Monday 11 April 2011

Middle eastern style meatballs

These little balls of flavour are very simple and quick to make. Lamb mince is quite difficult to get, so I use veal and pork mince instead.

500-600g of pork and veal mince
1 grated red onion (I know it’s a pain in the proverbial. If you can really finely chop it, go for it) (and if you've no red onions, a normal one is fine)
4 garlic cloves (I like it garlicky)
Root ginger. If you don’t have any a good shake of the powdered stuff is fine). If you are using the fresh stuff, peel about 3cm with the back of a spoon.
Chili flakes or powder – as much as you feel like
2 teaspoons of cumin (seeds or powder – grind the seeds first if you are using them)
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
Tomatoes – either ones lurking in the fridge or a can or a carton of passata
Herbs – whatever is in the herb cupboard or in the garden/fridge

I always make couscous to go with this. Directions below.

Wash your hands well and put your frying pan or tagine on the hob to heat up. Add a little oil to coat the bottom. Mix the meat, onion, garlic and spices together in a bowl with your hands and shape the mixture into about 15-20 golfball sized rounds. Place these in the tagine and seal the outsides of them. You may need to do this in batches. Once they are all sealed, turn the heat down and add your chosen tomato type. Season with the herbs, salt and pepper and put the lid on the tagine. If you’re using a pan no need to do this. Cook the whole lot for about 20 minutes.
I’d sometimes add another veg or two to this to bulk it up or to help me get to my five-a-day. Don’t. I’ve tried several vegetables and dried apricots, and honestly, they don’t add anything to this. If you need more vegetables, include a salad at the table.
At the end of the 20 minutes, check the meatballs are cooked. If so, add some chopped coriander on top.
For the couscous, melt a little butter in a frying pan. Once melted, add some couscous – about one cup for two people. How big is a cup? It’s probably what you use for your morning coffee. Once the couscous has absorbed the butter, add a cup of water or stock and cook until the water is absorbed. This should take about 1-2 minutes. Add any herbs you have leftover – coriander, spring onions, mint.

Meatballs with green beans and apricots. It is better without the additions.

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