Middle Eastern Beef and Lamb Meatballs
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Middle Eastern Meatballs

There is nothing quite like the sight (and indeed smell) of an overcrowded pan of meatballs and sauce to remind you that the simple pleasure in life are what it’s all about. These gently spiced meatballs and aromatic sauce take inspiration from the warming, fragrant flavours of Middle Eastern cuisine. 

If you are unsure about the addition of apricots and pomegranate seeds then I urge you to drop your prejudice and give it a try. The sweet/savouriness of this sauce perfectly balances  the red meat, reminiscent of the flavours of a Moroccan tagine. Serve this beautiful dish with a bowl of fluffy, steaming couscous, cooling tzatziki and pitta bread or my 2 Ingredient Flatbread if you want a double dose of carb which will of course allow you to mop up the very last of the sauce. 

If you can’t get hold of Ras El Hanout then simply replace it with a blend of equal parts paprika, coriander and ginger. 

Middle Eastern Meatballs

Middle Eastern Meatballs

5 from 1 vote
Course: DinnerCuisine: Middle EasternDifficulty: Easy
Servings

4

servings
Prep time

15

minutes
Cooking time

40

minutes

The sweet/savouriness of this sauce perfectly balances  the red meat, reminiscent of the flavours of a Moroccan tagine.

Ingredients

  • Meatballs
  • 250 g lamb mince

  • 150 g lean beef mince

  • 1 small red onion, peeled and finely grated

  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely grated

  • 1 tsp Ras El Hanout powder

  • 1 pinch dried chilli flakes

  • 1 large handful parsley, chopped

  • 1 large handful mint, leaves hopped

  • 1 tsp sea salt flakes

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil, for frying

  • Sauce
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

  • 1 large onion, finely chopped

  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

  • 2 tbsp harissa or chipotle paste

  • 1 tsp cumin powder

  • 2 400g tins peeled plum tomatoes

  • 50 g dried apricots, chopped

  • 1 tbsp za’atar, to garnish

  • 1 handful fresh parsley, to garnish

  • 80 g pomegranate seeds, to garnish

Directions

  • Meatballs
  • To make the meatballs, add all of the meatball ingredients to a large bowl and mix well until fully combined. Shape the mix into golf ball-sized meatball and set aside on a plate or tray. 
  • Place a large frying pan on a medium heat and add the oil. Once the oil is hot, add the meatballs and fry till browned on all sides – keep turning. You may need to do this in batches if you don’t have a pan big enough to stop them from sweating and in turn, not browning. 
  • Transfer to a plate and put aside whilst you get on with the sauce. 
  • Sauce
  • To the same pan, add 2 tbsp olive oil the chopped onion with a pinch of salt. Cook over a low/ medium heat for 15 minutes or until the onions have completely softened but not browned – keep stirring. Add the garlic, harissa/ chipotle paste and cumin powder and cook for 1 minute, stirring so that it doesn’t catch and burn. 
  • Tip in the tomatoes, along with a tin of water and the dried apricots. Break up the tomatoes with the back of a wooden spoon and simmer for 15 minutes. See recipe notes for “sauce consistency”.
  • Add the meatballs to the sauce, stir and simmer for a further 15 minutes or until nicely thickened and the tomatoes have lost some of their acidity and sweetened. Check for seasoning and add salt accordingly. 
  • Scatter over the za’atar, fresh parsley and pomegranate seeds to garnish. Serve with couscous, tzatziki and pitta bread. 

Notes

  • If you prefer a smooth tomato sauce then blitz the tinned tomatoes in a food processor before adding them to the pan. I usually prefer a chunkier sauce but in the case of meatballs, I think a smooth sauce works really nicely. It is of course, completely up to you and your own preferences. I would urge you to start with high quality, whole tinned tomatoes though if possible, as opposed to the more watery pre-chopped variety.

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