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  • Writer's pictureSARAH


Today's mid-week recipes make use of #lamb #mince which can be used in a variety of ways to bring the flavours of the Levant and Middle East into your kitchen. 

Everyone has their own favourite shepherd's pie recipe so we wouldn't insult you by sharing ours (unless you insist!).   Instead we have gone for a couple of meatball recipes that vary slightly as one is served with a tomato sauce and one is served on a bed of #tahini Both meatball recipes can be shaped around skewers or made into sausage shapes for grilling over charcoal or on a griddle and both would be fabulous served alongside a salad with a lemony olive oil dressing and flatbreads with various dips as part of a relaxed #mezze meal. Both types of meatballs can be grilled, fried or baked in the oven and can be made ahead and frozen raw on an open baking sheet until firm then stored in sealed bags;  but please remember to tip them onto a baking sheet to thaw so they don't all clump together.  You can make the #meatballs up to 24 hours ahead and store them raw in the refrigerator and the tomato sauce based ones can be grilled, fried or baked and left to cool and then can be reheated in the sauce the next day . We have called the meatballs in tomato sauce by their Greek name '#Soutzoukakia' but you will find a similar recipe all over this part of the world, minus the red wine, as it is not used in Arabic countries.  If you would prefer not to use wine, you can soak the bread in chicken stock or water and use stock in the tomato sauce.

SOUTZOUKAKIA - Lamb meatballs in tomato sauce

Meatball ingredients:

500g lamb mince

2 cloves garlic finely grated

100g stale crustless white bread soaked in 1/2 glass red wine

1 large egg beaten

1/2 - 1 tsp cumin

1/2 - 1 tsp dried oregano

1/2 - 1 tsp cinnamon

salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

flour for dredging - optional

oil for frying - optional

Sauce ingredients: 3tbs olive oil

1 large onion finely chopped

1 clove garlic finely grated

5cm stick cinnamon

1tsp cumin

1tsp sugar

150ml red wine

1tbs tomato puree

500ml passata

salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Start by squeezing the bread dry, you can add any left-over wine to the sauce later, and tear the bread into small pieces.  Add the rest of the meatball ingredients and mix to combine gently.  Shape the mixture into 20-24 balls or ovals and dredge with flour before frying until golden brown all over.  If you wish to grill or bake the meatballs omit the flour as it will burn.

Sweat the onion in a medium lidded saucepan for about 10 minutes until soft, add the garlic, cinnamon, cumin, and sugar and stir to mix.  Add the red wine and bring the sauce to the boil.  Stir in the passata, tomato puree and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Simmer covered for 10-15 minutes then add the meatballs and continue to cook for a further 20-30 minutes until the meatballs are cooked through.  If you find the sauce is too thick you can let it down with a little boiling water.

Moroccan Lemon and Cardamom meatballs

Meatball ingredients:

1lb minced lamb

1 small red onion grated

2 cloves garlic grated

5cm cube fresh ginger grated

70g dry breadcrumbs

1 large egg beaten

1 handful fresh parsley, finely chopped

1 handful fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped

1 handful fresh mint leaves, finely chopped

zest of one large or two small lemons

80g pine nuts

salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1tsp ground cardamom

flour for dredging

oil for frying.

Tahini sauce 180g tahini powder

juice of one lemon


salt to taste

Heat the oven to 180c fan (200c without) gas mark 5-6.  Mix all the meatball ingredients together in a large bowl making sure it is well combined.  Do this gently as you don't want to compact the meat as it will make the meatballs hard. Shape the mixture into balls about the shape of a large marble/small walnut and then dredge in flour. Heat the oil in a heavy based frying pan and brown the meatballs in batches.  Once browned put the meatballs on an oven tray and cook in the pre-heated oven for about 15 minutes until cooked through.

While the lamb is cooking make the tahini sauce by blending the tahini with the lemon juice and adding enough water to make a thinish sauce and season with salt to taste.  Alternatively you can buy ready made tahini and thin it with a mixture of water and lemon juice.  Pour the sauce into a serving dish and add the meatballs.   Garnish with some toasted pine nuts, chopped parsley or coriander and a sprinkling of smoked paprika, sumac or red pepper flakes.

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