Tarragon gondi

These rice-spiked dumplings look rather extraordinary, but you'll be smitten after the first bite. The dried lime makes this dish, so do try to get hold of some. Sun-dried black limes have a complex, distinct taste – sour-citrus, aromatic, slightly fermented – that's well worth getting to know. Either buy the lime powder, or make your own by halving a few whole dried limes, blitzing them in a spice grinder and passing through a fine sieve. This recipe is adapted from Gideon Kalimian's The Persian Kitchen.

6 people

Serving size


100g basmati rice, washed and drained
500g minced beef
2 medium onions, peeled and finely grated
30g fresh tarragon, picked and chopped
1 tbsp ground cumin
2 tsp dried Iranian lime powder 20g 
6-8 Medjool dates, pitted and roughly chopped
Salt and black pepper
2½ litres chicken stock
2 whole dried Iranian limes, pierced with a knife 
4 large carrots, peeled and cut into 5cm x 0.5cm batons
400g tin chickpeas, drained
¾ tsp turmeric
10 cardamon pods, lightly crushed
20g basil leaves, roughly shredded
20g mint leaves, roughly shredded


  1. Bring a small pan of water to a boil, add the rice and cook for four minutes. Drain, refresh with cold water and drain again, shaking the sieve to get rid of all the excess water. Tip into a large bowl and add the beef, onion, tarragon, cumin, lime powder and dates, as well as two teaspoons of salt and a good grind of black pepper. Mix, then shape into small balls weighing about 40g each (you should have 26 or so in all). Cover and put in the fridge for half an hour, to firm up.

  2. In a large pan, put the stock, limes, carrots, chickpeas, turmeric, cardamom and a teaspoon of salt. Put on a high heat, bring to a boil, then turn the heat to low. Carefully lower the gondi into the liquid and simmer gently for 30 minutes, until the meat and rice are cooked and the stock has reduced by about half; cover the pan if it reduces too much, but make sure the soup doesn't boil rapidly, otherwise the gondi will break up (if they do begin to disintegrate, carefully lift them from the soup and set aside until ready to serve). Towards the end, press the limes with the back of a spoon, to help them release their juices.

  3. Divide the gondi and veg between six bowls, spoon the soup on top, sprinkle on the herbs and serve.
Ground Dried Lime
Black Lime
Medjoul Dates, Zaytoun