Curried meatballs with cumin and cinnamon rice

I’ve not been very consistent with my posts this past few months. We’re winding into gear now. No really we are. We’ve got a timetable of post-school activities on the fridge. That is most definitely the green light, the go go go for routine and structure.

It doesn’t mean I’ve not been experimenting and trying out new recipes. In fact I’ve enjoyed not thinking too hard about it all and leaving the notepad and pen to one side for a while.

This week’s post features a fabulous Indian dish. I like the dry warmth of spices in this one, it’s lively but not powerful enough to take your breath away. In fact although spiced, this dish is rather fragrant and light.

Curried meatballs_1

It works well with both lamb and turkey. I’m just not a big meat eater personally and enjoy the lighter, leaner turkey version. To make enough for 4 people you will need:

For the meatballs:

  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped finely
  • 500g turkey mince or lamb mince
  • 1 teaspoon of garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon of hot chilli / regular chilli powder
  • 2 birds eye chillies, chopped finely
  • 1 large egg

For the rice:

  • A little coconut oil
  • 1 large white onion
  • 4 teaspoons of cumin seeds
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 200 grams basmati rice (white or brown)
  • 450 ml water

Serve with:

  • A handful of fresh coriander
  • A good squeeze of lime
  • 1 ripe sliced mango, natural yoghurt with chopped mint

To make, you’ll need around 45 minutes in total.

  1. In a large bowl combine the meatball ingredients and season.
  2. Wet your hands, then shape between 12 and 20 meatballs depending on preferred size.
  3. Cover and place in fridge till you need, or at least for a few minutes to settle.
  4. On a medium heat fry the meatballs in a pan till completely sealed with a brown finish.
  5. Leave to one side until you’ve completed step 8. At this point place in oven for 20 minutes on 150 degrees Celsius.
  6. To make the rice fry the onion in a frying pan till really soft – give this at least 10 minutes.
  7. Add the cumin for 5 minutes before adding the bay leaves, cinnamon, water and rice.
  8. Bring to the boil, then drop the heat low and pop the lid on.
  9. Keep on the heat till the water is absorbed and the rice is steamed, soft and tender. This should take 20 minutes, but you need to test, potentially adding a little water too. Keep an eye on the process for the last 5 minutes.
  10. When the rice and meatballs are ready, remove the bay leaves and cinnamon. Plate up with a generous squeeze of lime, some sliced mango, plenty of fresh coriander and a dollop of minted yoghurt.

Curried meatballs_2

It’s making me hungry just typing this.

Try it – it’s truly delicious


Majestic Masala

This is a sublime curry. Defined by its subtle layering of spices, this dish is perfect for a Saturday night in. Even better when there’s enough left to develop, savoured as a heartwarming Monday supper.

Masala with lamb_4

Masala with chickpea and spinach_5

My husband first learnt this one on a cookery course with Prett Tejura back in England. (more on Prett’s cookery school). To achieve the carefully balanced layers it’s important to source good spices, measure the ingredients correctly and follow the method carefully.

We tend to make the sauce a day or so in advance. That’s not a must – but having tried both ways, I think there’s a greater depth of flavour when the curry is made in advance.

To make enough masala for 2 people (with lots of seconds for another day) or a generous meal for 4, you will need:

• 2 medium white onions finely chopped
• 4 tbsp sunflower oil (There are more notes about cooking oil at the bottom of this post)
• 5cm stick of cinnamon
• 8 cloves
• 1 tsp coriander powder
• 1 tsp cumin powder
• 2 tsp garam masala
• 1 tsp turmeric powder
• ½ tsp red chilli powder
• 3 tsp crushed garlic
• 2 tsp crushed fresh ginger
• 2 tsp chopped green chillies (the smaller ones pack a better punch)
• 1 can of chopped tomatoes
• 2 tsp salt (to your taste)
• Generous handful chopped coriander
• Meat or vegetables to add to the Masala sauce (see how we do it below)

Making the masala

1. Place the oil in a cooking pan and heat, add cloves and cinnamon until they sizzle.
2. Add the onions and cook until they turn golden on a medium heat, stirring occasionally. It’s important to take your time over this stage. It should take around 10 minutes for the onions to soften and cook.
3. Add the remaining dry spices. If the pan gets sticky just add a little water. Don’t rush, this is where the spices and onions gently mellow and infuse. It’s how the layering of flavours develop for the end dish.
4. Add the chopped tomatoes, garlic, ginger and green chillies. Add more green chilli if you prefer it hotter (we do add another teaspoon).
5. Simmer for 5-10 minutes with the lid on. The masala will be ready when the oil appears on the surface.

Finishing the dish

This is a classic example of how we do things two ways here. We make the curry sauce then divide in half.

Version 1 – We add (around 350g) chopped shoulder of lamb and a little water to the sauce, before slowly cooking for around an hour. Chicken would work well too, reducing cooking time also.

Masala with lamb

Version 2 (my dish) – I add chickpeas (soaked overnight and cooked in water), spinach and a little water to the other half, before heating for 20 minutes. This half is mine to enjoy with brown basmati.

Masala with chickpea and spinach

The optional (but pretty delicious) extras

Boiled brown basmati:
Make sure you wash your basmati thoroughly and cover in cold water for 30 minutes before you cook. Add boiling water and salt and cook without the rice soaking up all the water. It’s ready when you can squeeze the grains. Try adding a clove, a cinnamon stick and a wedge of lime to this rice to liven it up.

Minted yoghurt:
We just use simple natural yoghurt, then add chopped fresh mint and a squeeze of lime.

Mango chutney:
Have a look at my homemade clean eating mango chutney recipe. It’s fresh fruity flavour compliments, rather than overpowers the curry. It’s more natural than anything you can by in a jar.


This Magestic Masala is a sumptous weekend treat.  I hope you get time to make this one soon.

Before I go, here’s a few words on cooking oils.

A mini guide to cooking oils

There is so much conflict on what oils are good/clean and what should be avoided. For every view in one direction, there’s a contradiction in the other. Here’s a little guide that might help you when choosing oils for cooking and salads.

First up, coconut oil

I use a lot of coconut oil on this blog. That isn’t a must, but it’s been highly advocated recently and I simply enjoying cooking with it.

Once coconut oil was a massive no no due to its high saturated fat content. However now there is recognition that some saturated fat is good for us. The composition of the medium fatty acids are broken down fast by our bodies and therefore rarely stored as fat, but burned off instead.

A guide to what oil and when

You need to consider what you’re making as to what oil you need. This means:

1. Consider the temperature you need it. High smoke point oils are best for cooking (olive oil is actually best used without heat or used at lower temperatures).

2. Consider the flavour. Please don’t use olive oil for Indian cooking. It’s derived from olives – not suitable for the delicate aromatic spices we lovingly add to our pan. Equally if using coconut oil, look for a mild flavour variety to avoid this overpowering your meal.

3. Source well. Typically the better the oil the less processing involved. You want to avoid any label that alludes to genetic engineering.

4. Use oil sparingly if at all. Don’t be afraid of just skipping the oil. Break the habit and try roasting vegetables on their own or having a salad without a dressing. I rarely use oil through the week – meaning a little sunflower oil on a Saturday night is no bad thing. Balance doesn’t just exist in one meal, it’s the whole 7 day week, the month, and onwards.

Specific oils

Great for cooking:
High smoke point oils – coconut oil, avocado oil and almond oil

Great for cold dishes:
Try cold pressed extra virgin olive oil, unrefined safflower oil, unrefined walnut oil and unrefined sunflower oil

Steer clear:
Avoid cooking with anything with hydrogenated in the label. This includes palm oil (highly processed) and vegetable oil. The process to make this is so unnatural and so far from vegetables as we know them.

The most important final word on oils:


I hope this helps x