Combine all ingredients for the meatballs.
In a sauté pan, fry the onion until golden. Stir in the tomato paste for a few minutes, then add the beets. Add the paprika, salt, pepper, and sugar.
Add the water two cups at a time, allowing the sauce to return to a boil in between each addition, until the sauce comes three-fourths of the way up the pan. Cook for another half hour, until the beet softens.
Meanwhile, form meatballs out of the meat mixture. Toss them in a little semolina to coat, then fry in a separate pan with a little oil. When all the meatballs are fried, add them to the sauce. Simmer for half an hour or more, then turn off the heat but leave the pan in place for the meatballs to absorb more of the sauce.