Make it. Eat it. Love it.
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
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
1/4 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.
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.