Fsinjan – Nutty meatball plov
If you’ve been in Baku and tasted this dish, you’ll never forget it. I’m speaking about a brilliant dish of the Azerbaijani cuisine called Fsinjan. It consists of beef meatballs and nut sauce.
You will need:
Beef and lamb mins – 500 g
Diced onions – 250 g
Walnuts – 350 g
water – 2-2.5 cup (250 ml)
citric acid (or lemon juice) – 1 tsp
salt and pepper to taste
Before starting, I have to warn you that this recipe is mainly used in Baku. Other regions of Azerbaijan have other variations, e.g. they add lavashana – a sour spice made of sour fruit or berries like plums etc. My grandmother used to use abgora – a special juice of unripened green grapes. With times abgora has become a rarity and almost impossible to find, so she started to use what was available – citric acid.
To begin, mix onions and mixed beef and lamb mince, season. Make small meatballs, of the size of a walnut. Fry in butter in a pan. Move into a pot, add some melted butter and leave.
Grind the walnuts. Dissolve tsp each of salt and citric acid in water. Mix well. Empty the water solution in a pan (preferably cast iron pan) and boil. When it starts boiling, add walnuts and constantly stir. If water is absorbed by the nuts or the nut mixture seems too dry, make and add another solution but with less salt and citric acid. If you feel it’s not sour enough, you can add more citric acid. As the nut mixture is cooking I a cast iron pan, the colour of it will become darker. If you do not have a cast iron pan, you can put the plate of your mincer in your pan. You will notice it will help the darkening process of the nut mixture. It doesn’t need to be too dark, around 5-7 minutes will be enough.
Warm the meatballs in the pot till all the butter is melted completely. Empty the nut mixture on top of meatballs and slowly mix. Add some water if you feel that fsinjan is too dry. You can also add more butter if you feel it’s needed. It should cook for about 2 hours on low heat. It is served with plov.
When ready, fsinjan is almost purple colour. It is possible to make fsinjan with chicken. Chicken must be preliminary fried.
Nush olsun! Bon appetite!