The reasons to love meatballs are easy. Little flavor bombs packed with ingredients to make them way more interesting to eat than the meat on its own. For the cook they’re easy to throw together, roll and brown in a bit of oil and difficult to overcook. And for eating, they’re tender, whether gobbled in one bite or cut up into small pieces and rolled around in extra sauce.
So what’s not to love? Oh and they can be made ahead – either the mixture, the formed balls or the entire cooked recipe. It is arguably better the next day, as the flavors have intensified. Which makes this a very suitable meal to deliver to someone in time of need as they travel and reheat easily too.
Another reason to love this recipe is the amount of flavor it gives in just a short amount of preparation and cooking time. The meatballs are a harmonious combination of little fiery chunks of fresh ginger and cool and spicy chopped cilantro. They’re simmered in a sauce with the predominant flavors of curry, ginger, tomato and coconut milk, a bit reminiscent of Indian butter chicken. If you have all the ingredients and you’re focused, you can have this on the table in less than an hour.
Cooked Israeli couscous gets my vote to sop up the extra sauce and make the meal a bit heartier. It cooks in about 10 minutes and is a bit more novel than basmati rice or traditional couscous. Cooked quinoa is a nice option too.
- 1 pound ground chicken thigh (breast can be used but I prefer thigh for flavor and texture)
- 1 egg
- ½ cup breadcrumbs
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon curry powder
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1 tablespoon chopped ginger
- 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
- 1 tablespoon curry powder
- 1-1/2 teaspoons cumin
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 15 ounce can crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 cup light (or regular) coconut milk
- 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste
- Mix together chicken, egg, breadcrumbs, cilantro, ginger, salt, curry and turmeric (mixture can be made ahead several hours and refrigerated). In the palm of your hands, roll into about 20 one-inch size meatballs (I find wetting my hands helps). Meatballs can be formed and refrigerated several hours ahead of cooking.
- Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat; add meatballs in a single layer, and cook until browned, turning several times (often lightly shaking the skillet can accomplish this), about 4 to 5 minutes. Remove meatballs from the skillet.
- If necessary, add additional 1 tablespoon of oil to the same skillet; add onion, ginger and garlic and cook and stir over medium heat until softened, 2 to 3 minutes; add curry powder, cumin and cayenne and stir; then add tomatoes, chicken broth, coconut milk, cilantro and salt stirring to mix evenly. Add meatballs to the sauce; bring to a simmer and adjust heat to low. Cover and cook until meatballs are cooked through and sauce is just slightly thickened, about 20 minutes.
- Serve over cooked Israeli couscous, quinoa, basmati rice or couscous.