Ras Asfour

Ras Asfour

This dish takes the tomato sauce base found in many Middle Eastern dishes to the next level by adding potatoes, spices, and small meatballs. And, of course, it is eaten with rice. The is another dish in our “Medley of Marakah” series.

You may wonder what Ras Asfour means. In Arabic it means “bird’s head.” Not literally bird’s heads, but the small spiced meatballs is thought to resemble the “head of a bird.” For that matter, every meatball dish out there should be called Ras Asfour, no? Any takers?!?!

Ras Asfour’s tomato sauce infused with cardamom elevates the dish. It is a simple recipe yet packed with flavor. There are different variations of this dish, but we provide what we know and love best, our Mom’s and Nana Badriya’s recipe. It is an easy recipe to make for a weeknight meal and can also be prepped in advance. Give this interesting “bird’s head” dish a try for you next home-cooked weeknight dinner!

Ras Asfour

Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 30 mins


Spiced Meatballs

  • 1.5 lb ground beef (85/15)
  • 3/4 tbsp bahar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 medium russet potatoes


  • 15 oz can of tomato sauce
  • 15 oz water
  • 1 tsp cardamom*
  • 1/2 tsp salt



  • In a bowl, mix the ground meat, 1/2 tsp salt and bahar until combined
  • Roll the meat mixture in your hand to form ~25 small meatballs
  • To cook, lightly coat a pan with 2 tbsp olive oil. Cook until browned on all sides, it does not need to be fully cooked. Set aside once done (this can be completed a day in advance with meatballs refrigerated, and if doing so, cook through)
  • Peel and cut potatoes into 1 inch cubes. Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a pan and grill potatoes until they are lightly browned. Place on a plate and paper towel to allow excess oil to drain from the potatoes. Set aside


  • In a medium sized pot, combine 15 oz tomato sauce, cardamom*, and salt. Add 15 oz of water by filling the empty tomato sauce can and pouring into the pot
  • Add meatballs to the sauce and heat over medium for 15 minutes for a soft simmer. Reduce heat if sauce starts to boil
  • Add potatoes. Allow sauce to simmer for 15 more minutes. If needed, add more salt to taste.
  • Enjoy with some rice!


*Three Teas Tips: You can use ground or whole cardamom. We like to use whole cardamom seeds and crush it with a mortar and pestle. Add more or less to taste.

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