‘Persian matzo balls’: Gluten-free comfort with a long history
There was a time in Iran when the nation’s Persian Jews began every Sabbath with chicken-and-chickpea dumplings, said Joan Nathan in King Solomon’s Table (Knopf). Flavored with cardamom and “tinted with turmeric,” those dumplings, or gundi, remain a “delicious, evocative, satisfying” cultural staple, and “a must on Friday night.”
Chickpeas have been an essential Middle Eastern ingredient for centuries, and you’ll need both whole beans and chickpea flour (aka garbanzo flour) for this recipe. Though you’ll be tempted to use canned chickpeas, trust me: For the best taste, you want to use dried chickpeas, soaked overnight and simmered 40 to 60 minutes after they’re brought to a boil.
Recipe of the week
Persian chicken soup with gundi
For the broth:
One 3-lb chicken, cut in 8 pieces, with ¼ lb of breast set aside
2 large onions, peeled and diced
1 clove garlic
1 green pepper, 1 red pepper, and 1 yellow pepper, each thinly sliced
1 tbsp sea salt, or to taste
½ tsp each ground black pepper, cardamom, and turmeric
1 cup cooked chickpeas Juice of 1 lemon
For the gundi:
2 medium onions, peeled and quartered
4 oz skinless, boneless chicken breast (from above)
4 oz (1 cup plus 2 tbsp) chickpea flour
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp each kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ tsp ground turmeric
½ tsp each ground cardamom and cumin Handful each of finely chopped parsley, basil, mint, and cilantro
To make broth: Setting aside 4 oz breast meat, put rest of chicken in a large soup pot with lid; cover with water. Bring to boil and remove any froth that accumulates. Add onion, garlic, peppers, and seasonings. Simmer, covered, 40 minutes or until chicken is almost cooked. Add chickpeas; continue cooking until chicken is done. Add lemon juice. Cool and strain soup, reserving chicken for a salad or putting chunks into broth. Return peppers and chickpeas to broth.
To make the gundi: Using a food processor with a steel blade, pulse onions until finely chopped. Transfer to bowl; set aside. Pulse chicken until it has consistency of ground meat. Mix onions and chickpea flour in medium bowl until well combined. Add ground chicken, oil, and seasonings. Mix well, adding a bit of water if needed to make dough the consistency of meatballs. Refrigerate until well chilled, about 3 hours.
Dip hands in cold water and form chilled dough into balls the size of a walnut— you should have about 20. Bring soup to boil. Gently add dumplings one at a time. Simmer, covered, 15 to 20 minutes, until dumplings are cooked completely. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, toss together parsley, basil, mint, and cilantro. Ladle soup and dumplings into serving bowls, sprinkling with mixed herbs. Serves 8. ■