Friday, January 27, 2012

Nazrani meatballs

Looks like almost every culture has a meatball dish.  Europe, the Middle East, Africa -- the list goes on, with each region in each continent displaying varieties of flavors. India too has its versions. The north Indian kofta is an example. It has its own sauce too according to the part of the world it comes from.

My grandmother used to make a mean meatball that was , as usual, spicy and hot. I have tried to recreate it here, with some modifications. The texture was a tad different, because the meat that she used was not ground to a paste, but kind of manually chopped fine, totally fresh and  organic, as everything was back then. Her recipe did not have eggs or breadcrumbs in it either -- just beef and spices. It was eaten plain, without any sauce. Most Indian snacks and appetizers do not need a sauce, as they are already full of flavor. Still, sauce can add a different facet to the whole experience -- for the eyes and ofcourse, taste.
If she made it into a "curry", the sauce would  be based in  lentil, or pureed onion, or coconut milk.

 I have added a recipe for a sort of "international" sauce catered to my taste.

nazrani meatballs

1 lb ground beef
1/2 cup onion, grated or chopped real small
3 cloves garlic, grated
3 tsps ginger, grated
3 hot green chili peppers, chopped small (optional)
1 tsp red pepper flakes (depending on how hot you like your dish)
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
Kerala meat masala - 1/2 tsp
1 egg
2 slices fresh bread, broken into pieces
1/4 cup milk
oil or butter to sear the meatballs - 4 - 5 tbsp


350°F oven.
Soak the bread pieces in the milk. Add it to the meat.
Add all the rest of the ingredients, except the butter/oil. Mix well.
Make balls . Apply olive oil on your palms to prevent mixture from sticking.
Melt  butter or heat oil in skillet. Medium to high heat.
Brown the meatballs on all sides. (You could start with just one -- test for salt and spices, so that you can adjust everything in the rest of the mix).
Transfer to baking sheet.
Bake for 20-25 minutes.
Meatballs are ready to be eaten. Garnish with cilantro or Italian parsley, if you like.

Note: The traditional nazrani meatball recipe did not include eggs or milk or bread pieces. So that the meat is cooked through, the meatballs are flattened just a little, and deep-fried on medium- high heat.
No oven time.

for the sauce:

2 tbsp flour
1/2 cup onion, chopped fine or grated
1/2 tsp garlic, minced
1/2 - 1 tsp black pepper, ground
1 tsp red chili pepper powder (optional)
1/4 tsp kerala meat masala
juice of half a lemon
1 tbsp tomato ketchup
1 can beef stock


Add the onion to the butter in the skillet. Low heat. If the butter in there is burned, throw that away, and add fresh butter, 3 tbsps or so. otherwise, go on with the stirring of the onion till they are pale. Add the flour. Keep whisking it is a golden brown. Now add the rest of the ingredients. Simmer till it reaches the desired consistency.
Instead of the ketchup, you may use a small chopped tomato, add some asian chili-garlic sauce.
Or, if you like the taste of soy sauce, it would be another variation.
Another option would be coconut milk. In that case, the flour becomes optional.

meatballs with sauce over rice and a drizzle of buttermilk curry(sauce)

These meatballs are good  as starters, with or without the sauce, and also as an accompaniment for of course, pasta, rice, plain, or spiced, as in a pulav. These are delicious wrapped in roti/naan or pita. Or try them as toppings on a green salad.

about Kerala meat masala :  I know I have been mentioning this ingredient often. Malayali stores carry this, but I use a homemade mix of my mother's. The fact is the ingredients and proportions vary from home to home, region to region. But the main ingredients usually are, black pepper, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, fennel, mace, and star anise. The mix varies from dish to dish.
Most dishes have  the usual turmeric, coriander, red chili pepper added to the above.

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