Middle Eastern Lamb Meatballs with Cilantro Mint Sauce

Posted on by on September 7th, 2011 | 27 Comments »

It’s easy to gravitate toward the foods that you have known the longest, become accustomed to and like the most. It’s an easy rut to get into even if you are cooking and eating different things every night. It is however, more difficult to try and bring new flavors and dishes into your every day life other then the occasional ‘ethnic’ dinner menu. I have noticed that I haven’t been cooking too often with the flavors of my new home in the Middle East. Which is crazy since there are so many amazing flavors and ingredients to be found in the cooking here. I walk into a spice store and have sensory overload with all of the smells and beautiful colors of the spices. They sit in large bins all lined up so nicely. I want to buy everything but don’t know what half the spices I am looking at even are, and so I opt to pass them by. I sometimes look over strange looking vegetables, meats and fruits in the shuk and head to things I know and like. And though some of the new spices I find or vegetables that I see make it into my recipes, I feel as though I need to embrace Middle Eastern flavors, foods and cooking techniques more often.

When I make meatballs I absolutely, without fail, make the turkey date meatballs that Katherine over at her blog posted awhile back. And because I love them so much it took a lot for me to go and try something new. Though her meatballs will always be on the top of my list when it comes to meatball recipes, these Middle Eastern lamb meatballs are now up there too. Bursting with flavors like cumin, coriander and ras el hanout and specked with fresh mint, its hard not to love these. Make the dipping sauce with these, they bring an added layer of flavor, making the meatballs really pop.


For Dipping Sauce

1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon hot paprika
1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/3 cup fresh mint, chopped
1/2 Greek yogurt
2 green onions
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon sugar

For Meatballs

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, minced
6 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup panko
1 tablespoon buttermilk
1 jalapeno chili, minced
4 tablespoons Greek yogurt
1 1/4 pound ground lamb
1 egg
1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon ras el hanout


For Dipping Sauce

Toast all seeds in a small skillet until aromatic and darker in color, stirring often
Let seeds cool and then grind in a mortar and pestle or a spice mill.
Place all other ingredients into a blender with 1 teaspoon of the ground seeds.
Blend until a smooth sauce forms.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Cover dipping sauce and chill.
Reserve the remaining ground seeds for the meatballs.

For Meatballs

Preheat oven to 400F and grease a baking sheet.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and saute onions and garlic until soft.
Set onion and garlic mixture aside to cool.
In a food processor combine cooled onion mixture, panko, buttermilk, jalapeno, yogurt and reserved ground seeds.
Process until a course puree forms.
Transfer mixture to a mixing bowl and add lamb, egg, mint, salt, pepper and ras el hanout and combine.
With wet hands form mixture into meatballs and place on greased baking sheet.
Bake meatballs for 20-30 minutes, turning once, until browned and cooked through.
Serve meatballs with dipping sauce.




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  1. Posted on: 9-7-2011

    It’s the first time in my life I see meatballs made of lamb… so unusual! And so interesting! And the dip?! Uhmmmmmm 🙂

    • BethMichelle
      Posted on: 9-8-2011

      This was the first time I made meatballs with lamb. They turned out really great!

  2. Posted on: 9-7-2011

    Funny I have had lamb on the brain today, so this recipe is perfect timing. I have saved this recipe. You have inspired me to be more worldly when it comes to cooking, there is such great flavors and spices out there.

    • BethMichelle
      Posted on: 9-8-2011

      Thanks Tina! There are so many great flavors out there to embrace, Im glad I inspired you!

  3. Posted on: 9-7-2011

    Oh wow, these look good! I’ve saved to my recipe box, it’s a dish my whole family would enjoy.

    • BethMichelle
      Posted on: 9-8-2011

      Thanks Carolyn, I hope you enjoy them as much as we did!

  4. Posted on: 9-7-2011

    Yummm these look so good!! The mint sauce is amazing. I know I can’t stop making those turkey meatballs! This week I strayed too and made regular beef meatballs 🙂 Where did you get ground lamb??

    • BethMichelle
      Posted on: 9-8-2011

      Look at us both straying from the turkey date meatballs! I got the lamb at Mega!!!

  5. Posted on: 9-8-2011

    I have my own recipe of meatballs, but I have to say your sauce looks just delicious and I must give it a try next time I make lamb meatballs. Thanks. 😉

    • BethMichelle
      Posted on: 9-8-2011

      Jo, This sauce is SO good and would probably be amazing on all sorts of dishes!

  6. Posted on: 9-8-2011

    YUM! I am craving Middle Eastern food lately… I am making falafel with pita and hummus for dinner tonight… hehehe So, this is another must try for me. We all love lamb in my house, so I am sure these will be a winner… and that mint sauce??? MMMMMMMM

    • BethMichelle
      Posted on: 9-8-2011

      Manu,we eat SO much falafel here and if you can believe it, I have never yet made my own. I guess when you love in a country that has such amazing falafel and hummus you dont need to!!

  7. Posted on: 9-8-2011

    Lamb and cumin is such an awesome combination. I was planning to make kofte this weekend, but might just have to make these meatballs instead! Thanks for your lovely comment on my blog 🙂

    • BethMichelle
      Posted on: 9-9-2011

      Ooo I love kofte!! Im so glad I found your blog!

  8. Posted on: 9-8-2011

    The cooler weather and your gorgeous photos have put me in the mood for meatballs! Love your spicy Middle East version…so nice with the yogurt dipping sauce~

    • BethMichelle
      Posted on: 9-9-2011

      I wish the weather here was getting cooler! These meatballs are definitely lighter then beef meatballs and perfect for any time of year!

  9. Posted on: 9-9-2011

    So true. I find it especially difficult to kind of get a feeling for the cuisine of a country when so much of it is completely knew to you (ras el hanout??). I would not even know where to begin. This recipe looks and sounds great. And with ingredients like yogurt, buttermilk and mint almost refreshing. Can meatballs be reshreshing? haha


    • BethMichelle
      Posted on: 9-9-2011

      Thanks Tobias. Ras el hanout is a spice that I discovered here. Its a blend of spices that has over 20 ingredients. Gram masala is a good substitute for it usually if you cant find ras el hanout.

  10. Posted on: 9-9-2011

    Scrumptious looking meatballs. I am totally craving for some now.

    • BethMichelle
      Posted on: 9-9-2011

      Thanks Ellie!

  11. Posted on: 9-13-2011

    Beth, I know exactly what you mean about the MIddle Eastern flavours! Love kofta, kebbeh etc. Lamb is such a sacret meat over here isn’t it? Great post as usual :).

    • BethMichelle
      Posted on: 9-13-2011

      I love Kebbeh!!! I need to learn how to make it myself.

  12. Posted on: 9-13-2011

    Is the lamb meatball common there? Very interesting, how come I’ve never heard of it before…always turkey, beef, or pork (Asian uses a lot). I love the dipping sauce. Really beautiful green color and I bet it’s tasty too.

    • BethMichelle
      Posted on: 9-14-2011

      Lamb is super common in Israel, however meatballs in general arent so common be them turkey, beef , pork or lamb. Israelis love kebobs and skewers! I found ground lamb at the super and figured it would be tasty as a meatball! I couldnt really think of anything else to do with ground lamb other then a burger! But, Im glad I found it because these came out amazing, and the dipping sauce on top of being pretty is sooooo good!

  13. Posted on: 9-15-2011

    I am a very long time watcher and I just thought I’d drop by and say hi for that very first time. I definitely delight in your posts. Thank you

    • BethMichelle
      Posted on: 9-17-2011

      Thanks Page!! Im glad you enjoy the blog and thanks for stopping by to say hello! I love hearing from my readers!

    • Molly
      Posted on: 2-16-2012

      Happy Wednesday! Love the mlabtael recipe :)I’m a new follower from the Welcome Wednesday Blog Hop . . . come by and visit my blog when you get a chance :)Have an awesome day . . . Gina

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