Behind the Scenes: Making Persian-Style Matzo Balls at Balaboosta
Seats are flying fast for the special second night Seder at Balaboosta, and after taking a look at the menu, it's not hard to see why. Txikito's Alex Raij, La Newyorkina's Fanny Gerson, and Balaboosta chef and owner Einat Admony have developed a special menu featuring "Wannabe Gefilte Fish Cakes" in spicy Moroccan tomato sauce, an almond-crusted poached egg "schnitzel," and a variation on matzo ball soup we couldn't be more excited about.
In Einat's Iranian-Israeli home, the dish was called Gondi: spiced chicken and chickpea dumplings in chicken soup. For the Balaboosta Seder, she's adding matzo meal and a traditional mix of spices for an unforgettably delicious and totally comforting alternative to Ashkenazi matzo ball soup. The gondi are far richer than your standard matzo ball, but just as tender; paradoxically rib-sticking but also quite light. Soft chicken (dark meat only, please) adds heft and meatiness; roughly mashed chickpeas contribute lovely beany flavor and give at the slightest bite.
But the real hero, Maggie and I agreed, were the spices: incredibly bold and vibrant, but working in perfect harmony. A tiny pinch of cardamom gave these balls a floral lift, but was grounded by earthy, spicy black pepper, cumin and turmeric. Frankly, we can't wait to break these out at our own Seders to liven up the meal.
We visited Einat for a peek at how her gondi are made. While Ashkenazi matzo balls are filled with Talmudic questions on preparation (do you use oil or schmaltz? water or seltzer? should they be sinkers or floaters?), Einat's gondi are remarkably low-maintenance. Just mash, mix, roll, and simmer.
But don't think that makes Einat a slacker in the kitchen. The day before the Balaboosta Seder she'll be cooking at home for her own—for a crowd of 30 (pruned from last year's count of 45). What will she be serving? Leg of lamb with dried fruit, "royal rice" (a Persian rice dish with a crust of caramelized potatoes), and, oh, "another 20 salads at the table." Like you do.
Click through the slideshow above to see how these awesome gondi are made, or head straight to the full recipe below.