Momma always used to say “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what your gonna get.” Then she’d arrive to the table with a big bowl of spicy meatballs. ARRMMM!
If you can’t get hold of minced lamb, you can also use minced beef, chicken or turkey. For me, there’s no real substitute for lamb, but that’s just me. Momma also throws in some very finely chopped mint into the meatball mixture. A match made in heaven.
450g minced lamb from a good butcher
1 onion finely chopped
1cm root ginger peeled & finely chopped
2 garlic cloves peeled & crushed
1 fresh green chilli chopped
1 tbsp fresh coriander, finely chopped
1 tbsp fresh mint, finely chopped
1 free range egg, beaten
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
half tsp ground cinnamon
half tsp turmeric
450ml fresh milk
1 tbsp tomato puree
150g natural yogurt
salt to taste
bread/naan bread/rice to serve
In a large mixing bowl mix together the lamb, half the onion, ginger, garlic, chilli, mint, fresh coriander and egg. This is the fun part. Shape into sixteen small balls, which is easier to do with dampened hands. Fry in a pan with the butter, in batches until evenly browned. Drain any excess fat and fry remaining onion until lightly browned.
Add the spices and cook for a minute, before adding the milk and tomato puree. Bring to the boil and return the meatballs to the pan, simmer for about half an hour (leave the lid off if you want to reduce it down). Add the almonds and gradually stir in the yogurt without bringing to the boil, just warm it up, and then season to taste. Remove from heat and serve up with some fresh bread, naan bread or rice.
The wine match
This is a tricky enough wine match, as Asia food can often be because there is such a blend of spices. I think it sensible to go with a wine that can carry a little spice, a Viognier in white and a Syrah in red, or even better, a blend of both.
A light-medium bodied Rhône syrah or a cooler climate Australian Shiraz would work well, the Réserve de L’Abbé or the Last Stand rising to the task. Stepping up the scale, Langmeil’s Hangin’ Snakes has that fragrant dash of Viognier, and for a red of Barossa it’s actually quite Rhône in style.
For white wine, go for the full-bodied Dignité Viognier, which will marry with with the almond and should handle the spice fairly well (more on that here). If you want to be naughty and add lots of extra chilli, then the safe bet is beer.