Hot & spicy mutton meatballs

Call it what you will, this meatball veld fire with its powerful Indian flavours will bring tears of homesickness to the eyes of KZN citizens exiled elsewhere in this great Republic of ours. Here is great flavour, character-building chilli heat, and an easy cooking all-in-one splendid recipe.

To make red-hot spicy mutton meatballs for four chilli-loving diners, you will need:

  • 1kg freshly minced mutton or goat
  • 3 onions
  • 75mm fresh ginger root
  • 6 to 10 cloves garlic
  • 3 fresh red chillies
  • 2 cans tomatoes
  • 1 can tomato concentrate
  • 2 sprigs curry leaves
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 bunch fresh coriander/dhania

For the masala:

  • ½ tablespoon coriander/dhania seeds
  • ½ tablespoon cumin/jeera seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom/elachi pods
  • 25mm
  • cinnamon
  • bark
  • ½ teaspoon whole cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon ground paprika
  • 1 tablespoon chilli powder

We begin with the masala. In a clean, dry frying pan over medium heat, lightly toast the whole spices (cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, cumin and coriander). Toss these as they toast then remove at once when they become darker in colour. Allow to cool, then grind to powder and mix with the already ground turmeric, paprika and chilli powder.

Crush, peel and mince the garlic. While the quantities may at first seem startling, feel free to cut back to a minimum of three. Peel and thinly slice the onions. Chop the fresh chillies, discarding the pips to lower the capsicum heat if that is an issue for you. Peel, then grate the fresh ginger. Pour a little canola or sunflower oil into a heavy-based frying pan sufficient to cover the bottom, then bring this up to medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, chillies and ginger.

Stirring from time to time, let these cook until the onions are soft. Pour in the freshly ground and combined spices and stir them well into the mixture. Pour in the cans of tomato including the juice plus the single can of tomato concentrate, the curry leaf sprigs and the juice of one lemon. Reduce the heat to a simmer and let the mass cook, with an occasional stir, for 10 minutes, sufficient to slightly thicken the resultant tomato-coloured and highly spiced sauce.

On a work surface, knead the mince to compress it thoroughly to increase the density of the meat so as to prevent it falling apart during the cooking process. Again with your hands, roll the mince into tight 25mm balls. Pour a little canola or sunflower oil into a large frying pan, bring up to medium heat and fry the mince balls for four minutes. You may have to do this in batches. When the meatballs are done (check by cutting one in half), pour in the sauce.

Let the contents bubble away at a low simmer, stirring carefully to avoid breaking the meatballs. Salt to taste then serve over white rice lightly garnished with fresh coriander leaves. A couple of roti or pita breads make a pleasing alternative. Accompany the meal with mango pickle and a good peach chutney. This powerful emotional experience demands a very cold lager, either a Cobra from India or a Tiger from Singapore, both of which are almost as good as a Windhoek.

Contact David Basckin at [email protected]. Please state ‘Real cooking’ in the subject line of your email.