Thursday, April 24, 2014

Kerala Style Meatball Curry

When it comes to curries, I have a particular interest in recipes that come from the Southern part of India, especially Kerala.  If I had to give a reason, I think it is because those curries have a lot more heat in them, with the use of different chiles and peppers.  I have made three such curries in the past, Panni Ularthiyathu (a dry pork curry), Keralan Duck Curry, and Shrimp Masala.   I have enjoyed each of those dishes and, consequently, I keep a look out for other Keralan recipes.

A few weeks ago, I came across such a recipe.  It was not the chiles that caught my attention.  Instead, it was the protein.  I am used to making curries with lamb, pork, chicken, and duck.  I am even used to making curries with vegetables.  However, this curry called for meatballs.  The "word" meatball goes straight to my Italian heritage, growing up eating pasta and meatballs on a weekly basis and on holidays.  Meatballs in a curry sounded like a great idea.

The use of meatballs makes this recipe very versatile.  Most of the proteins I just mentioned -- lamb, chicken and pork -- either come ground or could be ground with a food processor.  For this particular dish, I decided to use ground turkey thighs, primarily because my beautiful Angel eats and enjoys turkey.  Thigh meat is definitely better for meatballs than breast meat because of the slightly higher fat content.  I bought pre-ground turkey from a local grocery store, which saved a lot of time by eliminating the need to de-bone and then mince the meat.  

When it came to cooking the meatballs, I chose the alternative of baking them.  This makes the dish healthier by eliminating the additional fact that would be added during the frying process.  Frying turkey meatballs requires some oil to avoid burning the meat.  Placing them in the oven helped to eliminate that part of the process and removed some of the grease from the final product.

In the end, this recipe was very delicious. It will go on the short list of recipes to make for the family and friends.  It will also go on my to-do list, because I definitely intend to make it again with other proteins (i.e., the ones that my Angel does not eat).  

Recipe from Vazhayila
Serves 4


1 pound of minced meat (chicken, beef, lamb or turkey)
2 cloves minced garlic minced
2 green chiles, finely chopped
2 whole cloves
1 bay leaf
1 star anise, crushed
Curry Leaves
1 teaspoon red chile powder
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 medium onions, chopped
1 teaspoon ginger-garlic paste or crushed
1 large tomato, chopped
1/4 teaspoon of garam masala
1 cup of coconut milk - 1 cup
1/2 hot water
Salt to taste
Cilantro (optional)

1.  Make the meatballs.  Combine minced meat, minced garlic, green chiles and salt.  Knead into a dough and make small balls with it.  Wet your hands when necessary so that the meat won't stick to your hands.  Keep the meatballs on a cookie sheet lined with parchment or foil in the refrigerator for about 20-30 minutes.  The meatballs can be fried in a little oil or, as an alternative, the meatballs can be baked for 20 to 30 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Saute the onions and spices.  Heat oil in a pan and add cloves, bay leaf, star anise and curry leaves.  Fry for one minute or two.  Add ginger/garlic paste and mix well. Add the chopped tomato and saute until the oil separates.

3.  Prepare the curry.  Make a paste with the red chile powder, coriander powder and turmeric powder by adding a little water to the mixture.  Add the paste to the pan and fry for a minute or two.  Mix hot water and 1 cup coconut milk.  Add the liquid mixture add to the pan. Sprinkle some garam masala and stir to combine the ingredients well.  When the gravy is really hot slide in meatballs, one by one, at a distance.  The meatballs should not be allowed to touch each other, so always use a wide mouthed pan while cooking this.  Simmer covered for 30-45 minutes. Uncover and simmer till gravy thickens.  Garnish with the chopped cliantro.


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