Meatballs in tomato/orange sauce (Dawood Basha)

fg meatballsI have always felt that the name of this dish, Dawood Basha, was far more interesting that the dish itself; it was named after a high-ranking official (a Basha) appointed by the Ottomans who reigned supreme throughout the region from their palaces in Istanbul .  My grandmother lived through this period of history and passed on many tales to me, the eager listener, while she was busy preparing dumplings in the kitchen or embroidering in her bedroom.

This dish was always included in our school cafeteria menu. When the tomato paste is omitted, the sauce turns dark (especially if the onions are caramelized); a popular version includes a touch of pomegranate molasses to the sauce; I felt like adding the lilting taste of slivers of orange rind to it. 

INGREDIENTS: 4 servings

  • ½ lb. lean ground beef or lamb or a combo
  • 3 yellow onions, one chopped and sprinkled with salt, the other sliced
  • 1 egg yolk (optional)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. each cinnamon and allspice
  • 2 cups beef broth (substitute water and a bouillon cube)
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp. orange rind (substitute pomegranate molasses) or slivers orange peel
  • 2 Tbsp. cornstarch diluted in ½ cup water
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil or clarified butter
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts or sliced almonds toasted till golden or fried in 1 Tbsp. oil and drained
  1. Place the meat in a food processor and add the spices, egg yolk, chopped onion and process until smooth. Form small balls (a cookie dough scooper is easy to use for that purpose); pour the oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat and fry the onion slices till softened; add the meatballs and brown them. Add the 2 cups of beef stock along with the tomato paste, and orange slivers (or orange rind). Cover the pot and let the mixture bubble up gently for 15 minutes until the liquid is reduced and the meatballs are thoroughly cooked.
  2. If you find the sauce needs it, remove the meatballs and bring the sauce to a simmer; add the cornstarch mixture and stir for a couple of minutes until the sauce thickens. Transfer the meatballs back in the skillet, add the pine nuts and serve warm with rice.

NOTE: This dish can be prepared with ¼ cup pomegranate molasses instead of tomato paste.dup Beit Eddine palaceThis building, a former palace from that time period, is being prepped for a music festival this Summer (Chouf Mountains) 

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  1. Posted May 6, 2014 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    Delightful flavors! This dish looks and sounds ever so good.



  2. Raymond
    Posted May 6, 2014 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    Ceci n’est pas un Daoud Basha!

  3. Joumana
    Posted May 6, 2014 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    @Raymond: Care to share your authentic recipe? :)

  4. Posted May 6, 2014 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    Mmmmm…the tomato-orange sauce sounds fabulous…great idea.

  5. marlene
    Posted May 6, 2014 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    hello joumana!
    love your recipe , i’m sure that oranges will add an exotic twist! can’t wait to try it , this weekend probably :)
    it’s getting really hot in lebanon these days so i’m looking for a refreshing drink in your recipes :D

  6. marlene
    Posted May 6, 2014 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    I found this pierre herme recipe that i would love to share with you. hope that you like it
    here’s the link

  7. Posted May 6, 2014 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    Fabulous Joumana; I love this shared culinary heritage and that sweet & sour fruits incorporated in stews in the Ottoman cuisine – your slivers of orange rind is a brilliant idea.

  8. Joumana
    Posted May 6, 2014 at 10:23 pm | Permalink

    @ marlene: Thanks so much for the link! I have actually copied a bunch of Pierre Hermé chocolate desserts recipes and tried a couple. I will try this one! if it is easy and yummy, I will post it, thanks! :)
    A cool drink? We picked some carob from the orchard last weekend and i was planning a drink…:)

  9. Posted May 6, 2014 at 11:10 pm | Permalink

    Tomato sauces with cinnamon are my favourite. I love adding orange juice to tomato sauces but now I will also try adding orange silvers as well.

  10. marlene
    Posted May 7, 2014 at 2:38 am | Permalink

    you’re welcome!
    oh nice! carob drink! never heard of it before! can’t wait to see your post:)

  11. Posted May 7, 2014 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    This is one of my favorite stews. The orange is a nice twist to it, I have to try it.

    The way we prepare it at home is a mix between this and potato stew. We add potatoes and omit the onions. Not sure if it’s the Palestinian variation or just a family thing.

  12. rehmat ali
    Posted September 28, 2014 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

    i love this tomato sauce with cinnmon …

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