Saturday, December 25, 2010

Lamb Meatballs with Cilantro-Mint Chutney

My household was never a meatball household. We ate plenty of meat, don't get me wrong, but for some reason the spherical shape was not one preferred by my mother.

It was only at a party, when I was exposed to the wonders of Nigella Lawson and her glorious pseudo-Moroccan lamb meatballs, that my mind was changed forever. It's the blend of spices that takes the morsels to a new level entirely. These meatballs became a staple of weeknight dinners and, now that I'm home for the holidays, I have decided to preach the gospel of meatballs to my mother.

Much to my surprise, a Southwest cooking magazine was ALSO featuring a lamb spiced meatball for their December issue. Now, I don't want to accuse anyone of plagarism, but they are strikingly similar. At least Sunset magazine upped their game a bit by putting a cilantro-mint chutney with them. Personally, I can eat these meatballs all by their lonesome, but the chutney was a nice accompaniment. No matter where the recipe came from originally, I recommend these to all.

Mini lamb meatballs (cilantro-mint chutney recipe follows)

Makes 40 (or thereabouts)


1 tsp. cumin seeds (or ground cumin if you prefer)

1 tsp coriander seeds (or ground)

1 tsp fennel seeds

1/2 tsp pepper

1/2 tsp cayenne

1 tsp allspice

1 tsp cinammon

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp turmeric

1 lb. ground lamb

3 tbsp. semolina 

1 large egg

1 tbsp. vegetable oil


Toast cumin over medium heat until fragrant, 3-5 minutes. Grind in a spice grinder and put in a medium bowl. (If using ground spices, just combine all in a bowl and skip the spice grinder bits)

Grind coriander and fennel and add to the bowl with remaining spices, salt, lamb, semolina, and egg.

Mix gently.

Chill mixture in the fridge for about 30 minutes.

With wet hands, form chilled meat into 1-in. balls and set on a baking sheet.

Heat oil in a heavy 12-in. nonstick frying pan over medium heat.

Fry meatballs until well browned all over, 8-10 minutes total. Transfer to paper towels.

Serve hot with cilantro-mint chutney on the side.

Cilantro-Mint Chutney


4 tbsp. low-fat Greek yogurt

1 tsp ground cumin 

1 tsp minced serrano chile

1 tsp minced ginger

1/2 tsp salt

2 cups loosely packed cilantro

1 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves

1 cup chopped onion

1 tsp. lemon juice


Put all chutney ingredients in a food processor and whirl until smooth.

Add more lemon juice if you like.

Spoon into a serving bowl.

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