Lola and Finn's Mum

Lola and Finn's Mum

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Got Turkey Mince? Make Masala Meatballs

...and if you have chicken mince you could make them too. In fact, the original recipe by Neven Maguire calls for chicken mince but it isn't crucial to use it, as turkey also carries these Asian flavours well.

I think if there is any type of cuisine that Lola and Finn need convincing about, it is anything that has an Asian/Eastern influence about it and I can kind of understand that because the flavours I think call for a quite mature palate. I think once you get away from Korma or Passanda, feeding 'curry' (for want of a better term) gets more difficult as the flavours become more about spice and often heat, rather than unctuousness and delicate flavour. As is often the case, I did find myself letting this sauce out with cream for the children once I had served mine and Phill's, as this sauce packs quite a punch. It's tasty for sure but does possess more heat than you might expect. But, I like to introduce Lola and Finn to new flavours and despite the sizeable dollop of cream I placed in at the end of the cooking process, Lola and Finn were able to sample the tasty zinginess of this recipe. And it was meatballs after all. My kids love meatballs.

Obviously, this isn't just a kid thing. I am not a fan of curries that need to be served and eaten with something akin to asbestos gloves and a welding mask so should you decide to make this, and you should because it is lovely, then you may to be ready to tone things down at the end, either with cream or natural yoghurt, if heat isn't your thing. Or be restrained with the chillies; the original recipe said three, but I added two.

I changed the cooking of this recipe slightly in that I am not a fan of mince that hasn't been browned. I was concerned that the poaching of the meatballs in the sauce might make the look a bit insipid and unappetising, so once I had made them, I placed them in the oven initially to colour them before I put them into the sauce. As it is, the sauce is a rich colour which does seem to cling to the meatballs and so that 'greyness' of unbrowned meat wouldn't be so apparent.

Seasoning. I know too much salt is bad for you but eating unseasoned turkey mince is like eating damp cotton wool. You need to be prepared to put more than you might like, or expect, into the meatball mix for the meatballs to taste of anything.

Lastly, these meatballs are tasty little morsels should you get the seasoning right. I think these would be great little appetisers to serve with an Indian beer before getting down to a main course.

Masala Turkey Meatballs, adapted from Neven Maguire's recipe in 'Home Chef'

Serves Mum. Dad. Lola and Finn generously.


For the meatballs:

1lb chicken (I used turkey) mince
2 tsp freshly ground ginger
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 small onion, peeled, grated and squeezed dry
2 tbsp chopped coriander
salt and freshly ground pepper

For the sauce:

4 tbsp sunflower oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 whole cloves
1 bay leaf
2 onions, peeled and roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
1/4 pint passata
3 green chillies, deseeded and finely chopped (I used two and the sauce was hot)
2 tsp freshly grated root ginger
1 tsp garam masala
2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp tandoori masala powder (I left this out)
pinch of caster sugar

In addition, you might want some cream/natural yoghurt to temper the sauce to your taste, a squeeze of lemon to brighten the flavours of the sauce and some additional chopped coriander for garnish.


Mix the ingredients for the meatballs together thoroughly and add about a teaspoon of salt and a grinding of pepper. Heat a little oil in a frying pan (you may as well use the pan you're about to cook the sauce in!) and put a teaspoon of the mixture into the oil to cook. Once cooked, taste for seasoning. If it needs more, add more to the mix and repeat. Once you are happy with the taste form the mix into meatballs about the size of golfballs, or to your preference.

Cover the meatballs with cling film and refrigerate until required.

To make the sauce, heat the sunflower oil in a saucepan that will, eventually, be big enough to hold the meatballs in a single layer. Add the cumin, cloves and bay leaf to the oil, and when they start to sizzle and become fragrant, add the onion and garlic and cook on a low heat for about 10 minutes.

At this time, I placed my meatballs in a hot oven to colour, but it probably isn't necessary.

Once the onion and garlic mixture is looking translucent, increase the heat and cook the mixture until it is starting to brown slightly and looking a little dried out. At that point, add the passata, chillies, ginger, garam marsala and turmeric and then cook for a further 4 to 5 minutes.

Now add 12fl oz of boiling water, stir well and season with salt and pepper.

The original recipe now suggests blitzing the sauce with hand held blender to create a smooth sauce, but I didn't, being a fan of chunky, more textured sauces.

Bring the sauce to a simmer, then add the meatballs. Continue to cook on a low heat for about 20 - 30 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally in case the meatballs begin to catch on the bottom.

At this point sprinkle the sugar into the pan and stir a little. You might now want to raise the heat to thicken the sauce to the consistency you prefer.

Taste the sauce once you are happy with the thickness. It may need more seasoning, you might want to temper the heat with yoghurt/cream (as I did - a heaped tablespoon initially) and then brighten the sauce with a squeeze of lemon. At this point I served mine and Phill's portion and then added more cream for Lola and Finn's portions.

I served this over steamed rice with a sprinkling of chopped coriander.

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