 g (1⁄2 oz) ground turmeric

  • 15 g (1⁄2 oz) ground black peppercorns

  • 50 g (1 3⁄4 oz) ground cinnamon

  • 30 g (1 oz) ground nutmeg

  • 15 g (1⁄2 oz) ground cardamom

  • 50 g (1 3⁄4 oz) ground cumin

  • 35 g (1 1⁄4 oz) ground coriander

  • 20 g (3⁄4 oz) dried lime powder

Mix all the ingredients well and store in an airtight jar or container for 3–6 months.

Saff­ron water

Turning your saffron threads into a water that is potent and ready to use will change your life! Well, maybe not your life, but it will definitely change how and when you use saffron. This method of toasting then grinding into a genuine saffron powder also extends the yield you get from a very expensive ingredient. It lasts weeks if not months in the fridge and is great to have on hand to use in anything from rice to ice cubes.

Makes 200 ml (7 fl oz)


  • 1 g (1⁄32 oz) saffron

  • ½ teaspoon sugar

Lightly toast the saffron in a dry frying pan over a medium heat until fragrant. Do not allow it to darken in colour. You want to just warm the saffron gently to dry it a little further.

Remove from the pan and place in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder with the sugar. Grind the saffron and sugar to a fine powder and tip into a glass jar.

Boil 200 ml (7 fl oz) water and tip it into the jar over the saffron. Seal with a lid and, once cooled, store in the fridge for future use. It will keep for up to 2 weeks.


Images and text from Rumi by Joseph Abboud, photography by Armelle Habib. Murdoch Books RRP $39.99.

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