Northern Indian Lamb Meatballs
Subtle and Sophisticated: Simmered in a silky tomato-based sauce, these delicate lamb meatballs have sweet prune centers. Indian flatbread and pickled carrots are, respectively, mild and mouthpuckering foils for the curry.
- 2 small garlic cloves
- 1 piece (1 inch) peeled fresh ginger, sliced
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 tablespoons plus 1 tablespoon ground coriander
- 1 can (8 ounces) plain tomato sauce
- 1 dried bay leaf
- Coarse salt
- 12 ounces ground lamb
- 1 cup fine fresh breadcrumbs
- 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 large egg
- 6 prunes, quartered
- 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
- Pickled vegetables, for serving
- Indian flatbread, for serving
Process garlic, ginger, and 1 1/2 teaspoons water in a food processor until a chunky paste forms; set aside.
Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Add onion; cook, stirring, until translucent, about 3 minutes. Set aside one quarter of onion in a large bowl.
Add 1 tablespoon garlic paste, 1/2 cup water, the turmeric, 1/2 teaspoon cayenne, and 2 tablespoons coriander to onion in skillet. Cook 3 minutes, stirring. Add tomato sauce, 1 1/2 cups water, and the bay leaf. Season with salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer.
Mix reserved onion, lamb, breadcrumbs, cilantro, egg, 1 teaspoon each garlic paste and salt, and remaining teaspoon coriander and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne. Divide into 24 pieces; roll into balls. Stuff each meatball with a prune quarter; roll to enclose.
Add meatballs to simmering sauce (add water if meatballs are not covered by sauce). Cook until sauce has thickened, about 40 minutes. Stir in garam masala.