Syrian cuisine has several popular stews, or yakhni, and this spinach stew with meatballs is one of them. It is not the most elegant of dishes to look at, and, as a kid, I didn’t want to eat it for this reason. I changed my mind when my mother reminded me about spinach-eating Popeye and his bulging muscles. Now I think it’s delicious as well as nutritious! The lemon sauce goes well with it, and my mother always served it that way, though she had actually borrowed that use of lemon sauce from another dish.
Sabankh Bil Roz / Stew Of Spinach And Minced Beef
FOR THE MEATBALLS
- 350 g beef mince
- 2 tablespoons ground allspice
- salt and pepper
FOR THE STEW
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 onion chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic minced
- 800 g of baby spinach washed and coarsely chopped
- 150 ml gluten-free chicken or beef stock
- 1 tablespoon ground allspice
FOR THE LEMON SAUCE
- 1 shallot minced
- juice of 1 organic lemon
- 2 tablespoons white or apple cider vinegar
- ½ teaspoon of chilli flakes
- In a bowl, knead the minced beef and ground allspice, along with a good pinch of salt and pepper. Form meatballs that are about 5cm in diameter. Set aside.
- Heat the olive oil in a large non-stick pan on medium heat. Fry the onion and garlic for 3 minutes, until light golden yellow. Sear the meatballs in batches, turning regularly.
- Add the spinach, stock and a pinch of salt (to help the spinach wilt and cook) to the pan. Cover and simmer for 2 minutes.
- Add the ground allspice. Salt and pepper to taste. Stir the stew carefully so that the meatballs don’t fall apart. The spinach will give off some moisture. Simmer the stew on medium heat for 5–7 minutes, until the sauce is reduced by half.
- In a little bowl, whisk together all the ingredients for the lemon sauce.
- Serve the stew warm with the lemon sauce and accompanied by rice vermicelli.