Russian meatballs (Tefteli)

Flora S.


  • 1 lb beef
  • 1-1/2 lb bulk pork sausage
  • ½ cup non-sticky rice
  • 3 lb Roma tomatoes
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 2 carrots julienned
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • cup dry red wine
  • 1-2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp dill chopped
  • 1 tbsp flat-leaf parsley chopped
  • 1 large egg lightly beaten
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 cloves garlic pressed
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • pinch of ground cayenne pepper
  • all-purpose flour for coating
  • vegetable oil


  • Parboil the rice by combining it with 1/2 of the amount of boiling water that is required by the cooking directions. Cook, covered, over low heat, until all the liquid is absorbed.
  • The rice should be partially cooked, but still hard in the middle. Take off heat and let cool.
  • Combine beef, pork, parboiled rice, dill, parsley, and egg. Season with salt and ground black pepper. Mix well and taste for seasonings by microwaving or frying a small amount.
  • Cover the mixture and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.
  • Place tomatoes in a stock pot and cover with boiling water. Simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.
  • Drain and, using a wooden spoon, rub the tomatoes through a sieve. (Be careful! The tomatoes may squirt hot juice when broken up.)
  • Discard the skins and seeds remaining in the sieve. Cover the tomato sauce and set aside.
  • Warm the butter and 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil in a casserole, and saute onions and carrots, stirring from time to time, until golden, about 15 minutes.
  • Add garlic and saute, stirring, for 2 more minutes. Add tomato sauce, beef stock, and wine, and bring to a simmer.
  • Season with salt, black pepper, and cayenne. Add bay leaves, cover, and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes.
  • Warm some vegetable oil in a skillet or in a deep-fryer.
  • Shape the meat mixture into balls approximately 1-1/2 inches in diameter. Roll in flour and fry over high heat or deep-fry until a golden-brown crust is formed (the meatballs do not have to be completely cooked through at this stage).
  • Immerse the meatballs into the sauce, cover, and simmer over low heat for 1 hour.
  • Serve the meatballs in bowls or soup plates and spoon the sauce over them.

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