Wednesday, June 19, 2013


Tefteli - is sort of a meatballs, a dish well known to all of us who spent their childhood in Ukraine. It's one of the ultimate kids comfort food there, cooked for us by our grannies and moms.

Blog's Category: International, USSR-era Recipes



The word itself, "tefteli", souds soothing and comforting, hm? That's it, tefteli - meatballs with addition of rice, simmered in bouillon, are indeed soft, smooth and, oh, so delicately tasty! For this reason they are often cooked for kids or those on a soothing-to-your-stomach diet or those weak or ill. 
What is it

Ground meat mixed with cooked rice, lightly seasoned and simmered in a chicken stock to smooth perfection.

Taste Description

Soft, smooth, delicate, hardly seasoned, full of gentle natural meat flavors, not obstructed with any bold spices and harsh sauces - it's delightful treat for those who, among abundance of today's flavors, still able to recognize thin and natural essence barely seasoned meat. Velvety texture of tefteli is perfect pairing to its mellow taste.

How to Serve

I like to serve it with mashed potato - it is the best side to tefteli. Although it's great with spaghetti too! Don't forget to pour some more sauce over!

  • 2 lb ground pork or chicken
  • onions, 1 is roughly chopped and 1 is finely chopped
  • 4+ cups chicken stock (or 3-4 chicken bouillon cubes)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1-2 eggs
  • 3-4 cups of cooked rice
  • salt to taste (about 3/4 tsp)
  • ground black pepper to taste (optional)
  • olive oil for frying

- Blend one, roughly chopped, onion with 1 cup of water into fine mixture.

- Mix together ground pork (chicken), blended onion, eggs, rice, salt and pepper nicely.

- Form meatballs and cook them in a skillet with olive oil, just until they start to get nice golden crust.

- Transfer meatballs into a pot

- In the same skillet, cook second, finely chopped, onion until golden. Add it to the pot with meatballs.

- Pour chicken stock (or dissolved in boiling water chicken boullion cubes) over the meatballs with onion, add bay leaves, a little salt. Liquid has to cover meatballs. Simmer tefteli, with a lid ajar, for about 1 hour. Taste, adjust taste as needed with salt or some pepper -done! Enjoy!

Some Notes

- I like to ground meat myself - in this case I can control the texture - with a coarse knives my meat grinder can make ground meat that is not too mushy and not too whipped up. Although store-bought ground meat will still work!

- For pretty, evenly sized tefteli use cookie scoop. It also speeds up a process a bit.

Traditionally finely chopped onion is mixed into the tefteli mix but I like to blend onion for tefteli mix. Most people, especially kids, do not like to feel pieces of onion in a texture of tefteli :)

Until I didn't use cookie scoop for this purpose I didn't know what I'm missing on ;)


Yumm..yes I don't eat meat but I can eat it with my eyes. Additional evidence of yuminess - large pot of tefteli disappeared from a fridge in a matter of a couple days..I'm suspecting my folks :)

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