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Sour cherry and chicken meatballs in saffron broth

Khoresht Albaloo - Pettite chicken meatballs and caramelized onions are slowly cooked in a tangy and lightly sweetened saffron broth. 
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time1 hr 10 mins
Total Time1 hr 30 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Persian
Keyword: chicken, sour cherries, stew
Servings: 4
Author: Omid Roustaei, The Caspian Chef



  • 1 lb ground chicken thighs, or breasts or combination
  • 1 small onion, grated
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons flour, rice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon cumin, ground
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom, ground
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 4 tablespoons ghee, or olive oil


  • 3 tablespoons ghee, or olive oil
  • 2 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 cups water, hot
  • 3 cups cherries, pitted fresh or frozen
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron, ground dissolved in 3 tablespoons hot water
  • 1-2 tablespoons lime juice, fresh , optional
  • 1-2 tablespoons sugar, optional


  • 1 tablespoon ghee, or olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons pistachios, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons almonds, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon rose petals, optional


  • Place all the ingredients for the meatballs with the exception of the oil in a large mixing bowl. Thoroughly mix all the ingredients to create a smooth paste and form the paste into a small walnut-sized (about 2 tablespoons) balls.
  • Chicken meatballs tend to get sticky so plan on having a small bowl of water to wet your fingers as you make the meatballs or wash your hands frequently when they get too sticky.
  • In a large skillet, melt the ghee over medium-high heat and begin to lightly brown the meatballs on all sides, about 10 minutes.  Because of the small size of meatballs, you might have to repeat this process a few times depending on the size of your skillet.  Set aside.
  • In a dutch oven, melt the ghee and saute the onions for 30 minutes over low heat until they are golden and softened.  
  • Add the salt, pepper, and spices and saute for an additional minute before adding the water and the sauteed meatballs.  Cover and cook on low heat for 30 minutes. 
  • Add the cherries and the saffron dissolved in hot water, cover and continue to cook over low heat for an additional 30 minutes. 
  • Adjust the stew by adding sugar and lime juice to your taste.
  • For the garnish, melt the ghee in a small saucepan and saute the pistachios and almonds over low heat over 1 minute.
  • Pour the stew in a serving bowl and garnish with the toasted nuts and sprinkle the rose petals on top.  Serve with steamed basmati rice.


Can substitute ground turkey for the chicken.