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Lamb Meatballs with Cilantro Raita

Use a gentle touch when shaping the meatballs. This prevents the meat from compacting and absorbing warmth from your hands, ensuring light and tender results. Keep a bowl of water nearby and wet your hands occasionally to form smooth meatballs. The uncooked meatballs may be refrigerated for up to 4 hours; remove them 15 minutes before cooking. They can also be frozen for up to 1 month; thaw in the refrigerator before cooking.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbs. olive oil, plus more for baking sheet
  • 1 small yellow onion, minced
  • 1 lb. ground lamb
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 Tbs. fine dried bread crumbs
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 Tbs. finely chopped fresh cilantro

Directions:

Shape the meatballs
Preheat a broiler. Lightly oil a rimmed baking sheet.

In a fry pan over medium-low heat, warm the 2 Tbs. olive oil. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 5 minutes.

Transfer the onion to a large bowl and add the lamb, eggs, parsley, bread crumbs, cumin, three-fourths of the garlic, 1 tsp. of the salt and the pepper. Using your hands, combine the ingredients. Form the mixture into walnut-sized balls, rolling them lightly between your palms. Place on the prepared baking sheet.

Cook the meatballs
Broil the meatballs, turning once, until brown and crispy, 8 to 10 minutes.

Make the raita
Meanwhile, in a small serving bowl, whisk together the yogurt, cilantro, remaining garlic and remaining 1/4 tsp. salt.

Spear each meatball with a toothpick, place on a platter and serve alongside the raita. Makes about 42 meatballs.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Food Made Fast Series, Small Plates, by Brigit L. Binns (Oxmoor House, 2007).