Sunday, June 10, 2007

Pork Meatballs With Yogurt Dressing

Recipe from the New York Times. Link.

*A* told me about last week's dining section from the NYTimes and that it had some good recipes for meatballs. Not having made them ever at home, I thought I would give this a try. I have to say they turned out really well and *A* concurred. The mild spiciness of the meat balls along with the tender juicy meat, combined well with the cool yogurt dip that ended with the slight kick of the added chili. The cool mint helped finish it all off.

Perhaps these are meant as hors d’oeuvre but we had them with Naan bread as our dinner. I think you can combine them with Pita bread too, and maybe make a quick sandwich. The recipe is as found in the NYTimes, the changes I made are in parentheses. Sorry the picture is a bit dull, as I was in a rush and did not use a flash.

While the dish may seem more like a Greek dish, to quote Akthar Nawab the head chef of E.U in the East Village in New York.

“I did some research into an Eastern European recipe, but it evolved into a more Greek recipe, with Moorish and North African influences,” he said.

The cumin-, fennel- and coriander-spiced pork meatballs Mr. Nawab serves are roasted in butter and oil, and served on a skewer, drizzled with two sauces: a sweet-tart slurry of shallot, mint and sherry vinegar, and a yogurt sauce made of thick Greek yogurt emulsified with olive oil and fired up with toasted ground cumin. Mr. Nawab credits their tenderness mostly to his treatment of the protein and the fat.

“I do a really fine grind on the meat, and I use richer pork — 35 percent fat to 65 percent meat. That makes the meatballs a little more succulent, and helps to caramelize them when they go into the fryer.”

Unlike him, the pork I used had a lot less fat, but they turned out really well. The prep time is as mentioned, takes about an hour or so.

Adapted from Akhtar Nawab

Time: 1 hour


1 cup high-fat Greek yogurt (I used low fat yogurt, that was the only one we had and it was non Greek too)

1 1/2 tablespoons ground cumin

1 tablespoon sugar

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper (I also tossed in chili powder for some extra spicyness)


1/2 cup finely sliced mint leaves

1 1/2 teaspoons minced shallots

1 1/2 tablespoons sherry vinegar (I used red wine vinegar)

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper


1 cup crustless country bread, torn into pieces

2 tablespoons milk

3 tablespoons olive oil

Half a large onion, peeled and thinly sliced

2 teaspoons coriander seeds

1 tablespoon cumin seeds

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

1/2 teaspoon hot red-pepper flakes (I added some extra red pepper flakes)

2 1/2 pounds ground pork, chilled

1 tablespoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons finely chopped parsley leaves

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh oregano

4 tablespoons butter. (I left the butter out)

1. For yogurt dressing, combine yogurt, cumin, and sugar. Slowly whisk in oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper, cover and refrigerate.

2. For mint dressing, combine mint, shallot and vinegar in small bowl. Slowly whisk in oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste, cover and refrigerate.

3. For meatballs, combine bread and milk in a bowl, and stir until bread has absorbed milk.

4. Combine 1 tablespoon of oil and onion in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir until sizzling, then cover, reduce heat to low and cook until onion is softened but not colored. Transfer to food processor, add bread mixture and purée.

5. Combine coriander, cumin, fennel and hot red-pepper flakes in small skillet over medium heat and stir until lightly toasted and fragrant. Remove from heat and grind to a powder in a spice grinder.

6. Mix meat, the bread mixture, spices and salt in a large stand mixer with paddle attachment. Add parsley and oregano, and mix again. With wet hands, roll into 1-inch balls.

7. Place large skillet over medium heat. Add butter and remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. When butter has melted, reduce heat slightly and begin adding meatballs, allowing them to brown on the bottom, then turning gently to continue browning on all sides. Work in batches, transferring meatballs to a platter when they are cooked. To serve, drizzle with yogurt dressing and sprinkle with mint dressing.

Yield: 50 1-inch meatballs (serves about 12 as an hors d’oeuvre).


Neha said...

Should we be expecting more of recipes at your blog??
Recipes....came to your blog after!!!And this is what I was served! Seems nice :)

Sanjay said...

Neha. Thank you for the kind words and for stopping by. I am not sure how my cooking thing works. I should try to have more posts up, if you are interested there are a few in the recent archives.

Lotus Reads said...

Sanjay, it is really very nice of you to share these wonderful recipes with us. I love meatballs of any kind...beef meatballs used to be a staple at our home a few months ago but my daughters have given up eating beef so I would be interested in making these wonderful-looking pork meatballs...the yogurt dressing looks soooooooo good too!

After seeing your success with the NYTimes recipes, I have to tell you I am much more inclined to try recipes from our dailies now. The Toronto Star also has some wonderful recipes.

Sanjay said...

@Lotus.. Hey there!! :-) Thank you so much for your kind words. Since you love meatballs these should be something that you hopefully like.

They turned out really well and even for a slowpoke in the kitchen like me they took a little over an hour to make. You may be able to do it faster. The yogurt dressing really was good. Also the meatballs are not spicy (if you ignore my enthusiastic addition of chili powder) so the girls might like it.

The recipes from the NYTimes are really good, some of these are from noted restaurants/chefs and there is often a side story to the dish (which I included as a link in the post). I would love to try something from the newspapers at your end if there is something you like, please let me know,Thanks. :-)

Orchid said...

Kewl!!..but sadly I am not a meat eater, but I am sure it is a great recipe :)

Diana said...

Hey! Your naan looks like naan. I've tried it a few times in my oven and it tasts good, it's just not naan. It's more like a roll, not flat. Any tips?

Lisa Francisco aka AVIANA said...

stopping to say hi...

Aditi said...

you take such pains in beautifully arranging the food and taking pictures... it makes me realize how important presentation really is

Sanjay said...

@Orchid.. Aww thanks you are very kind.

@Diana. What we have is a brand called Kontos, available in Indian grocery stores. It is parttyl cooked and we just heat it up. It is a bit like the Naan in Indian restaurants, which are much better being freshy baked. Hope that helps.

@Lisa, Thanks for stopping by, will stop by your place soon.

@Aditi, Thank you the presentation, if you want to call it that was rushed. Took all of a minute to arrange and photograph. *A* was hungry and we had to eat, it is torture to look at good food and not eat it. :)

Asha said...

Ooh! How did I miss this!!
Looks great I always bake Meatballs at home.Lot better than store bought ones.Looks great there with yogurt dressing.Greek Tatziki?
Wonderful plate of dinner.Enjoy.
Next Wednesday is Maharashtra week at FH!:D

Ash said...

Looks yum !!

MONA said...

cooking is such an art! An art which I enjoy!
Thanks for the recipie!

It meatball curry tomorrow at my dining table!! :)

Carrie said...

It sounds really good. Do you think it would work with turkey?

ML said...

Looks delicious, Sanjay!

Id it is said...

That sure sounds good...mouthwatering.
I'll try it out over the summer.

Beenzzz said...

I'm salivating over here!!!! YUM!

Intern said...

whoa! coming here after long and this place is as interesting as ever. thanks for sharing.and I'm really hungry!

Keshi said...

Im so hungry now!!


Sanjay said...

@Asha.. Thanks. I don't think the yogurt dip is Tatziki. I do look forward to the wonderfu; Maharashtrian dishes that you will whip up.

@Ash.. Thanks.

@Mona. It indeed is an art and I am a mere amateur. Hope the meatvall curry turned out fine.

@Carrie. I haven't tried this with Turkey but don't see why it would not work.

@Ml.. Thanks.

@Iditis.. Hope it turns out well for you, when you decide to make it. Thanks!

@Beenzzz. Thanks.

@Intern. Thank you for stopoing by and for your kind words.

@Keshi. Thanks.