This is a wonderful home-style Persian dish, the kind that Hamid grew up enjoying. The Cucumber Sauce is more of a method than an actual recipe. Like all great chefs, he tastes as he goes. He’ll combine a cup or so of rich yogurt and grate in a clove of garlic (or more if you like garlic). Chopped fresh mint is de rigeur as is grated lemon rind. After he adds the rind, he’ll squeeze in the juice, again to taste. It’s finished, at the last minute, with diced cucumber – as much as you’d like- and a sprinkling of coarse salt.
Makes 7 – 8 servings.
For the Lentil Puree
- 1 ¼ cup lentils
- 2 cups water
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 ½ tsp salt
For the Meatballs
- Lentil puree (from above)
- 380 g lean ground beef or lamb
- 2 large eggs
- 2-3 cloves garlic, pureed
- 150 g shallots, pureed
- ½ – 2/3 cups cilantro, chopped
- 1 lemon, peel only, rasped or grated finely
- ½ tsp ground cumin
- 1 ½ tsp kosher salt
- Canola oil, as needed for frying
- Sea salt and fresh lime juice, as needed
For the lentil puree, soak the lentils in water overnight.
The next day, drain the lentils and place them in a pot with the garlic and salt, then cover the lentils with tap water, until the water is about two inches above the lentils (about 750mL of water). Bring to a boil, cover and cook for about 20 minutes, until you are sure that the lentils are fully cooked.
Drain the lentils using a strainer, and then pulse the lentils in a food processor until they form a smooth puree. Refrigerate the puree to chill it to and internal temperature of 4°C.
To make the meatballs
Working in a mixing bowl and using your hands, work together the meat and eggs, and then add in all the other ingredients until they come together.
Using your hands, make approximately 30 small meatballs (about 2 tbsp of mix per meatball.) Shallow fry the meatballs in a non-stick fry pan until the internal temperature reaches 60°C.
Drain the meatballs on a paper towel and season with salt and lime juice.
To serve: Place 4 meatballs on each plate or wrap in warm pita and serve with Cucumber Yogurt Sauce.
Cucumber yogurt sauce
- 200 grams of Greek style yogurt
- 5 grams of freshly picked mint leafs sliced
- Grated rind of 1 whole lemon
- Juice of 1 whole lemon (about 26g)
- 1 clove of garlic grated
- 2 g of kosher salt
- 60 g of diced cucumber
Place every thing in a mixing bowl and fold it together. Cover and refrigerate until needed.
Executive Chef Hamid Salimian
Diva at the Met, Metropolitan Hotel Vancouver, Vancouver, BC
As Executive Chef of the Metropolitan Hotel Vancouver and its restaurant, Diva at the Met, Chef Hamid Salimian brings a true respect for ingredients and a reputation for highlighting them through both traditional and modern cooking techniques. He takes Diva’s Cascadian cuisine to the next level with his creative, contemporary approach. Chef Salimian focuses on working with the region’s best farmers, fishers, and artisanal producers to develop relationships that, combined with Vancouver’s unique multicultural influences, result in Diva’s menus having a unique sense of place, traceability, and creativity.