This recipe came from my mother-in-law. Her father grew up in Asia Minor before it came under Turkish rule and learned to cook with a lot of spices common to that area. These meatballs in sauce incorporate those flavors in each bite.

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1/2 kg ground beef
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
2 slices white toast
1/4 cup milk
Salt and pepper to taste
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon oil
1/4 cup flour
1 1/3 cups short grain or arborio rice

Ingredients – Sauce
3 cups water
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
Pinch salt

Heat the oil and add the chopped onion, garlic and cumin. Cook for 3 minutes until the onion is translucent. In the meantime, soak the toast in the milk. Squeeze out the liquid from the bread and break it up into small pieces in a mixing bowl. Add the ground beef, egg and cooked onion mix. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the parsley and mix together well. The mixture will feel a bit loose. Using your hands, form the meat into an oblong shape and drop into the flour to dust on all sides. Roll the dusting pan from side to side to coat the meatballs (if they don’t roll with the pan, use a spoon to turn over).

Melt the butter in a frying pan and place the floured meatballs. Cook until crispy and brown on all sides until cooked through (about 15 minutes). Once cooked, remove the meatballs from the pan and add to a pot along with 2 tablespoons of the butter they were cooked in.

In a measuring cup, melt the tomato paste, sugar, cumin powder and salt in 2 cups of water. Add the mixture to the meatballs along with an additional cup of water. Reduce the liquid until thick (approximately 30 minutes).

In a separate pot, bring salted water to a boil. Add the rice and cook for 15 to 25 minutes (depending on how well cooked you like your rice). Cover the pot and let the rice sit in the water for an additional 10 minutes. Drain the rice and, using a spoon, press down the rice into an espresso cup. Invert the cup onto a plate to serve the rice along with meatballs and sauce.

Serve immediately once the rice is cooked. Serves 4 to 6.

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