Photo by Farideh Sadeghin
Prep time: 30 minutes
Total time: 4 hours, plus 12 hours of soaking saffron
for the saffron water:
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon saffron
for the saffron rice:
2 ⅔ cups|560 grams jasmine rice
1 tablespoon kosher salt
4 ⅓ cups|1025 ml saffron water
for the saffron rice shell:
1 cup|230 grams whole milk yogurt
1 teaspoon baharat
1 teaspoon ground Persian lime
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 large eggs, beaten
9 ½ cups|1400 grams saffron rice
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons|70 grams rice flour
for the lamb ragu:
2 pounds|900 grams lamb shoulder
1 small yellow onion, roughly chopped
½ small head fennel, roughly chopped
1 rib celery, roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves
1 orange, zested
1 ½ tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons harissa
2 teaspoons ras el hanout
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
4 tablespoons|60 grams unsalted butter
½ lemon, juiced
- Make the saffron water: In a large bowl, dissolve the saffron in 4 ½ cups|1065 ml water. Cover and leave at room temperature overnight. The next day, strain, discarding the saffron threads.
- Make the saffron rice: Heat the oven to 350°F. Place a piece of parchment paper in the bottom of a large Dutch oven, then add the rice and salt. Add the saffron water to the rice, spread the mixture into an even layer, and cover. Cook for 40 minutes, then remove from the oven and keep covered for an additional 15 minutes. Flip the steamed rice onto a sheet tray and fluff gently with a fork to separate the grains. Cool completely.
- Make the saffron rice shell: In a large bowl, stir the yogurt, baharat, ground lime, and salt with the eggs. Add the rice and, using your hands, mix until combined. Using a fine mesh strainer, sift in the flour and mix to combine. Cover and refrigerate the rice shell until ready to use.
- Make the ragu: While the rice is cooking, cut the lamb into 6-inch-by-1-inch strips. Place in the freezer for about 45 minutes, then grind using a large die. Refrigerate until ready to use.
- In the bowl of a food processor, purée the onion, fennel, celery, garlic, and orange zest. Place in a strainer set over a bowl to drain excess water and reserve the vegetables, discarding the liquid.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add the lamb and press into the skillet so it is 1-inch thick. Cook, undisturbed and without flipping, until the lamb is brown, about 10 minutes. Stir, making sure to scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pan, then stir in the reserved vegetables, the harissa, ras el hanout, and salt and cook, breaking up the larger pieces of meat, until slightly caramelized, about 5 minutes. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to maintain a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the lamb is deeply golden, about 45 minutes. Stir in the butter and lemon juice and cook 3 to 5 minutes more, then season with salt and cool completely.
- Form the kubbeh halab: Grab the reserved rice shell from the fridge. Portion the rice into 34 equal-sized balls and place on a parchment-lined sheet tray. Portion the lamb ragu into 34 equal-sized oblong pieces and place on another parchment-lined sheet tray. Refrigerate the rice and ragu balls for 30 minutes, until set.
- Using a slightly wet and gloved hand, flatten out a rice shell into your palm, then add the lamb ragu and surround it with the rice. Roll between your hands to gently make a football shape. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and repeat with the remaining rice and ragu pieces. Refrigerate until ready to fry.
- Make the raisin-almond romesco: Cover the raisins with 3 cups|710 ml water in a pressure cooker and cook on high for 15 minutes. Place the raisins in a strainer to drain, taking care not to press on them. In the bowl of a blender, purée the salt and ras el hanout into a fine powder. Add the raisins and purée on high until smooth, then cool.
- Add the almond butter to the bowl of a food processor and purée until light and airy, about 5 minutes. Let the almond butter rest for 5 minutes, then add ½ cup|160 grams of the raisin purée and the pomegranate molasses and process until smooth. Slowly stream in the remaining raisin purée and purée until smooth, then strain through a fine mesh sieve set over a bowl. Set aside until ready to use.
- Fry the kubbeh halab: Heat 3-inches of oil in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan until a deep-fry thermometer reads 350°F. Working in batches, fry the kubbeh until golden, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a wire rack set over a baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining kubbeh.
- To serve, spread some of the raisin-almond romesco in the bottom of a medium bowl, then top with the kubbeh and garnish with the dill.
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