Qifqi or vegan rice balls are a traditional dish we only find in the region of Gjirokastra, in the deep south of Albania. The city of Gjirokastra is one of the most remarkable cities in Albania. It is characterized by splendid stone architecture, part of the UNESCO World Heritage and Fortress-style buildings. On the other hand, it is one of the places with more notable people in Albanian History.
As a city situated on a hill, its citizens have mainly mastered crafts, trade and the housewives are widely well-known for their excellent “management” of food while cooking. Qifqi is a result of this philosophy and the rest of Albania tease them for pretending to cook Meatballs, without meat. Why? Because the meat was expensive.
Originally the meatballs are typically fried on a special pan with several holes, handcrafted on the Gjirokastra. In our case, they can be fried on a normal pan by constantly checking on them until golden.
Start by cleaning the rice. Fill a large pot with cold water, season it with salt, and put the rice to boil on it. Please keep in mind to use a ratio of 1:15 rice to water as we will need dry, cooked rice. After losing all the water, let it cool and add the eggs and mint. Season it with salt and pepper and mix it well.
Put a large frying pan on high heat and use 4-5 tbsp of olive oil. With the palm of your hand get small portions of rice and give them ball shape, in the size of meatballs and fry them all around until they create a golden, crispy layer.
Serve it on a large plate as a side dish or appetizer, with some natural yogurt.