Friday, 16 March 2012

Mint and Mustard Meatballs (they're green!)

Cumin Mustard Meatballs with Mint Pesto

It's St Patrick's Day tomorrow, i.e. a day to get merry and celebrate all things Irish and green! I unfortunately don't have anything remarkably Irish to share. I remember making shepherd's pie last year, but even then, I added lots of masala spices and called it Indian shepherd's pie, a bastardisation yes, but still one of my most triumphant recipes. I do have something green though. And involving lamb. And a bit of an alliteration.

Cumin Mustard Meatballs
300g free-range minced lamb
1 small onion, minced
1 heaped tbsp dijon mustard
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp gram flour (i.e. chickpea flour)
generous grind of unrefined sea salt and black pepper
a little ghee (or olive oil)

1. Combine ingredients together, and mix till it forms a paste. Roll into little walnut-sized balls with wet hands.
2. Fry in ghee on a medium-hot pan, making sure to get a nice sear and caramelisation on the outside, then lower the heat, flipping/rolling the meatballs as they cook. If you don't want to give them so much attention, you can probably also chuck them into the oven for 15-20 min at 200 degrees celsius.

Mint Pesto (no cheese)
2 large handfuls of mint leaves
1 small handful of toasted almonds (or pine nuts, more expensive)
2 cloves garlic
generous pinch of unrefined sea salt, freshly ground black pepper
your favourite extra virgin olive oil
squeeze of lemon

1. Combine all the ingredients except lemon in the food processor, adding the evoo as you g, enough to make a smooth paste. Finish with a squeeze of lemon. You can also do it by hand if you're enthusiastic.
2. This will keep in the fridge for a couple of days if submerged under oil, and is brilliant to dress salads or goat's cheese or as the finishing touch to soups/pastas/risotto or just with good bread.

I know they aren't perfectly and beautifully spherical, but they don't have to be; they're rough and homemade and yummy anyway. These aren't the traditional Italian meatballs that everyone associates meatballs with, made with eggs and breadcrumbs and slowly simmered in tomato sauce; think Indian kofta meatballs, bound instead with chickpea flour and with a hint of aromatic cumin. Cumin and mint go really well together, I first tried this combination with fresh peas; it was a total revelation, and I now find it almost natural to reach for cumin when I use mint. I really liked the tangy heat that mustard added, so now I may just add that to the equation too!

Happy St Patrick's Day, and Happy Mothering Sunday too (in Singapore we celebrate Mother's Day in May, but hello mummy anyway if you're reading this) !


  1. Cumin is one of my favourite spices. I love the idea of these served with pesto.

  2. Yum, yum, yum, yum, yum! I love mint sauces with meatballs! This looks really delicious and your photo compositions are amazing! Definitely inspiring!

  3. You have an Indianised recipe again this year. With tikka masala as your (British!) national dish your recipes will go down well.

  4. This is something new! i can't really imagine how it'll taste like but the pictures do justice :)

  5. Lovely rustic meatballs. I think they look very nice and my kind of thing!

  6. Ohhh this is just lovely! Cumin and mustard in meatballs - I need to try that. I love those flavor in the meat. And minto pesto? How refreshing! Very creative and I love you posted something green. :-)

  7. These look delicious - definitely going to add the ingredients to my shopping list this weekend ;0)

  8. Ohhh... this looks really inviting.
    My mint is growing like crazy in my garden.
    I should get some minced lamb ASAP!

  9. ah yeah green meatballs!! Cant wait to try your recipe Shu han, looks very delicious. Bastardization of the sheperds pie. lol u r mean with your creativity. ;)

  10. I love this kind of green! Looks quite delicious and very unique! Happy St. Patty's Day!

  11. Echoing what someone else said, but I just love the idea of serving these with pesto - ... why didn't I think of that before? :) It's difficult to get minced lamb here alas... same for minced pork - the Frenchies don't seem to go in for that so much it seems - I'd have to try it with beef I think. Not quite the same but I could still enjoy the general spicey flavours. They look really nice, and I agree - rustic roundness is better than "super spheres" any day :)

  12. corina: cumin, cardamom, cinnamon. I can't pick. I love them.

    shobha: thank you!

    daisy: thanks!

    three-cookies: I didn't even realise it was indian-ised again..I love spices.

    yuhan: thanks! very pleased to hear that from a brilliant photographer (:

    dom: thanks dom! hur hur 'rustic' is such a nice convenient word isnt it.

    nami: thanks nami! It's a sneaky bit of green (:

    little macaroon: oh that's great! lmk if you make it!

    wendy: you are so lucky to have an overflowing mint garden! our herbs are just starting to grow now. basil looks very happy, and coriander (:

    helen: hehe. unfortunately.

    farine: happy st patty's day (:

    charles: I'm sure it would work lovely with beef! I'm surprised it's hard to get lamb, and more so, pork in france! i would have thought the french would be into pork definitely. seems like you have to work with a lot of limitations in france ): kudos to all your creativity!

  13. The balls look fantastic and I love the bright green mint pesto. I wouldn't have minded celebrating St Patrick's day with such a lovely dish.

  14. These sound heavenly - I prefer them to look a little rustic! Beautiful green pesto.

  15. These little meatballs look wonderful - love the flavour of cumin, and I can imagine that this is fabulous with the mint pesto. I need to try these.
    Sue :-)

  16. These meatballs look so golden brown and delicious! The mint pesto just makes it better.

  17. WOW - these look flipping marvellous!!! Thanks for popping by my site.

  18. You are so clever adding mint into pesto! Got to try out this new flavour combo!

  19. I love lamb meatballs and what a great idea using mint - perfect!!
    mARY X

  20. I have t admit that i prefer my meatballs to be rough and ready rather than suspiciously spherical! The dish looks great, and it's a lovely twist on the traditional lamb and mint combo

  21. Great recipe, mustard, mint, lamb is an always winner
    I just link you back your recipe in my Spanish meatballs post, Regards,

  22. sissi: aw, thanks sissi!

    hazel: beauty in imperfection (:

    sue: I love cumin! it's one of my favourite, must-have spices around!

    kyleen: mint just goes so well with lamb(:

    james: thanks!!

    zoe: haha you can add any of your favourite herbs into pesto, mint just goes really well with lamb I feel!

    mary: thanks!

    the grubworm: LOL "suspiciously spherical."

    german: aw, I'm pleased and honoured you linked my recipe up! I'll go take a look at your spanish meatballs, gosh they sound delicious already.

  23. wow this looks really unique for a meatball recipe! never thought of mint and meatballs!

  24. Wow, I bet these pack a punch! Yummy! Bookmarked!