Simcha Yosef's Yom Kippur Meatballs in Roma Tomato Sauce. Photography: shutterstock
Simcha Yosef's Yom Kippur Meatballs in Roma Tomato Sauce. Photography: shutterstock

Yom Kippur Meatballs

These meatballs require quite a bit of work, so they are served only once a year - but they're worth the wait (plus the day of fasting)

Nonna had two types of meatballs in tomato sauce: meatballs in an every day red sauce, and meatballs in a Roma Tomato sauce, which we called Yom Kippur meatballs, because Nonna only made them to break the fast.
She made this delicacy only once a year because the sauce required more work than usual: Nonna ground and drained fresh roma tomatoes and cooked them for hours with a piece of cow leg bone called “cocalo” in Ladino.

The Yom Kippur meatballs are served with a small mound of white rice and beef bourekitas, right after the fresh soup of Kippur.

Ingredients for Yom Kippur Meatballs

For the Meatballs:

  • 2.2 lbs (1 kilogram) ground beef
  • 2 eggs
  • 6 tablespoons breadcrumbs
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1½ teaspoons Salt
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 6 tablespoons water
  • canola oil for frying

For the Tomato Sauce

  • 6.6 lbs (3 kilograms) tomatoes Roma/Plum
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 piece beef shank bone known in Ladino as "Cocalo"


Prepare the Meatballs:

  • 1. In a bowl, mix all the ingredients, except for the oil for frying, until uniform.

  • 2. Make meatballs.

  • 3. In a frying pan, heat the oil and cook the meatballs until half fried.

  • 4. Put the meatballs aside until you add them to the tomato sauce.

Prepare the Tomato Sauce:

  • 5. Peel the tomatoes and cut them into quarters.

  • 6. Place the tomatoes in a bowl and sprinkle the salt over them. Leave them in the bowl for a few minutes.

  • 7. Grind the tomatoes in a food processor.

  • 8. Pass the ground tomatoes through a chinois or a food mill, in order to separate the flesh from the liquid. In this recipe we only use the tomato liquid.

  • 9. Cook the tomato liquid in a pot over a medium flame, with the shank bone, stirring from time to time with a wooden spoon, until the sauce reduces and becomes very thick.

  • 10. Please note: the cook time is very long, up to about 5 hours and the sauce should have a thickness similar to that of yogurt.

  • 11. After the sauce is ready, cool and transfer to the refrigerator for at least 12 hours.

  • 12. Note: At this stage you can freeze the sauce and use it at a later stage, after thawing.


  • 13. Put the prepared tomato sauce in a wide, flat pot on medium heat.

  • 14. When the sauce bubbles, add the meatballs, lower the flame, partially cover the pot and cook for about 25 minutes, until the meatballs are ready.

◆ ◆ ◆

Nona’s tips:

  • You can use the flesh of the tomatoes in another way, for example for making shakshuka.
  • For the sauce, you can use 1/3 cup of canola oil in place of a piece of cow leg bone.

The recipe is taken from the book “Bendichas Manus – Flavors from Nonna’s House” compiled by the grandchildren of the late Esther Raphael (née Vivanta) – Caim, Revital and Assaf – and carefully preserved by her daughter, Simcha Yosef.

*שמנו לב שחסרים כמה פרטים קטנים להשלמת הפרופיל שלך ב־FOODISH, אפשר להוסיף אותם בקלות בעמוד המשתמש שלך.