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Are you in the mood for a truly royal, yet simple meatball stew? Then Dawood Basha is the perfect recipe for you! According to a legend, this savory meatball and potato stew was once the favorite dish of a famous Ottoman Basha. Fast forward today, it remains a hugely popular dish across large parts of the Middle East.
I’ll share with you my recipe for Dawood Basha as it’s prepared in the Middle East.
What is Dawood Basha?
Dawood Basha is a hearty meatball stew and one of the most popular kafta dishes in the Middle East. The recipe is named after a man called Dawood, which is the Arabic equivalent of David, who was a famous leader in the Ottoman Empire. Basha is a title given to people holding high positions such as officers or governors. Dawood enjoyed this dish so much that he requested it over and over again.
This dish is very similar to other Middle Eastern dishes, such as baked kafta. The unique features of Dawood Basha are the rich sauce (it has more sauce compared to baked kafta) and the cooking method (it’s traditionally prepared on the stovetop).
You’ll need the following ingredients for this meatball stew:
- Ground beef: You can use ground beef, ground lamb, or a mix of both. For the meatballs, it’s best to use 80/20 meat (20 % fat) instead of the lean alternative.
- Potatoes: Potatoes are a key ingredient to this stew. Make sure you use a potato variety that holds its shape when boiled. Russet potatoes are a good choice.
- Parsley: Traditionally, flat-leaf parsley is added to all kofta dishes. The parsley is finely chopped and then mixed with the meat, onion and spices. If you don’t have it available or don’t like it, you can leave it out.
- Onion: You need onion for the meat balls as well as for the sauce. For the meatballs, the onion will be grated or finely chopped. For the sauce, roughly chopped onions are fine.
- Garlic: Use fresh garlic cloves for the meatballs as well as for the sauce.
- Seasonings: The right combination of spices is what makes this dish stand out. For Dawood Basha, you’ll need the following ground spices: Seven Spice (a Middle Eastern spice blend), salt and pepper. They will be added to the meatballs as well as to the sauce. You can buy Seven Spice blend in any Middle Eastern grocery store or make your own. Check out my Seven Spice recipe.
- Diced tomatoes: I generally use canned diced tomatoes for my tomato base. You could make your own from scratch using fresh tomatoes.
- Water: You’ll need water for your tomato sauce. The exact amount depends on your liking (you can adjust the consistency by adding more or less water).
- Olive oil: Olive oil is needed to sauté the meatballs and the onions for the sauce.
Note: Quantities can be found in the recipe card at the end of this recipe and can be adjusted according to the amount of servings you’d like to make.
How to Make Dawood Basha (Step-by-Step)
Ready to make Dawood Basha? Yallah, let’s get started!
Step 1: Chop the vegetables for the sauce
The first step is to chop all the vegetables that you need for the sauce. Peel the potatoes and cut them into bite size chunks. Press or finely chop the garlic and finely chop the onions for the sauce. Set aside the vegetables for the sauce for later.
Step 2: Chop the vegetables for the meatballs
For the meatballs, it’s important that you dice the parsley and onions very finely. You can achieve a fine chop with a good chef’s knife fairly easily. If you can’t do it with a knife, you can briefly pulse the parsley and the onion for the meat in a food processor. Press a garlic clove (or finely chop as well).
Step 3: Season the meat
Transfer the diced vegetables for the meatballs (step 2) to a mixing bowl. Add ground meat and seasonings (Seven Spice, salt and pepper) to the bowl. Knead well with your hands to ensure that all ingredients are mixed thoroughly.
Step 4: Make meatballs
Take about 2 tablespoons of the meat mixture and shape into meatballs.
Step 5: Fry meatballs
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium to high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the meatballs and fry for 3-4 minutes until browned from all sides. Turn occasionally. The meatballs won’t be all the way cooked at this point – the idea is to brown them prior to baking them to improve the texture and flavor. Set aside (inside the pan, to preserve the oil).
Step 6: Prepare the sauce
For the sauce: heat olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the chopped onions and garlic (step 1) and fry for 2-3 minutes until translucent. Add canned tomatoes, Seven Spice, salt, pepper and water to the saucepan. Stir to combine. Bring the sauce to a simmer. Cook for 3-4 minutes to thicken the sauce a bit.
Step 7: Add potatoes
Now add the chopped potatoes to the saucepan. Simmer for about 8-10 minutes (lid on, low to medium heat).
Step 8: Add meatballs and simmer
After that time, add the meatballs to the saucepan. Simmer for another 17-20 minutes until the potatoes are tender and the meat fully cooked. The total cooking time should be 25-30 minutes. Garnish the stew with toasted pine nuts or almonds and some finely chopped parsley (optional).
How to Serve Dawood Basha
Like other Middle Eastern stews, Dawood Basha is traditionally served with rice. Lebanese rice (a type of butter rice with vermicelli) is the perfect accompaniment to this meatball stew. Plain white rice or bread (Arabic flatbread) also work fine.
Looking for more Middle Eastern stews? Check out my recipes for:
- Fasolia (white bean stew with lamb)
- Lubia (green beans in tomato sauce)
- Bamia (okra stew with ground beef)
Make Ahead & Storage
Dawood Basha is a wonderful dish to make ahead of time. In fact, most stews will even taste better the next day. Leave to cool after cooking and store in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days. Reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave.
Any Questions or Feedback?
If you liked this recipe, I’d appreciate it if you could leave a star rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ below. In case you’ve any questions or feedback, please leave me a comment (down the page). I’m happy to help you make delicious Middle Eastern food at home.
Dawood Basha (Arabic Meatball Stew)
Dawood Basha is a Middle Eastern stew consisting of meatballs and potatoes in tomato sauce. Named after a highly-ranked man called Dawood who was known for its fascination for this dish, this hearty meatball potato stew is a crowd pleaser with a truly royal history.
For the meatballs:
- 500 g (1.1 lb) ground beef 80/20 (20 % fat), enough for 22 meatballs
- 1 onion yellow, medium
- 1/4 bunch parsley
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 tsp Seven Spice blend see notes
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1 Tbsp olive oil to fry the meatballs
For the sauce:
- 5 potatoes medium (5 pcs approx. 450 g or 1 lb)
- 2 cans diced tomatoes
- 475 ml (2 cups) water
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion yellow, medium
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 tsp Seven Spice
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- Chop the vegetables for the sauce. Peel the potatoes and cut them into bite size chunks. Finely chop the garlic and onions for the sauce (set aside for later).
- Chop the vegetables for the meatballs: Finely chop the parsley, garlic and onions for the meatballs (be sure to very finely dice the parsley and onions for the meatballs, using a knife or a food processor).
- Transfer the chopped vegetables for the meatballs (diced onion, garlic and parsley) to a mixing bowl. Add ground meat and seasonings (Seven Spice, salt and pepper). Knead well with your hands to ensure that all ingredients are mixed thoroughly.
- Take about 2 tablespoons of the meat mixture and shape into meatballs.
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet (medium to high heat). Add the meatballs into the hot oil and fry for 3-4 minutes until browned on the outside from all sides (they will still be raw on the inside). Turn occasionally.
- For the sauce: heat olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the chopped onion and garlic (step 1) and fry for 2-3 minutes until translucent. Add canned tomatoes, Seven Spice, salt, pepper and water to the saucepan. Stir to combine. Bring the sauce to a simmer and cook for 3-4 minutes to thicken.
- Add the chopped potatoes to the saucepan. Simmer for about 8-10 minutes (lid on, low heat).
- After that time, add the meatballs to the saucepan. Simmer for another 17-20 minutes until the potatoes are tender and the meat fully cooked. The total cooking time should be 25-30 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare any side dishes. Serve warm with plain white rice, butter rice or bread. Garnish the stew with toasted pine nuts or almonds and some finely chopped parsley (optional).
- Seven Spice (also called Baharat) is a signature Middle Eastern spice blend. Made from a few staple spices, baharat is a popular seasoning to flavor rice dishes, meat and fish. Don’t have Seven Spice at home? You can make your own spice blend at home, either from whole spices (roast and grind, will give you the best taste) or simply by mixing a few ground spices. Check out both methods and the exact ingredients and directions in my Seven Spice recipe.
- For the meatballs it’s important that you chop the onions and parsley very finely. If you cannot achieve a fine chop with a knife, chop them in a food processor (be sure not to overdo it).
Calories: 654kcalCarbohydrates: 62gProtein: 30gFat: 33gSaturated Fat: 11gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 16gTrans Fat: 2gCholesterol: 89mgSodium: 1004mgPotassium: 1962mgFiber: 9gSugar: 9gVitamin A: 549IUVitamin C: 81mgCalcium: 147mgIron: 7mg
Nutrition information is only a rough estimate and may vary depending on factors such as the cooking method, exact weight, type, and brand of ingredients used.
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