If there's one dish that warms me right up on a cold night, it's a giant bowl of meatballs. And, sure, I'm always a fan of your traditional Italian meatballs. A big pile of saucy meatballs on top of comforting pasta is my kind of food, but I also love a unique meatball like these curried feta-lamb meatballs simmered in a spiced tomato sauce. If you've always been more of a traditional Italian meatball kind of person, it's time to expand your world view.
My inspiration for these lamb meatballs came by combining a couple cravings. One evening, Matt was in the mood for meatballs while I wanted a comforting meal with warm, rich spices --- some kind of Indian recipe was calling to me. Naturally, I settled on a fusion dish as I love to do in these situations.
I had been wanting to put my own spin on a feta-lamb meatball, so settling on that part of the meal was easy. But then it came down to the sauce. I could have gone for more of a curry sauce, which I’m sure would have been delicious. But Matt had more of an Italian meatball in mind, so I decided on a tomato sauce but spiced it to give it more of a curry vibe.
And just like that, these feta-lamb meatballs in a spiced tomato sauce were born, and both of us were plenty happy with the results.
Best of all, these meatballs sound impressive, but they’re simple to make. Let’s get to it.
Meatballs typically include some sort of bread crumb to help bind the mixture. Sometimes I use panko crumbs, but I usually prefer white sandwich bread cut into small pieces for a softer bite, which we use in this recipe.
For an extra moisture boost, we first make a panade by soaking the soft bread crumbs in cream or milk. I find the cream is a touch more luxurious, but milk is just fine and the more traditional ingredient if you prefer that route. The bread crumbs don't need to soak long —- about 10 minutes will do.
While the panade soaks, we stir together feta, curry powder, cumin, fresh parsley, salt, pepper, a beaten egg, chopped onion and garlic and pour the mixture over the ground lamb. I like to mix the feta, egg and seasonings together first because we want to handle the ground lamb as little as possible to avoid tough meatballs. By having everything in a cohesive mixture, we minimize how much we have to handle the lamb.
Now we add the panade and mix just until everything combines and roll the lamb into meatballs. To cook, I like to bake these lamb meatballs in a hot oven, which gives them a nice crust, but you could pan fry them in oil.
As the lamb meatballs bake, we start on the spiced tomato sauce. First, we cook chopped onions and then toast garlic with cumin, turmeric, coriander, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and allspice. From here, we throw in tomato paste with some fish sauce for a nice umami kick along with a can of crushed tomatoes and finish off the dish with a squeeze of lime juice for brightness and a handful of fresh parsley.
How to Serve
My favorite way to serve these curried feta-lamb meatballs is over a bed of fluffy white rice. The spicy tomato sauce absorbs into the rice, so every bite is full of flavor.
That said, these meatballs are also delicious as an appetizer. If you'd like to serve as an appetizer, you can transfer the meatballs with sauce to a slow cooker and set to warm. You can also keep them warm in a buffet server. I served these curried feta-lamb meatballs at our annual New Year’s Eve party, and everyone gobbled them up, so I can confirm these lamb meatballs are a crowd-pleaser.
With the spicy kick and acidic tomatoes, I love a refreshing saison with these curried lamb meatballs. Saisons typically have a touch of cloves, which works well with all the spices in the dish, and the touch of citrus is lovely with the tomatoes and balances the acidity. We also get plenty of bubbles with saisons, so it's a great palate cleanser.
When it comes to wine, a sparkling rosé is a delicious option. Those fruity flavors offer the perfect contrast to the spice while the carbonation leaves your tongue refreshed and ready to dig into the next bite.
I hope you make these comforting curried feta-lamb meatballs. Whether you serve these lamb meatballs as an appetizer or your main course, I have no doubt you'll love them.
Don't You Love Comfort Food?
- Caramelized onion polenta with blue cheese sauce
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- The best coq au vin
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Curried Feta-Lamb Meatballs in a Spiced Tomato Sauce
Curried Feta-Lamb Meatballs
- ½ cup white sandwich bread crusts removed, cut into ½-inch pieces
- ½ cup heavy cream or milk
- 1 egg
- 2 garlic cloves grated
- ½ cup feta crumbled
- ½ cup grated onions
- ¼ cup fresh parsley chopped
- 1 tablespoon curry powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 1 pound ground lamb
Spiced Tomato Sauce
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ cup onions chopped
- 3 garlic cloves grated
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon coriander
- 1 teaspoon cayenne
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ginger
- ¼ teaspoon cloves
- ¼ teaspoon allspice
- 1 (28)-ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 1 (6)-ounce can tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- Salt to taste
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley chopped
- 1 lime juiced
Curried Feta-Lamb Meatballs
- Heat oven to 450 degrees. To prepare the meatballs, soak the bread crumbs in heavy cream or milk in a small bowl. Let sit for 10 minutes. As the bread crumbs sit, prepare the other ingredients.
- Whisk the egg in a mixing bowl. Once beaten, whisk in the garlic cloves, feta, onions, parsley, curry powder, cumin, salt and pepper. Drain the excessive cream or milk from the breadcrumbs and whisk into the egg mixture so that it's all combined.
- Add the lamb to the egg mixture. Lightly oil your hands and gently mix the egg mixture into the ground lamb. Stop once it's all combined to avoid excessively handling the lamb. Form into golf ball-size meatballs and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes.
Spiced Tomato Sauce
- For the sauce, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add chopped onions and cook until softened, about four or five minutes.
- As the onions cook, stir together the spices. Once the onions softened, add the spice mixture and garlic and cook for about 30 seconds, constantly stirring.
- Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste and fish sauce. Scrape the bottom of the pan to stir up the spices. Bring to a simmer.
- When the meatballs finish baking, gently add them to the sauce and simmer for about five to 10 minutes. Add salt to the sauce as needed along with the fresh parsley and lime juice. Turn off heat and serve. Enjoy!
- I typically serve these curried feta-lamb meatballs as a main dish over rice, but I've also served them as appetizers, and it works well.
- Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.