The Hidden Luck of Dawood Pasha Koftas | Meatballs & History

The Turkish recipe that invaded the Middle East and is now a staple of the region’s cuisine.

Today we will make Dawood Pasha kofta. An interesting name for a dish and I will tell you the story behind it.

Historically, the origin of Dawood Pasha’s kofta is Turkish. It became part of the Iraqi and Middle Eastern cuisine during the Ottoman empire when Dawood Pasha was the governor of Baghdad. He loved it so much that he had it everyday. And because of that, it is now known as Dawood Pasha kofta in the Middle East.

The dish became a symbol of luck. How? The Pasha ordered his cooks to put a silver ring inside of one of the kofta balls. Whoever found it, kept the ring and was considered to be a lucky person. Dawood Pasha was so particular about the taste of the dish that once he punished a cook who messed up the ingredients.

Now, I invite you to join me as I prepare Dawood Pasha kofta. I won’t give you a ring, but I promise to deliver a great taste. Let’s start with the ingredients.


For the kofta:

  • 1 lb ground beef/lamb/turkey
  • 1 small grated or thinly diced onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Syrian spice
  • salt to taste
  • 2 tablespoons light olive oil

For the sauce

  • 1 large onion
  • 2 cloves sliced garlic
  • 2 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 lb or 1 can diced tomato
  • 1 tablespoon fried pine nuts
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
  • light olive oil
  • Salt to taste


First, mix the kofta ingredients together and then roll it into meatballs using an ice cream scooper.  In a pan, heat the olive oil and sear the meatballs on all sides. While meatballs get ready, cut the large onion julienne style. When ready take meatballs out and set them aside. Using the same pan, add a bit more oil, and start preparing the sauce. First sauté the onion, then add garlic, diced tomato, tomato paste, salt and pepper. Bring it to a boil, cover, reduce the heat and let it simmer for 10 minutes.

When the sauce is half way done, add meatballs and let them hang out together for another 10 minutes for the meat to cook and all the ingredients to marry together. While this cooks fry the pine nuts, using a pan and bit of olive oil. Make sure the oil is warm not too hot. Add pine nuts and mix continually as they tent to burn really quickly. Fry the nuts for about 1 minute, scoop them out and drain the excess oil by using a paper towel.

Serve the meatball with a side of rice, sprinkle fried pine nuts on top of kofta’s and enjoy!

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April 7, 2024

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