Keftedes – moreish meatballs
As I bit into the meatball I got a taste of something fragrant, pungent even, slightly hot, savoury, aromatic. It seemed to tingle on my tongue. “Yes” said my Mum,” I put a clove of garlic in them.” This seemed as exotic and daring as if she had donned a Carmen Miranda hat and cha-cha-chaed round the sitting room. Hard to think that there was a time when pasta was only one shape – spaghetti in long blue paper packets – olive oil was in the medicine cabinet in a tiny bottle and garlic was a rare, foreign ingredient. Growing up in the 70′s in a working class family, that’s how it was. However, my Babcia (Polish grandmother) ate a raw a day – and the scent of it always formed an aromatic halo around her – so I’m not sure where she got it from in such quantity!
So that was my meatball memory and some sort of meatball seems to exist in all cuisines. Whether you call it a kofte, slider, rissole, frikadeller, polpette or hanbagu, few can resist a bite-sized morsel of spicy or seasoned ground meat. I’m not claiming that this is a particularly authentic Greek recipe but it’s one that everyone seems to like. I’ve called them keftedes as they are a similar shape and size to the ones my Mother-in-law makes to a recipe passed down by her Greek-Cypriot mother. Mine have a lot more spice. Sometimes I roll them into balls as cocktail meatballs as in the top image.
The easiest packed lunch is made of left-overs from the night before, as all you have to do is put a portion in a tub ready for the morning. I often make double the quantity of these keftedes and simmer half of the them in a tomato sauce to eat with rice or pasta for supper. A few in the lunchboxes, with some hummus or tahini, flat bread, salad and a wedge of fresh lemon make a very satisfying meal. You can freeze the rest for another quick supper or lunch.
1/2 tablespoon cumin seeds
1/2 tablespoon of sesame seeds
1/2 dried chilli (optional)
1 teaspoon sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
1/2 onion, chopped finely
2 tablespoons olive oil
500g minced lamb
1/2 bunch of parsley or mint leaves picked and chopped (optional)
- Gently toast the cumin seeds, sesame seeds and dried chilli in a dry non-stick or cast iron frying pan until they start to turn very light golden brown.
- Remove immediately to a bowl and mix with some sea salt, pepper, garlic and onion. Add about a tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and fry the onion mixture gently until the onion and garlic is soft and transparent.
- Return to the bowl and mix together with the lamb and parsley or mint if using. Shape into small, slightly flattened rounds (like a mini burger or large flat meatball).
- Add the rest of the oil to the pan and put over a medium heat. Fry the keftedes for about 2-3 minutes on each side. They should be cooked through but still slightly pink in the middle. Drain on kitchen paper and serve warm or cold.
UAE Saves Week 2013
I’m posting recipes and ideas that are great for packed lunches this week – some are already up on the Cashy.me site if you want to plan ahead. There are other non-food related, practical activities every single day, find out what’s on here and don’t forget to use #UAEsaves on your pics, posts and tweets.
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So do you have meatball memories to share? What’s your favourite way to eat a meatball? And is a vegetarian ‘meatball’ just all wrong?