The first thing I ever recall CB ever making for me was these meatballs. She had just entered a period of intensely ambitious (for students) cooking, putting an end the first year diet of baked beans, spaghetti hoops, hummus and crisps. “I’ve got this dish,” she said. “It’ll be delicious,” she said. I agreed – never one to turn down a dinner – and we agreed to make four portions so there’d be enough for another dinner later in the week. They were delicious – so delicious that not only did we manage to blast through three portions between us that night, I greedily snaffled the leftovers the next day while she was at class: a profoundly bold move if you know CB at all.
Approximately six years later and she’s just about forgiven me so what better time to share the recipe. This is a deeply aromatic dish that will have inquiring noses emerge from all over the house in anticipation. A few top tips from me. Firstly, if you have time, make the curry the day before you want to eat it. It’s delicious freshly made but even better after it’s had time to mature. Secondly, choose a starchy side that is high quality enough to suit the flavours of the dish but muted enough to not overpower it – I would advocate sticky white basmati rice, rice noodles, or naan. Anything else messes with the main event. Thirdly, don’t be tempted to use lean mince – regular lamb mince has the fat content necessary for the flavour. Don’t feel too bad about this – you’ll be using reduced fat coconut milk.
I personally like to think these are the kinds of meals that are best enjoyed family style – big bowls of steaming food in the middle of the table for everybody to serve themselves. The days are getting longer already and temperatures are getting milder – there won’t be much time left to continue to enjoy the cosiness of dishes like this. Get involved.
Adapted slightly from Anjum’s New Indian
400g lamb mince
2 slices of white breadcrumbs
1 large egg, beaten
1 ½ tsp garam masala + more to season if you like (make your own, truly)
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 thumb sized piece of fresh ginger, roughly chopped
5 large cloves of garlic, peeled
4–6 thin green chiles, seeds removed if you’re not mad about spice (we are)
1 can reduced fat coconut milk
1 ½ tsp ground coriander
30g of coriander, leaves and stalks
1 tsp tamarind paste
salt and pepper
- Add the lamb mince to a large bowl with the breadcrumbs, egg, 1/2 tsp of garam masala, 1 tsp of cumin, 1/2 tsp of salt and a good grind of pepper. Mix with your hands and form small meatballs. We ended up with approximately 30 meatballs but make the size to your liking.
- Add 2 tbsp of oil to a heavy based pan and fry the onions on a low heat until brown – up to 20 minutes. Blend together the ginger, garlic, chilli and 100ml of the coconut milk. The sauce in the pan should be a little more watery than a shop-bought curry paste. Add this to the onions with the rest of the spices and some more salt and pepper. Simmer gently for 10 minutes.
- Blend the rest of the coconut milk with almost all of the coriander (stalks and leaves). Leave some back for garnish. Add the blended milk to the cooking sauce along with 400ml of water. Bring to the boil and cook for 10 minutes. Add all of the meatballs and bring back to the boil. Cook for a final 20 minutes while you take care of the rice/noodles/naan. Add the tamarind and taste and adjust for seasoning.
Happy Fiesta Friday!