Hi. Can we get on the same page about something? Sometimes I just want to post a recipe, with the implied imperative: you should make this! Sometimes there isn’t much else to say. Cool?
(Okay, but I will say that making your own pita to serve with this is fun. I got a real thrill out of watching them puff up like this, and then deflate. Delicious.)
Chile-Cumin Lamb Meatballs with Yogurt and Cucumber (recipe adapted (to simplify) from Seamus Mullen via Bon Appetit)
- 3 pasilla chiles, seeds removed, chopped
- 1½ teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
- ¼ cup Sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sweet smoked paprika
- 1 garlic clove, chopped
- ½ cup olive oil
- Kosher salt
Meatballs and Assembly
- ¼ small onion, chopped
- 8 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley (plus extra for garnish)
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano (or 1/2 teaspoon dry)
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage
- ¾ teaspoon fennel seeds
- ¾ teaspoon ground coriander
- ¾ teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more
- 1 large egg
- 1¼ pounds ground lamb
- 1 tablespoon rice flour or all-purpose flour
- 2–3 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ English hothouse cucumber, thinly sliced and tossed with some lemon juice, olive oil, and salt
- ½ cup plain sheep’s-milk or cow’s whole-milk yogurt (I like to add some salt and a minced clove of garlic to the yogurt)
- Crushed red pepper flakes
Toast chiles, red pepper flakes, and cumin seeds in a dry small skillet over medium heat, tossing occasionally, until fragrant and cumin seeds are golden, about 3 minutes. Let cool. Working in batches, finely grind in a spice mill, then transfer to a blender.
Add vinegar, paprika, and garlic to blender and blend until smooth. With the motor running, gradually stream in oil and blend until combined. Transfer to a large bowl and season with salt.
Chile sauce can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and chill.
Meatballs and Assembly
Pulse onion, chopped garlic, parsley, oregano, sage, fennel seeds, coriander, cumin, and 1 tablespoon salt in a food processor, scraping down sides as needed, until finely chopped. Add egg, lamb, and flour and pulse until evenly combined. Form lamb mixture into 1 ½” balls.
Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Working in 2 batches and adding another 1 Tbsp. oil to skillet if needed, cook meatballs, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides and cooked through, 5–8 minutes. Transfer meatballs to paper towels to drain.
Transfer all meatballs to bowl with chile sauce and toss to coat.
Spoon yogurt into bowls. Evenly divide meatballs among bowls; top with dressed cucumber and parsley and sprinkle with red pepper flakes.
This becomes a meal if you serve it with some pita, and maybe a bowl of hummus.
J.S. @ Sun Diego Eats says:
May 22nd, 2015 at 12:38 pm
SO SAUCY. I love all the vinegar in the sauce too. Did not realize how magical vinegar could make sauces until trying chicken adobo.
May 22nd, 2015 at 12:50 pm
Those meatballs look DIVINE!
May 22nd, 2015 at 2:23 pm
They look delicious!
May 22nd, 2015 at 5:04 pm
Totally on the same page. Don’t let the lack of a narrative prevent you from posting. I’m here for the food! (But I do appreciate the thoughtful writing, too.)
May 25th, 2015 at 9:46 am
I’d love to make these, but my local lamb provider only sells lamb in 1 lb packages. Any recommended tweaks if I only have 1 lb of lamb?
May 25th, 2015 at 8:32 pm
totally cool. eager to try this. I fell in love with dinner and a love story’s lamb meatballs or keftas or whatever she called them, and this looks like an awesome new option in the spicy herb-y middle eastern inspired meat theme.
May 26th, 2015 at 4:16 pm
Hi Meghan- Just wing it! They’re meatballs, you won’t go too wrong. Even if you kept the rest of the ingredients as is, you’d be fine.
May 27th, 2015 at 5:43 am
Delish. Perfect combination of delicious stuff.
May 31st, 2015 at 9:36 pm
can’t wait to make these for Sabbath dinner this week, to celebrate the last week of school! Shiv’s become an expert at flipping tortillas, but we’ve never done pita, so that should be a good adventure. xx
June 3rd, 2015 at 2:23 pm
Hi! How many does this recipe serve? Just invited 9 people for dinner with the intention of going nuts with this and would love guidance on portions. Thanks! Love your blog :)
June 3rd, 2015 at 2:36 pm
Hi Lauren- I never know how to talk about servings. It depends? For Bryan and I, this recipe made 4 servings. We ate it with pita and some hummus. I would probably say it is 4 lunch servings, or light dinner servings. If I were having 9 people for dinner I would double the recipe, and serve it with pita, rice, hummus (or another spread), and some salad (like a Jerusalem salad).
June 9th, 2015 at 11:51 am
I stumbled upon this blog yesterday and HAD to make these meatballs last night. They were amazing! Didn’t have it in me to make the pita myself, but it was so good. Will need to fit this into a more regular rotation.
June 14th, 2015 at 4:22 am
I absolutely LOVED this! I made it with a mix of veal and beef because I just didn’t have access to ground lamb and they were outrageously delicious! I loved the tang in that pasilla chile sauce. Thanks for sharing =)
June 23rd, 2015 at 8:14 pm
This is a very saucy recipe! I personally love the chile sauce! But everything about this is perfect! The meatball looks really great and the cucumber is a great addition to the recipe. Love it!
June 26th, 2015 at 6:50 pm
I made this tonight and it was a show-stopper. I know it’s obnoxious to post a list of things I left out/exchanged but in case it’s helpful to others: I couldn’t find pasilla chiles so I used 2 anchos, I didn’t have cumin seeds so I used ground cumin and didn’t toast it, and I didn’t have sage or fresh parsley so I just left it out. It was amazing like this and I bet it would only be more amazing with all the fresh herbs!