I found the recipe for these unexpectedly delicious, spicy meatballs in the most unlikely source: the glossy lifestyle magazine tucked into the Friday paper. Yes, somewhere between the celebrity interviews and earnest articles on how to talk to your teen about sex was Madhur Jaffrey’s Meatball Curry. These spicy, Indian meatballs are simmered in an aromatic tomato sauce and are really great served with rice. Don’t look for authentic Indian food here; I modified the recipe so much that it could reasonably be called Yulinka’s meatball curry. It would undoubtedly be better if I had whole cardamom pods, whole cloves and more ground lamb on hand, but I didn’t, and I didn’t care. This is fantastic pseudo-Indian food, and I’m adding the recipe to my arsenal of pseudo-ethnic cookery.
You start by mixing 1 pound of ground lamb—I used equal parts of ground lamb and ground turkey—with small, finely chopped onion; 3 minced garlic cloves; a minced 2-inch piece of ginger; a lightly-beaten egg; ¾ teaspoon salt; a tbs. of ground coriander; 1 ¼ tsp. ground cumin (I subbed garam masala); ½ tsp. cayenne pepper (I used ¼ tsp.); and 3 tbs. of chopped cilantro (I left this out--I don’t do cilantro).
The recipe calls for forming the meatballs and refrigerating them for four to six hours, but I only managed two hours. You’re supposed to simmer the raw meatballs in sauce; I sautéed them on both sides in some vegetable oil in a Dutch oven first. I like the crusty little bits you get in the pan after browning meat, plus, meatballs cook faster when browned.
After browning the meatballs—4 minutes on both sides, maybe—I set them aside on a plate. I then made the sauce by mixing a 2-inch piece of minced ginger, 4 cloves of minced garlic, 1 tbs. ground coriander, 1 tsp. ground cumin (I used garam masala) and 3 tbs. of water in a food processor and blending until I got a runny paste. Add 2 green chiles if you like it hot; I left these out.
I heated up some olive oil in the Dutch oven and added 1 tsp. of cardamom (the recipe calls for 4 whole and 2 crushed cardamom pods); 1 tsp. cumin seeds; 1 tsp. ground cloves (the recipe calls for 4 whole cloves); and a tsp. of ground cinammon (the recipe calls for a 2-inch stick of cinnamon). I sautéed the spices for 2 minutes, and then added 2 chopped onions.
These I fried until golden, then added the ginger paste, and then 1 1/2 cups of good, canned tomatoes-- Jaffrey's recipe calls for 4 fresh tomatoes and 2 cups of water--and ¼ teaspoon of cayenne. I cooked all this over medium high heat until the sauce reduced a little; then I turned the heat to low and stirred in 4 tbs. of plain yogurt and ¾ tsp. salt. I plopped the meatballs unto the sauce and simmered the whole thing on very low heat for 20-25 minutes (raw meatballs take 50-60 minutes).