Rikhi is my sister-in-law and is probably one of the sweetest things that happened to my cousin Indrajoy. She is beautiful, loving and compassionate, the kind of person who instantly makes you her friend and promises to stand by through thick and thin. In the family she is also known for her talent for dancing and passion for food. But it wasn't until last year that we got to taste her cooking...
As expected each of the meals she served was exquisite. The Daab chingri, the Mexican rice, the Chinese dinner.. each one spoke volumes of her passion and talent for cooking. And no sooner had we returned home than I invited her to share her favorite recipe on the blog. She replied almost immediately with the recipe for her Masala Meatball Curry... it however took me a while to try it out and present it before you..
You see the list of ingredients was long and with my regular agenda to wrap up kitchen work in a couple of hours, the recipe seemed rather fussy... But then I tried it one Sunday in April and ever since I have been cooking it every other Sunday... This Meatball Curry is so darn tasty that you stop minding the little steps after you have tasted it once !! Moreover it is a fail safe recipe that is special enough to be served to guests for dinner and with a bit of pre-planning can be easily prepared for a weeknight meal.
With the aroma of roasted cinnamon, cardamon and cloves and the tanginess of tomatoes, the vegetables and the spices blend beautifully to create this Masala Meatball Curry. Since the curry is bit spicy, I usually serve it with rice or roti and some plain yogurt to diffuse the heat from the spices. But if you aren't used to the spices at all, I would recommend you to reduce the quantity of whole spices by half or leave them out all together and add a teaspoon of garam masala at the end. When preparing the curry on a weeknight, I usually resort to the second option. That way I do not have to cook separately for my son. Also I prefer to marinate the ground chicken for at least an hour before baking the meatballs. So on weekdays I marinate the ground chicken the night before and so that I can directly start cooking once I get home. However if your family isn't too fussy you may want to skip the marination part and fry or bake the meaballs like my sister-in-law....
Masala Meatball Curry
- For the meatballs
- 1 lbs minced chicken
- 1 inch long piece of ginger, finely grated
- 2 - 3 garlic cloves, crushed and minced
- 1 cinnamon stick
- green chili, according taste
- salt and black pepper, according to taste
- 1 egg white
- oil for frying (if you are frying the mealballs)
- For the masala curry
- Whole Spices
- ½ stick cinnamon
- 6-8 black pepper seeds
- 3-4 green cardamom
- 4-5 clove
- Ingredients for grinding
- dry red chili, according to taste
- 1 inch ginger
- 2-3 cloves of garlic
- 2 medium +1 small Roma tomatoes
- 1 big red onion, halved
- Other ingredients
- 1 potato, boiled and peeled (optional)
- 1½-2 tbsps of oil
- 2-3 small bay leaves
- 1 green chili, split
- ½ tsp turmeric powder(optional)
- salt to taste
- pinch of sugar
- 1 tsp Garam masala powder
- Spring onions for garnish
- For the meatballs : (see the notes)
- Put ⅓ cup of the ground chicken with the garlic, ginger, green chilli and cinnamon in the blender. Pulse the mixture, then mix it with the remaining ground chicken and egg white. Adjust the salt and keep the mixture in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
- When ready to cook, shape the mixture into 1½ inch balls.
- You can now deep fry the meatballs or bake them. For baking the meatballs, preheat the oven to 375 °F. Line a baking tray with aluminium foil, brush the foil with oil and set aside. Rub a few drops of oil in your hand, then scoop out 1½ -2 tablespoons of the ground chicken mixture, shape them into balls and place them in the prepared baking tray. These meatballs do not spread on baking. So you can place them close by. Now bake the meatballs for 25 minutes. The surface of the meatballs may not become brown, but the part resting on the tray should have browned by then.( Do not overbake or else the meatballs will not soak up the flavors of the curry.) Remove the meatballs from the oven and keep aside till you are ready to put them in the curry.
- Keep the fried/baked meatballs aside while you prepare the gravy.
- For the Masala curry:
- Soak the dry red chili in water.
- Dry roast the cinnamon, clove and green cardamom until a nice aroma comes. (The smell may not be very strong so it is advisable to bend over and smell the spices as you roast them.)
- In the mixer-grinder, grind the ginger and garlic along with the onion, tomato, soaked dry red chili, black pepper corns and roasted whole spices. Keep the paste aside.
- If using potatoes, dice the boiled potato and keep aside.
- Heat the oil in a kadhai or wok . (In case you fried the meatballs, use 1½ tbsps of that oil.) First of all, lightly fry the diced potatoes and keep them aside.
- Now add the bay leaf and green chili in the oil. When the green chili begins to change color, stir in the ginger-garlic-tomato-onion-red chili paste, add the sugar, salt and turmeric powder, mix the ingredients well and cook for 4-5 minutes. Next add the fried potatoes and cook until the oil separates from the masala.
- Add a cup of water to the pan and bring it to a boil. Then lower the heat, cover the kadai and simmer until the potatoes look done.
- Finally add the meatballs, another 1½ -2 cups of water, bring it to a boil, then cover the kadai, simmer and cook until the gravy thickens and the meatballs soak up the flavors from the curry.
- Before switching off the heat, stir in 1 teaspoon of garam masala, garnish with chopped spring onion leaves and serve with a side of your choice.
- My Notes:
- For a kid-friendly version, omit the whole spices in the gravy all together. You can also add a teaspoon each of dried basil and oregano if you like. Without the whole spices, the curry looks orange-ish... some what like the setting sun and has a dominant-tomato flavor. When planning a common meal for all of us, I go for this version. It is light and flavorful.