Spiced lamb meatballs cooked in a stewed tomato and aubergine sauce, served on a bed of couscous and garnished with herbs and toasted almonds.
This dish is the first time I have been genuinely happy with meatballs I have made, both the flavour and the texture are spot on. This is a fairly quick and simple meal to prepare, but has a depth of flavour that tastes like it has taken all day to prepare.
Firstly a spice mix is prepared from coriander seeds, cumin seeds and smoked sweet paprika – the spices are toasted until aromatic then ground in a spice grinder. Sliced almonds are then dry roasted in a pan until they are toasted on both sides, these give both a wonderful flavour and texture to the final dish.
Meatballs are then made in a small food processor which gives a smooth well mixed meatball, they are flavoured with some of the spice mix, salt, mint, parsley, onion and garlic. Some breadcrumbs and egg are used to help bind the meatballs. Once blitzed into a smooth paste, they are rolled, placed in a fridge for 10 minutes then browned in some hot oil. They are then removed from the oil and set aside as they are finished in the wonderful sauce which comes next.
The sauce is made from first frying garlic, onion, a red chilli and a peeled diced aubergine. Once softened some spice mix is added along with some diced peeled plum tomatoes. A little salt, a squeeze of lemon juice, some chicken stock, parsley and coriander leaf is added, then the meatballs. The pan is covered and left to stew on a low heat for 25 minutes, during which some couscous is prepared using chicken stock for extra flavour.
The meatballs are served on a bed of couscous, garnished with the toasted almonds and a lemon wedge.
Cooking time less than 40 minutes
Ingredients and method
Toasted spices and almonds
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp smoked paprika
2 tbsp. sliced almonds
Method: place a dry frying pan over a medium low heat. Add the cumin and coriander seeds and toast for approx. 5 minutes until aromatic, shake the pan frequently to turn the seeds and ensure they do not burn. Transfer to a spice grinder along with the smoked paprika and grind until a smooth powder is formed. Set aside for cooking.
In the same pan add the sliced almonds then increase the heat and toast the almonds until coloured on both sides, again shake the pan frequently to ensure even cooking. Set aside to garnish the dish later.
250g lamb mince
1 small brown onion
1.5 tsp spice mix
0.5 tsp salt
8 mint leaf’s
1 tbsp. chopped parsley leaf
3 cloves garlic
3 tbsp. breadcrumbs
2-3 tbsp. vegetable oil
Method: Add the ingredients to a small food processor, blitz until combined and a smooth thick paste like consistency is formed.
Use wet hands to portion and roll the meatballs into small balls, about half the size of a golf ball is best in my opinion. I find it helpful to have a bowl of warm water to dip my hands into as wet hands make rolling the meatballs much easier.
Once rolled place on a flat plate, cover and place in a fridge for 10 minutes.
Remove from the fridge, then warm 2-3 tbsp. of oil in a wide frying pan. Fry the meatballs in batches so that there is plenty room in the frying pan. Brown the meatballs, then place them on some absorbent paper, set aside ready to add to the sauce.
Tomato and Aubergine Sauce
1 onions – diced
3 plum tomatoes – skin, dice
3 cloves garlic – crush, chop
1 red chilli – deseed, dice
1 Aubergine – skin, dice
Rest of spice mixture
0.5 tsp salt
Handful coriander leaf – chopped
Handful parsley – chopped
150ml chicken stock
Juice of 1/4 lemon
2 tbsp. olive oil
Method: Heat a large deep frying pan (one with a lid) over a medium high heat and add 2 tbsp. olive oil. Once hot add the diced onion, chilli and aubergine, stir frequently and cook until the onions soften. Add the spice mixture and salt and stir through.
Next add the diced tomato, stock and herbs, stir through and bring to a simmer. Add the browned meatballs, lemon juice and stir through the sauce. Bring back to a simmer, place a lid on the pan, reduce heat and leave to simmer for 20-25 minutes.
350ml chicken stock
Method: place the couscous and chicken stock in a sauce pan (one with a lid), bring the pan to the boil, reduce heat to low and leave until the couscous has absorbed all the liquid. Remove lid and fluff up with a fork prior to serving.
Place a bed of couscous on the plate, ladle the meatballs and sauce on top then garnish with the toasted almonds.